Can You Reach Over The Net In Tennis? (What You Should Know)

The net is one of the most prominent parts of the tennis court. It largely determines how tennis is played. Hence, there are many rules regarding the net. For example, can you reach over the net in tennis?

In tennis, a player may reach over the net to hit the ball only when the ball has first bounced on his half of the court, and then due to spin or wind, crosses back over the net. The player must not make contact with the net, either with the body or the racket; otherwise, the point will be lost.

As mentioned, the net plays an essential role in tennis. Therefore, it is also important to know all the rules well. In this article, you will get a clear explanation of all the rules related to the net.

Can Your Tennis Racket go Over The Net?

The net is our first opponent when we play the game of tennis. It’s 42 inches high at the net posts and 36” inches high at the center, and it is essential to know the tennis rules surrounding it.

So here they are, and they are very simple:

  • Your swing follow-through can go over the net after you make contact with the tennis ball on your side of the net.
  • You can not reach over the net to hit the ball before the ball crosses over to your side of the court.

But what happens if a tennis ball spins back over the net?

A tennis ball spinning back over the net isn’t a very common occurrence, and the official International Tennis Federation (ITF) rule about this can be a bit confusing.

The ITF rulebook states:

“If the ball is hit and due to the spin or wind it is brought back over the net to the side of the original player who hit the ball, the opponent is allowed to reach over the net and play the ball without touching the net or the opponent’s court.”

So, suppose a tennis ball you have hit comes back over the net (either due to incredible backspin or the weather) before your opponent has a chance to hit it.

In that case, your opponent can reach over the net and play the ball.

However, this really isn’t a common occurrence in professional play or recreational play.

What Happens if a Tennis Player Touches The Net?

When you are playing tennis, be sure not to touch the net or any part of it, like the posts or straps with your body, clothing, or racket.

What happens if you do?

You lose the point, plain and simple.

Even if you lose grip of your racket and it touches the net, you will lose the point.

In recreational play, like tennis leagues and tennis tournaments, you and your opponent are responsible for being aware of when one of you touches the net.

It’s important, to be honest about it, and honestly, it’s typically a funny moment on the court when it happens.

In professional play, normally, the umpire and line judges are responsible for watching out for this.

Although, there have been times that they totally miss when a player touches the net, and it’s cost their opponent the point.

Can You Hit Around The Net in Tennis?

In tennis, it is allowed to hit the ball around the net. In this case, the ball does not have to be the height of the net post.

If you ever witness a shot like this, where the ball is hit around the net post and lands inside the opposite side of the court, it is one of the most amazing shots to see.

Rafael Nadal is known for this shot, and it’s been dubbed “The Banana Shot” – there are loads of videos out there on the internet that shows all the times he’s hit a successful banana shot.

He makes it look easy, but don’t be surprised if you try this shot the next time you are on the court, and it doesn’t work for you. Because it likely won’t.

Are There Other Tennis Rules Involving The Net?

There are a few more rules in tennis regarding the net. I will go over them below so that you can take them into account in the future.

  • You, or any part of your body, cannot go onto your opponent’s side of the court during play. That means no jumping over the net or walking over to the other side to argue over a line call.

    But, if you are about to crash into the net and your only option is to jump over the net to save yourself, it’s okay to do if the point has ended.
  • In the rare event that after hitting, the ball first hits your side of the net, under the net cord, and then goes over the net and lands on your opponent’s court, you will lose the point.

    It would essentially be considered an unforced error.
  • There are times the net cord (or net tape) comes into the play. The net cord is the very top of the net, and sometimes the ball hits it and either falls to one side or the other.

    You lose the point if it hits the net cord and falls back to your side. If it hits and falls over to your opponent’s side and they don’t return it, it’s your point.


Now you know all the ways the net can get in the way (or help you out) during a tennis match.

The most important rules are not reaching over it to hit a ball and not touching the net with part of your body or racket when the ball is live. 

Brian Henderson

I am what you might call a true tennis fanatic. When I am not on the tennis court teaching or playing myself, I am probably writing an informative article about tennis. My goal is to get as many people as possible excited and informed about tennis.
February 11, 2022
Published: February 11, 2022