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Spin before you play – its a rule by Ken Dehart

Spin before you play – its a rule by Ken Dehart

Did you know this rule?



Most club players warm up with their opponents then spin to determine who will serve, receive and which side to play.


The rules are:

Before warming up for singles or doubles match, you should:

1. Determine who will serve,

2. Who will receive

3. Which side you will start on for the warm up and the match

4. You may have won the right to decide first – but you can also give that choice back to the team or player who did not win that option. That means, let them choose

*Once the option has been decided upon, it cannot be changed at the last minute before the match starts.

*You cannot wait to take overheads or your serve practice after the match has started.

*No FBI – first ball in or FBB  – first ball back.

*Warm up your serve and return before you start the match. 70% of all the points you will play are either a serve or return of serve – not ground strokes, volleys, drop shots or overheads.


Why decide first before warming up?

1. You want to warm up on the side you are going to play from once the match starts.

Because the sun and the wind affects the serving team. If the sun is a factor you may want your left or right handed server to start on the side where the sun does not affect them adversely.  You at least want to warm up on the side you are going to start from in the match. 

2. You can use choice of sides to put the first team serving at a disadvantage or prepare your team for an adverse situation starting the match from the sunny side.

3. You want to practice serving into the wind or with the wind in the warm up.  That factor may also determines who  serve first for your team – strong server into the wind and spinny server with the wind?


Warm up like a pro

1. In doubles, if my opponents are serving first, my partner will serve second, the opponents partner will serve third and I will be the last server. Knowing when I will serve tells me how to warm up my serve or my return.


1st server – practice a lot of serves to be ready to start strong.

2nd server – practice serves but also hit a few returns as you will have to return serve before you serve. You will have wanted to return a few of the 1st servers balls to know what to expect as the match starts and perhaps break serve to start the match.

3rd server – hit several serves but take a lot of overheads to get use to looking up and judging the ball above your head.  Practice several returns as you will return serve before you serve. Get use to the 1st servers serve to try and break serve first before serving.

4th server – hit a few serves, lots of overheads but focus on returning both of the opponents serves as you will return twice before you ever serve.  By then you should be into the game, maybe even broken their serve games twice.


It’s against the rules?

Club players somehow think it is against the rules to return serves in practice? 

1. Why, once my serve is warmed up I am just giving the ball back to the server so they can serve until they are ready to play.

2. Why would it be illegal to practice return of serve if it is legal to practice serve?

3. Check the rules – it is legal



Know your rights before you start to play.

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Traveling Tennis Pros - Ken DeHart

Ken DeHart is a PTR Hall of Famer, PTR International Master Professional, 2 Time PTR international Pro of the Year, USPTA Master Professional and 4 time USPTA Divisional Pro of the Year. He is the Director of Tennis at Silver Creek Valley Country Club in San Jose, California. Ken travels and speaks at conferences and to pros all around the world, Australian, Wimbledon and US Open tennis teachers conferences and writes extensively for magazines and websites. He is a tennis collector with hundreds of books, racquets and tennis memorabilia in his collection. You can follow Ken on Facebook at Ken DeHart Tennis and on Instagram at dehartken.

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