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How to Play Tennis – A Beginner’s Comprehensive Guide

Heorhii Rysak
2023-09-21

how to play tennis

Ever wondered how the pros make tennis look so effortless? Tennis, a sport of agility and strategy, captures the hearts of millions worldwide. But how does one transition from a novice to mastering those powerful serves and graceful volleys?

The essence of playing tennis lies in mastering a few key aspects: a strong, accurate serve, the ability to return shots with precision, and strategic court positioning. These skills don’t just enhance your game; they transform your approach, making every match a thrilling experience.

So, are you ready to dive deeper into the world of tennis, learn from experts like Serena Williams or Roger Federer, and discover the secrets that make them legends? Read on to uncover techniques that will not only elevate your game but also bring a new appreciation for this exhilarating sport!

Also, if perhaps you need to choose tennis bags, we have prepared for you a review of best tennis bag, you can see it here

How to Play Tennis: Equipment for Tennis

How to Play Tennis

How to start playing tennis? Apart from mastering skills and strategies, selecting the right gear is pivotal for your best performance on the court.

The Tennis Racket

Tennis for beginners can seem overwhelming, especially when choosing equipment. Racquets vary in weights, sizes, and balances, all designed for specific player styles and levels. For those just starting out, a racquet with a larger head size is typically suggested. This larger head gives a more generous sweet spot, simplifying the process of connecting with the ball. As players progress, they often transition to racquets tailored for more control or power, aligning with their evolving gameplay style. If you’re looking for options that offer superior control, check out our guide on the Best Tennis Racquets for Control.

Tennis Balls

They might look simple, but there’s science behind these yellow fuzzballs. They maintain a specific bounce and weight to keep the game consistent.Specifically designed for the sport, tennis balls have a felt-covered rubber construction. There are different types depending on the court surface (hard, clay, or grass) and even balls for high-altitude play.

Shoes

If you’re looking to play tennis, selecting the right footwear is crucial. Specialized tennis shoes are designed to accommodate the sport’s rapid lateral movements. These shoes come with the right kind of grip for various court surfaces, ensuring no slips and promoting agile play. Moreover, choosing a shoe with excellent ankle support is a must to reduce the chances of injuries.

Apparel

When you’re gearing up to play tennis, it’s crucial to choose attire that prioritizes both performance and ease. Today’s tennis clothing employs moisture-wicking fabrics to handle perspiration, ensuring that players remain comfortable with designs crafted for unrestricted movement. Women frequently gravitate towards tennis dresses or skirts, usually paired with tank tops or t-shirts. For men, the go-to ensemble often consists of lightweight shirts and shorts.

Tennis Bag

A tennis bag is an essential accessory for both amateur and professional players, tailored to securely store and organize tennis equipment. Some bags boast thermally protected compartments, ensuring that rackets are shielded from extreme temperatures, which can affect string tension and racket performance.

Tennis String

The choice of tennis string and its tension is pivotal to a player’s game as it can drastically influence the racket’s overall performance. Strings, often overlooked by casual players, are the very medium of contact with the ball, and their type and tension dictate how the ball reacts upon impact.

Dampeners

If you’re planning to play tennis, understanding the role of dampeners might come in handy. These compact devices, often round or rectangular, are among the racket’s strings. Their primary function? To lessen the vibration from the racket to your hand and arm. This can not only amplify the sensation when the ball meets the racket but also diminish potential discomfort or long-term injury. Additionally, the muted vibration alters the sound produced upon ball impact, a characteristic some tennis players favor.

Towel

In tennis, towels are essential, not just accessories. Players rely on them to wipe away distracting sweat, ensuring a clear vision and firm grip on the racket, which is crucial during intense matches. Microfiber towels, preferred by many, are especially valued for their lightweight nature. Their lightness allows players to quickly manage them during matches and they conveniently fit in tennis bags, making them travel-friendly.

Water Bottle or Hydration Pack

Hydration is paramount in tennis, a sport that often involves extended periods of strenuous activity, sometimes in extremely hot conditions. The water bottle becomes an indispensable ally for a player on the court. Dehydration, even if mild, can severely hamper a player’s performance, affecting their concentration, reflexes, and stamina. It’s not just about quenching thirst; it’s about maintaining peak physical and cognitive function.

Wristbands and Headbands

When you play tennis, accessories like wristbands and headbands become essential. Wristbands help absorb perspiration, ensuring a steady hold on your racket, while headbands prevent sweat from reaching your eyes, maintaining unobstructed vision during the match.

What’s the best tennis racket for a beginner?

The best tennis racket for a beginner should prioritize ease of use and forgiveness. Typically, rackets with larger head sizes offer a bigger sweet spot, making it simpler for novices to hit the ball. Lightweight frames are preferable for easier maneuverability. Brands like Wilson, Head, and Babolat often have beginner-friendly models. It’s essential to try various rackets and choose one that feels comfortable. For those just starting out, rackets with a larger head size and lightweight frames are recommended. Explore our selection of the Best Tennis Racquets for Beginners to find one that feels comfortable for you.

Base Tennis Techniques

When you venture to play tennis, you’re diving into a sport marked by its precision, speed, and strategic depth. Grasping the essential techniques is paramount. Here’s a glimpse of the foundational skills that every budding tennis enthusiast should acquaint themselves with:

The Forehand


When you play tennis, consider the basic stroke as a handshake with the racket. Simply swing forward and connect with the ball. It’s an instinctive move and is undoubtedly among the most commonly utilized shots in the game.

