Tennis terminology and the various strokes can get confusing for a beginner. There are so many terms, definitions, rules, and shots that if you haven’t grown up playing or watching the sport it can all feel a little overwhelming. Here are some basic tips and techniques.
6 Basic Tennis Strokes.
All games of tennis consist of six basic strokes: the serve, forehand groundstroke, backhand groundstroke, forehand volley, backhand volley, and the overhead smash.
The 6 basic “strokes” are the fundamental movements a player performs to hit a tennis ball. A “shot” on the other hand is what happens as a result of a stroke. For example:
- Forehand groundstroke = stroke
- Inside out topspin forehand winner = shot
The difference is subtle but important. Especially if you’re a beginner looking to learn and understand the game. But all you really need to know is that every single shot like a lob or drop shot, regardless of the spin used, comes from one of the six fundamental strokes.
The basic mechanics of tennis.
All strokes in tennis are a sequence of motions referred to as a “kinetic chain”. It begins at a player’s feet, extending through the legs, hips, chest, shoulders, arm, and wrist to the racquet as it impacts the tennis ball. This kinetic chain or kinetic linkage as it’s often called allows the build up, storage, and transfer of energy to generate power for your shot.
Biomechanically sound tennis technique comes from your kinetic chain working in concert. Bad technique and injuries are the result of dysfunctional movements within your body’s kinetic chain.
Essentially it means you want all parts of your body to work together and in harmony. In other words the correct amount of rotation, up/down movement, side-to-side movement, and forward/backward momentum will result in the best possible tennis technique.
So now that you understand the basic technical principles let’s move on the the six core strokes starting with the most important shot in tennis:
Tennis serve definition, overview and rules.
So what is a serve? A serve in tennis is the stroke used to start every point in a match. It is the only stroke in tennis that a player has complete control over and is therefore one of the most important shots in the game. A good serve allows the player serving to assert some control over how the point unfolds. This is because the server gets the first strike and based on the power, spin and shot placement can limit what the returning player can do.
The first point of any game or tiebreak the serving player (server) must stand behind the baseline to the right side of the centre mark when facing the net (deuce/first court). For the second point of a game or tiebreak the server stands to the left of the centre mark (ad/second court). Subsequently, for each point of the same game the serving positioning is the opposite of the previous point.
For both deuce and ad court start positions the server has two chances to hit the ball over the net and into the diagonally opposite service box. If a player misses their first serve they have another opportunity with a second serve. If a player misses their second serve it’s a fault and they lose the point.
If a serve touches the net but still lands in the correct service box it is considered a let and the server gets another try. If the serve touches the net and does not land in the service box it’s out and the server loses the point or proceeds with their second serve.