Top eight tips for starting tennis


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An amateur tennis player receives a lesson from a coach

Interested in playing tennis but don’t know where to start? Whether you’ve never played before, or are coming back after some time out of the game, we’ve got you covered with this simple guide.

1. Tennis clothes – what should I wear?

One of the best things about tennis is there are NO RULES when it comes to your kit. It’s often thought you need tennis kit to play, but you actually probably already own everything you need at home.

Any type of active wear will do just fine. We suggest wearing non-marking sports shoes too, if you have any. The most important thing is to choose clothing you find most comfortable. Whether it’s a t-shirt and leggings or a hoodie and pair of shorts, you can show off your own unique style on the court. 

A tennis player leaves a hoody at the side of the court

2. Tennis racket – choosing the right one for you

Choosing a tennis racket is a big decision for any beginner, but you don’t have to spend the earth to get one that works for you. There are hundreds of rackets out there, and plenty within a £10 to £25 price range. But there are some factors you should consider.

One of the best tips for beginners is to choose a racket with a slightly larger head size. This gives the racket a bigger sweet spot in the middle of the frame, giving you more chance of hitting a clean shot as you begin playing.

Grip size is another important factor. Not only does this affect how comfortable the racket feels in your hand, but it can also help prevent injury.

Typically grip sizes one, two, or three are recommended for women; three, four, or five for men. When you wrap your hand around the handle, there should be a 1cm gap (or the width of your forefinger) between your thumb and first finger.

You can find a great range of Dunlop rackets to get you started on the British Tennis Shop.

3. Tennis balls – make your life easier

A top tip for any beginner is to use low compression balls. What are they? They are slightly flatter tennis balls that are easier to hit – making it easier for you to learn the sport.

They come in red, orange or green (lowest to highest compression) and even some of the top pros use them when working on something new or coming back from injury.

An amateur player hits a forehand

4. Booking a court – find one near you

Finding and booking a court has never been easier. Search your address in LTA Rally to see what courts are available near you and book them directly on the website – easy!

You will also find information about coaching courses and contact details if you want to arrange a session with a coach directly. If you’re just starting out, a few lessons can often be a great way to pick up the basics.

If you are a disability tennis player then you can also find local sessions run through our Open Court programme that will offer you all the support and guidance you need.

5. Warm-up – start your game right

The importance of warming up properly can’t be understated. It helps prepare your body for exercise by gradually raising your heart rate. It’s key to ‘awaken’ your muscles and prepare them for exercise, to help avoid injury and to help get your mind in the game.

A good warm-up includes cardio exercises and dynamic stretches – here's a great examples to give you an idea:

6. Groundstrokes – from backhand beginner to forehand master

 The first thing anyone wants to do when they get on court is to get stuck into some rallies with a partner. But don’t forget to work on the basics.

You don’t even need to start with a net in the way. Hit the ball up and take it in turns with a partner in a rally. Once you feel comfortable start bringing the net into play. Start in the service boxes, then move back to mid-court, before finally going to the baseline.

7. Serving – ace your technique

The serve can be a tricky one to crack, so remember these tips when starting out.

  • Try to think of it like throwing a ball – the action is very similar.
  • Toss the ball up with your non-dominant hand into the ‘hitting zone’ – which is above your head and out in front of your body.
  • With the ball in the air, throw the racket towards the ball (but remember to hold on!).
  • The ball goes where the strings are pointing – remember that when working on your aim.  

An amateur tennis player hits a serve

 8. Footwork – back to ready position

Tennis is mainly about footwork and positioning. You could have the best forehand and backhand in the world, but that’s no good if you’re not in the right place to hit the ball.

You need to make sure you’re ready for the ball. Always hold the racket out in front of you ready to hit the ball.

See where the ball is landing, get into a balanced position before the ball bounces, and then hit the ball. Once you’ve done that, try to move back into the middle of the court.

Play tennis near you

Find and book a court near you with LTA Rally


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