For as long as I can remember, my friend's mum has been a tennis fan. Each year, as soon as Wimbledon published their schedule, she scanned the list to find out when her favourite players would take the court and let everyone know she will not be available while those matches are on.

Her player preferences have changed over the years; once, there were no males players on her list at all. That changed once Roger Federer started making waves but she really didn't include him in her pantheon of favs until he turned professional. As a junior player, she found him merely noteworthy.

I find it odd that, for all of her interest, she never played tennis herself. I never quite had the nerve to ask her why until a few weeks ago when, once again, she was avidly scanning the Wimbledon schedule.

"I didn't know how to go about it", she replied.

Granted, that was a different time; people today are free to pursue just about whatever activity they set their minds to. Still, it was rather shocking that she never got the chance to play the sport she so clearly loves.

For her and anyone else looking forward to playing tennis, here's how to get started:

  • find out if tennis is for you
  • learn facts about tennis, including the game's history and rules
  • find out where you can play tennis
  • invest in a good racket, a few tennis balls and some durable shoes
  • work with a tennis coach to master the game

In part as a tribute to my gracious friend who, after such a long association considers me another daughter, and in part, because there must be some who wonder how they too could get into tennis, Superprof talks about the steps to becoming a tennis player.

Find out more detailed information about tennis lessons Glasgow here.

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Tennis Facts: Understand the Game

For some people, it's the dashing tennis whites and trim figures they cover that entices them to the sport. For others, it's the combination of strategy and action; from the get-go, tennis players are moving and calculating where they should land their next lob.

Whatever reason you have for thinking about taking up tennis, you should first give it a try.

You can start playing tennis with good shoes, a visor for outdoor play and a racket
Good shoes, a racket and a visor are about all you need to get started playing tennis. Photo by Cristina Anne Costello on Unsplash

Unlike sports such as weightlifting or rock climbing, tennis doesn't require a lot of equipment or special gear. A racket, a can of tennis balls and some decent shoes are about all you need to get started but you don't have to lay out any cash for even that little bit to find out if the game is really for you.

If you're a student and your school offers tennis lessons - or, even better, after-school tennis clinics, you can attend a few of them to see if this game is a good fit for you. Whether you're in or out of school, you might see if your local community centre has tennis rackets to lend.

You might want to bring your own tennis balls, just in case they don't have any to lend.

Get the feel of a racket in your hand. Try a few backhands and forehands as you bat the ball against a wall. See how often and how well you can catch it on its return.

If all of this feels good and right, if your heart sings with joy even as it furiously pounds, if you have that zingy, tingly feeling in your legs that shows they'll soon enjoy regular lunges, dashes and pivots...

If you find you've an irrepressible smile cresting, you've discovered some of the benefits of playing tennis. Feel free to embrace it; shop for equipment and buy those shoes because the game awaits!

You can know the basic tennis lessons for beginners here.

Rules and Tennis Scoring System

Virtually anyone can bat a ball against a wall; racquetball players do it all the time. Tennis players may practise their aim and swing by playing against a wall but, when it comes to playing tennis, you have to have an opponent on the other side of the net.

Like many sports, tennis has an etiquette to follow but you shouldn't worry about that straightaway; you can simply take your cue from other players. Everything, from the post-match handshake to not throwing rackets is pretty common-sense, anyway.

The rules to learn before stepping on a court address gameplay. What happens if the ball barely clears the net? Where are the out-of-bounds lines? Are there any rules about serving?

Find good tennis lessons London here on Superprof.

Your feet should not cross the base line when serving
Keeping your feet off the court when serving is a very important tennis rule. Photo by Moises Alex on Unsplash

A few of the most important tennis rules you should know before stepping onto the court include:

  • when you serve, your feet must remain behind the base line. Indeed, you could be charged with a foot fault if even one toe is on the court as you serve
  • if your serve isn't playable, you may serve a second time (but if that one misses too, you're subject to a double fault and you lose your serve)
    • similarly, if your serve nicks the net and remains in the court playing area (service area), you may serve again but if it goes out of bounds, you lose the point and the serve.
  • Upon a playable serve, players can volley the ball as long as they'd like but it doesn't increase anyone's score. Only failing to return the ball results in a point gain for the player who last hit it.
  • the ball can hit any part of a line and still be counted as in; once it's over the line, it is considered out
  • distracting opponents, touching the net or interfering with their play in any way can result in a point loss.

