How to Play Tennis
Tennis is a well-loved racket sport that can be played at any level.
With its own place in the Olympics and many famous international tournaments, it is a sport that welcomes many spectators and talented players alike 😊.
Games can be played in a single or a doubles format, meaning there will either be two or four players in the game at any time.
This article will serve as an ultimate guide on how to play tennis.
Starting at the beginning, the elements of a game of tennis will be discussed, including the choices that the player must make.
👉 Rackets, grips, court lines, stances and everything in between will be addressed, giving a well-rounded, informative guide that will be sure to provide ample preparation for anyone wishing to begin their foray into the world of tennis.
Table of Contents
It is believed the game of tennis originated thousands of years ago, with a variation of the sport dating back to ancient Greek times.
Historians believe tennis was born from a 12th-century French game called ‘paume,’ or ‘jeu de paume’, which has now evolved to what we now know as modern tennis.
‘Paume’ was like the game of handball, in which players would hit and volley a ball back and forth using only their hands 😊.
You can learn from this guide how to play tennis.
Over a period of time, leather gloves started to be work during this game, before the idea of playing with a racket was thought of.
The game transformed during the 15th and 16th centuries, most being played by nobles in France and England, with the tennis racket debuting in Italy in 1583.
👉 In 1870, the ‘All England Croquet Club’ in Wimbledon, England, was created, which saw indoor tennis matches being played between upper-class citizens.
👉 In 1873, not long after this development, Major Walter Wingeld invented ‘lawn tennis’, which moved the game to outside courts, which catapulted the game into the modern tennis we are familiar with today.
Why Play Tennis?
There is no denying that taking part in sports is good for you; it’s the best way to stay active, fit, and healthy, which, in turn, comes with many health benefits.
Not just a good way to pass the time in a fun, enjoyable way 😊.
Playing tennis has proven results on increasing many health factors, including sleep, weight loss and energy levels.
Science suggests that playing tennis is a good way to boost both serotonin and endorphin production, contributing to a better overall mood and combat depression.
Weight loss is also another reason why many people choose to take up the sport, as the constant movement around the court helps shed any extra pounds by burning any excess fat.
Additionally, studies have shown 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week can lead to a 65% increase in sleep quality, demonstrating how around half an hour of tennis daily can give you a better night’s sleep.
There is no debate about why tennis is a good sport to begin playing with all these clear benefits 😍.
Tennis is quite interesting game and how to play tennis like a pro is interesting as well.
Whatever the motive, the benefits are far-reaching and address many different areas of wellbeing, so for those who are seeking a fun way to boost their health, tennis is a fantastic option!
#1. Choosing a Racket
Seeing as tennis is a racket sport, it’s a no-brainer that getting your hands on a racket should be the first thing on your to-do list when wanting to start tennis 😍.
With many different racket types and brands on the market, it can seem like a daunting task.
However, there are a few essential factors to consider, which will help narrow down the selection.
Firstly, price is an important aspect to think about.
As a novice tennis player, it isn’t essential to invest hundreds into your first-ever racket.
👉 As rackets can range anywhere between $15 to well over $100, it would be wise to start at the lower end of the price spectrum and work your way towards a more expensive, fancier racket when you’ve picked up a good level of the game.
Then, the type of racket is important to consider.
There are different types, including a control racket, a tweener racket and a power racket, all of which serve different functions.
A control racket is mainly used by advanced players or even professionals, including Roger Federer, who doesn’t struggle with power and require a racket that offers optimum control 😊.
These rackets tend to have smaller head sizes and a heavier weight, as these factors help for the execution of accurate shots.
Power rackets are probably the best option for a beginner-level tennis player.
The larger head size offers a greater sweet-spot area, which increases the likelihood of hitting an accurate shot, increasing the margin for error.
They also tend to be lighter, which will increase maneuverability.
👉 Lastly, power is easier to generate from this racket, which allows the player to work on and develop their technique; this is ideal for a novice.
If you’re a novice and want to be a good player then you can learn how to play tennis from Youtube tutorials and practice.
Tweener rackets sit somewhere between offering good power and control.
Due to their versatility and ability to offer a good mix of attributes, they are used by a wide pool of players at various levels.
#2. Selecting the Strings
A lot of the tennis rackets that are made for beginners come pre-strung.
In this case, it isn’t necessary to purchase a separate set of strings or to pay someone to string the racket.
That being said, restringing a racket is inevitable, as they can become worn down after so long or may even break.
Therefore, it’s helpful to have a basic working knowledge of strings.
There are three main types of strings; natural gut strings, polyester strings, and multi lament strings.
Natural gut strings are high-quality, expensive strings made from cow gut. This type of string offers exceptional tension maintenance, power, comfort, and feel 👌.
