From Couch to Court: Tennis for Adult Newbies
If you’re starting tennis as an adult this is the post for you. Having spent more than 20 years working with adult tennis players, I’m really excited to see a whole new crop of adults diving into the world of tennis. What’s even cooler is that this fresh wave includes adult players as young as 27.
In pre-covid days, most people didn’t start tennis until their 40s, but things have changed. Thanks to remote work and the endless hours spent behind computer screens, people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s are now getting more than curious about picking up tennis. Believe it or not, tennis, not pickleball, is the game of choice for these adults, and they’re hungry to get on court.
As someone who’s seen firsthand the magic of tennis in adults’ lives, I can tell you it’s not only about getting active; it gives you a fresh sense of purpose. Tennis isn’t just a sport. It introduces you to lasting friendships and living a more exciting life. The beauty of tennis is that it can be your game into old age.
The reason I love adult tennis so much is simple – adults stay. Juniors move on sometimes by age 16 and may never return because it wasn’t their idea to begin with. So, as you walk into the world of tennis, you’re not only discovering a new sport; you’re finding a tribe of like minds and forging friendships that should last a lifetime. If you pick well 🙂
Starting tennis as an adult, keep it simple – concentrate only on the basics like; grips, balance and contact points and how to keep score. Staying injury free is key for adults, as well as knowing how to pick the right coach and mastering the serve.
Understanding the Basics: Grips, stance & contact point
When you’re starting tennis as an adult, it might seem overwhelming at first, but don’t worry – here’s a valuable tip to set you on the right track. Learn both the Eastern and Continental playing grips right from the start. It will can make a significant difference in your tennis game.
The Eastern grip is versatile and adaptable, making it easy for adults to square off with the sweet spot of your racket. This grip is key to solid beginner forehand shots & will help with your consistency. That’s good news since you’ll hit 70% of your shots on your forehand side. The eastern grip will also help you place balls deep into the court instead of the service boxes. You want that because you always want to hit deep balls to keep your opponent away from the net.
Your forehand stance starting tennis as an adult is based on how you’re balanced best! So as you turn your shoulders and hips sideways to the net to hit a forehand – you want your body to feel comfortable. If your feet are side to side like you see in the video above – great! That will really let you hit through the ball and drive it deep. If your stance happens to leave your feet open stance – that’s ok. But your shoulders & hips need to get turned sideways.
And while MODERN tennis is all the rage these days … adults really want to get playing fast, comfortably and have a good time. Hitting in a neutral stance with your feet side to side may be an easier start for you. I see adults starting out in tennis being told they MUST hit in open stance and it’s not true. Not by a long shot.
On the other hand, the Continental grip is crucial for mastering your backhand, volleys, serves, and even those tricky overhead shots. By familiarizing yourself with both grips early on – starting tennis at the beginner level, you’ll not only build a real foundation. But open yourself to a world of possibilities at the intermediate level.
The stance on your backhand starting tennis should be a 2-handed backhand. You’ll need your body’s power to get the ball deep into the court. Not just your racket & strings.
Yea, a 1 hander may be more beautiful but it’s a hard to learn the coordination and timing of it as you get started in the game.
The 2-handed backhand will automatically turn your shoulders & hips sideways to the ball with your feet side to side in neutral stance. That’s terrific because it’s a natural power source, again, because you’re using your body not only a racket for power. Cha-ching!
So, don’t be afraid to switch it up and explore the subtleties of these playing grips. Consider both grips an essential step in becoming a well-rounded and confident tennis player. Whether you’re serving or perfecting your backhand, these fundamental grips will be your buddies throughout your entire tennis career.
Your contact point on your forehand as you can see in the video above should be out in front of you. As you take the racket back with one hand, your other hand gets released to the front to balance you out. Where your left hand sits out in front of you is where you want to make contact with the ball. Exactly where you would catch the ball with that hand – you’re hitting it there.
Many beginners make late contact with the ball because they’re not sure where & when exactly to strike the ball. When you use that non-dominant hand to track and balance yourself you also understand that when that ball is out by that non-dominant hand you need to unleashing the racket from the back of you to the front and connecting with it exactly where you’d catch it, so … the guessing game is gone!
The contact point on your backhand is slightly later. That means that why you’re turned sideways to the ball you’ll contact the ball right out by your front right foot (for right handed players). That’s slightly later (only slightly) than where you’d contact your forehand ball. Got it!?
