Equipment You Need
- Ball – Wilson US Open Jumbo 9″ Tennis Ball. Don’t try any other ball, trust us. We have and nothing good came of it.
- Tennis Racket – Ceramic or Fiberglass. Don’t borrow your parents expensive titanium Tennis rackets, you will ruin them.
- Gloves – Padded batting gloves or light weight MMA gloves are HIGHLY recommended to avoid blisters and bruised hands.
- Athletic Tape – perfect for wrapping loose racket handles, gloves, wrists, etc.
Scoring is identical to regular Tennis.
Court & Boundaries
Big Ball Tennis is played on a regular Tennis court. The boundaries of the court are shown in the image to the right. When serving the ball, the short and narrow lines are used (shown in yellow). The server must serve from behind the back yellow line and land the ball into the opposite side yellow box of the opponent (as in regular Tennis). The ball must bounce once before the opponent can return the serve. The standard amount of “faults” (2) and “lets” as regular Tennis apply. After service the short and wide lines are used (shown in blue).
As in regular Tennis, if the ball lands on any part of the white line, even the outermost part, it is a fair ball and is in play. Therefore, 99% out = 100% in.
A player/team is allowed only two bounces when the ball is in their possession before it must be returned to the opponent. The first bounce is generally used to stop the momentum of the ball and the second is typically used to set it up to hit it. Although you are allowed a maximum of two bounces, you are not required to use both bounces to return the ball. A player can return the ball using only one or even no bounces.
Use of Fences / Gates / Surroundings
The use of fences, gates, walls, or surroundings is permitted. For example, if the ball bounces off of a gate or any surrounding items, it is considered in play and a live ball. You can also use the surroundings on purpose such as hitting the ball into a gate to prevent it from touching the ground to keep the play alive.
Bobbling the ball on your racket is a permitted technique that is used to keep the ball alive. If you are out of bounces you can “bobble” (bounce up and down) the ball on your racket to set yourself up for a hit.
The two rules for Bobbling the ball are:
- You MUST keep the ball bouncing in motion. If at any point the ball stops bouncing the ball is dead and the opponent wins the point.
- You CANNOT advance the ball forward from where you are standing. While you are bobbling the ball, your feet cannot move forward closer to the net. You can move laterally or backward, but NOT forward. Any movement forward and the play is over with your opponent being awarded the point.
“Advancing” the ball is simply moving the ball forward (closer to the net) either by bobbling and walking it closer or by a forward pass to yourself. The most common form of Advancing comes after a player absorbs the momentum of the ball after the first bounce. If the player does not absorb the momentum properly, the ball has the tendency to bounce forward off of the players racket. This bounce almost always advances the ball closer to the net. At this point the player must move up to play the ball, essentially passing the ball forward to them-self.
This is NOT allowed. In the event this happens, the player cannot score a point on their hit over the net. They must perform a “gentlemens” hit which is enough to keep the play alive and get it over the net rather than performing a “kill shot”. In the event the Advancing player hits a “gentlemens” shot and the other team misses it, the Advancing player’s team is not awarded the point. The point is not counted and replayed.
“Hooking” is a way of hitting the ball in a Lacrosse style. It is where a player scoops the momentum of the ball and throws “hooks” the ball back to the opponent. This type of hit is allowed as long as the hit is performed in one fluid motion and ball is kept moving laterally. The ball CANNOT be scooped and held up or supported by the racket. Hooking is typically used when backhanding the ball because of the added weight and mass of it.
Passing (when playing doubles)
When playing doubles Big Ball Tennis, Passing the ball to your teammate is allowed. You are not limited on the number of passes you are allowed.
The net is where the action happens, and is a more high risk position that lends it self to getting hit by a racket or ball. Many players find playing the net to be fun and exhilarating due to the high speed and aggressive play that happens there, but it is not for everyone. Typically when playing doubles Tennis, one player plays the net while the other stands back and plays long. The back player can receive long shots and pass them to their teammate at the net to perform a kill shot.
There are specific rules when playing the net:
Reaching Over the Net – You are allowed to touch the net and even reach over on your opponents side to hit the ball. It is up to them to block you from doing so. You cannot intentionally hit your opponent with your racket. If a players racket does come in contact with another player it must happen in the motion of going for the ball. Intentionally hitting your opponent with a racket will result in a penalty automatic lost point and possible removal from the game.
Maintaining Ball Control Over the Net – When playing the net it is common for a player to lean on to their opponents side to maintain control of the ball on the opponents field of play. This is allowed, however each time the opposite side player touches the ball with their racket, the allotted number of bounces is reset.
Planting – When playing the net you cannot “plant” the ball on your opponents side. “Planting” the ball is the act of reaching over the net and pinning the ball to the ground. Planting is not permitted and will result in a lost point.
Using Your Body
In the event the ball is hit and comes in contact with a players body, the ball remains live as long as it is not advanced by the player. The player that is hit intentionally CANNOT touch the ball with their hands or hit the ball forward with any part of their body. The ball should only be advanced forward using the racket. If the player hits the ball forward with their hand, the ball is dead and the point awarded to the opponent.
Using the Side of A Racket
Using the side of a Tennis racket to hit the ball is permitted. Many players like to use this technique for serving extra fast/hard serves or for performing kill shots at the net. It is a good tactic, but tends to be inconsistent and often uncontrollable.