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Getting Started With Tennis

Updated on June 1, 2014

The Psychology of Tennis

Tennis is not only a game of skill and endurance. Just like most other sports its also a psychological and mental game. Here are a few tips...

  • Know how to lose generously, cheerfully, and as a good sportsman.
  • Know how to win generously, cheerfully, modestly, and as a good sportsman.
  • Win fair and square. Cheating is not really winning.
  • Do your best. Play to your last ounce of strength you have.
  • Play tennis for the love of the game. Don't do it just for money or fame.
  • Keep you competitive spirit.
  • Force your opponent to play your game, not theirs.
  • Look for weaknesses in your opponent and exploit them.
  • The best defense is a good offense leaving your opponent less time to make an attack.
  • Hit to win with a steady opponent. Play it safe and exploit errors with a wild opponent.
  • If its not broke then don't fix it. Never change a winning game.
  • If you're losing, regroup and change it up.
  • Only take risks when you are behind.
  • Never lose your nerve or confidence in a match.
  • Never show fatigue or pain if it is possible to avoid.
  • Do not worry or panic.
  • Smile from time to time. This gives the impression of confidence.
  • Keep fighting but enjoy the fight. The harder the match the harder you should fight.

Tennis Lessons for Beginners

Tennis Success

If you really want to succeed in tennis and advance rapidly, you should learn all you can about tennis.

  • Watch some tennis matches.
  • Watch the leaders plays on TV. Learn their strokes and study their play.
  • Read all the tennis instruction books you can find.
  • You can even use video games or software to help.

Three Areas of Tennis You Must Master

Learn Rules, Strategy, and Technique

The rules provide a baseline that every player needs. This can either be taught or by reading an actual rule book. Regardless of how the rules are learned, normally this should be the first part of any plan when you start playing tennis.

Learn Concentration and Keeping Your Eye on the Ball

It does not matter how good your equipment and skills are if you cannot concentrate. There are many reasons for lack of concentration.

  • The first one is a lack of interest in the game. If you don't really have any interest in the game then do not expect a high level of success.
  • Tennis will take a lot of hard work and you will not be willing to work hard enough to succeed if you don't really like the game.
  • Concentration can also be broken due to noise, new surroundings, weather, or other conditions of play. This is just something that will need to be overcome.

Concentration in this area can be perfected with practice. When playing tennis you need to play for every set, every game, every point, and every shot.

Foot-Work and Weight-Control

In tennis you will be running all over the court and sometimes find yourself in unusual positions or having to make tough shots. You need have great footwork and weight control.

A great way to practice this is repeating various tennis drills with tennis training aids and tennis markers.

Paris, France in the 19th Century
Paris, France in the 19th Century | Source

Tennis Shots

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Tips for Developing Tennis Shots

  1. Develop both forehand and backhand, and do not "run around" your backhand, particularly in return of service. To do so merely opens your court. If you should do so, strive to ace your returns, because a weak effort would only result in a kill by your opponent.
  2. Do not develop one favorite shot and play nothing but that. If you have a fair cross-court drive, do not use it in practice, but strive to develop an equally fine straight shot.
  3. Remember that the fast shot is the straight shot. The cross drive must be slow, for it has not the room owing to the increased angle and height of the net. Pass down the line with your drive, but open the court with your cross-court shot.
  4. Drives should have depth. The average drive should hit behind the service-line. A fine drive should hit within 3 feet of the baseline. A cross-court drive should be shorter than a straight drive, so as to increase the possible angle. Do not always play one length drive, but learn to vary your distance according to your man. You should drive deep against a baseliner, but short against a net player, striving to drop them at his feet as, he comes in.
  5. Never allow your opponent to play a shot he likes if you can possibly force him to one he dislikes.
  6. Play your drive with the body sideways to the net. The swing flat, with long follow through. The weight shifting just as the ball is hit.

Getting Into Position

In tennis your goal is to instinctively know where the next shot is going and find the best position. Knowing court position will save you points and energy. Become familiar with it. You can learn more lessons like these with professional tennis lessons.


  • It's best to always come in from behind the baseline to meet the ball because it easier to run forwards rather then backwards.
  • If you're caught at the net from a short shot by your opponent, don't stand still. Instead pick the side where you think the next shot will go and get there as your opponent swings.
  • Do not stand and watch your shot because this will put you out of position for your next stroke.
  • Strive to get into the spot that the ball is going before it actually gets there.
  • Strive to be in a position that will allow you to cover the greatest area without sacrificing missing the straight shot.

Court Position

A tennis court is 39 feet long from the baseline to the net and there are basically two places on the court that a tennis player should be when awaiting the ball.

  1. The first place is about about 3 feet behind the baseline near the middle of the court. This position if for baseline play.
  2. The second place is about 6 to 8 feet back from the net and almost opposite the ball. This position is for net position. If you are ever drawn out of either of these positions by a shot then you need to return to one of them immediately after you return the shot.

Anywhere from the baseline to about 10 feet from the net is generally considered the no-mans land. You should not be in this area for any significant length of time since a deep shot will come at your feet.

After making your shot from this area retreat behind the baseline to await the return so that you can again come forward to meet the ball. If you are drawn in short and cannot retreat safely then simply continue all the way to the net position.

Tips for Doubles

Playing doubles is great for socializing with friends, but play is a little different than singles play. Here are a few tips...

  • The return of service should be certain. After that it should be low and to the server coming in.
  • Do not strive for clean aces in doubles until you have the opening. Remember that to pass two men is a difficult task.
  • Always attack in doubles. Always strive to attain net position. The net is the only place in the court to play the doubles game. Every shot should be built up with the idea of attaining net position.
  • Each player should cover overhead balls over his own head, and hit them in the air whenever possible.
  • Always be ready to protect your partner, but do not take shots over your partners head unless they call for you to or you see a certain kill. In that case communicate and yell "Mine" and hit decisively.
  • All shots in doubles should be low or very high. Do not hit shoulder-high as it is too easy to kill. Volley down and hard if possible. Every shot you make should be made with a definite idea of opening the court.
  • Hit down the center to disrupt the team work of the opposing team; but hit to the side-lines for your aces.
  • Pick the weakest player and center your attack on that player.
  • Never show annoyance with your partner and do not scold if they are doing the best they can.
  • Choose a leader for attack but at any given point when the partner has the superior position leadership can change.
  • Pick a partner and stick with that partner. It should be someone you want to play with and vice versa

Lawn Tennis, 1887
Lawn Tennis, 1887

Fun Facts About The History of Tennis

  • Tennis may have originated in France in the 12th century.
  • There was a game played where a ball was hit using your hand or a glove.
  • While in France the game was really popular, in England the popularity began with the reign of Henry VII. It's believe he built the first tennis court. There were 14 special courts in London by the reign of James I.
  • The first tournament was played in 1571, thanks to the wishes of King Charles IX.
  • Three mastering levels were defined for players: apprentice, associate and master.
  • The first tennis rules book appeared in 1599.
  • By the 17th Century tennis was popular in France, Spain, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Italy, being played mostly by noblemen.
  • Tennis was originally played on clay courts.
  • Initially tennis balls were made out of 100% leather with stuffing such as wool or hair.
  • Nowadays, thanks to technology evolving, we see balls that are both of high quality and aerodynamic.Balls designed for pro tennis are light green in most cases. Yellow balls can also be used for fun or training.

A tennis match at Wimbledon, the oldest and the most prestigious tennis tournament.
A tennis match at Wimbledon, the oldest and the most prestigious tennis tournament.


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