TOP 10 Common Tennis Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Tennis Player Serves

Tennis is a fun and exciting sport! It’s simple to learn. You can start learning at any age. The equipment is often quite inexpensive for beginners. And, best of all, it’s a great way to get outside with your friends, or make some new ones!

When you’re starting to play tennis, you’ll start to learn a lot very quickly. You’ll get a handle of your racquet, and you’ll start learning how the court works. With the help of a professional tennis coach and consistent tennis lessons, you’ll start seeing lots of improvements very quickly!

But even so, there are some mistakes that a lot of beginners make. Paying attention to these mistakes while you’re a beginner will help you progress even faster. A lot of it comes down to taking simple steps early on. 

In this article, you will learn:

  • How to choose the right tennis equipment, including shoes, racquets, and strings
  • Where to stay on the court to optimize your playing
  • How to fix common playing mistakes
  • How to keep from annoying other players, so everyone can have fun

By the end of the guide, you’ll have everything you need to keep learning with confidence! So grab your racquet, and let’s get started with some helpful tennis tips!

Mistake #1 - Not Learning About Equipment

One of the first tennis mistakes that can make learning tennis more difficult is your equipment. While tennis equipment can be quite affordable, it’s very important to know what you’re looking for! Having the right clothes, shoes, and racket can all help you to make the most of your practicing. If you’re ever not sure about what equipment to purchase, you can always get in touch with a tennis instructor. They’ll be happy to help you find the sports gear that’s right for you!

Why does it matter?

The purpose of good equipment – whether it’s your running shoes or the strings on your racquet – is to help your body be efficient. Bad equipment will act against your body instead of helping it. This will make tennis harder to learn, and less fun. Faulty equipment can make you develop bad habits and impede your progress. Without the right gear, you could even have an injury!

So let’s get started from the ground up. First, let’s look at shoes!

Mistake #2 - Using the Wrong Shoes

Tennis is a lot of fun and a terrific way to get exercise. Part of why it’s such great exercise is because it involves a huge variety of rigorous movement. While beneficial to your health, that variety of movement can also be very challenging for your body. Playing tennis involves running, stopping, turning, and jumping – that’s a lot of work for your legs and feet!

For that reason, having the right pair of shoes can mean the difference between playing your best and hurting yourself. 

A common mistake a lot of beginner players make is using the wrong footwear. Instead of using shoes specifically made for tennis, they use regular running shoes. Unfortunately, regular running shoes don’t offer the right kind of support for all the different movements involved in playing tennis. Investing in a pair of tennis shoes instead of just using your running shoes can be an important step in learning the sport.

So how do you choose the right shoes?

A big question to ask is what kind of surface are you playing on? Some courts are made out of acrylics. Some tennis courts are clay. Some courts are grass. There are even some courts made out of carpeting! So the first step to finding your perfect pair of tennis shoes is to find out where you’re going to be practicing tennis. 

If you’re playing on a hard and gritty surface, you want a pair of shoes that absorbs shock well. Look for shoes with a lot of cushioning, and protection for your toes. You want a pair of shoes with the right blend of grip and give. If you have too much grip, you could sprain an ankle!

If you’re playing on a clay court, you may want more grip. You don’t need as much cushioning, because clay is a lot softer. It’ll be easier on your feet and legs to play on a clay court than on a hard one. You should also look for shoes that do up tightly on top – this will prevent too much clay for winding up in your shoes. Clay court shoes are also an excellent choice of shoe if you’re playing on an astroturf court.

If you’re playing on a grass court, you don’t need too much shock absorption in your shoes. Grass already does a great job of cushioning your feet! The challenge with playing on grass is that it can be very slippery. For that reason, you’ll want a pair of shoes with a lot of grip.

Mistake #3 - Playing with the Wrong Racquet

Tennis Racquets
Photo by Cristina Anne Costello on Unsplash

If you’re new to playing tennis, then choosing a tennis racquet can seem confusing at first. But don’t worry, a good tennis instructor will help you pick a racquet that works for you!

