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What to Expect From Your First Tennis Lesson

Welcome back to Tennis 101, where I'm offering tips to get you started playing tennis just in time for the 2009 US Open. You may be wondering: if I've never played tennis before, do I really need to take a lesson?

Though it's not required, taking a private lesson or attending a group clinic for beginners is the best way to start your tennis career. We may not all be as lucky as the girls in the photo, getting tips from professional tennis players Cara Black and Liezel Huber. But a good teaching pro will be able to hit the ball right to you, for whatever shot you are practicing. They can also offer detailed feedback on exactly what you're doing wrong. Even your best tennis-playing friends probably aren't that good.

To find out what to expect from your first tennis lesson,


  • Decide if you want to take a private lesson or a group clinic. You'll get to hit a lot more balls in a private lesson, but it will also be more exhausting. A group lesson is a good option if you're on a budget; just find one that matches your skill level.
  • Wear comfortable clothes, such as shorts or a tennis skirt, and appropriate shoes. You should bring a racket but you won't need your own balls.
  • The pro will start by teaching a few tennis basics, like how to properly grip your racket.
  • You'll probably learn how to hit a forehand first, followed by a backhand, and you'll practice them over and over.
  • Hitting a tennis ball is much harder than it looks on TV, so don't get frustrated if at first you swing at a lot of air.
  • Also, tennis lessons are tiring. If you're taking a private lesson, don't be afraid to ask for a break; it's your time, and the pro will be happy to oblige.
  • The pro will quickly be able to tell you how to improve your swing, so listen to the feedback.
  • In a private or group lesson, you're going to hit a lot of balls. Pros will often pause and ask you to move stray balls off the court that could cause someone to trip.
  • At the end of the lesson — and sometimes during breaks — you're expected to help the pro pick up all the balls!

Have you ever taken a tennis lesson? If so, what surprised you about it?

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
Allytta Allytta 7 years
you know what surprised me concerning the fast balls? that it can go right through some fancy Wilson racket - two champions (guys) were playing a harsh game and ruined 3 rackets!!! holes in the rackets, right through. i was always afraid to play them after that. and believe me their rackets were really good, they travelled internationally and had some sponsor money.
Allytta Allytta 7 years
I attended tennis school for 4 years :) it surprised me how they only pay attention to the gifted students, and all the average ones are just there to pay the money but be pushed back to make room for the stars
girlgreen girlgreen 7 years
my dad is a great tennis player. every summer he tries to teach me and my sisters, but we never get any better. LOL. i also took a lesson with a russian guy once, but i didn't like the way he taught. i prefer my dad. :)
Nan-Einhart Nan-Einhart 7 years
I was surprised at how hard it was the first time I played. I am a club level player with the most common rating, 3.5, so persistence does pay off. If I had not taken lessons, I would never have continued. The pro is nicer to you than your friend or husband.
syako syako 7 years
Lessons are by far the best way to learn. My husband is good at tennis and when we first started dating he tried to teach me so many times, and it was always a huge mess. I signed up for a semester long class at my university and was very confident by the end. I actually beat my hubby a few times. :) What surprised me? Well the fact that if you don't hold the racket hard enough it will just fall out of your hands. It seems like common sense, but it took me a while to get enough strength for hitting fast balls. Another thing that surprised me was just learning the rules and scoring and everything and really "getting it"
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