Tennis Etiquette Guide

Tennis Etiquette For Players + Examples [Most Complete Guide]

Last updated on December 6th, 2021

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Tennis Etiquette For Players – A Complete Guide

Tennis has evolved to be a competitive game today but there are some fundamental unwritten rules that, when followed by all the players, ensure a fair game that is fun to play. Though not all abide by these rules, being aware of the etiquette helps retain the positive culture of the sport that makes it so unique. 

Here are some of the basic tip’s players should keep in mind for fair and generous behavior on the court.

Tennis etiquette for players

Line calls

Poor line calls are one of the most common causes of disputes on the court. Players are seen getting angry on line calls that aren’t in their favor. The etiquette suggests respecting the opponent’s line call whether or not you agree with it. 

In cases where you are not completely sure of the correct ball, you should consider giving the benefit to your opponent. This system works perfectly when both the players follow the rule. 

Keeping the ball 

An important part of playing a good game is to keep the ball in your own court as much as you can. 

However, if there is another court around and the ball gets there, avoid shouting or screaming as it can distract other players. Wait till the point completes and then retrieve or ask for the ball.

Targeting the opponent

You are likely to find an opportunity to hit when you and the opponent are both at the net. You could go ahead and target the player, but it is a sign of poor etiquette. 

You can aim at the open court or their feet, but you should not do this to win the point. If you hit the opponent accidentally, you should apologize and let them know that it was not intentional. 


You should avoid making unnecessary noises during singles. Maintaining silence allows both the players to focus. 

You should also avoid making movements that could distract the player like waving your arm before the opponent hits the ball. Such distractions are considered a hindrance and result in forfeiting your point. 

Celebrating the win

The way you celebrate your win determines how humble you are. You can certainly celebrate your victory but it should be done keeping the other person’s loss in mind.  

The loser should feel lucky that they played such an admirable opponent who gave their best effort throughout.  It would show tremendous character if both players shook hands with each other before heading back home for some much needed rest after all the excitement of the match.

The Server Should Declare the Score

The returner always has the opportunity to ask for a louder score call from their opponent. It is important that they take advantage of this privilege, and not wait until it might be too late in order to interrupt them with questions about points lost or won.

Shaking hands

Whether you win or lose, etiquette suggests meeting your opponent and shaking hands. The loser should congratulate the winner while the winner should comment on a well-played match. When you go and shake the hand, keep it solid and look it in the eye. 

Tennis Etiquette For Doubles

Tennis Etiquette For Doubles

The etiquette that applies to singles also applies for doubles with the exception of talking which is allowed when the ball travels towards your team. However, there is an etiquette that some players overlook and occurs more when there is a gap in the skill levels. 

Though you should be playing against an opponent that matches you equally, it is often not the case. When this happens, the etiquette suggests that superior players should not target weaker players, whether male or female. 

In doubles, both parties can call the lines for serves and during points. This is something worth taking note of so that you stay away from poor etiquette. 

Public Court Tennis Etiquette

For a lot of people, public courts are where most of their tennis is played. However, there are a few points worth keeping in mind about public court tennis etiquette.

Entering a court

Public tennis courts are sometimes connected to one another and have a single gate for entry. In such a case, if other players are playing a match, you should consider waiting for a changeover before entering the court. If you try to get in between points, you may not find sufficient time to settle on your court, so it is better to wait.  

If the court you want to cross to get to your court has players practicing or just having fun hitting, ask them politely if you can pass through the court.

Waiting for a court

You can wait for your turn outside a court keeping general etiquette in mind. You can ask them how much time is left for the changeover but avoid hounding them. You should ask once and then wait patiently. 

No Smoking

In order to keep the tennis courts clean and safe, smoking is not permitted inside or within a court.

Holding a court

In case you are waiting for your friends to start the play, you should avoid holding the court, particularly if others are waiting. The court remains unused during this time and everyone’s time is wasted. 

Length of play

Public courts generally post how long a player should play if others are waiting outside the court. The suggested length of play is 60 minutes for singles and 90 minutes for doubles in general but can be sometimes as short as 30 minutes. Make sure you follow these guidelines. 