The Backhand


A bit tricky for some, the backhand requires swinging the racket from the opposite side. Two-handed or one, it’s your call! It requires good footwork to position oneself correctly.

The Volley


This mid-air stroke is for those quick reflex shots near the net. A game changer! A shot where the ball is hit before it bounces on the court.

The Serve


It’s not just about power; it’s an art. Toss, swing, and ace! A good serve combines strength, precision, and spin to challenge the opponent

Serving is an essential aspect of tennis, and mastering various techniques can significantly enhance your gameplay.

Serving Techniques

When you play tennis, it’s essential to recognize that the serve is the sole shot where you have full autonomy over the timing and execution. Hence, perfecting this skill is of utmost importance.

Flat Serve

Description: The flat serve is known for its speed and direct approach. The ball is hit with minimal spin, which often results in a powerful, fast serve that can be hard for the opponent to return.
When to use: Use the flat serve when you want to surprise your opponent with speed, especially on first serves.

Slice Serve

Description: The slice serve introduces side-spin to the ball, causing it to curve, usually away from the opponent. This technique can be deceptive and tricky for opponents to predict.
When to use: Employ the slice serve when you want to pull your opponent wide of the court, opening up the court for the next shot.

Topspin Serve

Description: As the name suggests, this serve imparts topspin on the ball. This makes the ball dip faster and bounce higher than expected.
Technique tip: Toss the ball slightly over your head and strike it from below, brushing it to generate spin.
When to use: The topspin serve is especially effective as a second serve because it has a higher margin of error due to its arching trajectory. It can also be used to pull the opponent in with a shorter, kicking bounce.

Kick Serve

Description: The kick serve is a variation of the topspin serve but has more spin, causing the ball to kick up even higher upon bouncing. It can be particularly tricky for opponents to handle, especially if they’re not tall.
Technique tip: Toss the ball slightly behind you and brush up and across the ball with your racket.
When to use: This serve can be an effective second serve or when you want to force your opponent to return the ball at an uncomfortable height.

Underhand Serve

Description: This is a less common serve where the ball is served underarm. It’s often seen as unconventional, but it can catch an opponent off guard.
When to use: If you notice your opponent standing far back or if you’re dealing with an injury that prevents a regular overhand serve.

Every player should cultivate multiple serving techniques to have diverse tools during a match. By varying serves, you can keep your opponent guessing, which can give you an edge. Practice is key. The more you serve, the better you’ll understand the nuances of each technique, making you a formidable force on the court.

Tennis Tips for Beginners

For beginners, getting into tennis can be both exciting and a bit overwhelming. Here are some essential tips to help you start your tennis journey:

1. Choose the Right Equipment

Start with a beginner-friendly tennis racket. These rackets usually have a larger head size, offering a bigger sweet spot which is more forgiving of off-center hits. Lightweight rackets are also recommended for beginners. Don’t forget to choose comfortable tennis shoes and appropriate clothing that allows for easy movement.

2. Learn the Basic Strokes

Focus on mastering the fundamental strokes – the forehand, backhand, serve, and volley. Begin with a simple grip, like the Eastern forehand grip, and practice hitting the ball with consistent form.

3. Understand Tennis Rules and Scoring System

Familiarize yourself with the basic rules of tennis, including how to serve, how points are scored, and what counts as in or out. Understanding these basics will make playing and watching tennis more enjoyable.

4. Work on Your Footwork

Good footwork is crucial in tennis. Practice moving your feet quickly and efficiently to get into the right position for each shot. Drills that improve agility, balance, and coordination will be beneficial.

5. Develop Consistency

Before aiming for power, focus on hitting the ball consistently. Aim to keep the ball in play rather than trying to hit winners. Consistency is key in building confidence and skill.

6. Take Lessons

If possible, take lessons from a qualified coach. A coach can provide personalized guidance, correct your technique, and give you tips specific to your playing style.

7. Practice Regularly

Like any skill, tennis requires regular practice. Spend time on the court as often as you can, and try to play with a variety of opponents to challenge different aspects of your game.

8. Stay Relaxed and Have Fun

Remember to stay relaxed on the court. Holding your racket too tightly or tensing up can hinder your play. Enjoy the learning process and don’t get discouraged by mistakes – they are part of learning.

9. Watch and Learn

Watch professional tennis matches to observe how the pros play. Notice their footwork, stroke technique, and how they handle different situations. You can learn a lot just by observing.

10. Stay Hydrated and Stretch

Always bring water to the court and stay hydrated. Begin and end your playing sessions with stretching exercises to prevent injuries and improve flexibility.

By following these tips, you’ll set a strong foundation for your tennis journey. Remember, improvement comes with practice and patience, so keep at it and enjoy the game!

How long does it take to become good at tennis?

Becoming proficient at tennis depends on factors like frequency of play, coaching quality, and individual aptitude. For someone practicing multiple times a week with proper guidance, achieving an intermediate level might take 1-2 years. However, mastering the sport at a competitive or professional level can take many more years of dedicated training and play. Personal commitment and passion play crucial roles in determining progress.

Conclusion

Is tennis easy? Well, tennis is more than just swinging a racket and hitting the ball. It’s a strategic mental game. From drop shots to lobs, the tactics you choose can elevate or hinder your performance. Tennis isn’t merely a sport; it embodies passion, challenges, and a way of life. Whether you’re taking your first steps on the court or dreaming of Wimbledon glory, the journey in tennis is both challenging and fulfilling. So, are you set to dive into this mesmerizing world of tennis?