Can I learn to play tennis without a coach?

A way to learn tennis without a coach

Can I learn to play tennis without a coach?

Even if the vast majority goes the classical way and learns to play tennis with a coach, it is of course possible to learn tennis without a coach. Although we do not advocate the approach without a coach, because a coach can intervene directly when wrong movements are made, it also has advantages:

  • it is cheaper, since the cost of a coach can be saved
  • it is more flexible, because you can integrate tennis lessons into your everyday life without much coordination
  • it is more relaxed, because you can set your own individual learning pace.

If we would like to learn tennis without previous experience and without a coach, we would use the following step-by-step guide to learn tennis without a coach.

1. Familiarize yourself with the most important tennis terms and rules of the game

The tennis terms and rules are unfortunately not explained in 5 minutes, but with a little practice the most important terms and rules for beginners are quickly memorized.

We have summarized the 10 most important tennis terms for beginners. With the help of these tennis terms you should be able to memorize the most important rules of the game.

1. Serve, forehand, backhand, volley and smash

    The tennis strokes serve, forehand, backhand, volley and smash form the basic structure of all tennis strokes:

    a) serve: the serve opens the rally.

    b) Forehand: The forehand is a one-handed stroke with the stronger hand.

    c) Backhand: The backhand is a one or two-handed stroke with the back of the stronger hand.

    d) Volley: The volley is played directly from the air – without bouncing.

    e) Butterball: The butterball is hit overhead, similar to the serve.

2. Topspin and slice

    Tennis strokes can be varied using the ball rotations topspin and slice:

    a) Topspin: Topspin is a forward rotation of the tennis ball.

    b) Slice: Slice is a backward rotation of the tennis ball.

3. Longline and Cross

    The two main stroke directions in tennis are longline and cross:

    a) Longline: Longline is the direction of hitting the ball straight ahead parallel to the sideline.

    b) Cross: Cross is the direction of the ball diagonally back into the court.

4. Ace and double fault

    Both an ace and a double fault can occur on the serve:

    a) Ace: An ace is a serve into the right field without touching the opponent.

    b) Double fault: A double fault is two service errors in a row.

5. Lob and stop

    Lob and stop balls are two strategic types of strokes:

    a) lob: lob is a ball played high and long.

    b) Stop: Stop is a short ball played directly behind the net.

6. Singles, doubles and mixed

    In tennis, there are three different types of play: singles, doubles and mixed:

    a) singles: singles is a one-on-one match.

    b) Doubles: Doubles is a same-sex match two-on-two.

    c) Mixed: Mixed is a match two-against-two where both pairings consist of one female and one male.

7. Game, set and match

    Often at the end of the match, the referee will say “game, set and match” and the winner’s name, but what does game, set and match mean?

    a) Game: game is a completed service game consisting of several points played.

    b) Set: Set is the winning of 6 games by a player with at least a 2 game lead – with potential overtime to 7 at 5:5.

    c) Victory: Victory is the winning of a match with two sets won.

8. Deuce, advantage server and advantage receiver

    In the match there are deuce, advantage server and advantage receiver:

    a) Deuce: Deuce indicates the score of 40:40.

    b) Advantage server: Advantage server is the point won by the server at deuce.

    c) Advantage receiver: The advantage receiver, for the returner, is the point won by the returner at deuce.

9. Tiebreak and Champion tiebreak

    In a close match, the decision can be made in a tiebreak or champion tiebreak:

    a) Tiebreak: tiebreak is played at 6:6 to decide a set to 7 with at least a two-point lead.

    b) Champion tiebreak: Champion tiebreak is played at set tie to decide a match to 10 with at least two points advantage.

10. Break and Re-Break

    Break and re-break mean the loss of a game on own serve:

    a) Break: Break is a lost service game.

    b) Re-break: Re-break is the winning of the opponent’s service game directly after a break.

Based on the 10 most important tennis terms for beginners you can quickly learn the 5 most important tennis rules.

1. When do which lines count on the tennis court?
There are different lines on the tennis court, some of which are valid for singles or doubles and mixed depending on the type of game:

Tennis court

A tennis court is rectangular and is always bounded by the baselines and the single or double side lines. The length between both baselines is 78 feet. The width between both side lines is 27 feet in singles and 36 feet in doubles.