If you don’t yet have an instructor, then this guide will help you choose the right racquet. After all, a racquet can make all the difference to your learning process. The right racquet will help you develop good techniques, and make the sport easier and more fun! 

A common mistake, though, is that new tennis players don’t choose the right racquet. This can make playing tennis more difficult, and cause them to develop improper form. 

Here are some tips for choosing the right tennis racquet for you!

Skill Level

Some tennis racquets are designed for beginners, some are designed for intermediate players, and some are designed for advanced players. This makes a big difference. If you choose a racquet meant for someone more experienced, you will have a harder time playing tennis. It will be harder to get the ball over the net, and it will be harder to aim. This means you’ll have less fun!

Many tennis players make the mistake of choosing a tennis racquet that’s meant for someone with more experience. Here are some ways to tell beginner racquets apart from advanced ones:

Size of head:

A large head is a racquet head that’s bigger than 105 square inches. This larger head means that you will have more power, but less control when hitting the ball. For a beginner, this is the perfect racquet. You will have an easier time hitting the tennis ball with a large racquet than you will with a smaller one. 

A medium head is between 95 to 105 square inches. This size of racquet gives a good blend of power and control. Power is good for tennis players who are less experienced, because it helps them hit the ball farther and faster. Control is good for more experienced tennis players, because it allows them to aim more precisely when hitting the ball. A medium head is a good choice for an intermediate player.

A small head is any tennis racket head that’s smaller than 95 square inches. This racquet will offer a great deal of control, but very little power. That means that the player will need very good form and strength in order to make the shot go as far as they want it to. It also means that they will be able to aim more precisely. For an experienced tennis player, a racquet with a small head is ideal. 


A lightweight racquet will give the tennis player a lot of additional power. Just like using a large head, a light racquet is an excellent choice for a new player. It will also help prevent you from harming your wrists as you develop good tennis form.

A medium weight racquet has a medium amount of power. This kind of racquet is a good choice for you if you’re an intermediate level player with some tennis training under your belt.

A heavy racquet is best suited to advanced level players. As with a small head on a tennis racquet, a heavy racquet gives less power. However, an advanced player does not need as much power from the racquet, because they will have developed powerful form. A common mistake of new tennis players is choosing a racquet that’s too heavy. Not only will it make playing tennis more difficult, it can also lead to hurting your wrist!

Grip Length

The length of the grip on your tennis racquet can also make a big difference. If the grip is too big, you can end up tiring out your arms. If the grip is too small, you will have trouble gripping your racquet. 

Unlike head size or weight, the grip length of your racquet isn’t determined by how experienced a tennis player you are. Instead, it’s determined by how big your hands are. To find out what the best way to measure what kind of grip you need, get in touch with a TennisProNow today!

Mistake #4 - Using the Wrong Tennis Strings

So now you’ve bought the right tennis racquet! Your racquet will probably have strings on it already. However, if your racquet didn’t come with strings, you’ll have to choose some for yourself. A common mistake in new tennis players is picking the wrong tennis strings. At the end of this section, you’ll know what kind is right for you!

With so many different types of tennis strings on the market, having your own instructor to help you choose can take the mystery out of tennis strings. But if you don’t have an instructor yet, here is a quick list of what strings can do for you:

Some strings are designed to give you a lot of power. These strings are usually made out of nylon or natural gut. Just like with tennis racquets, choosing strings that give you a lot of power is the best choice for beginners or for younger players. If you’re just starting out with tennis instruction, nylon strings are a great choice for you!

Some strings are designed to give you a lot of spin. Topspin is the amount that a ball spins in the air after you hit it. It can be a very effective technique for making the ball bounce higher and being more difficult for your opponent to return. Strings that give lots of spin are usually made out of polyester and have an unusual shape. These strings are great for competitive players. However, if you’re a beginner, you do not need to focus on having a strong topspin. You will learn this technique in time as you progress.

