How to Play Tennis: Equipment, Basic Rules, and Strategies

If you’re seeking a sport that is both enjoyable and demanding, tennis is an exceptional choice. Not only is it a great way to stay active and fit, but it’s also a sport you can enjoy throughout your life.

Regardless of your skill level, there are always new abilities to acquire and areas to enhance as a player, whether a novice or an experienced competitor.

Tennis Equipment

Before you can start playing tennis, you must have the right equipment. Below is a detailed overview of the crucial gear required for playing tennis.

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The tennis racket holds the utmost significance when it comes to playing tennis. Rackets come in various shapes, sizes, and materials, so choosing one that feels comfortable in your hand and suits your playing style is essential.

When choosing a racket, you should consider the following factors:

  • Grip size
  • Weight
  • Head size
  • String tension

Tennis Balls:

Usually composed of rubber and felt and standardized in size and weight, tennis balls are an essential part of the game. You’ll need to have several tennis balls on hand when you’re playing tennis, as they can become worn out and lose their bounce over time.

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Tennis Shoes:

Having the right tennis shoes is essential for playing tennis safely and effectively. Tennis shoes should provide good support, stability, and traction on the court and be comfortable to wear for extended periods.

Other Equipment:

Besides rackets, balls, and shoes, other equipment items can be advantageous while playing tennis. These include wristbands that soak up sweat, hats or visors shielding your face from the sun and sunglasses that minimize glare on bright days.

Basic Rules of Tennis

Rule of Tennis

Having acquired your equipment, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the fundamental regulations of tennis. The following are some of the most significant rules you should remember while playing the game.

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Tennis uses a scoring system based on points, games, and sets. If the first player wins a game to win four points, they must also have a margin of at least two points over their opponent. 

This means a game could end with a score of 4-2, 4-3, or 5-3.


The server is the player who starts the point by hitting the ball over the net to the opponent. The serve must be hit into the opponent’s service box, and it must land within the boundaries of the court. 


Groundstrokes are shots executed after the ball bounces on the court, with the forehand and backhand being the most frequently used strokes. You should step into the ball and swing the racket to hit a groundstroke.


Volleys are shots played before the ball bounces on the court, often executed near the net, and demand proficient reflexes and hand-eye coordination.

In tennis, when the serve hits the net but lands within the service box, it is deemed a “let,” and the server gets another opportunity to serve without penalty. However, if the server’s ball lands outside the service box boundaries, it is counted as a fault, leading to a loss of points for the server.

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A fault can be called for several reasons, such as if the server misses the ball completely, hits the net with the ball, or lands outside the service box’s boundaries. If a server makes two consecutive faults, they forfeit the point.


A let is called in tennis when the ball hits the net and lands in the service box or if interference during play hinders a player’s ability to make a shot. In this case, the point is replayed without penalty.

Basic Techniques 

The basic techniques include the serve, forehand, backhand, and volley. The serve is the starting point of every point and can give the player an advantage if executed correctly.

Players use groundstrokes such as the forehand and backhand to strike the ball back and forth over the net. A volley can be hit before or after the ball bounces on the court, but it is typically hit before it bounces.

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Strategies for Playing Tennis

Crafting effective tactics that aid in securing victories is crucial. Here are some strategies that you can employ to enhance your gameplay:

Playing Singles:

When playing singles, utilizing the complete court to your benefit is essential. It would be best if you tried to hit the ball deep to keep your opponent behind the baseline and then move them around the court with a mix of shots.

Playing Doubles:

It would help if you communicated with your partner before and during the match to ensure you are both on the same page. It would help if you also tried to cover the court as a team, with one player covering the net and the other covering the baseline.

Serve and Volley:

The serve-and-volley strategy involves serving the ball and immediately charging toward the net to hit a volley. This strategy can be very effective because it pressures the opponent to hit a good return and allows the server to take control of the point early on.

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Baseline Play:

Baseline play involves staying behind the baseline and hitting groundstrokes to try and wear down the opponent. This strategy is particularly effective against opponents who struggle with movement, as it requires them to cover a lot of ground to return shots.

Offensive and Defensive Shots:

Knowing when to play offensive or defensive shots is essential to tennis strategy. Foule shots, such as topspin or slice, pressure the opponent and try to hit winners. Defensive shots, such as lobs or drop shots, neutralize the opponent’s attack and force them to hit difficult shots.

Tennis Scoring

Tennis Scoring Rules

Tennis scoring can seem confusing, but it’s straightforward once you understand the rules. The game starts with a coin toss to determine who serves first.

The server must hit the ball into the diagonally opposite service box, and the receiver must return it before it bounces twice.

Each point in tennis starts with a serve, and the game continues until one player reaches four points and is ahead by at least two points. A player can win a point in tennis by hitting a shot not returned by the opponent, hitting a shot that the opponent returns but goes out of bounds, or if the opponent commits a fault.

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Faults in Tennis

A player commits a fault if they fail to clear the net, hit the ball beyond the boundaries, or hit the ball into the net.

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Court Dimensions for Singles and Doubles Matches

DimensionSingles CourtDoubles Court
Length78 feet (23.77 m)78 feet (23.77 m)
Width27 feet (8.23 m)36 feet (10.97 m)
Service Line21 feet (6.40 m)21 feet (6.40 m)
Baseline39 feet (11.89 m)39 feet (11.89 m)
Alley Width4.5 feet (1.37 m)4.5 feet (1.37 m)
Net Height3 feet (0.914 m)3 feet (0.914 m)
Net Height3.5 feet (1.07 m)3.5 feet (1.07 m)


Tennis is a fun and exciting sport that requires skill, strategy, and practice. By understanding the basic rules of tennis, you’ll be able to enjoy the game and improve your skills.

Remember to always practice good sportsmanship and respect your opponents.

Frequently Asked Questions