Tennis is a wonderful sport for strengthening your body, relationships with fellow teammates, and reinforcing the mind’s focus. If you are looking to master a new sport and gain some exercise, use this guide to understand every hack and avoid the rookie mistakes.
Tennis tips for beginners will cover subjects such as:
- Equipment Required
- Types of Racquets (& How to Choose the Right One for You)
- Types of Strokes & How to Serve
- Mastering the Court
- How to Keep Track of Scoring
- And Much More
- Racquet – These are also called rackets, depending on if the game is Tennis, squash, or related matches. We will cover each type of racquet, but as a beginner, you will lean towards a wider head (which simply means you have a larger racquet to hit the ball more easily while you’re learning). You can read more about Best Tennis Racquet For Beginners.
- Tennis Balls – These are incredibly affordable, but you may need a lot of them. Read our full article on Best Tennis Balls.
- Proper Footwear – Your attire should allow you to:
- Move quickly
- Stop quickly
- Bounce slightly
- Flatter soles
- A studier base than a running shoe
- A non-marking sole that won’t impact indoor tennis courts with skids
- Tennis Clothing – Your outfit, similarly to footwear, should be comfortable above all else. If your clothes and shoes are too snug, you can damage your feet and certainly won’t enjoy Tennis. Your clothes should possess the characteristics of being: Read our full article on What To Wear To Play Tennis.
- Easy for large body extensions and rapid movement
- Full-length with shorts if it is a skirt
- Gym bag – Unless you have a court at your house, you’ll need something to transport this gear in. You can read more about Best Tennis Bags.
- Water – The most important thing besides your racquet and tennis balls will be hydration. Not only are you sweating profusely as you run at full speed up and down the court, but your performance depends on it. As USTA Sport Science claims:
Types of Racquets (& How to Choose the Right One for You)Your racquet dictates the quality of your game more than you might believe.
The age-old question of what type of racquet you should purchase will depend on what’s best for your body type and needs. The main categories to choose from will be:
- Power Racquets
- Player’s Racquets
- Tweener Racquets
#1 Power RacquetsAlso called ‘Game Improvement Racquets,’ these will be suited to beginners that have shorter swings and want a racquet that strengthens their swing. These tend to be a bit larger and offer a wider net that allows for more balls to be hit. Other characteristics of these racquet are that they tend to be:
- More lightweight
- More flexible for novices
- Heavier near the top (top-heavy racquets will pull your weight forward, making your swing even more powerful due to the kinetic energy. This will help you maintain your balance and swing with greater ease).
#2 Player’s RacquetsAlso called ‘Control Racquets’ are best for more advanced players. These tend to offer you less flexibility and less power than a beginner-level racquet. Notably described as ‘unforgiving,’ a Control Racquet is called so because they enhance your control but don’t increase your power. Characteristics of Player’s Racquets include being:
- Heavier (often around 12 ounces)
- Less Head-heavy and more evenly-keeled or handle-heavy
- Heads are typically 85-98 sq. inches
- Used by Professional Tennis Players for advanced tournaments
#3 Tweener RacquetKnown as the blend of the previous two, your Tweener Racquet is a wonderful median-step to take before upgrading to the Player’s Racquet. As an intermediate balance of control and weight, the qualities you can anticipate from this variety include:
- Ideal of low-medium or medium-high swing power
- Head is slightly larger, usually surpassing 100 sq. inches
- Average weight of between 9 to 12 ounces
- Easily controlled
- Initial athleticism
- Body type
- Comfortability with a certain racquet weight
- Your racquet’s handle is octagon-shaped (meaning it is 8-sided)
- These eight sides are known as bevels.
- Players use the bevels to understand where to grip the racquet
The Continental GripThis one will also be known as the ‘Hammer Grip,’ or ‘Chopper Grip,’ as you are using those movements.
When You Use It – Primarily while:
- Backhand Slices
- Drop Shots
- An opened-facing racquet that swings outwardly easily
- A forceful swing grip that increases your swing’s strength (ideal for serving)
- Quick control when in need of fast defense
- Look at the 8-bevels in your tennis racquet’s handle. Looking at the bevels with your racquet perpendicular to the ground, number your bevels 1 to 8 with the sky-facing bevel as #1.
- The base knuckle of your index finger and your heel pad should sit on bevel #2.
- Swing outwardly and use the chopping or hammer movement.
The Eastern GripSubtly similar to the Continental Grip, this racquet handle will be held in a similar feel to shaking someone’s hand.
When You Use It – Primarily for:
- Forehand Strokes
- To flatten your ball swing
- To spin the ball
- To swing it at a lower height
- Increasing difficulty level on your opponent
- Fast shots
- Flat shots
- Advanced swinging that feels very comfortable and natural to most
- Place your hand to where the index finger’s base knuckle and heel are on bevel #1.
- Swing as feels natural.
The Semi-Western GripGiving you similar benefits as the Eastern Grip, the Semi-Western Grip adds the benefit of increased control.
When You Use It – Primarily while:
- Swinging with aggressive shots
- Also for forehand swings
- Higher swings
- More control
- Ideal for closed racquet faces
- Some describe it as the way your hand moves as you fist pump.