There are other, more specific rules. Some apply only to competition - players must keep at least one foot on the ground while serving is a relatively new one while others have permeated even the recreational levels of the sport.

The bottom line is, it's best to know at least the basic rules of tennis before engaging with other players.

The best Tennis tutors available
Samantha
5
5 (16 reviews)
Samantha
£45
/h
Gift icon
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James
5
5 (18 reviews)
James
£35
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Ali
5
5 (15 reviews)
Ali
£59
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Leo
5
5 (15 reviews)
Leo
£75
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Eugene
5
5 (13 reviews)
Eugene
£40
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Luca
5
5 (8 reviews)
Luca
£26
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Henry
5
5 (10 reviews)
Henry
£60
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Jonny
5
5 (4 reviews)
Jonny
£65
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Samantha
5
5 (16 reviews)
Samantha
£45
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
James
5
5 (18 reviews)
James
£35
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Ali
5
5 (15 reviews)
Ali
£59
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Leo
5
5 (15 reviews)
Leo
£75
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Eugene
5
5 (13 reviews)
Eugene
£40
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Luca
5
5 (8 reviews)
Luca
£26
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Henry
5
5 (10 reviews)
Henry
£60
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Jonny
5
5 (4 reviews)
Jonny
£65
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Let's go

What Is the Equipment for Tennis?

A bit ago, we mentioned that little is needed to play tennis: a racket, a ball and some decent shoes. You should also have a court to play on but, in a pinch, you could simply volley with another aspiring player to practise your swing and develop better hand-eye coordination.

Shoes are a key component of any tennis player's arsenal. As you will soon discover, your ankles, knees and spine will take the brunt of all the lunging, running and pivoting you'll do so it's best to have shoes that will give your joints and bones proper support. Also, make sure that your shoes will grip the court properly; nothing's worse than overshooting your destination and missing the ball.

As for those snazzy tennis whites? You might wait a while to invest in them; they're not necessary to play well. However, if you feel they will boost your confidence, by all means, add them to your shopping list.

You should also consider a visor and, if you don't have them already, sunglasses. Keeping the sun out of your eyes is crucial to hitting every ball that comes your way. If you can't see it, you won't be able to hit it. One caveat, though: make sure your glasses fit snugly and, if possible, that they are shatter-resistant.

Of course, if you only plan on playing indoors, neither the visor nor the glasses are necessary. However, a sweatband would be a good idea.

Find good tennis lessons for kids near me here on Superprof.

No need for tennis whites unless you want a confidence boost
You don't have to invest in tennis whites until you're sure tennis will become a long-term passion. Photo by flou gaupr on Unsplash

The Best Tennis Rackets for Beginners

Your tennis racket is the most important piece of equipment for playing tennis. Indeed, you wouldn't be able to play at all if you didn't have one. After you take a trial run at the game and discovered you like it, you should invest in a good racket.

One of the most important considerations is the racket's weight. Heavy rackets can give you a more powerful stroke but you would have to have the strength to wield it - both grip strength and in your shoulder, to swing it.  Furthermore, you should have a decent technique before considering a heavy racket because not holding it right could lead to injury.

If you're more of a nimble player - you see yourself scooting all over the court and using backhands and forehands indiscriminately, perhaps a light racket would suit your playing style better. Usually, beginners start with a medium racket and graduate to a heavy one as they become more used to playing.

The racket's length is important, too. Obviously, longer rackets will reach further and deliver more power but they are much harder to manoeuvre, particularly in close shots.

The optimal length for adolescents and adults is between 27 and 29 inches (~68.5cm to 74cm). The shorter racket would serve those players better; the only benefit they would get out of a longer racket is the extended reach and that won't compensate for the lack of control and the fatigue it may cause you.

Learn more about choosing the right racket and other aspects of tennis in our beginner's guide to playing tennis.

How Long do Tennis Lessons Last?

This rather undefined question has a simple answer: anywhere from 30 minutes to years. That's no joke; some tennis players take lessons even as advanced players. After all, everyone can benefit from a bit of coaching, even tennis pros.

