List of Tennis Skills

List of Tennis Skills

There are several skills in tennis that are beneficial to having a good and reliable game. A mix of mental and physical skills is required for success. Below are the most important skills to acquire when playing tennis.

List of Tennis Skills

Below is a list of the most important skills needed for tennis:

  • Footwork
  • Flexibility
  • Endurance
  • Strength and Power
  • Shot Selection
  • Serve Placement
  • Touch and Feel
  • Strategy
  • Ball Judgment
  • Returning the Ball
  • Mental Toughness
  • Groundstrokes
  • Volleys
  • Serves
  • Lobs
  • Drop Shots
  • Slice
  • Serve and Volleying


Footwork is arguably the most important tennis skill to have. By working on your footwork, your shuffling, your side steps, and more, you’ll be able to get to the ball more quickly and efficiently. Good footwork will get you into position on the court to hit the ball successfully. Footwork matters more on the college and professional levels since you can easily be caught out of position.


Flexibility is an acquired skill that is difficult to describe in terms of tennis. It doesn’t matter if you can touch your toes in tennis. More importantly, flexibility allows tennis players to hit balls out of their reach, and it is the difference between making a shot and missing. Whether it is a high overhead or a challenging forehand, flexibility is a skill that needs to be a part of any tennis player’s game.


A skill that is required to be able to play throughout a match. Having good endurance will result in the ability to outlast the opponent and have a strong game throughout the match.

Strength and Power

A skill that is overlooked in tennis but is important. The stronger a player is, the more speed and power they will have during a match. Shot power is crucial to winning in tennis, so working on all muscle groups, especially the legs, is important.

Shot Selection

Learning what type of shot to hit in a particular situation is a critical tennis skill. Having this skill separates the good tennis players from the bad ones. For example, you should not hit a flat ball or drop shot from behind the baseline. Understanding the difference between a low percentage and a high percentage shot helps players become more consistent during match play.

Serve Placement

As you get better and more consistent with your serve, it is important to work on placing the serve into various parts of the service box. When serving, you should be able to predict where the ball will go when it comes off your racket. Work on serving down the “T” and also “out wide” by the alleys. Serving the ball into the middle of the box is also a good serving skill to have.

Touch and Feel

An important skill to have as you become a more advanced tennis player is “Touch and Feel.” Being able to “feel” the ball on your racket is like a sixth sense. It is only obtained by hitting thousands of balls in many different situations. After you play a lot of tennis, you’ll feel where the ball is going as you hit it off your racket. You’ll know exactly how much spin to put on your shot to get it where you want it to go.


Having a solid strategy in tennis will result in being able to make smarter and more strategic decisions. If a player lacks strength and speed, strategy will be very beneficial to their game.

Ball Judgment

Having good ball judgment will make it easier to anticipate which stroke you should use, when to hit the ball, and where to hit the ball.

Returning the Ball

A useful skill when hitting an opponent’s serve. This is a very important skill to have when playing tennis. Being able to have a strong return will allow the player to have a strong position for the rest of the point.

Mental Toughness

Mental toughness is the key to outlasting any opponent on the tennis court. In singles tennis, players are alone on the court. It is easy to get inside your own head. By practicing mental toughness and mindfulness when you are both winning and losing will help your close out matches and improve your win percentage.


This skill is a shot that is hit more often than any other. A groundstroke is hit when you are hitting from the baseline of the court and returning to the opponent. A groundstroke can be either a backhand or forehand. It is important to have a good groundstroke to be able to return serves and rally points.


A skill that is utilized when the player is at the net. Hitting a volley will help to change the play of the game. If players are playing doubles, it is important to be able to have strong volleying skills. During doubles, both players will have to volley.


A skill that is one of the most important to acquire. A serve is important to be able to start each point. Without a good serve, it will be hard to win points when it is the player’s turn to serve.


A skill that is used by players when their opponent is at the net. The goal of this skill is to get the ball to go over the opponent's head and land behind them. It gives the player time to recover to the middle of the court while the opponent is hitting the ball. When a lob is hit accurately, it can be difficult for an opponent to return the ball.

Drop Shots

Drops shots are a type of skill shot that are used by tennis players to surprise the opponent and to end the point immediately. The purpose of a drop shot is to hit the ball just over the net for an instant winner. Drop shots need to be practiced from everywhere on the court.


A skill where the racquet starts above the ball and is tilted 45 degrees. The racquet strikes the center of the ball to create the slice. The effect of this shot will cause the ball to fall short and usually spin backward after it’s bounced on the court. When hitting a slice, it will likely result in the opponent misjudging the position of the ball, and they must run to return it.

Serve and Volleying

Serve and volleying is a tennis skill that combines serving with a volley immediately after an opponent returns the ball. Serve and volleying is designed to end the rally in a few shots to get quick points for the server.


What are the six basic strokes in tennis?

The six basic strokes in tennis are the serve, forehand volley, backhand volley, forehand groundstroke, backhand groundstroke, and overhead smash. Each of these strokes represents a different motion and location on the court when hitting a ball. Tennis players must master each of these strokes to be competitive. Over the course of a point, a player will use a variety of strokes.

Why are serves important in tennis?

Serves are so important because they allow a player to have some control over how a point plays out. It is the first shot of every point, so the serving player can use their serve to set the tone for each point. A serve utilizes power, spin, and speed to pin an opponent in a desired area of the court, forcing them to react to your shots. Additionally, two missed serves result in a point for your opponent, so you must serve accurately to win.

How can you improve your tennis skills?

There are a number of ways to improve your tennis skills, but the most important method is through practice. Whether it is simply hitting the ball by yourself, playing with friends, or taking lessons, consistent practice is the easiest way to improve your tennis game. In terms of specific drills that can help your game, some of the most common are dribbling, groundstroke drills, volley drills, and serving drills.