Racquet Room

How to Play Tennis-A Beginners Guide

Tennis has always been the underdog sport. While it’s not roping in the crowds like basketball, football, and baseball do, it’s still a thrilling, competitive sport that has a great community. With few people needed for a tennis game, it allows for better socialization, and is quite challenging to boot.

Even though it’s an underdog sport, there are tennis players around the world and definitely in your community. It shouldn’t be that hard for you to find someone who is as interested in the game as you are.

tennis for beginners

But what if you’re not sure how to begin? With so much jargon, and a competitive scene, a newcomer may feel intimidated.

That’s why we’re here to provide an easy walkthrough that will allow any beginner to tennis to be able to play the game in no time just like we have done.

How to Start

Obviously, you don’t want to compete against a seasoned player right away. Instead, you need to build up your skills first. Get a racquet, find a court, and practice. Learn how to go around the court and master your technique. Training wheels are key, and then, when your training wheels come off, bike as hard as you can!

Like any sport or skill, you’ll need to practice, have a positive attitude, and a commitment to do so, but most of all at this stage you want to have fun.

So with that said, how do you play tennis? It’s a bit more complicated than just ping-ponging a ball over a net. To play tennis, you need to understand the rules, and figure out a few skills as well. Here, we’ll discuss everything.

Singles Vs. Doubles Vs. Mixed Doubles

A tennis match, as you should know, is typically a game played between two to four people. The games are divided into three main categories, and those are singles, doubles, and mixed doubles.

Singles is pretty easy to figure out. It’s you versus another player, and that’s it. No worrying about teamwork, and no worrying about having a bad player on your team to ruin the game for you. It’s just one versus one in a match to see who has the best skills.

Doubles is when you have two people on a team. It’ll be you and a teammate versus your opponent and their teammate. Unlike singles, this mode encourages teamwork. You and your partner will be working together to defeat the other team, who will be doing the same thing.

Singles and doubles tournaments tend to be divided. You’ll be playing with people of the same sex, skill level, and age range as you are. This gives everyone a fair shot to compete, and you won’t have to worry about someone being too overpowered.

Which brings us to our final mode: mixed doubles. Most matches involve men versus men or women versus women. Mixed doubles have both sexes working in harmony. Each team will be made up of one man and one woman.

tennis mixed doubles

Whichever mode you prefer is up to you. You should give them all a try, though. You may find a mode you like!

Preparing for a Match

Don’t go running into the court yet! First, you need to warm up before you play. Most physical activities should have a time before the activity where you’re stretching and warming up. This makes you more limber and helps reduce the chances of injuries. It also will give you a good chance to prepare.

So, with that said, who plays first? Which team will be the first to serve, and which side will the team be on?

Usually, you flip a coin to decide, but you can be a bit more creative and spin your racquet. There should be a symbol on one side, and if the racquet lands on a certain side, that’ll be the determining factor.

The winner will choose who serves first. Serving is when the player first hits the ball, and this action begins the game. When the ball is served, the players will be battling it out until one person scores a point.

You should know the gist of it. Your team and the other team bat the ball back and forth. But what determines a point?

The Points

You get a point when the opposing team does the following:

  • Does not hit the ball back before the ball bounces twice
  • Sends the ball flying into the net.
  • ​Hits the ball, but it flies out-of-bounds
  • Double faults. In other words, the opponent tries serving the ball, but doesn’t get it across or misses. If they do it twice, you get a point

On the other hand, you lose a point if you do any of the above.

How to Return a Ball

So your opponent hits the ball, and now it’s in your domain. Now what? You can return the ball using these two techniques:

Volley- You hit the ball in midair, not allowing the ball to bounce any.

Ground Stroke-After the ball hits the ground and bounces once, you get a chance to return it via a ground stroke, which can be forehand or backhand.

The Mistake Beginners Make

The goal of tennis is to return the ball and try to make your opponent miss returning. Seems simple enough, but the mistake players tend to make is thinking the game is like baseball. You don’t want to be hitting the ball like you’re swinging the bat, but instead hitting it with control and pinpoint precision. If you hit the ball too hard, you may get punished with an out-of-bounds.

So before you play an opponent, you should practice. Learn how to hit a ball properly, and once you do that, you can figure out how to return a ball with great speed and enough power to mix up your opponent. Knowing how to hold the racquet right is essential for ball control.

How the Game Starts

As you should know, the server is the one who first hits the ball. The server will be at the baseline of their court, and will be standing on the right side. They’ll serve the ball left diagonally towards the other side, at the receiver. The server and receiver will rotate between left and right side, by the way. This helps mix the game up.

Length of the Game

It all depends on the skill. Newbie players will be batting the ball back and forth until one misses, but experienced players may be able to compete for a while.

So how many points do you need to win? You need at least four points to win a game, but you need to be ahead of your opponent by two points. You’ll then win one game out of a set.

longest wimbledon tennis match

What’s a set? It’s a group of a number of games, and you need to win it. To win the entire set, you’ll need to have six games won, and have won two games more than the other player.

Tennis games can last from a few minutes to several minutes depending on how competitive the players are and how many points are played. It takes a minimum of four points to play out a game. In order to win a game, you must win by at least two points.So if the score is 6-5, you’ll have to make that 7-5 to win. The first number is your score, and the second is the opponents

When you win the set, it’s not over yet. A lot of times, you’ll need to win a certain amount of sets to win the game. Usually, this is best two out of three, or three out of five.

You won’t need to have a certain amount of sets more than the player to win, thankfully.

There are other rules as well, depending on the competition. For example, in an 8 Game Pro Set, there is a time limit. To win it, the competitor must win at least eight games and have an advantage of two.

Really, the amount of games and sets will all depend on where you’re playing.


We mentioned this earlier, but it’s worth mentioning some more. After a while, you’ll rotate with your opponent. You’ll usually be rotating when the number of games in the set adds up to be odd. Let’s say the score is 3-2. That adds to five, and since that’s odd, you’ll be rotating. If it’s even, you don’t have to rotate sides.

In a casual game, it’ll be up to you and the competition to keep track of the score. You should shout whenever you score a point, or if there’s a double bounce. If there’s no communication, that implies the ball is still playable.


 In tournaments, you’ll have officials and umpires to be there if you and your opponent disagree on a point. For instance, your opponent claims that you scored out-of-bounds, but you disagree and think it was in-bounds.

The officials will be there to help settle the dispute. Just put your racquet down. Make sure it’s on the court, or you’ll be disqualified. Find an umpire, and they can help you solve this disagreement. Their goal is to look for any signs of foul play.

In tournaments, when the competition is fierce, having professionals be on the lookout is a great thing. Other sports have referees, and so should tennis.

What Makes a Tennis Match?

A tennis match happens when 2-4 players start a competition. That’s it. You win points to win a game, you win a few games to win a set, and you win a set to win the match. The many tiers of tennis allow for you or your opponent to make a comeback, and that’s what makes tennis a good competitive sport.


And now you know about tennis. We recommend practicing by yourself to get started. Get a racquet, find a court, and practice by yourself or with a friend. By being committed, and never giving up, you can end up being a great tennis player.

Also, feel free to check out our other articles, where we’ll go into detail about the advanced aspects of tennis. For now, just get outside and enjoy your game.

About the Author Susan Winkler

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