How to Start Playing Tennis: A Roadmap to Learning Tennis as a Beginner
Updated: Apr 21
There are so many things to love about tennis. Tennis offers powerful health benefits, it’s a wonderful social sport for building community, and tennis players sport some of the best gear in the world of athletics.
Whatever your reason is for wanting to learn about tennis, we want to help make it happen! That’s why we created this quick start guide on how to begin your journey into the wonderful world of tennis.
Gear up for tennis
There are three essential items for getting started in tennis: a tennis racquet, tennis balls and court shoes.
A tennis racquet is the single most important piece of gear needed for playing tennis. Though you can start with an old tennis racquet, you’ll soon want to upgrade your tennis racquet if you plan on playing more than a couple times a year. Playing with the right type of tennis racquet can help you improve your game more quickly and protect you from injury.
If you’re looking for a new racquet, check out a local racquet sports stores where a tennis racquet expert can help you select the best racquet for your game. You can also review our guide for how to choose a tennis racquet for a quick pre-read before you stop by a tennis shop.
Though you can find inexpensive tennis balls at big box stores, we recommend purchasing high quality tennis balls that will last longer than a few sets.
Tennis court shoes
When playing tennis or any other racquet sport, it’s important to wear court shoes. Court shoes provide better stability, traction and durability than standard sneakers. They also help protect you from rolling an ankle on the court.
Different brands and styles of court shoes will fit differently, so it’s important to find the right court shoes for your unique feet. Rather than guessing on a pair online – and having to hassle with returns – visit your local tennis store to find the perfect fit. Trained footwear experts will help you try on a variety of styles to ensure you get the best fit for your feet.
Learn the tennis basics
If you’re new to tennis, you’ll want to read up on the rules and scoring. The United States Tennis Association (USTA) website has some great resources for how to play and how to keep score.
Hit the courts
Are you ready to hit the courts and have some fun? Check out our website to find nearby tennis courts in Denver, Centennial, Boulder and Las Vegas. If you live outside these areas, you can also find a court on the USTA website.
Take tennis lessons
No matter how long you’ve been playing tennis, lessons are key to improving your game. If you’re just starting out, you can look for beginner lessons at your local tennis clubs and recreation centers. Public and private facilities typically offer lessons in group or 1:1 settings.
Try out tennis drills
A tennis drill is a one to two hour playing session that is led by one or multiple teaching pros depending on how many players are in the drill. During the drill, the pros run a series of different tennis games and may also feed you balls so you can practice your shots.
Drills are a great way to meet other local tennis players. You can find players of your similar ability to go out and hit with in the future. Drilling or “rallying” is one of the best ways to improve your strokes in a casual, pressure-free environment.
Get your tennis rating
Tournaments and leagues are great for honing your tennis skills. You’ll first need to get your tennis player rating, which you can do by completing a self-rating assessment on the USTA website or by getting rated by a teaching pro.
Tennis ratings range from 2.5 to 5.5 for recreational players.
2.5 is typical for beginner tennis players.
3.0-4.0 is average for recreational players.
5.0/5.5 players are typically previous college players.
6.0 and above players are likely professionals who are currently touring.
Join a tennis league
Most leagues are run by local tennis clubs or the USTA. They come in many different formats:
There are leagues just for women, just for men or mixed leagues (one woman and one man).
League matches are offered as singles or doubles.
Leagues are typically rating-specific, so you’ll want to make sure you have your rating if you’re looking to join a league.
Some leagues are also age specific. Many leagues are 18+, but there are also leagues that are 40+ or senior leagues that start at 65/70+.
How to find a tennis league
There are many different ways to find a tennis league:
If you belong to a tennis club, you can join an in-house tennis league that is just for club members. This is a great way to meet other tennis players at your club.
If you’re looking for a USTA team to join, you can submit your name and level of play on the USTA website to help you find a team in your area.
There are also flex leagues that allow you to play different opponents in a round robin on the days and times that work best for you. You schedule the matches directly with your opponents.
Play in a tennis tournament
Check out the USTA’s tournament finder website to find upcoming tennis tournaments in your area. This website lists all USTA-sanctioned events and allows you to search by age, level or geographic area. USTA tournaments attract a high level of competition at every level and age group. Many tournaments also feature social elements like food, player parties, prizes and more.
Many local clubs and tennis facilities also host non-USTA sanctioned tennis tournaments that are even more social in nature. These are a great way to improve your skills while having fun with other players.
Making tennis (even more) fun
We think playing tennis is always fun, but if you’re looking for an even more fun tennis experience, here are a few ideas:
Take a tennis trip: Tennis trips are a great way to play tennis while on vacation. There are tennis trips to fun, beachy places like Mexico and the Caribbean that are hosted by local teaching professionals.
Watch college tennis: You can often watch your local college tennis teams play for free.
Tennis socials: Tennis socials are socially oriented tennis events that are offered for a variety of levels. At socials, you can find fun themes, food, prizes, music and more.
Getting kids started in tennis
Tennis is a great sport for kids as well as adults. There are a lot of fun ways to get your kids started in tennis, including:
Afterschool tennis programs that are offered onsite at schools.
Tennis classes that are offered offsite after school or on the weekends.
Junior tennis programs and academies offered at public and private tennis clubs. Many programs offer the option of competition (tournament) tracks or recreational tracks.
Junior tennis summer camps for various ages and abilities.
Looking for more tennis resources? The USTA website is a great resource for tennis information. They have helpful tennis tips and offer a variety of useful content, including information on wheelchair and adaptive tennis.
Your local tennis store is also a great place to learn more about getting started in tennis and get insider information on the best spots to play near you. The tennis experts are typically happy to talk to you for hours about their favorite sport. If you live in or are visiting Colorado or Nevada, we’d love to chat with you at one of our four stores.
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