The 10 Rules of Tennis

There are many rules to the game of tennis. Many of them have additional variations depending on the governing body the particular event is run under. In the United States, the U.S. Tennis Association has set some very specific tennis rules that apply to tournaments and leagues that are run in America. Some of rules are followed in nearly all types of tennis matches.


In most tennis formats, the ball needs to have a uniformed outer fabric surface. It is to be yellow or white in color with no stitches showing. While the size may vary, it can’t be no bigger than 7.3 inches in circumference.


The hitting area of a racket needs to contain crossed strings that are connected to the frame, uniform and the same density throughout. A racket frame may not exceed 29 inches in length and 12 1/2 inches in width.


A singles court must be 78 feet long by 27 feet wide. A doubles court is to be the same length but 36 feet wide. A net should divide the court down the middle, and it should be suspended by a metal cable or cord through two net posts.


Players take turns serving, switching at the end of each game. The server must be behind the baseline, release the ball with his hand and swing at it with the racket before the ball reaches the ground.

Foot Faults

A foot fault is when a player changes position too much during a serve, touches the baseline or court with a foot, touches the outside extension of the sideline with a foot or touches the center mark with a foot.


In most games of tennis, “zero,” is referred to as “love” and means no points; one point is considered “15”; two points are “30”; three points are “40”; and a fourth point gives the player a game.


A player must win a game with two more points than their opponent. If both players have 40 points, it is “deuce” and one of the players will need two consecutive points before the game is finished.


The let rule gives permission to replay the point. It is most often used when the server hits a serve that touches the net but lands within the receiver’s box. Let is also used if there is interference in play.


If both players reach six games, a tiebreaker is played to determine the winner of the set. A tiebreaker is won by the first one to reach seven points with a lead of two.


With a few exceptions–college tennis, some team events–coaching is not allowed when a player is on the court. This includes the ban of verbal and physical signals between the coach and the player.

About this Author

Marcia Frost is a freelance writer who regularly covers travel topics. She maintains and two columns for Frost has written for numerous tennis magazines and is the author of “American Doubles.” She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication arts and is now pursuing a master’s degree.