How Many Times Can The Ball Bounce In Tennis? (Explained)

Because of the many rules that tennis has, it can sometimes be challenging to understand the game properly, especially for beginners. As a result, even some basic rules are unclear. For example, how many times can the ball bounce in tennis?

In tennis, the ball is allowed to bounce a maximum of one time before being hit back to the opponent. If the ball bounces twice in a row on the same half of the court, the player on this side of the court loses the point. The only situation in which the ball should bounce is when returning the serve.

In this article, I'll tell you more about this topic, and among other things, how many times the ball is allowed to bounce in wheelchair tennis.

How Many Times Can a Tennis Ball Bounce?

When playing tennis, like almost all racket sports, the ball can only bounce once. You must get to the ball before it bounces twice, or else you lose the point. This is called the one-bounce rule in tennis.

What’s the reason behind the one-bounce rule?

Intensity - A ball slows down after it is hit. Imagine how less intense watching (and playing) a tennis match would be if it was allowed to bounce a second time.

Logistics - The game’s dynamics would be off and change the sport dramatically if a second bounce was allowed.

(Tennis pro tip: If you are only practicing or have tennis players who are struggling to time their shots - allowing a rally with two bounces will help with timing and watching the ball better)

Does The Ball Have to Bounce in Tennis?

The ball does not have to bounce in tennis. It is legal for a player to hit the ball out of the air before it bounces - there are some exceptions that will be explained below.

Situations to hit the ball without a bounce:

Volleys:

Volleys are usually the shot of choice when a player rushes the net. This is a shot that is short and compact with very little backswing.

When you are close to the net, it is not necessary for the ball to bounce. It gives your opponents less time when you hit a volley before it bounces.

Swinging volleys:

Swinging volleys are essentially forehands up at ends without allowing the ball to bounce.

This shot was one of Maria Sharapova’s favorites when she was still playing on the professional tour.

In this clip, she ends the point with a swinging volley:

Serves:

Of course, you have seen tennis players bounce the ball before they serve; some of them even bounce it 20-plus times like Novak Djokovic or have a relatively elaborate routine like Rafael Nadal.

However, once the serve toss is lifted into the air by the non-dominant hand, it cannot bounce on the ground before it is hit.

When not to hit the ball without a bounce:

Return of serve:

It is a rule in tennis to allow the ball to bounce before you return the serve - this is the only time a bounce is required.

If you don’t let it bounce, do not hit it, even when the ball is obviously sailing out of bounds. You will lose the point.

In doubles, the net player also can’t return a serve. You will lose the point if they do. 

Groundstrokes:

This is not a hard and fast rule, you can hit the ball with your forehand or backhand without a bounce, but it’s typically not a good idea.

It can mess with your timing and send the ball where you don’t want it.

How Many Times Can The Ball Bounce in Wheelchair Tennis?

In wheelchair tennis, the ball is allowed to bounce twice. So, that means if you let a ball bounce a third time during a point, you lose that point.

However, you do not need to let the ball bounce twice before you hit it, but the first ball bounce needs to land within the court boundaries. 

The unique thing about this two-bounce rule is that the second bounce can either bounce in or out of the court boundaries. 

When a wheelchair tennis player is playing with non-disabled players, they are allowed to abide by the two-bounce rule while the non-disabled players are not.

Conclusion

When you’re next time on the court, remember that there is only one bounce allowed when you are playing tennis. Two bounces mean you will lose the point.

If you’re feeling really confident in your volleys and swinging volleys, move forward and take the ball out of the air. This gives the opponent less time to react to your ball. This is possible because it is not required that the ball bounce first.

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.
Published: 
March 1, 2022
Published: March 1, 2022