5 Tennis Rules Involving The Net

tennis net

Like any sport, tennis is full of rules.

Some are quite obvious, like the ball can only bounce once on each side of the court during a rally, or you have to serve into the service box diagonally opposite to you.

However, there are several tennis rules which are less obvious, and many of these involve the net.

Here are 5 for you to look through. Do you know all of them?

What happens if a player touches the net?

If a player touches the net, net post, strap or singles sticks with any part of their body, clothing or with the racket (whether it’s in their hands or not), they automatically lose the point. ITF Rules Of Tennis Rule 24g (link at the end of the article)

There are occasions when it’s hard to avoid this, especially if you’re sprinting towards the net for a shot and your momentum carries you into it.

Here’s an example of this when Raonic touches the net after hitting a winner against Del Potro. You can see he just slips a bit and slides into the bottom of the net after hitting his shot.

However, unfortunately for Del Potro, it’s not picked up by the umpire or line judges and Raonic wins the point!

The one exception to this rule is if the point has ended before a player hits net, then it can count as a winner i.e. the ball has bounced twice or lands outside the court after the first bounce.

Can you hit the ball around the net in tennis?

Yes. This is a perfectly legal shot in tennis. ITF Rules Of Tennis Rule 25c

As long as the shot lands in the opposing court it’s fine.

It looks incredible when a tennis player can pull this off as you have to be at such a wide angle for this to work.

Of course this can also mean the shot can go below the net height on either side of the net post and still be a winner, like Federer does in this clip at the US Open.

I love Kyrgios’s reaction here.

Can you jump over the net in tennis?

No. If the ball is in play, if you jump over the net into the opposing court, you lose the point. ITF Rules of Tennis Rule 24 Case 5

Here’s an example where Troicki jumps over the net during a rally against Goffin. He jumps over the net and hits the ball, but the point is still in play when he lands, so therefore he loses the point.

However, if you jump over and the point has ended before you land on the other side, i.e. you hit a winner, then that is allowed and you win the point.

I can’t seem to find an example of this on YouTube so I think this situation is very rare!

Can your racket go over the net in tennis?

Yes it can, but only if the initial contact is made on your side of the court.

If you do this and the racket crosses over the net as part of the follow through on your swing, that’s fine. You just have to ensure you don’t touch the net at any point. ITF Rules Of Tennis Rule 25e

Can you reach over the net to hit a shot?

No, reaching over the net with your racket is not allowed in tennis. You need the ball to have reached your side of the court first.

The only exception to this is if the ball lands on your side and either due to the spin on the ball or the wind, the ball bounces back over the net and onto the other side of the court. ITF Rules Of Tennis Rule 25b

Here’s an example of Raonic doing this in a doubles match. He’s actually very clever here as he just hits the ball straight into the net but on the opposing side making it impossible for his opponents to return.

The only other time your racket is allowed to go over the net is in the example mentioned above, when you make contact on your side and the racket goes over the net during your follow through.


When is it a let in tennis?

A ‘let’ is most often called during service.

In this situation, if the ball hits the net, strap or tape and the ball is good i.e. it drops over into the correct service box on the receiver’s side of the court, a ‘let’ is called.

If this occurs during a first serve, you get another first serve again. Or if it happens on a second serve, you get a second serve again.

However, in far rarer circumstances, a ‘let’ can be called during a service if the ball makes contact with the net and then hits the receiver (or receiver’s partner if you’re playing doubles) before the ball has hit the ground.

I’ve never witnessed this in all my years playing tennis, and I can’t find any clip of this on YouTube. Please let me know in the comments below if you can find an example. I guess it is far more likely in doubles if the receiver’s partner is in a fairly central position close to the net. It still has to be a pretty bad serve for this situation to happen though!

A ‘let’ can also be called in other circumstances, but almost always the whole point is replayed, which means the server can have a first service again.

For example, if another tennis ball rolls onto the court during a point, or a bird or animal runs onto the court!


Any player on court can call a ‘let’ when it’s appropriate.

Why is it called ‘let’ not ‘net’ in tennis?

It is widely accepted that it comes from the Saxon word ‘lettian’ which meant to prevent something from happening, or to hinder.

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Author: Dad Racket

Graham runs the place around here. He likes making a "little noise" about all things to do with tennis and parenting. Check out his about page to learn more.

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