The Rules Of Tennis – EXPLAINED

Rules Of Tennis

Tennis is not only characterized by spectacular rallies, but also by an extraordinary way of counting. In this blog post, we explain the most important tennis rules that you need to know as a beginner.

Match field

Tennis is played on a rectangular field, which is delimited by the side and baseline and is 23.77 m long. The width for single games is 8.23 ​​m and for double games 10.97 m. Here the tennis field is extended by the outer sidelines. In the middle, the playing field is divided by a net that is 1.07 m high.


Tennis is a so-called return game that is played in singles or doubles. In doubles, the team consists of two players of the same gender. A team can also consist of a woman and a man, this is called “mixed”.

The goal in tennis is to hit the ball into the opponent’s half as much as possible so that the opponent can no longer play the tennis ball back or cannot play it back in a targeted manner. You have to play the tennis ball properly. According to the rules, this means the following: You have to play the ball with your racket over the net or past the side of the net. In addition, the tennis ball must have touched the ground no more than once before you play it back. After that, it may no longer appear in your own half of the field. Of course, the ball must land on the ground within the opposing field. Regular also means that you must not touch the ball or the net with any part of your body. The net must also not be touched with the club.

Every tennis match begins with a serve, the so-called “service”. For this, the serving player stands on the right side and hits the ball in the front, diagonally opposite service area. The field in which he is allowed to be in the meantime is delimited by the conceptually elongated middle marking and the sideline. It is important that the lines belong to the playing field. If the tennis ball lands on the line, the service is valid. The service is invalid if the player leaves the field or enters the baseline during this time. If the ball goes out of bounds after a net scooter, the service is also void. If, on the other hand, he jumps up in the service area, it is repeated. At the beginning of each match, a drawing of lots is used to determine which player can choose whether to serve or not. In doubles and mixed games, the players can freely determine who begins to serve. The service change then takes place after each point.

If the serving player fails to validly place the service on the first attempt, he will be given one more try. If he does not make it the second time either, this is referred to as a double fault and the opponent receives one point.

After a successful serve, the opponent must return the ball. The point is now played across the entire playing field. The returning player must play the tennis ball back at the latest after the first touch of the ground. A return match before the first touch of the ground – directly from the air – is also possible. This is called a “volley”. If the ball hits the fence or other fixed structure after the first touch, it counts as a second touch and scores one point. A setback after that is no longer valid.

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Counting method

To win a tennis match, you have to win more sets than your opponent. Since a total of three sets are played, two sets are required for this. A set consists of several consecutive service games. To decide a set for you, you need six games to have won. The game is played until one player is two games ahead.


The tie-break is a special service game that is played when the score is 6: 6. In order to win a tie-break and thus the set, you need seven points according to the tennis rules. The player who was the receiver in the game before the tie-break may start. After the first point, the service change takes place at a distance of two points. The game is played until one player has scored seven points and there is a difference of two points. The result of the tie-break is noted as 7: 6 for the winner. The loser’s score is always in brackets. For example, if you won a tie-break with 7: 4, the result is given as 7: 6 (4).

Match tie break

The match tie break is a special variant of the normal tie break. The difference is that up to 10 points are played. At the international level, the match tie-break is mainly used in doubles and replaces the decisive set in the event of a tie. The main reason for the introduction was the significant shortening of the playing time and thus the protection of the athletes.


If a player behaves un-sportingly in tennis and violates the code of conduct, he will be punished by the referee. The rules prohibit, among other things, swearing, insulting the referee, the opponent or the audience, as well as unsportsmanlike conduct and delaying play. Leaving the tennis court without the referee’s permission will also be punished. With the first violation, the player receives a warning from the referee. The next one loses points. The third violation by a player will result in a loss of the game. If a player makes a fourth violation, he can be punished again with a game loss or he can be disqualified by the referee and this refers to a match loss.