Polyester strings sit at the mid-price point and are highly durable and enhance topspin. However, they tend to lack comfort.
Lastly, multi lament strings also sit at the mid-price point and seek to mimic the performance of natural gut strings by weaving together thousands of microfibers for power, comfort, and feel.
Many factors can affect the string of choice, but it ultimately comes down to pure preference.
It is recommended beginners opt for inexpensive synthetic gut tennis strings until the level of play becomes sophisticated enough that subtle nuances between strings can actually be detected.
#3. The Grip
Every brand-new tennis racket will come with a thick grip that is affixed to the handle.
However, these grips can break down over time, losing that cushioning effect.
Replacement grips will therefore be needed. These don’t need to be changed that often, especially for players who consistently use over grips 😊.
An over grip is a thin wrap applied to the existing racket grip to preserve the longevity of the grip, absorb moisture from sweat and ensure a secure grasp of the handle.
👉 Typically, over grips are used for short periods of time and are often replaced.
#4. Tennis Balls
Originally, tennis balls were fabricated out of cloth strips stitched together with thread, with a feather stuffing in the middle.
Nowadays, modern tennis balls use a hollow vulcanized rubber felt coating.
Starting off-white, this was gradually modified to become an optic yellow late in the 20th century to allow for better visibility.
A close understanding of the ball is as important as the game in order to learn how to play tennis.
For play, tennis balls must conform to specific criteria concerning size, weight, deformation, and bounce.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) states that the official diameter of a tennis ball is 65.41–68.58 millimeters, and they must weigh between 56.0 and 59.4 grams 😊.
#5. Choosing a Pair of Tennis Shoes
Although a decent pair of running shoes can do the trick, especially for a novice player, it is recommended to invest in a proper pair of tennis shoes, especially if the game is to be played fairly regularly.
The most important thing is that the shoes are comfortable and supportive, as these two attributes will enable durable tennis matches without causing any discomfort.
#6. Choosing Appropriate Clothing
Like selecting the best pair of tennis shoes, knowing what to wear on the courts is also important to consider.
Comfort is key, and it is important to move easily and freely with the clothes worn 😍.
Having pockets is also preferable, as this enables the player to carry a few extra tennis balls, which can speed up gameplay.
How to Play Tennis
#1. The Court
Before playing tennis for the first time, and even after having played a couple of times, it’s helpful to have a general understanding of a tennis court’s dimensions and layout.
👉 A tennis court is 78ft in length, 38 ft for doubles, and 27ft for singles. Sitting in the middle of the court is the net, which splits the court into two sides, measuring 3ft 6 inches at the side lines and 3ft at the center boundary that runs parallel to the net 😊.
All the pro players during the phase of how to play tennis take a closer look at the court.
A simple mark in the middle of the baseline demonstrates the center and acts as a guide for players when serving.
When facing the net, the court’s extreme left and right boundaries are the doubles side-lines, whereas the court’s inner left and right boundaries are the singles side-lines.
The area between these different side-lines is only in play during a doubles match.
The line running parallel to baseline and net roughly halfway between the two creates the service boxes.
The center service line is the line that runs perpendicular to the service line and net, splitting the service boxes into equal halves.
The area between the baseline and the service line is known as ‘no man’s land’, as it is quite a vulnerable position to stand in for too long.
#2. The Rules
As discussed above, the netsplits the tennis court into two, with one player (or two if playing doubles) occupying one side and the other player standing in the other half.
To decide who will take the first serve, a coin toss or racket spin should happen.
The player who wins the toss/spin will determine whether they would prefer to serve first or to receive the serve.
In the occasion where they choose to serve first, the receiver chooses the side of the court they’d like to return.
Each point, the server stands behind the baseline either to the right or left of the service mark, and has two goes to hit the ball across 😍, into the service box on the other side of the net.
The serve will be called a ‘fault’ if the ball does not land in the service box.
It will be called a ‘second fault’, which is the second serve misses, and the server automatically loses the point.
When a serve successfully lands in the service box, the point is live, and the receiver should hit the ball back into their opponent’s side of the court.
If the receiver doesn’t come into contact with the ball, it’s called an ace, and the server automatically gains the point.
👉 Once live, the point can be won in any of these instances:
If the ball bounces in the opponent’s court without being returned,
If the ball bounces twice in the opponent’s side of the court
If the opponent makes a mistake, such as hitting the ball into the net, outside of the court’s boundaries, or double faults.
👉 The point will be lost if:
You or anything you’re wearing touches the net or your opponent’s side of the court during the point,
You hit the ball before it has crossed your side of the net
You don’t touch the ball before it returns to your opponent’s side of the court, such as in the case of high winds or backspin applied to the ball.
