How to play tennis:
Tennis is a fantastic game that can be enjoyed outdoors and until quite a mature age. My granny played well into her seventies! It is not a game where we can injure ourselves easily and have to live with the consequences into our old age. It is safe and sociable, and can be played in any season.
Tennis involves technique, footwork, strategy, plus mental- and physical fitness. Read about our tennis junior development guide.
Tennis has very specific rules and there are a few things we should know when we open the gate to go onto the court. Don’t stress! It looks more complicated than it really is.
1. The court:
Depending on if you are playing doubles (four players) or singles (two players) the court gets divided slightly differently.
The net divides the court between the two sides of players, and the aim is to return the ball from your side to your opponent’s side without hitting the net.
The squares divide the court in left and right as a clear indication to team players to stay on their side either left and right or front and back.
2. Let the game begin:
A game of tennis starts off with a player serving. The serve is an important technique to master. The person serving has to stand behind the line at the back of the court, throw the ball in the air and strike it to bounce in the opposite square behind the net, also called the service box in the receiver’s part of the court.
Play continues if the opponent manages to return the ball to your side of the net without it bouncing twice, hitting the net or being “out” of the squares.
3. Score a point:
A point is scored when the ball lands out of play, or hits the net, or bounces twice before a player can return it to his or her opponent. The primary rule is a player can only hit the ball once before returning it to his opponent.
A point is scored when the opponent makes a “mistake”. This continues until a player has four points or at least two more than his opponent. Then the next player gets a turn to serve if a singles game is played. In a game of doubles the serve passes between the two teams with each player taking a turn at serving in a fixed rotation.
4. Keeping score:
A set consists of six games. Matches are made up of three or five sets. If a player or team won two sets in a three-set match, or three sets in a five-set match the game is over.
Suppose you won the first point, the score must be announced before the next serve. For example: “15 all” or “15 love” where love equals 0 then we count to 15, 30, 40. If both players have 40 it is called deuce. If you get another point after deuce it is called advantage, if you win the advantage point, you win the game. If you lose the advantage point, then it is deuce again.
Once you start playing, and there is someone to show you the ropes the counting is really not that difficult to grasp.
5. Same strokes for all folks:
Tennis is a game of skill and takes great amounts of practice to get it right. Apart from practicing the serve, the forehand and backhand strokes should also be practiced as often as possible. As players become more skilled, other strokes will be acquired.
The most important part of playing tennis is to learn the right grip on the racket right from the start. So get to a court and find a good coach to help you get the most joy out of a really good game.