Getting Fit for Tennis: Workouts & conditioning
Starting out in tennis as an adult is pretty darn thrilling, but here’s the real scoop: you’ve got to be in decent shape and work out smart to get the most out of your time on court. Tennis asks a lot of your body, from quick moves to preserving long rallies. That’s where fitness comes into play – it’s the secret to becoming a solid tennis player.
Cardio workouts, like running or biking, will keep you in the game, helping you hustle on court. And don’t forget the strength training – it’s like your power boost, making your shots more powerful. I use Pilates with a mix in flexibility exercises to keep your body relaxes and injury-free. It’s all about feeling good, having fun, and playing your best game.
Cardio tennis is a game-changer for adult players looking to boost their fitness and tennis skills together. It’s a high-energy, heart-pounding workout that combines tennis drills with aerobic exercises. It’s very dynamic and fun and regardless of your level – it let’s everyone play.
Not only does it help improve your endurance and stamina, but it can sharpen your footwork and shot accuracy. Plus, it’s a great way to meet other adult players and enjoy the social side of the tennis. So, if you’re looking to shed some calories, elevate your game, and have a blast while doing it, cardio tennis just maybe an adult program at your nearest tennis club.
The video above is a warm up I love. I use each time I hit the court. It’s specific to tennis and prepares our mind, eyes & movements for exactly what we’re about to start using in training sessions.
As you start tennis as an adult you’ll want to stay as healthy and injury free as possible. There isn’t a game around (including pickleball and padel) where adults don’t get injured. But if you’re starting off working with a coach on how to use your body to hit the ball and move to the ball … they should be catching & correcting you from doing things that will surely turn into bad habits or nasty injuries. Using a certified coach is a healthy way to approach starting tennis as an adult. Because the moment you get injured – you’ll be sidelined for quite awhile. And players, never play through pain! Never.
Mentoring & Guidance: How to choose the right coach
As a Tennis Director running adult tennis camps, I’m here to tell you that choosing the right coach is absolutely paramount for adult players. Unlike junior players, adults often have varying playing & skill levels, motivations, and unique challenges. That’s where emotional intelligence and adaptability come into play. Our instructors are not just experts hitting tennis balls with a wealth of tennis knowledge. But they’re also masters of communication. They know that adults have different learning styles, so they’re skilled at explaining techniques and strategies in multiple ways, making your learning process smoother and more enjoyable.
When you’re in one of our adult tennis camps, you’ll quickly see the difference a skilled coach makes. We ensure your instruction is specific to your needs. Whether you’re a beginner looking to get the basics down or a more advanced player playing tournaments. Your tennis coach should be a support to you. Both on-court in lessons & corrections and setting you up with other players to get you playing more tennis.
So, if you’re on the hunt for a coach who not only knows their stuff but can connect with you on a personal level, you’re in the right place.
Mastering your serve: Tips & Techniques
When you’re starting out in tennis the serve might feel like a nightmare. But fear not friend. This is a step by step process. You want to feel the motion of coordinating it all first.
3 key elements to focus on: grip, ball toss, and contact point. First, nail down your grip by using the correct grip – the continental grip for beginners. Get used to that part 1st. Because this is where coaches let you get away with serving in the forehand grip. And it’s only going to cause you problems later at the intermediate level.
The ball toss is soooo important but gets the least amount of attention and fame.
If your ball toss is off so is your serve.
Legally you can toss that ball in the air as many times as you need. But most adults feel the pressure to hit any ball they toss up. Practice your ball toss with your coach. Once your body is set up correctly your front foot will be at a 45 degree angle. That lead toe is where you’ll position your ball toss.
Not too high. Not too low. You’ll find what’s right for you. But as your starting tennis as an adult, start with a manageable height – ball toss. Something that requires you to stretch and reach for the ball (which helps you clear the net) and yet not too high – where you can’t time it well.
Your ball toss will completely affect your contact point on the serve. Your contact point is out in front of you. Not behind you. Not on the other side of you. Nor in any position that requires you to walk around to hit it.
Take your time with the serve. Get a coach who’s patient and makes simple sense to you. You don’t need anything fancy, too powerful or tricky. There are no secrets like clickbait videos have you believe. You have to coordinate it, both your body and ball toss and practice it. Just like everyone else. Just like your favorite tennis pros did when they started out. Back when there were NO SECRETS – only repetitive practice.
You need the ball over the net and in that box. And you can do that in a short amount of time with the right grip, ball toss and contact point.
I have no doubts you’ll succeed.
When you’re ready to join in one of our adult tennis camps or tennis holidays in Spain – check our dates and playing levels. Come and play with us when you can. We have a lot of fun & it’s part of the lifestyle – travel + tennis + international players.
You’re going to love it. Welcome to the game!