- The experts say you should seek out a natural position by placing the racquet on the ground and determining the most comfortable technique for picking it up. The only rule here is that your index knuckle and heel should be placed on Bevel #4.
How to Discover Your Most Natural GripThe steps are to simply:
- Utilize your non-dominant hand (meaning if you are right-handed, use your left hand).
- Turn the racquet perpendicularly to the ground (not parallel to the ground but turned 90-degrees from here).
- Place the hand that is dominant (if you write with your right hand, it is this one) on the strings of the racquet’s head.
- Move your hand down until it naturally wraps around the racquet’s handle.
- Using the space between your thumb and your index finger on your dominant hand, point that as a V-shape aimed to your shoulder.
- The natural form you take when selecting a grip will indicate what feels right. Practice with a tennis coach or receive direct mentorship for customized adjustments to your grip.
Types of Strokes in TennisAs your rally (which is a game in which there is a steady flow of shots between two tennis opponents), you will need to use what you’ve learned from your grip and apply it to your swing.
The most popular types of swings to be aware of (also called strokes) in Tennis are:
1.ForehandHitting the tennis ball with the dominant side of your body.
How to Do It –
- Determine which side is your dominant side.
- Twist your body this way to where you are facing the right if you are right-handed.
- Twist your body back to openly swing forward, while keeping your feet, shoulders, and hips pivoted in the direction of this dominant side.
- Swing starting low and move it upwards.
- Follow-through (meaning finish the stroke) angling towards your non-dominant shoulder.
2.BackhandHitting the tennis ball with the non-dominant side of your body.
How to Do It –
Same method as forehand but opposite.
3.VolleyYou’re likely gathering that things are named appropriately, proved by the fact that a Volley Stroke will be utilized when by the net for close-range swings.
How to Do It –
- When the ball is falling close to the net, you will need this swing; however, it can be done from anywhere.
- Take rapid steps
- Move on the balls of your feet
- Keep your shoulders squared
- Hit the ball when it’s about 3-feet from the net or near hitting the ground.
- Avoid swinging. Instead, think of a volley-ball technique. It requires little follow-through but will be more like a rapid punch or rapid tap.
4.ServeEvery tennis player will have to serve eventually. Serving is done to get the game going!
How to Do It –
- Toss the ball into the air about 1-3 feet above your maximum reach. You don’t want to go further than comfortable but you are:
- Tossing the ball up
- Waiting for it to come down into reach
- Swinging in your most comfortable stroke style
- An approach commonly taught by instructors is to imagine as you begin to swing that you are scratching your back.
- Then, extend it above your head.
- Swing to hit the ball in whatever technique feels most natural that allows you to extend upwards. Beginners can select to serve overhand or underhand, whichever is most comfortable. Men will be more comfortable swinging overhand while women experience an easier time swinging underhand. This distinction is due to the shoulder alignment in connection to the arms:
- Women’s arms externally rotate, being more opened for vulnerable forearms.
- Men’s shoulders internally rotate their arms, causing them to be more closed-off and pre-disposed for overhand swings.
- Follow-through for extra force and power.
Tips for All Swings
- Your ball will go in the direction that the racquet is facing.
- Try not to snap your wrists. Not only can this cause damage, but your wrists are not the strong or secure part of your arm and you should not be using them as a source of power.
- Instead, use your body weight to drive through with your bodily force
- Always be aware of your feet to keep them just behind the baseline. You don’t want to cross the baseline or extend any outward lines or net lines.
The key attributes to understand your court are:
- Grass (Used at Wimbledon)
- Clay (Used at the French Open)
- Hard Courts (Most common and used at the Rogers Cup)
- Two lines down each side of the court
- Four service courts (the four boxes closest to the net, two on each side
- Two baselines (the boxes furthest from the net, one on each opposing side of the court)
- If playing a singles game (between two players) – You must keep the ball in the inner lines
- If playing a doubles game (between four players) – You must use the entire court
- Any ball exceeding these boundaries is considered ‘out’ or ‘out of bounds.’
- Don’t touch it with your racquet
- Shake your opponent’s hand at the net at the end of every match as a sign of good sportsmanship
- Practicing strategic problem-solving
- Increasing your heartbeat
- Increases agility
- Increasing your capacity for stress and emotional challenges
- Social sport to spend with friends or family
- Overall fitness and stress reduction
- Make mistakes – They are integral to life, and they are how you will learn. Use them as a tool to improve, not beat yourself up for early errors that we all make when new to a sport (or new to anything!)
- Use grass courts if available – Hard courts will be more common, but they are also much harder on your knees and joints. Seek out a softer surface if possible. Even clay will have slightly more bounce and ‘give’ than a cement court.
- Master the Grip – If you feel that you’re failing at Tennis, it’s likely because your grip is incorrect for your body type. You might consider paying for at least one lesson to have a professional coach you one-on-one. You can decide from there if you want to keep paying for lessons, This will make the game easier for you, and you will enjoy it profoundly more than if your grip is robbing you of success.
- Practice – You will see the most improvement if you stick with it and create a weekly routine to practice.