Between both baselines in the middle is the net, which is 3.5 feet high at each post and sags in the middle of the court and is only 3 feet high.

In addition, there are 4 service fields for player opening. Depending on the score, the serve is played either from the right or left of the center marker and behind the baseline across the net into the respective service area. After the serve has been served, the service court counts as part of the court as usual.

2. How do I win a point in tennis?
There are two ways to win a point in tennis:

a) Own winning stroke: a winning stroke can be achieved with any tennis stroke, e.g. serve, forehand, backhand, volley or smash. To do this, the ball must be hit in such a way that the tennis ball comes up once in the opponent’s court and cannot be reached by the opponent afterwards. This can happen, for example, by bouncing the ball a second time or, after bouncing in the court, touching a fixed fixture, such as the outer fence of the tennis court.

It is allowed to play the ball as a volley directly from the air, without bouncing. Only a serve may not be answered with a volley, since the ball must bounce in the service area.

b) Opponent’s error: An opponent’s error occurs when the tennis ball is not hit back into the opponent’s court. I.e. either an error can be into the net, sideways outside the sidelines, or behind the baseline or the service line on serve. It is important to emphasize sideways and behind the lines, because the lines count as part of the court.

3) How does the tennis game work?

Before a tennis match begins, a draw is made to determine who will serve and who will be on which side of the net. For example, a coin is tossed and the winner has three options:

a) serve or return

b) Left or right side of the net

c) Leaves the choice to the opponent

After variant a) or b) is chosen, the other player gets to decide the remaining variant of a) or b).

Example: Player A wins the choice and chooses serve, then player B has the tactical choice between the left or right side of the net and can, for example, let the opponent serve first facing the sun.

Therefore, leaving the choice to the opponent can also be a good option, since you can react accordingly yourself afterwards.

4. How to count in tennis?

The server always starts the match from the right side of the center marker. Each time the server has two attempts to place the ball crosscourt in the service area. If the second serve does not land in the court, the point is lost. Then the server has 2 more attempts to hit the ball cross-court from the other side of the middle marker.

Accordingly, the returner always changes sides from right to left and back when serving.

A game is won when a player has won 4 points with a two point lead. The count is 0, 15, 30, 40 and game.

At 40-40, also called deuce, two points must be won in a row to win the game. If the serving player wins the next point, it is called advantage serving player, otherwise advantage return player. If the other player wins the next point, it’s again a deuce – until one player wins two points in a row.

After each game win, the server changes. To avoid confusion, the serving player is always called first when counting aloud.

After every odd sum of games played, i.e. after 1, 3, 5, 7, etc. games, the players switch from the left to the right. After every odd number of games played, i.e. after 1, 3, 5, 7, etc. games, the players switch from the left to the right side of the net and vice versa. The side change pause is officially 90 seconds. During this time, players can briefly take a seat on the bench and recharge their batteries with drinks and small snacks. The set break, after each completed set, is even a little longer at 120 seconds.

A set is won when a player has won 6 games with at least a 2 game lead. At 5:5 there is an overtime to 7 and at 6:6 a tiebreak is played to decide the match.

The match is won as soon as one player has won two sets.

5. What are the tennis rules in tiebreak and champion tiebreak?

A tiebreak is played when the score is 6:6 in a set. It starts with the player serving from the right side of the middle marker, which would have been his turn in the 13th game. After that, the serve changes after every two points. The first serve is always from left to right and the second serve from right to left.

Each point is counted normally, i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. The first player to win 7 points with a two-point lead wins the set.

After every 6 points played, e.g. when the score is 5:1 or 6:6, the players switch sides of the net.

A champion tiebreak often takes place in the event of a set tie to decide a match and is played with a difference according to the tiebreak rules. The winner is the player who wins 10 points first with a two-point lead.


2. Learn tennis visually online

After you know the most important tennis terms and rules, I recommend watching tennis games and drills online. Throughout the year, professional tennis tournaments are held all over the world and the summaries are uploaded for free on popular video platforms, such as Youtube.

