Please see the VI Tennis guide for a copy of the guide to VI Tennis produced by the Tennis Foundation


Tennis Rules, Scoring and Exercise Ideas


Rules - comparison to normal tennis

Holding the racquet




EDITOR - please contact if any corrections to the rules below are needed




“Normal” Tennis Rules

Changes for Sound Tennis


You get 2 chances to serve

No difference



Before the serve, server calls “Ready”, server replies “Yes”, server says “Play” as they serve.

Ball touches the netcord on the serve

If the ball falls “in” the serving area, replay the serve (called a “let”), otherwise it is out

No difference

Foot fault

If the server's foot touches, or is over, the backline when serving, it is a foot fault (= eg fault service)

No difference – but it is usual to warn the player they are in danger of a foot fault

Ball touches the netcord at any other point in the game

Play continues

No difference

The ball hits a player before it touches the ground

The point is always “against” the person who has been hit

The point is “against” the person if they are standing in the court area, but the ball is called “out” if the person it hits is outside of the playing area

On the line?  In or out?

If the ball touches the line, it is called “in”

No difference



Umpire and line judges should not just say “fault”, but should explain if the ball was long (over the baseline), or wide (over the side lines) and can be asked to give an estimate of by how much the ball was out.


You can hit the ball before it bounces

No difference


You must hit the ball before the second bounce

Sighted players and B4/B5 players can have 1 bounce, vision impaired 2 bounces, B1 (no sight) players can have 3 bounces


Games, sets and matches

Matches are usually won by the first person to win a specified number of sets (usually best of 3 or 5 sets), each set being won by the person winning a specified number of games, each game being settled by winning a specified number of points.

Matches are often settled by just 1 set.

Scoring progression for games

Except in a tie break, the scores in a “game” are:

0 (or “love”)




No difference though games are often settled by "sudden death" at deuce

Calling the score

The server's score is usually called first by the umpire (for example “30 – 0” when the server has won the first 2 points)

No difference

Where the serve is played from

The first point is played from the right hand side of the court, and it alternates thereafter.

No difference – except for the “no advantage” rule as described below.


If the score is 40 – 40, it is called “deuce”.  The game must be won by 2 clear points, so the next player to score a point has “advantage” - if they score the next point, they win the game.  If they lose, it goes back to deuce. 

Often in tournaments “no advantage” or “sudden death” is played, and at deuce the next point won decides the game.  In this instance, the receivers can say which side of the court they want the server to serve from.


Sets are a series of games. A set is won by the first person winning 6 games and who has 2 clear games over the opponent (eg wins 6-4, 6-3,6-2,6-1 or 6-0).

If the score is 6-5, a further game is played.  If the score then becomes 7-5, the set is won.  If it becomes 6-6 a “tie break” is played (see below).  In some tournaments in the final set there is no tie break and play continues until one player has a 2 clear game margin over their opponent.

The tournament officials may decide to play sets of just 3 or 4 games, and may not apply the “2 clear games” margin (so a set could be won 4-3) or apply a tie break.  The rules will always be explained before the game.

Tie break

Usually played first to seven points, but to be won by 2 clear points.

Usually the same, but sometimes just played first to 7 points.  In some tournaments, matches can be decided by just playing a tie break to a specified number of points (eg 10).

Changing ends

In formal matches, players change ends after the first game, and then after every second game thereafter.  On a tie break, players change ends  when the first player has 5 points.

No difference

Standing to receive serve

In singles, the receiver swaps sides after each point to face the server who swaps sides.


In doubles, the serving side change side for each point, but the receiving side stay on the same side so the players alternately receive the service.  Strict tournament rules specify that the sides picked by the receivers must be consistent throughout each set.

No difference

Who serves first?

Usually the player who wins a coin toss decides who will serve first, and the other player decides what end to stand from.

No difference

Service thereafter

The service alternates with each game.  For doubles, each player will take a turn to serve when it is their turn to serve.


In a tie break, service changes after the first point, and after every 2 points thereafter, so in a tie break of A&B versus C&D

1st point A serves

2nd and 3rd point C serves

4th & 5th point B serves

6th and 7th point D serves


No difference



Usually long handled

Standard Tennis rackets used


Tennis balls

Sponge balls that make a sound when they bounce

Playing area

Tennis court

See VI tennis Guide, Badminton courts are sometimes used




Bounces allowed

B1 players

“Totally, or almost totally blind” - in tournaments players are required to wear a blindfold.

3 bounces

B2 players

See VI Tennis Guide

3 bounces

B3 players

See VI Tennis Guide

2 bounces

B4/B5 players

See VI Tennis Guide

1 bounce


Notes - International standards particularly in regards to sight classification may vary from the above


In domestic tournaments sight classifications may be merged to make up numbers 



Holding the racquet

(all examples are for right handers –  just reverse for left handers)

 There are lots of different holds, and each player will find for themselves the hold that gives most control.


