Net Etiquette – Unwritten Rules and Sportsmanship in Tennis


Tennis is not just a game of skill and strategy it is also a sport that values sportsmanship and etiquette. While the official rules of tennis are well-documented, there are also unwritten rules and norms that govern player behavior on and off the court. These unwritten rules are essential to maintain the spirit of the game and promote fair play. In this article, we will explore some of the key aspects of net etiquette in tennis.

Respect for Opponents: One of the fundamental principles of tennis etiquette is to show respect for your opponents. This means acknowledging their skills, congratulating them on good shots, and avoiding any disrespectful behavior such as trash-talking or unsportsmanlike conduct. Whether you win or lose, it is important to maintain a respectful attitude towards your opponent.

Silence During Points: During a point, players are expected to maintain silence. This means no shouting, talking, or making unnecessary noise that can distract your opponent. It is crucial to allow both players to focus on the game without any disturbances.

Wait for Your Turn: When playing a match, players must wait for their turn to serve or return. It is considered poor etiquette to rush your opponent or try to gain an advantage by serving or returning before your opponent is ready. Wait until both players are prepared to continue.

Prompt Scoring: Keeping score accurately and promptly is another aspect of net etiquette. It is essential to call out the score clearly after each point, and both players should agree on the score to avoid disputes. Honesty in scoring is a fundamental part of the game.

Line Calls: Honesty in line calls is a cornerstone of tennis etiquette. Players are responsible for making their own line calls, and the general rule is to give the benefit of the doubt to your opponent. If you are unsure about a call, it is better to play the point over rather than argue about it. However, if your opponent consistently makes incorrect calls, you can politely address the issue.


No Ball Abuse: Throwing, hitting, or otherwise abusing the tennis ball in frustration is considered poor sportsmanship. Treat the ball with respect and handle it carefully. If you need to change a ball, do so within the rules and without any excessive force.

Timely Ball Retrieval: After a point is over, both players are responsible for retrieving the ball and getting it back into play promptly. Delaying the game by taking your time to retrieve the ball is frowned upon.

No Coaching During Play: Tennis is typically an individual sport, and coaching during a match is not allowed in most cases. It is important to play the game without external assistance and rely solely on your skills and strategy.

Applause for Good Play: Regardless of the outcome, it is customary to applaud your opponent’s good shots and sportsmanship. This gesture shows respect for your opponent’s abilities and the spirit of the game.

Shake Hands After the Match: At the end of a match, it is customary to shake hands with your opponent, whether you win or lose. This simple act of sportsmanship signifies the end of the competition and is a sign of respect.

  • June 22, 2023