Understand the tennis rules

Watch some recaps or even an older tennis match and try to understand the rules of the game in particular. For example, develop an understanding of why the serve was made from the right side of the center marker or follow a tiebreaker in full. The more matches you’ve seen, the faster you’ll gain confidence in the rules of the game.

Perform dry runs of strokes and movements

It doesn’t sound spectacular, but dry practice of strokes and motions can’t be practiced often enough, even without a racquet. Since tennis is constantly evolving, make sure that the tennis video is not too old.

Tips on the forehand example

Pay attention to the complete swing of the hitting hand, the corresponding footwork, the weight shift during the movement, the hitting point of the tennis ball and the swinging out of the racket.

Advantage of visual tennis learning

The main advantage of learning tennis visually is the flexibility in time. You can do the videos and exercises at any time of the day and thus integrate them individually into your everyday life, e.g. without coordinating with tennis coaches.

Disadvantage of visual tennis learning

The disadvantage of learning tennis visually is that there is no direct feedback. If a mistake creeps into the movement, it must be corrected afterwards by a trainer at great expense. Therefore, after a basic understanding of the strokes and movement sequences, it is recommended to move on to the next step.

3. Buy the right tennis balls

If you learn tennis without a coach, balls will not be provided and you will have to buy your own tennis balls. Tennis balls belong to the most important equipment as a tennis player. Especially in the beginning tennis balls can play a decisive role, because they determine how often you can play the ball flawlessly over the net. And the greater your sense of achievement at the beginning, the more fun you will have playing tennis.

What kind of tennis balls are available?

Basically, there are different tennis balls for different levels of play and especially for children for different age groups. With the right tennis balls, you will already have a sense of achievement when playing tennis for the first time.

a) Foam tennis balls

Tennis balls made of foam are larger and softer than normal tennis balls and therefore much easier to control, because they can not be hit so far. The foam tennis ball is therefore particularly suitable for T-field tennis and therefore for children aged 3-5 years. The tennis balls made of foam are available for purchase in packs of 3.

Tennis beginners who already have ball feeling from another sport can start tennis with methodical balls.

b) Methodical ball – Stage 3

Tennis Stage 3 method balls are larger and have 75% less pressure than normal tennis balls and therefore travel at a slower speed. For tennis beginners, the Stage 3 Methodical ball is therefore the ideal ball for successful rallies. The Stage 3 Methodical balls are also available in a pack of 3.

If you are a tennis beginner and already have some experience with backstroke play, e.g. squash, or if you already have controlled rallies with the Stage 3 Methodical balls, you can switch to the Methodical Stage 2.

c) Methodical ball – Stage 2

Tennis Stage 2 methodical balls are the same size and 50% less pressure than normal tennis balls and therefore travel at a slower speed. A wrong hit point of the ball will not be forgiven as easily as with the larger Stage 3 Methodical balls, but the tennis balls can already be played over the whole court. The Stage 2 Methodical balls are also already available to buy in packs of 3.

If you are a tennis beginner and can already play controlled rallies with the Stage 2 methodical balls, you can switch to the Stage 1 methodical ball.

d) Methodical ball – Stage 1

Tennis Stage 1 methodical balls are the same size and 20% less pressure than normal tennis balls and therefore ideal for beginners with playing experience. From the baseline, great rallies are already achieved after a short time, because the ball control is still noticeable compared to normal tennis balls. The Stage 1 Methodical balls are available in a 4-pack.

If you are a tennis beginner and can already achieve controlled rallies with the Stage 1 Methodical balls, you can switch to normal tennis balls.

e) Normal tennis balls

It should be the goal of every tennis beginner to play with the normal tennis balls. You have to get used to the higher weight and the unusual flight curve of the tennis ball in the beginning. Normal tennis balls are wearing articles, because the pressure of the ball is lost over time. Tennis pros change balls every hour, but as a tennis beginner, normal tennis balls last several weeks. Normal tennis balls for practice are usually available for purchase in packs of 4.

If you have tennis balls as a tennis beginner, you can increase your feel for the ball by doing exercises at home, such as

– Throwing the tennis ball up with one hand and catching it.

– Throwing the tennis ball on the ground with one hand and catching it.