Basic Grip:

The grip depends on the type of shot to play.  There are two basic types to choose from for both the backhand and the forehand.

 You will know you have it right when your racquet comes to feel as a natural extension of your arm.



Advanced Forehand Grip

This is used by most of the professionals because it is the best way to add top spin.  Your thumb and forefinger form a 'V' pointing into the side of the handle.  An easy way to find this grip is to simply put your racket on the floor and to pick it up by the grip.  It will feel awkward at first but once mastered, it will allow you to return high bouncing balls with more power.



Advanced Forehand Grip

This is used by most of the professionals because it is the best way to add top spin.  Your thumb and forefinger form a 'V' pointing into the side of the handle.  An easy way to find this grip is to simply put your racket on the floor and to pick it up by the grip.  It will feel awkward at first but once mastered, it will allow you to return high bouncing balls with more power.




One hand backhand grip

Place the palm of your hand on top of the handle then move the racquet inwards a quarter turn.  The thumb should fall diagonally across the back of the grip, though some players wrap it all the way round.  The inside of the thumb should touch the flat part of the handle.  An easy way to find this grip is to put the racquet under your left arm with the handle sticking out forwards.  Grab hold of the grip and pull the racquet out. You should then have the correct grip for a one-handed topspin backhand


Two hand backhand grip

This grip gives more strength and control than a one-handed grip.  It is also easier to hit top spin.  However, it gives less reach and you need more time to prepare than with a single-handed shot.  So you also need the server grip to play a sliced backhand. The simplest way to form the double-handed grip is to hold the racquet with with your favoured hand in the shake-hands forehand grip, then add the other hand with another forehand grip.  Once you have mastered that, start to nudge your right hand more onto the top of the grip.  This will allow you to hit with more power and spin.  Your hands should be bunched up against each other, but not overlapping.


Server Grip

The grip for the serve and sliced backhand.  It is known as the chopper grip, because it is the way you would hold an axe.  It allows you to swing the racquet head faster when serving, which is how to generate power and spin.  To find the grip, hold the racquet as if you were using the edge of the frame as an axe, that should be the correct grip.  The V of your thumb and forefinger should be just to the left of the top of the grip.






Warm up exercises for everyone:


knees bent, twisting body left and right

knees bent, shuffle left and right

moving forwards and backwards towards the net (B1 players guided)



Practice exercises for B1 players:


B1 players stand in a ring and throw the ball between them (bounce and catch).  Probably particularly good for younger players.


B1 player drops the ball by their side from head height and then hits it on the third bounce.


“Feeding the ball” - throw the ball to the B1 player so by the 3rd bounce it is just to the left or right of the B1 player who hits it.  You can try throwing to the left 10 times, right 10 times.


The above played with the net between you (use the racquet rather than throwing the ball).  Both player stand mid court on respective sides of the net.


Practice serves – feedback to the B1 player where their ball is landing.  The sighted player plays the return to try to keep the ball in play.

Bouncing the ball off the wall – sighted and B1 player standing alongside each other facing a wall.  They bounce the ball against the wall.  You can use the racquet to touch and control the ball before playing it against the wall.  The next to hit the ball off the wall depends on the direction of the bounce: the sighted player needs to say “mine” and “yours” (with guidance when it is going to the left/right of the B1 player).  This is quite motivating because if the sighted player can play balls missed by the B1 player it can be good exercise and practice for both players and the rallies can be quite long.


Doubles games played with a sighted partner who calls “mine”, or guides by calling their B1 partner to where to strike the ball.


Practice sessions for VI players


3 players on either side – one at the front and two at the back (can be 2 and 2 on a tennis court).  The player at the back serves and play continues.  After each point, the players on both sides rotate position clockwise.  This allows 6 people to practice on a single court.


In pairs across a net play the ball from one to the other trying to keep the rally going.  Each player can have several shots their side of the net before returning it – this helps touch and control.


Can mix up the above saying that each side of the net, they must play the ball with the forehand and the backhand (or vice versa) before it is returned.


In the above exercises, 2 pairs can share a court using half each (left half/right half) and can mix up exercises by pairs standing diagonal to each other so the ball crosses.


Practice serving – can use a target such as a rucksack (receiving player must stand by it to call “Yes” to “Ready?”)


Rallies that focus backhand.


Rallies that focus forehand.


Skills practice:










Download as a PDF

View a video of the rules (below)


Editors note - Thanks to Jonathan Dutton for his help in preparing this page


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