A pink tennis ball sits near the net  on a blue hard court.

Top 3 Rules Involving the Tennis Net

The net can cause confusion for both beginner and advanced players. What happens if the ball hits the net but goes over? Or if a player's racquet brushes the net during play?

Here is a quick guide to help clear up some of the most commonly confused and debated net rules.

  1. You can’t touch the net. Period. No part of your body, clothing or equipment can touch the net during play. (ITF 24g)

  2. You can’t hit the ball before it passes the net. Said another way, the ball must cross over to the player’s side of the net before it is hit. (ITF 24h)

  3. You can finish your swing on your opponent’s side of the net. As long as you hit the ball after it crosses to your side of the net, your swing can cross to your opponent’s side of the court. (ITF 25e & 24, case 4)

 Tennis ball sitting in front of net
Source: ©CraigRobertHussey - stock.adobe.com

Other net-related rules:

  • It is your call as to whether or not you hit the ball on your side of the net. In fact, you make ALL calls on your side of the net. (The Code #5)
  • It is perfectly acceptable for you to return the ball outside of the net posts. If you do this, the height of your shot doesn’t matter (in other words it doesn’t need to go over an imaginary extension of the net). (ITF 25c)
  • If your return hits the net (or net post) and then bounces into your opponent’s court, your shot is good. However, if it lands outside the court, then your opponent gets the point.
Close up of tennis ball about to land outside of the court
Source: ©WK Stock Photo - stock.adobe.com
  • If, during a serve, the ball hits the net and then lands into the service box, it is a “let” and the server can take that serve over. (ITF 22)
  • The net measures 3' high in the center, and 3’6” on the ends. (ITF #1 The Court)
  • You are not allowed to jump over the net onto your opponent’s side of the court. No part of your body or equipment can touch your opponent’s court. (ITF 24g)

Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned player, our guide to net rules helps you to feel more confident on the court and keeps your matches conflict free.

A tennis player with a Doubletake tote bag in Royal & Tangerine at the net.
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