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Traditionally referred to as lawn tennis, tennis was first played in the 12th and 13th centuries in Northern France.
The sport was initially played using hands rather than rackets.
Over time, the sport has been modified to numerous forms to sustain the fun in its playing.
This has resulted in several types of sports with either more or less complex rules, such as the Touch Tennis.
What is touch tennis?
Touch Tennis was first developed and introduced by Rashid Ahmad, a UK citizen, in 2002.
It is often referred to as a simpler type of tennis, derived from short tennis.
Notably, it maintains the same playing rules as tennis.
However, the sport is played on a smaller dimension court with a smaller 21-inch racket and foam ball.
The smaller court allows the sport to be played both indoors and outdoors, with or without tennis skills.
Rashid invented the sport to attract youth and adults who were interested in tennis but were seeking a simpler and entertaining way of playing the game.
This blog aims to provide insight on how to play touch tennis and what ball is used in touch tennis.
What are the rules of touch tennis?
Rules guiding how to play touch tennis were derived from original tennis playing rules, with a dotted line to short tennis.
Some modifications were applied to make the sport simpler and fun.
Below are some of the touch tennis rules;
• When game serving, you can use overarm or underarm provided the one serving informs the opponent in the event they opt to use the underarm.
• The player is only allowed to use one serve point. You ought to avoid all forms of risks while making your serve.
• Any ball throws while serving must be hit by the player serving. Failure to observe this will lead to a point lost. Catching the ball from falling after a hit-miss is still rendered a lost point.
• During the serve hit, the ball must bounce before getting to the opponent player. Failure of this leads to a point lost against the server. The point is lost against the opponent player in case he was standing at the service box during serving.
• The opponent player must not return a serve hit in the air without a bounce.
• The game is structured in sets of 4 where a winner is declared after a clear 2 set game wins. A tiebreaker game is played to golden 5 points to determine the winner.
• A ball is declared an ‘in-play’ whenever the ball gets clipped to the net and settles in the correct service box.
• When the racket leaves your hand while making a hit, the shot is still considered viable unless the racket crosses over the net to the opponents’ court. Should that happen, a point is lost.
• Grumbling and mumbling by players to relieve frustration or excitement is highly recommended.
• The winner of a toss during a doubles game is granted the opportunity to select any member of the opposing team to make a serve. They can also choose to make the serve themselves.
• Immediately after the first match, no warm-up time is allowed for any player on that play day. However, a 3-minute warm-up is allowed for games that have stretched for more than a day; mostly specific to tournaments. The player must not have played a match before.
• Abusive language is highly prohibited in the game. The first audible abuse incident results in an immediate point loss penalty. A total of three cases of abuse within a game automatically leads to disqualification of a player.
What are the touch tennis court dimensions?
A touch tennis court dimensions can either be measured in meters or feet.
The game is played in either the singles or doubles, each with its own dimensions.
A singles court is required to be 39.4 x 16.4 feet (12 x 5 m) for an official game.
The doubles court has a dimension of 39.4 x 19.7 feet (12 x 6 m).
However, for ease of approach to the game, especially the unofficial games, the dimensions may have a variance to the extent of 3.3 feet (1m).
The height of the net ought to be shorter than 36 inches (91.5cm) but taller than 31.5 inches (80cm).
However, for official tournaments and tour events, the net height at the center must be maintained at a minimum and maximum of 80 cm and 75 cm respectively.
It is only in recreational games where you may use a mini tennis net, as long as it’s not lower than 80cm.
What ball is used in touch tennis?
The game is played using distinct foam balls. These are specifically fabricated to withstand heavy strikes.
The court dimensions also play a great role in the choice of the ball.
The ball should have a width of 8cm (3.15 inches). It is exclusively created out of foam material.
The balls also have an official touch tennis logo inscribed on them as proof of authenticity.
In social games however, regular tennis balls used by kids can be used.
What type of racket is used in touch tennis?
The touch tennis rackets should be 21 inches tall in size. Further, the racket’s head should not exceed 107 square inches.
However, 21-inch junior players’ rackets designed for little kids can be used to play social games.
The junior player’s rackets can also act as substitutes where access to proper rackets is not possible.
How is touch tennis scored?
A touch tennis game is scored in sets just like a normal tennis game, for example, 15-0 30-0 40-0.
The exception is only where a score gets to deuce (40-40). It is at this point a ‘deciding play’ is played with the receiver being obliged to select the side on which the serve must be made.
Also known as the ‘sudden death point’, it is the determinant of the game’s winner.
Except for slam events, all matches such as the doubles apply a 3-set game format. The first player to win 2 of the 3 sets wins the game.