#3. The Warmup
Warming up is an essential part of playing a game, as it is the time in which the player can loosen their muscles, get a feel for taking a few shots, and become familiar with their surroundings.
A warm-up should last no longer than ten minutes and shouldn’t be treated as a practice run 👌 – it is more for getting the player adapted to the court.
#4. Point System
The tennis point scoring system can feel slightly daunting because of some of the terminology used.
However, this guide will set out the meaning of each piece of terminology, to make it clear.
As points are the evaluation criteria to predict win so players must have deep know how to play tennis.
A point adds up to a game, a game adds up to a set, and a winning set equals winning the match!
To win a game, the player must be 2 points up. To claim a set, at least 6 games must be won, and the player must be up by 2 points. The match will be won once winning 2 sets.
To win the game, a player must win at least four points.
If a player is up 40-30, 40-15 or 40-love, and wins one more point, the player wins the game 😊.
When there is a tied score in a game or set, the term “all” is used when announcing the score.
For example, if both players have both won two points in the game, the score would be 30-all.
The only instance in which this isn’t the case is when both players have won 4 points each and the score is at 40-40. This is called a deuce.
When the score reaches a deuce, one player (or team if playing a doubles match) will need to win at least two points in a row to win the game.
If the server wins the deuce point, it is called Ad-In.
But if they lose the deuce point, it is called Ad-Out. If the team with the advantage (Ad-In or Ad-Out) wins another point, they win the game, or it goes back to deuce.
A game point happens whenever the leading player needs only one more point to win the game.
The terminology is extended to sets (set point), matches (match point), and even championships (championship point) 😍.
For instance, if the serving player has a score of 40-love, the player is said to have a triple game point (triple set point, etc.), as the player has three successive opportunities to win the game.
👉 Game points, set points, and match points are not part of official scoring and are not announced by the chair umpire in tournament play.
#5. Finishing the Game
After the match has finished, it demonstrates good sportsmanship and respect to shake hands with your opponent.
There’s nothing wrong with showing some excitement when winning a point, but it should be within reason.
For example, shouting and screaming after every point won doesn’t show much respect. If a point is won due to an error by the opponent, there shouldn’t be a celebration, as this is poor sportsmanship.
Body Language and Stance
#1. Ready position
You are either hitting the ball or waiting for it to be returned during tennis.
When waiting for it to come back, the basic ready position, in which there is no movement involved, should be assumed.
The ready position is essential for creating a foundation from which to play a good game of tennis, as it is a good stance from which to make many different movements 😊.
Also, the ready position can be used from anywhere on the court – baseline or net.
The player should face the net, positioning their feet slightly wider than shoulder-width, their toes pointing forward, and their knees slightly bent.
The weight should be put towards the balls of the toes rather than the heels.
Ready position is the first position to learn during the first steps of how to play tennis.
The racket should be held out in front of the body, with elbows placed around 4-6 inches away.
The tip of the racket should stay around the chest area.
The dominant hand should be placed at the bottom of the handle, with the other hand resting on the racket’s throat.
After hitting serves, groundstrokes, and volleys, the ready position should be returned to as quickly as possible.
A split-step occurs when a small jump off one or two feet is done to get into the ready position.
👉 In theory, the split step should be used to prepare for all kinds of returns, as it allows the player to quickly move in any direction or set up for a groundstroke, volley or overhead.
#2. Open Stance
The most common stance in tennis is the open stance.
The player’s feet should be positioned parallel to the net, pointing either sideways, directly towards the net, or diagonally towards it.
The open stance allows for the player to have a high degree of torso rotation, which adds power to the stroke.
To think of it visually, imagine the coiling and uncoiling of a spring.
For instance, the coiling phase occurs when the torso is rotated to preload the muscular system in preparation for the stroke.
Upon playing the stroke, the torso twists to face forward again.
Think of the uncoiling of a spring, and this injects a lot of power into the stroke.
However, this stance does not always permit proper weight transfer and balance when making dominant strokes.
Although most often used for forehand strokes, it can also be an effective way of making double-handed backhands 😍.
#3. Semi-open stance
This stance is an extremely flexible stance that is between the open and closed stances.
To assume this stance, the feet should be positioned diagonally towards the net, as this position will allow for shoulder rotation 👌 and torso rotation.
Professional players often use it in modern tennis, especially on forehand strokes on the forehand, because of the power it can create.
👉 It is also possible to hit two-handed backhands from this stance.
#4. Closed stance
The closed stance is the least common, and it is used mostly for backhand shots rather than the forehand.
The closed stance is assumed by having one foot further towards the net while the other foot is positioned further away.
Consequently, there should be a diagonal alignment between the feet.
Effective torso rotation, therefore greater power, is a by-product of the closed stance.
On some occasions, the back foot may have to come completely away from the ground, transferring the body weight entirely to the front foot 😊.
