A Beginner's Guide to Playing Tennis

Photo by Julian Schiemann / Unsplash

Tennis can be frustrating, especially if you are a beginner and have never played before. The average tennis session results in 12.5 balls flying over the fence and out of the court (yes really, we counted). We have a few easy tips to help you get started.

#1 Power

Power is the most important part of learning how to play tennis when you're a beginner.

It may seem counterintuitive, but in tennis you do not need to swing very hard! You may have seen professional tennis players swing (and grunt) with a lot of force. Most people assume you need to use just as much power when hitting a tennis ball as pros on TV. Wrong! Swinging with a ton of power only comes when you have mastered your technique and can bend the ball to your will. Unless you're born a tennis pro, you will most surely struggle if you swing too hard.

The beautiful thing about the sport is that it is not about force. You don't have to swing the racket with so much force that the ball flies out of the court. The technique you use to control the ball's trajectory is what matters. As a beginner, you have not refined your technique where you can start adding a lot of power to your game.

Remember that the goal of tennis, especially amongst beginners, is to keep the ball in play. It doesn't take that much power to outplay another beginner!

Don't try to use too much power when you're just starting out. Just don't.

#2 Contact

Contact is another difficult aspect of tennis to get right as a beginner. Tennis is a game that requires a lot of consistency (and patience). Some of the best players in the world make a name for themselves as being consistent. Beginners struggle here by swinging too fast and missing the ball completely.

At first, contact is going to be difficult, and you may even question your hand-eye coordination. That's ok! Keep practicing. It's all part of the learning process. Tennis is as much a game of athleticism as it is a game of patience and persistence.

One quick trick to improve your contact is to always keep your eyes on the ball (hear me out). Keeping your eyes on the ball helps you keep track of how the ball is moving and how fast. Beginners may feel anxious at first and look away when hitting the ball: this is a natural reaction. You need to force yourself to stare at the ball like you would stare at your crush from across the room.

Even if you have very poor hand-eye coordination, you'd be shocked by how much just keeping your eyes on the ball helps.

PsBattle: A tennis ball very close to Andy Murray's face: photoshopbattles
Former #1 Andy Murray never lets his eyes off the ball.

#3 Movement

Once you've gotten the basics of actually hitting the ball and keeping it in play, you're ready to start moving your body. Don't worry, we're not expecting you to move like a pro.

The basic technique for hitting a tennis ball requires that you swing with a relaxed arm. Having jello-arms is actually beneficial in tennis! You might notice that the rest of your body moves with your arm as you hit the ball.

This is good! You want to let your body flow with your arm, your racquet, and the ball. Your body should behave like a whip, which helps you generate enough power (but not too much) while still maintaining control. Remember, you do not need to swing very hard. Let your body flex like a whip. Relax, stay loose, and focus on making contact with the ball first.

Wavy Guy Purple - WAVYGUYS™
Staying loose and relaxed is key to tennis!

#4 Positioning

Beginners often play with their feet frozen solid to the ground and rarely move around on the court. This is good in some ways: it lets you focus more on actually hitting the ball. Where it backfires is when you find yourself swinging with funky form. This usually happens when the ball goes too much to the left or  right or behind you.

A lot of getting into a better position to hit the ball comes with experience. Of course, if you haven't been playing tennis long enough this will be very foreign to you.

One tip we have is to always stay light on your feet. Imagine yourself like a ballerina that is floating on the tennis court. You should be able to skip around with grace which lets you focus on tracking the ball and making contact.

If you find the ball going behind you too often, move further back! It's much easier to run forwards than to try to run backwards, especially if the ball is coming from in front of you.

via GIPHY


We've only touched the surface of tennis, but we hope these tips and tricks make tennis more enjoyable for you.

If you want to learn tennis from a pro who's been teaching tennis for years, check out or Intro to Tennis beginner tennis program! We've put together a masterclass for people who are completely new or are beginners to tennis.

You can get started for FREE by checking downloading our app here.

Richard Wu
I'm the founder of oneCoach and also a huge tennis aficionado. I want to make the incredible sport of tennis accessible to everyone 🎾