Some strings are designed to give you a lot of control. More control means better aim. Like strings built for spin, these will usually be made out of polyester. As with choosing a racquet size and weight, strings give a trade off between power and control. If you’re a beginner, it’s best to use strings that give you power. Strings that offer control are best used by more experienced tennis players

And remember, thinner strings are better for beginner tennis players because they offer more power. Thicker gauge strings offer more control, and are best for experienced players. 

Another common mistake is choosing the wrong string tension!

String tension means how tight the strings are on your racquet. It’s an easy mistake to make, because it can seem so complicated. 

Generally speaking, the lower your string tension, the more power, comfort, and spin you will have. 

The higher your string tension, the more control you will have. Again, this is best for advanced players. If you’re a beginner, you should choose a lower string tension.

Mistake #5 - Using the Wrong Stance

Tennis Stance
Photo by John Fornander on Unsplash

Tennis is all about footwork. What does this mean? It means that the way you hold your feet is extremely important. In tennis, the way you position your feet is called your stance. Knowing how to fix a poor stance can make a big difference to your game.

One of the most common tennis mistakes made by novice tennis players is that they don’t know the right way to hold their feet. This makes a huge difference to every part of how you play. It will change how quickly you can reach the ball. It can change how well balanced you are. It can also have an impact on how good the rest of your form is. If you don’t learn to develop a good stance, you could be setting yourself up for pulled muscles or sprains. 

There are different stances for different types of shot. If you’re serving the ball, for instance, you’ll want your legs in a different position than if you’re using a backhand return.

For a forehand shot, you want to bend both your knees, and have your non-dominant leg in front of the other. (So, if you’re right-handed, you should have your left leg in front of your right). In tennis, forehand is one of the most common strokes.

The best way to perfect your stance is through tennis instruction with a professional tennis coach. With proper tennis training, they will be able to see things that you might not notice, and give you advice and helpful tips. 

Mistake #6 - Always Using the Same Shot

Preparing a forehand stroke.
Photo by Jim Sung on Unsplash

Ironically, one of the most common forehand mistakes is overusing the forehand shot!

Beginner tennis players often learn one kind of shot very well. Usually, this is the forehand shot. With practice, they get good at this shot which makes them feel confident to use it any chance they get. Unfortunately, this can come with some real disadvantages:

It Keeps You From Growing

As a new tennis player, you should always be trying to challenge yourself to grow and learn new things. However, if you feel confident with one type of shot and use it every time, that can prevent you from trying out new things. The best tennis players always look for chances to grow. The only way you will get good at different kinds of strokes is by trying them out and practicing them – even if you don’t feel confident!

It’s Predictable

Another problem with always using the same kind of shot is that no matter how good at it you are, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage. You are losing the element of surprise. Your opponent will notice that you’re always using the same kind of shot. That means that every time they hit the ball to you, they know how you will respond. With this information, they’re better prepared to react to your shots, because they already know what they’re going to be. Your opponent can also take advantage of your pattern, because if they see you always using the same kind of stroke, they can send the ball to places that your stroke can’t reach. For example, if you always use a tennis forehand stroke, or a left-handed backhand they can send the ball to a place that you need a backhand stroke to return.

It’s Boring

Always remember, tennis is supposed to be fun! If you’re not having fun, you’ll stop practicing, and then you’ll get discouraged. If you’re always using the same tennis move again and again, then playing tennis will start to feel boring. Sports are more fun when we challenge ourselves to do better and to grow. So even though perfecting one kind of stroke and always using it can make you feel a little more confident in the short-term, it can take a lot of the fun out of tennis in the long-term!

Mistake #7 - Not Giving Your Shot Enough Space

A common mistake for tennis players who are new to the sport is that they have trouble understanding where the ball will be. When you’re learning tennis, it’s important to remember that you’re not trying to run to where the ball is. 

Instead, what you want to do is run toward the ball, but leave enough space for you to take your shot. Make sure you’re far enough back that by the time the ball reaches where you are, you’ve had time to make a stroke. That way you’ll be in the perfect position to return even the fastest tennis serve.