During a doubles match, the third set is considered a tiebreaker, with points played to 7 points.
In the singles, a tie break game goes up to 5 points. The players thereafter are required to switch their ends after every 4 points.
A deciding point is played at the 4-4 tie. The receiver has the sole liberty to decide whether the serve will be on the deuce side or ad side.
In slams events, 5 sets are normally played.
What are the primary shots used in touch tennis?
- The serve — This is a compulsory shot you need to master. The serve marks the start of every point in a service game. It is considered a starting weapon for every player.
- Forehand return of serve — This refers to a shot utilized while returning a serve shot. During the defense return shot, the forward swing resembles that of a volley shot. The grip should be maintained firmly.
- The backhand — It resembles the forehand, but the shot is made on the left-hand side. However, at times the shot may be played using double hands. This derives utmost shot control with abundant power.
- The volley — A player is only required to block the ball while in the air, with minimal swing experienced. This is considered the simplest shot in a game.
- The drop shot — This refers to a shot you play with enough thrust to land the ball just right over the opponent’s net. The opponent ought to be out of reach of the ball for the shot to be successful. The shots may be performed with the forehand or backhand, depending on your choice. The shot is perfect during a backspin when the bounce of the ball is shorter, on light touch and may even bounce back to the net. It is also perfect during a side-spin where the ball kicks towards the sides of the net when it touches the ground.
What is the difference between touch tennis and tennis?
Touch tennis and tennis are very similar. However, a closer assessment of touch tennis vs. tennis illuminates some noticeable differences.
A touch tennis court is smaller by almost a quarter compared to that of tennis.
A singles tennis court is 78 feet (23.7 meters) long and 27 feet (8.2 meters) wide.
The doubles court wider at 36 feet (10.9 meters).
A touch tennis singles court’s is 39.3 feet (12m) long and 16.4 feet (5m) wide with the doubles wider at 19.6 feet (6m).
A tennis net is 3.6 inches (1.07 meters) high at the ends with a height of 3 inches (0.91 meters) at the center.
A touch tennis net is recommended to be 33.5 inches (0.85m) high.
A touch tennis racket is much smaller compared to a tennis one. A tennis racket is 27 inches (68.5cm) long with 85-135 square inches of head size.
On special occasions, it can be 29 inches (73.6cm) long.
A touch tennis racket on the other hand is normally 21 inches (53.3cm) long with a head size of not more than 107 square inches.
A variance allowance in length of between 20.8 inches to 21.5 inches is allowed.
Ball material and size
Each game has a differentiated ball size and material. A regular tennis ball is mostly yellow and air pressurized. It has a diameter of 2.57 to 2.70 inches.
The material used varies from rubber to nylon or wool.
A touch tennis ball is yellow made of foam material with a diameter of 3.15 inches.
A logo is usually inscribed to show its authenticity.
- Number of serves — A player in touch tennis is only allowed to hit the ball once while a tennis player is permitted up to two chances of a hit before a point is considered lost.
- Lets during serves — In tennis, after a served ball hits the net and lands on the correct box, a let is declared and the serve is repeated. However, in touch tennis, whenever the served ball hits the net and lands inside the box, the ball is declared “in play”.
- Serve ball toss — In tennis, the server is allowed several tosses before a hit on the ball. In touch tennis, a tossed ball must be hit or else a point is lost.
- Hitting directly to the returner — In tennis, the serve hitting the returner before bouncing leads to a point reward to the server. In touch tennis, when a serve hits the returner before bouncing but the returner is standing inside the serving box, a point is considered for the server.
- Serving underarm — In both tennis and touch tennis, players are permitted to serve by either underhand or overarm. However, in touch tennis, a player serving using underarm is required to inform the returner.
Scoring system & match format
- Sets — In tennis, a set is normally played up to 6 games. However, whenever the players are at a draw at 5-5, they are required to play up to 7 games. In the event of another tie of 6-6, a tiebreaker is played. In a touch tennis game, an individual set is played up to 4 games. However, a 3-3 tie results in a play of up to 5 games. If the tie persists at 4-4, a tiebreaker must be played.
- Difficulty Playing — Tennis is considered more difficult to grasp and play especially in long rallies. Touch tennis is considered easier because of the foam balls and the sizes of courts in both games.
- Balls — Foam balls in touch tennis tend to be much lighter. They therefore travel slower from a hit. You are likely to enjoy hitting this ball in rallies especially if you’re are an amateur.
The touch tennis court as highlighted above is smaller. A player covers less distance during a game, unlike tennis. Less effort is hence required.