How To Play Tennis
Playing Tennis in 3 Simple Steps
Before you start – Singles or Doubles. You can play tennis 1v1 (Singles) or 2v2 (Doubles). If you are playing Singles, any ball that hits outside the Singles Sideline (into the Doubles Alley) is out-of-bounds. For Doubles, you can use the full court.
Step 1 – The first serve
Stand on opposite sides of the court as your opponent, behind the Baseline and in between the Center Mark and the Singles Sideline to your right.
Serve the ball over the net, across the court, into the Deuce Court Service box (the box to your left, and your opponent’s right). You are allowed 2 attempts on each serve to get the ball into the Service Court.
If the ball hits the Net but still lands in the correct Service Box, that is called a “Let,” and you are allowed another serve. If it’s on your first serve, you are allowed 2 more attempts. If it’s on your second, you are allowed one more attempt.
Hit the ball back and forth until one of you hits it out or into the net. A ball is only called out if it falls completely outside the boundary line. If the ball touches any part of the line, it is still in.
The first point is awarded to the player who didn’t hit the ball out of play. For the second point of the game, you will serve from the left side of the court, into your opponents Ad Court Service Box
Alternate serving from the right and left sides of the court after each point is scored. If you get mixed up about which side of the court you’re supposed to serve from, here’s a helpful tip:
You always serve from the right side of the court (or Deuce Court) for the first serve, if the score is tied, or if the total number of points scored (meaning 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, not 15, 30, etc.)is an even number.
Otherwise, you serve from the left side of the court (or Ad Court).
Step 2 – Scoring points
The game starts at “Love all,” meaning both players or teams have 0 points. Here is a break down of the tennis scoring system.
0 points = “Love”
1 point = 15
2 points = 30
3 points = 40
4 points = 45
Before each serve, the player serving calls out the score, beginning with their own score. For example, if you have 2 points, and your opponent has zero, you would call out, “30 – Love.”
If you are tied at 40, you call, “Deuce.” This is called the Deuce Point. Because you must win by 2 points in Tennis, one player or team must win 2 more consecutive points to win the game.
If you win the Deuce Point, then it becomes your advantage, and you call “Ad-In.” Then you just need to win one more point to win the game.
If your opponent wins the Deuce Point, then you call “Ad-Out.” And then your opponent needs one more point to win the game.
To win the game, a player must reach 45 points and/or win their Ad-In point.
Step 3 – Game, Set, Match
If you are just playing for fun, you can stop after the game, or start over.
But officially in tennis, there are a number of games in a set, and a number of sets to win a match. Usually it’s something like Best of 6 games wins a set, and Best of 3 sets wins the match.
Depending on the tournament, these numbers vary.
You could play a best of 5 games set, best of 3 games set, or whatever suits your available and stamina.
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How To Play Pickleball
Have you found yourself asking, "What is Pickleball?" and "How Do I Play?" This guide will help get you started with the basics of the game, the gear needed and where to find a court for your first pickleball session.
Pickleball is played on a 44’ x 20’ court, with a 36” net and features a non-volley zone often referred to as “The Kitchen.” It is played with a paddle and a plastic ball with holes (similar to but not a wiffle ball) and combines some of the best aspects of multiple sports.
Similar to tennis, when playing pickleball you can play either singles or doubles. Doubles tends to be the most popular in a recreational setting since it offers a fun, fast-paced game that’s social and easy for people of all ages and athletic abilities to pick up. To learn more about the origins of pickleball, check out our article: The History of Pickleball
Returns and 3rd shots must be played off of a bounce.
The start of a game incorporates what is called the “Two Bounce Rule.” The serving team serves the ball cross-court to the returning team. The serve must land past the kitchen in the box diagonal from the server to be a valid serve. As of 2021, serves that clip the net and land past the kitchen line are valid serves. However, any serve that lands within the kitchen or on the kitchen line is a fault.
The returning team returns the serve off of a bounce (bounce 1) and now the serving team also has to let the return of serve bounce before hitting it (bounce 2). From there, play is open, meaning everyone is now allowed to take balls out of the air — with one catch (see below).
If you're not dinking, stay out of the kitchen!
You can only take balls out of the air when you are standing outside of the Non-Volley Zone or what’s commonly called “the kitchen.” If you hit the ball out of the air while in the kitchen or standing on the kitchen line, you lose the point. If the ball bounces inside of the kitchen, you can move into the kitchen to hit the ball off of a bounce, just be sure you reset your positioning and get yourself out of the kitchen before going for the out of the air smash.
Scoring is called out in a 3-number sequence that involves the server’s score, the returner’s score and whether server 1 or 2 is serving. For example, if the server calls out a score of 2-1-1, that means their team has two points, the returning team has one point, and they are the first server.
In pickleball, you only score points when serving. When starting a new game, the initial serving team only gets one server to balance out the advantage of serving first. Since the person playing on the right side of the court is always the first server of a sequence, they are the only one who serves during the first serving sequence of the game. The score at the start of the game is therefore called out as 0-0-2, indicating the 2nd server. (sometimes called out as 0-0-start). When the initial serving team loses the point it’s a side out, and the opposing team serves. From this point on, it switches to two servers per side (each player serving, always starting with the player on the right side of the court) before it’s a side out. So, after the first side out of a game, the opposing team now starts the score as server one, and when they lose a point it goes to its server two. When they lose a point on server two’s serve, it’s a side out, and the serve goes back to the other team. Games are typically played to 11 or 15, win by two.