Using ball machines

Though ball machines provide you a great way to practice without a partner, they can create some issues. Firstly, not all ball machines work quietly and can disturb nearby players. Next, if a fence doesn’t separate your court from the adjacent one and other players are playing there, you should avoid using a ball machine. 

Picking up trash

As you leave the court, collect and dispose of the trash you have created. Whether it is empty ball cans, plastic from an over grip, water bottles, or any other form of waste, you should not leave any trash on the court for other players. 

Playing without a referee

In case you do not have a referee in your match, the players are responsible to make sure that their points of play are correct and fair. 

The player who played the last stroke before any dispute must establish whether it was in or out so there can be no arguments later on- nobody gets cheater’s benefits! 

Common sense dictates that humans are not perfect, so you should hand the point to your opponent if you’re not sure if the ball was in, and there’s no pre elected referee to judge.

Unwritten Tennis Etiquette Rules

There are unwritten rules of tennis that, alongside the written set of rules for the game, make it not only about competitive spirit but also a chance to learn about good manners.

Hitting your partner with the ball

Tennis is known as a gentleman’s sport, and that includes being courteous to your opponents. If you hit them with the ball it’s important not only to apologize but also for them accept -even forget about what happened!

Don’t interrupt neighbor players

When a point is being played on an adjacent court, do not pass behind the playing tennis player and, moreover, do not go through someone else’s court.

Flying a ball to the next court

When you’re playing on the court next to someone else, make sure that your ball doesn’t fly over into their space – wait until they’ve ended their point before retrieving it! And if they return your tennis ball back to you following an errant throw or rally shot, thank them for that.

If anything gets in somebody’s way during play (whether due to balls flying around or just two people running into each other), apologize quickly and sincerely because this can cause resentment down the line through forfeits won unfairly by one of the players.

Tennis Etiquette for Spectators

Tennis Etiquette for Spectators

A game of tennis is a well-mannered affair – the spectators are not exempt from etiquette. 

In fact, that silence during each point among the public is not accidental but an integral part of the game itself, unlike what happens in football or basketball where even just before a shot leading to a goal there’s always some raucous cheering and shouting coming from those at courtside. 

And this isn’t really by accident either: as if anticipating something exciting might happen at any second.

Keeping quiet

Spectators are asked not to speak during matches so that they can have their full attention on each point as it unfolds before them. 

Leaving your seat

When can you leave your seat? You should only go to another part of the stadium when players change sides on court.

Standing up in between sets or every other point will lower down courtside volume and make things difficult for all those around you that want to cheer their team throughout an entire tennis match!

Important to acknowledge:

  • Be careful not to walk behind the court while a game is being played.
  • Wait for it to finish and then cross as quickly as possible.
  • The first game switch does not count.
  • You can leave your seat for the first time after 3 games from the start of the match.
  • You can leave your seat between sets.
  • In a tiebreak, players change sides each 6 points played.

Put your phone on silent

Silence is golden in tennis. You’ll find that the players and umpires are focused on their game, so they ask spectators to mute or turn off cell phones if possible.

If you don’t want your phone’s noise interfering with play then turn off your cell or put it into silent mode!

No protesting

The spectators are expected to refrain from shouting or protesting about the referee’s decision in any way.

If they do, it will not only upset other people around them but also get their kicked out of the stadium.

Tennis Clothing Etiquette

Did you know that when it comes to tennis, the court is not just about playing a game? Players are expected to dress appropriately for their location.

Dress code extends all the way from court into locker room with guidelines for comfort levels always being taken account of first before anything else. Players should call ahead if playing at accredited club to find out specifics on dress codes- they may be different depending whether you’re attending a match or play at your club!

For example, if they’re at a certain club or tournament as opposed to an public court, people would expect them dressed in shorts and comfortable clothes rather than wearing something like jeans and sneakers.

This all goes back from old-fashioned etiquette which often dictates what someone should wear depending on where they intend on going (dressing up for formal occasions).


The history of tennis has always been surrounded by good manners and etiquette. Though it has progressed to accommodate people from varying cultures, locations, and backgrounds, there is a level of etiquette expected to be followed during the game. 

Simply ask yourself how you would want the opponent to handle any situation and you will be good to be on the right track. We hope this guide helps understand how you can be the politest player on the court. 

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