– Alternately throwing the tennis ball up and onto the ground

– Throwing up and catching two tennis balls in parallel

4. Buy the first tennis racket

When buying your first tennis racket, you should consider grip strength, balance point, weight and size of the hitting surface:

a) Grip strength

The grip strength indicates the thickness of the grip: from grip strength 0 – thin – to grip strength 5 – thick – you make the decision. For tennis beginners it is important that you feel comfortable holding the tennis racket.

– Grip strength 0: For children

– Grip strength 1: For teenagers

– Grip strength 2: For women with normal hand size

– Grip strength 3: For men with normal hand size

– Grip strength 4: For men with large hands

– Grip strength 5: For men with very large hands

b) Balance point

The balance point of the tennis racket reflects the center of gravity: it ranges from the top-heavy to the grip-heavy tennis racket.

– Balance points ≥ 33 cm – top-heavy: For tennis beginners.

– Balance point 31 – 33 cm – grip-heavy: For advanced tennis players.

c) Weight

You can use the weight of the tennis racket to focus on power or control. Tennis beginners are advised to start with a racket with more control.

– Weight < 280 g: For more control

– Weight ≥ 280 g: For more power

d) Size of the hitting surface

Depending on the size of the hitting surface, technical errors are more easily forgiven. The larger the hitting surface of the tennis racket, the less accurate the ball has to be hit.

– Hitting area 660 – 690 cm²: Large hitting area to promote comfort

– Hitting surface 630 – 660 cm²: Medium hitting surface

– 600 – 630 cm² hitting area: Small hitting area to promote technique

If you are a tennis beginner and have a tennis racket and tennis balls, you can do some first exercises with the racket at home, e.g.

– Balancing the tennis ball on the surface of the tennis racket

– Holding up the tennis ball with the tennis racket

– Hitting the tennis ball down to the ground

– Alternating between hitting the tennis ball up and down

5. Practice at home

After you have the important tennis equipment, you should start practicing your first strokes at home. Depending on the environment, there are different exercises you can do.

a) Games on the ball wall

A wall is a good place to play against to increase your feel for the ball and to understand the bounce of the tennis ball. Start by playing as many forehands as possible. The closer you are to the wall, the easier it will be to play the ball against it. Play the ball over the net at two meters from the ground and go back meters after 10 flawless forehand shots.

b) Play over the tennis net

Smaller tennis nets* are available for purchase to simulate the game of tennis at home. Find a partner who will gently throw the tennis balls to you. Your task is to pass the tennis ball over the net from a short distance so that your partner has a chance to catch the ball directly. After 10 repetitions, you alternate: the hitter throws and the thrower hits. The more confident you feel, the further back you can go.

If you both have tennis rackets you can try to pass the tennis ball to each other from a short distance. The goal at the beginning should be again 10 faultless strokes – preferably forehand.

6. Search play facilities in the vicinity

After the first strokes have been made, take a look at the tennis facilities in your area, where you will find all the tennis clubs in your area and much more information about the facilities and prices.

For tennis beginners, a trial membership in a nearby tennis club is suitable for the first year – a discounted membership in the 1st tennis year to recruit new members, which usually turns into a normal membership after expiration.

Alternatively, you can pay to use the tennis court by the hour. If you want to play tennis in the winter, you can book an indoor tennis court without a membership.

7. Find like-minded training partners

To get your tennis career off on the right foot, we recommend building a tennis network – especially if you’re starting out playing tennis on your own. Every player has different strengths and weaknesses, so rotating your playing partners will significantly increase your learning curve.

Ask your friends, search through the bulletin board at the tennis club or online on social media channels – be creative and get caught up in tennis fever. By the way, once you reach a certain level of play, the tables will turn and people will actively approach you and want to play tennis with you. Therefore, be diligent – it’s worth it.

8. Summary and conclusion

Of course, it is possible to learn tennis without a coach – even if it is not the classic way. After acquiring the tennis equipment and doing the first exercises to improve your feeling for the ball, look for tennis clubs in your area.

Research online already first information and contact the tennis club or tennis park with a couple questions. Complete several trial training sessions at different venues and decide on the best overall package. After that, nothing stands in the way of your successful tennis start – have fun!

ForFriends UG (haftungsbeschränkt)