If you’re used to playing a sport like baseball or football, you might be used to getting in front of the ball to catch it. In tennis, you almost never want to be directly in front of the ball. You want to be far enough to the side that your arm can swing into it, and far enough back that you have time to make the shot. From there you can follow through, and give plenty of space for your forehand technique!

Mistake #8 - Staying in No Man’s Land

Understanding the Court
Diagram by Gabriel Munro

Learning the rules of the court is very important for new players. But a common mistake for new players is thinking of the lines as just being about the rules. Yes, lines tell you where is in and out of bounds. But the best tennis players also know lines also give you some advice about where you may want to be playing.

Between the Service Line and the Baseline, there’s an area known as No Man’s Land. This area gets its name because it’s disadvantageous to stay there. Why? Because it’s an awkward distance from the net.

If you’re standing in No Man’s Land, then you’ll be too close to the net to effectively respond to a groundstroke, and too far from the net to effectively volley. To learn more about the different kinds of tennis game shots, like groundstrokes and volleys, see our Complete Guide for Tennis Beginners

Make sure you only go through No Man’s Land when you need to – but don’t hang out there!

Mistake #9 - Playing Too Aggressively

With the right coach, learning tennis can be a lot of fun, and great exercise. That being said, as with all sports, it requires a certain amount of humility. When you start your tennis instruction, you need to be patient with yourself and know that you will gain skill as you practice – but you won’t be a great player on day one. Day by day, you will become a better player. Just know that it takes a lot of practice and dedication to become Roger Federer!

However, some players can be impatient with learning good technique. For impatient players, there’s a temptation to overcompensate for a lack of skill by using too much force. That means that whenever they get the ball, they hit it as hard as they possibly can.

Playing like this has some serious disadvantages:

It Won’t Help You Win

Hitting the ball as hard as you can will make the ball go faster, but if you’re playing with an experienced player, a little speed isn’t going to be enough to beat them. By hitting the ball so hard you’ll be losing control, losing aim, and making it harder to find your balance between shots. A good player knows when to hit the ball hard, and when to hit the ball gently. Both are important. In the end, you’ll have put on a good show – but you’ll still have lost the tennis match.

It Could Result in an Injury

Hitting the ball with your full strength every single time is bound to put your shoulders, wrists, and back at risk of sprains and tears. Especially if you’re a beginner, because you probably won’t have perfect form yet. Until you develop good tennis technique, swinging at the ball too hard every time could cause damage to your body. Nobody wants that!

It Will Annoy Other Players

Playing this aggressively will make the game less fun for the people you’re playing with. Remember, your opponent isn’t a ball machine. They’re not just there to help you practice, they want to have fun too, with an enjoyable tennis match. If you bring an aggressive energy onto the court, they might end up feeling uncomfortable. After all, it’s hard to learn tennis if no one wants to play with you.

Mistake #10 - Not Keeping it Simple

Tennis player throwing a tennis ball
Photo by Julian Schiemann on Unsplash

Whether you’re learning a kick serve, or mastering your doubles strategy, simplicity is always the best technique. You may have seen Novak Djokovic do something fancy in a tennis match – but imitating the flair of world champions won’t necessarily help you improve. Instead, learn step by step, and always build from what you know. With patience and a spirit of enjoyment, you’ll steadily improve your technique!

The Next Step - Finding Your Own Coach!

So now you’ve learned a lot of the most common tennis mistakes! You’ve found out how to find the right equipment, how to be a good sport, and how to take care of your body. You’ve learned about what you need to get started. The next step as you learn to master the courts is to start beginner lessons with your own instructor. Get started on tennis lessons today, by enrolling in TennisProNow!

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You’re already off to a great start by doing some research – keep on learning, and enjoy this exciting sport! Happy serving!

Jonathan Stanfield

Jonathan got his tennis start in Saskatoon, waking up early each morning to practice before anyone else could reserve the free courts. Since then, his interests have widened: he works professionally for a Canadian ad agency, has several published short stories, and has recently taken up photography. Tennis remains a passion for Jonathan and he always feels most at home on a tennis court.