#5. Neutral stance
Sometimes referred to as the square stance, the neutral stance involves positioning one foot closer to the net and ahead of the other, which is behind and aligned with it.
A calming and relaxing position effects your how to play tennis as equally as other effects
Both feet should be at a 90-degree angle to the net.
This stance is often taught in the early stages because it permits beginners to learn about the technique of shifting weight and rotating the body.
👉 The neutral stance gives way to both forehands and backhand shots.
The Basic Shots
#1. The Serve
A serve is a shot played to begin the point.
It commences with the ball being tossed into the air, then being hit, at the height of the throw, into the diagonally opposite service box, without contacting the net.
An under or overhand serve may be hit, although underhand serving is very uncommon 😊.
If the ball comes into contact with the net on the first serve and bounces over into the correct box, this is called a “let,” and the server then can take two additional serves to get it in.
A let is also the case if the ball is serves and the opponent is unprepared.
If the first serve is missed and a let is given on the second serve, then one last attempt to get the serve in the box is allowed.
There are different types of serve, including flat serves, topspin serves, slice serves, and kick serves.
Some serving players are happy to serve simply to begin the point, but advanced players will often try to hit a winning shot upon serving.
The serve is the first shot to play before you start learning how to play tennis.
👉 A winning serve the opponent doesn’t manage to touch is called an “ace”.
#2. The Forehand
The forehand is vital, as this is what most hits are played with.
The western grip should be adopted from the ready position, and the torso should be twisted slightly to the right.
The right arm that bears the racket will extend back, with the tip of the racket facing behind the player.
From here, when the ball comes towards the player, they should step forwards into the shot, swinging at waist level.
After hitting the ball, the swing should be followed through until the racket is over the left shoulder, with the right elbow at head height, facing the net.
Once the swing is completed, the player should return to the ready position 😍.
#3. The backhand
The backhand is used when the ball is hit to the left side of the body.
This can be a daunting shot for a beginner, but it is slightly more natural than the forehand.
The backhand can be hit one-handed or two-handed, but the two-handed option is recommended for beginners, as it is usually easier to execute.
The left hand should be above the right hand, deploying an eastern grip.
Just like the forehand, the Torso should turn, but to the left this time, with the step forward coming from the right foot, as this allows for a forward transfer of weight 👌.
The ball should be hit near the right front foot, otherwise, the shot will not work.
The swing should continue up and over the right shoulder, finishing with the left elbow at head height and pointing towards the net.
The back, left foot should be off the ground or upon the toes.
#4. The Volley
A volley will be used when a player hits the ball before it bounces at the net 😊.
You need to do strenuous efforts and practice to learn how to play tennis like a pro.
The opponent can be forced into defense by closing the distance to the net and volleying the ball.
This can also help hit a winning shot.
Coming towards the net also helps create more extreme angles on shots, which cannot easily be executed from the baseline.
👉 There are plenty of other shots beyond these three basic ones, including the overhead, the lop, the drop shot, and the tweener, but it is essential to come to terms with these three basic types of hits for beginners.
Types of Grip
#1. Eastern grip
Ideal for beginners, the eastern grip feels natural to hold 😍.
Although limiting the maximum topspin that can be generated, the eastern grip better facilitates switching between various types of shots.
Right-handed players should put the palm side of their right index finger’s knuckle along the third bevel, then wrap the rest of the hand around the racket. Conversely, left-handed players should use the seventh bevel.
#2. Western grip
The western grip is a modern tennis grip preferred by baseline hitters who like to create lots of topspin.
At first, this grip can feel slightly unnatural, so it can be tricky for beginners to get used to 👌.
Additionally, since the palm side of the index finger’s knuckle is placed on the fifth bevel, it can be challenging to rotate towards a grip that’s perfect for slice shots or volleys.
#3. Semi-Western Grip
To form a semi-western grip, the palm side of the finger’s knuckle will be put on the fourth bevel for a righthander and sixth for a left-hander.
This grip is used most often by beginners, along with the eastern grip. The racket’s angle allows for topspin to be created naturally.
#4. Continental Grip
Commonly used in the early tennis days for various shots, the continental grip is still the preferred grip for serves, volleys, and overheads, but no longer used for groundstrokes as it lacks the creation of topspin 😊.
The palm side of the right-handed index finger is placed along the second bevel, or the eighth bevel for left-handed players.
With all this essential information, you will become familiar with the game of tennis in no time.
Although there are plenty of rules, specific terminology and a slightly confusing point system, once you get the hang of it, it will feel very natural and come almost instinctively.
As well as the many health benefits of playing tennis, it is a really enjoyable way to pass the time and a fun hobby to take up.
At the wind up you need a close understanding of grips to learn how to play tennis. And which gripped racket to use at which point.