how to play tennis for beginners

There are over 1.2 billion people who play tennis, both recreationally and competitively, making it one of the most popular sports in the world. 

Whether you’re planning on joining your first tournament or simply want to burn a few calories, you need to learn the basic rule of tennis.

Here’s how you can get started on tennis as an amateur.

You’re able to play the sport at a local park or by joining a tennis club. You can easily find one through a quick search on Google. 

While it’s okay to practice the serving techniques in an open space, practicing on actual courts allows you to be familiar with the court layouts faster, so it minimizes the risk of accidents occurring. 

You’re not going to need an expensive tennis racket for a newbie right off the bat. You may opt for cheaper tennis rackets meant for recreational games and cheap tennis shoes in the game.

tennis for beginners

Make sure to check if the tennis racquet fits you comfortably before playing a game. Ideally, the grip should be at the optimal size, and the racquet should be light enough for you to swing.

6 Basic Lessons

1. Ready Position

You start at the baseline corner. A quick coin toss determines who serves first, and the player who will serve the ball decides which side of the court to serve from.

Meanwhile, the opposing competitors place themselves on the opposite side of the court.

If the first serve comes from the court’s right side, you need to stand in the left corner of the baseline. 

Stand while facing the opposing corner with one foot marginally above the court’s baseline, while the other foot about 18 inches away inside the tennis court.

tennis ready position

Once your feet’ positions are in place, you need to hold the racquet out. There is no specific way of holding the racket as long as you are comfortably gripping around the handle. 

Use your dominant arm to hold the racquet with your arm extended. The racket head should be in parallel with your head.

If you are not serving, you can hold the racquet with both of your hands. Usually, the players place their left hand at the top of the handle while the other beneath it. We encourage you to practice several tennis drills

2. Hitting the Forehand

You need to secure your forehand hold first as it plays a massive role in your tennis strokes’ quality and the impact of your racquet strings with the tennis ball on your hand. It affects how you can control and manipulate the ball at will.

Spread your fingers slightly, just enough for your index finger to be under the racket. 

When your index finger is in place, it helps push the head of your racquet up. 

Do not just stand there whilst waiting for the ball, do a mini-split step, so you can move swiftly and hit the target at ease.

Forehand

Turn to the side as soon as you see, the target is going towards your forehand. Starting from the preparation phase, allow the racquet to drop, so you’re letting gravity help you in acceleration. 

Later in the forward swing stage, you will start to take over with the dominant arm. 

Now that the racket is in acceleration, you have to steer it into the appropriate swing path that enables you to control the ball. It’s the straight line before and after the aim contact.

3. Hitting the Backhand

For a tennis newbie, make contact when the aim is not right in front of you. Right-handed players should make the contact slightly off to the left side. The target should be a few inches away from you. 

You can keep your racquet-face control by being mindful of how you are holding your racket, and how it affects the directions.

Focus on controlling the face of your racket and where it’s pointing upon hitting the ball.

backhand

You can hit the ball with a two-handed act or a one-handed act, depending on which you are most comfortable. Performing a two-handed act means placing your non-dominant arm on top and the dominant at the handle’s base in the game. 

Finally, take the swing. As one of the basic tennis rules, the harder you swing, the farther the ball will go. As a novice, your goal is to keep the ball within the court’s lines to score a point in the game.

4. Hitting the Serve

If this is your first time, keep in mind that you can only hit an efficient tennis serve if you are standing from a solid starting point. The target is the service box. Situate yourself sideways to the tennis net, situated behind the baseline.

Ensure that your front foot is pointing in the direction of the post, while your back foot should align in the heel of your front foot. 

Hold your tennis racket using the continental grip serve in the game (1). However, if you have no prior experience, then an eastern forehand hold would suffice.

serve

You have to switch grips later on as you become more accustomed to the sport and better serve. Question is, how fast should tennis serve be?

Drop both of your arms, separate them as they are in your front leg’s inner thigh, and toss the tennis ball whilst placing your racquet up to a throwing disposition, and release the ball.

Pushing off from the ground, you take a swing at the ball. Time it correctly, and your legs are straight, and the racquet drops behind the body that is pointing to the ground, reaching the lowest point. The ball will land on the service box of your opponent with your serve. Learn how to get better at playing tennis here

5. Volley

Footwork is the key to getting into an optimal state when playing tennis and winning the game (2). Beginners can do a split step so they can easily get close to the net quickly. 

Once you have identified what kind of volley you are hitting, turn sideways at a forty-five-degree angle with your hips a little closed off. Your feet should be at the same forty-five-degree angle as well. 

Place your racquet behind the area where you plan on making contact with the ball without bringing the racquet behind your figure.

volley

As you are hitting the volley, transition your body’s weight from the back to front foot whilst changing from the closed disposition of your hips to an open one, allowing your arms to exert energy through the racquet and into the aim.

6. Footworks

Side to side

The side to side or side shuffle allows players to switch directions easily in playing tennis. It’s the first footwork you need to master.

To do the side-to-side footwork, make sure that your upper body is facing the net. You have to stand with your feet slightly wider than a hip-width apart.

You have to bend both your knees and hips with your toes pointing forward.

The next step is to step out with your right foot and bring your left foot in, or you can step in with your left foot and get your right foot in without your foot touching the other throughout the game.

footwork

Forward

You start from the baseline, and when you see the short ball, you run into it, preparing the racquet. Avoid staying in the service line as it gives your opponent an edge.

Get into a neutral stance, and from there, get into the double rhythm step, so that you keep your body in a neutral stance.

After which, you drop into your lock-in disposition, contact out in front, and pivot off that front foot. Or you can hop off your lead leg and land on your lead leg. You may have to hit a few tennis balls to find out which of the two styles you’re more comfortable;e with the most in the game.

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Backward

You start from the center mark. When the target comes nice and deep, you’re going to drop your right foot back, and you’re going to run with your face still facing the target. 

You’re going to land on your back foot. Your back and shoulder are gouging to be a little bit lower, and the lock-in disposition is going to be slightly lower as well. Finally, you’re going to transfer your weight forward and swing through.

FAQS

Yes. You can learn by watching videos, reading books, even by joining tennis clubs in your local area. You will learn a thing or two about tennis doubles as well by playing with other players.

You can familiarize yourself with the scoring system, semi-western grips, hand-eye coordination, deuce, break point, and how a player wins the game against pushers.

You can participate in a tennis match regardless of how old you are. Although the best age for kids to get started to become a player is between 4-5 years old, the game is for all ages.

However, you will always find that one player or two tennis players in your local tennis club that started late in the sport.

It can take anywhere between 5 months to 5 years. While you can learn how to play tennis in a few months, it’s difficult to become a good tennis player in a short amount of time.

You need to follow the tennis beginner’s guide, play on different tennis courts, practice alone and with a team, and learn everything you need to know first before you can become a worthy opponent.

Wrapping Up - How to Play Tennis If You’re a Beginner

It takes time to play tennis, especially when you’re just starting out. However, remember that Serena Williams and Roger Federer were amateur players first before becoming pros. 

Your first goal should simply be being able to hit the ball and earn your first point. As you win a point, it’ll easily become two points as you become accustomed to the game, the tennis scoring system, and the basic rules of tennis.

Keep playing the game, stay on the tennis court, and from your first serve, first point, and the next two points, you’ll win your first tennis match.

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