The Ultimate Tennis Guide for Beginners

Is tennis something you’ve been interested in for a while? Perhaps you’ve seen professional tennis matches on TV and think it’s something you’d be good at? Tennis can be an incredibly rewarding sport, even for those who don’t want to do it competitively. It can help improve your hand-eye coordination, your overall fitness levels and also increase your social life! Better yet, once you’ve learned the basics of tennis, you can get straight to playing the game. What better way of getting better at something than practicing it, after all?
You don’t, however, want to jump into practicing the sport before you understand the technical side of things. You might be teaching yourself something incorrectly, and it’s much harder to unlearn bad habits than it is to get things right in the first place. Don’t worry if this sounds scary, though, as this guide will take you through every step in a simple, easy to follow way.

Scoring

In tennis, the server’s score is always announced first. This is the person who makes the first swing to pass the ball to their opponent, which starts the round. The second score will be the score of the receiver.

Each round is worth fifteen points. If the server had won two rounds, for example, and their opponent had yet to win any, the score would be read at 30-love. Love is a word used in tennis when someone has yet to earn any points.

If a game is tied at 40-40, this will be called a “deuce.” If the server wins the next round, they will have servers advantage; whereas if the receiver gets the next point, it’s known as receiver advantage. This is the case because the person with the advantage only needs one more point to score. If their opponent scores, it will send the game back into a tie, or deuce, and the same process will repeat itself.


Unlike other sports, tennis isn’t one where you’ll play one game and go home. Instead, games in tennis are known assets, which consists of at least six games. In tennis, the sets will not be over until one player has won six games in total and is two sets up over their opponent. If one player has five points and the other has six, they will have to keep playing until one player has a two-point advantage. If both players have won six games each, it’s usually declared that a tie-breaking game will be played.

The Court

The tennis court can seem a little overwhelming as a beginner, but it gets easier once you understand how it works. With the court spanning 78 by 27 feet, it’s split in half length-wise by the net. You can’t hit the net or touch it with your hands once the game has started.

There are many white lines on the tennis court. The parallel lines furthest from the net on either side are known as the baselines. This is where you and your opponent will stand when making your serve. You should notice a small line in the middle of the baseline, which is the center mark. You will stand on the left or right of this mark to make a serve.

There is another, a thinner line between the baseline and the net, known as the service line. You must aim your serves into the area between the net and the service line.

The service area is divided into halves vertically, perpendicular to the net on both sides. This divides the service area into town sections.

You will then see two lines on either side of the court. These are perpendicular to the net and mark the boundaries of the court. There are two lines present for this: the inner line is the guideline for unique games, whereas the bigger, outer line is used for double games.

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Strokes

There are six different strokes in tennis, all of which serve a different purpose.

The serve is the shot that will start each set or game. This involves the server tossing the ball over their head and hitting it when the ball drops down. To count as a successful serve, the ball needs to have crossed the net and land in the service box without hitting the net.

The forehand is the most common tennis shot, which means you’ll get a lot of practice with this one as you practice the sport. Using whichever hand is most dominant, you’ll swing your racket from low to high in the direction of where you wish to send the ball.

The backhand shot involves bringing your racket across your body to hit it from your non-dominant side. Using this stroke, you will hit the ball with the back of your racket.

The lob is a high shot aimed above your opponent’s head. It’s often used when your opponent is close to the net, and there is lots of space behind them, where you intend the ball to land too. If the ball bounces more than once before they hit it back to you, then you have won the point.

The smash involves hitting the overhead ball height and down into the other side of the court. This involves a similar motion to hit a serve.

Practice

Now that you have a grasp on the basics of the sport, it’s time to start practicing. Find someone who is willing to be your opponent—preferably someone of a similar tennis level—and find a local tennis court. The more you practice, and implement the technical side of the sport, the better you will get. It might seem like a lot to comprehend, but before long, you won’t remember a time where you didn’t know the technical side of tennis.

Some things you can do practice your tennis that doesn’t involve having an opponent include:

  • Practicing your serve. If you don’t have a partner, spend an hour or so at your local tennis court delivering serves like you would if you were with someone else. Practice the tossing element, where the ball lands on the other side of the net, and the speed you deliver your serve at.
  • Use a ball machine. If your local tennis club has a ball machine, make as much use out of this as possible. This will help you to improve the consistency of your shots, which will make you a harder opponent to beat when you do face someone else. If you cannot access a tennis ball machine, practicing against a wall will do.
  • Practice your footwork. This involves practicing your sprinting from one side of the court to the other while holding your racket, which improves your speed and endurance. You can also use a skipping role to help improve the flexibility of your footwork.