As you are just starting out, your coach may settle on 30-minute lessons until you build up your strength and endurance. Those lessons will likely consist of how to hold the racket properly, how to position yourself and pivot as your swing. You may also confront a tennis machine set on slow so you can get used to balls flying at you. You may even hit a few!

Once you get tennis basics down - how to move, swing and hit a ball, your coach may pair you up with another player so you can experience what that feels like. By that time, your lessons will have stretched into an hour or even an hour and a half but they likely won't run any longer than that.

Your safety and health are your coach's primary concern, even ahead of helping you improve your game, so they won't let you exhaust yourself, even if you beg them to.

Should you prefer private tennis lessons, you may take them with a Superprof tennis coach. Your cost of tennis lessons could be much lower than if you took them elsewhere and, besides, where will you get the kind of personal attention that a Superprof tennis coach could provide?

Your coach may throw balls at you instead of using a machine
Absent a machine, your coach may throw balls for you to hit. Photo by Richard Sagredo on Unsplash

How to Get Better at Tennis

So you've decided to learn how to play tennis. You've scoured the internet or, better yet, repaired directly to Superprof and selected your ideal tennis coach. Now you only have to wait until your scheduled lesson time. As you wait, you might turn your thoughts to what your lessons will be like.

What should you expect to happen during your first tennis lesson?

A competent tennis coach will talk with you quite a lot before you even pick up a tennis racket. They won't go over the tennis scoring system or how many sets in tennis, though. They need to know about your level of fitness if you have any medical or physical conditions that could affect your playing ability and what they should watch out for as you play.

They may also share some tennis facts with you, such as the history of the game and the odd reason that 'love' became a tennis scoring term. They will then examine your equipment, especially your tennis racket and your shoes.

If your tennis racket is too long, too heavy or too light, or if your hand is too large to grip the racket comfortably, they will likely recommend changing rackets. They're not being unduly fussy when doing so. They just want to be sure that you will not wear out your shoulder swinging too heavy a racket, nor do they want you to stress your arm muscles from having to grip the racket too tightly.

Because learning racket control is paramount, your tennis coach will make sure that your tennis racket is the right length because, the longer it is, the harder it will be to control.

And then, they'll turn their focus to your shoes.

For your first few lessons, you may get away with wearing trainers or even sand shoes but, as your lessons progress and you learn how to manoeuvre on the court, you'll need footwear that can withstand the sudden starts and stops, pivots and side-to-side movements.

After that examination and making all the necessary recommendations, it will be time to get moving. Naturally, your coach will lead you through a series of warmup exercises, but not because you will soon be performing astounding physical feats. Warming up is a best practice, a habit any competent coach would instil in their athlete.

Some coaches who teach tennis for beginners prefer to show their students how to grip their racket properly before warming up while others will cover racket maintenance - how to rewrap your grip and how to tell if it needs to be restrung before coming off the bench. As there is no concrete formula for building skills in tennis, either direction your coach goes should be acceptable.

You might find yourself disappointed if you don't get to swing your racket until the last part of your first lesson but take heart in knowing that, with all the talking out of the way, there's nothing left to do but learn how to get better at tennis.

Over your next few lessons, once you've got a handle on how to hold and swing your racket (pun intended), you'll start to develop your hand-eye coordination using a tennis ball launching machine. As this gizmo lobs balls toward you, you will stand in one place and hit the balls as they come your way.

When you've gotten good at returning machine-launched balls, you'll then learn how to step, pivot and move laterally as you swing or line up your shot. And then, when you have the basic moves down, it's time to play with a person on the other side of the net.

As you get better at playing tennis, your coach will likely introduce scoring. Tennis scoring can be tricky so, even as you thrill at how much better you're able to move on the court and return serves, pay close attention when your coach explains why a bad serve or how putting so much as one toe on the court when serving could cost you a point.

Instead of searching the internet for where to play tennis near me, turn to Superprof for the best lessons and to discover the best courts in your area.

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Sophia

A vagabond traveler whose first love is the written word, I advocate for continuous learning, cycling, and the joy only a beloved pet can bring. There is plenty else I am passionate about, but those three should do it, for now.