While the dimensions of the court are likely to be standard wherever you go, one thing that can vary – especially on poorly kept public courts – is the height of the net. And as it can have such a profound effect on the quality of your game, it pays to know how high the net should be. And how to correct it if it’s wrong.
According to the ITF (International Tennis Federation) which sets the rules for the ATP, WTA and all professional levels of tennis, the standard tennis net height should be 3 foot (91.5cm) at the centre and 3 foot, 6 inches (107 cm) at the end posts.
But let’s dig into that in slightly more detail.
Setting up a tennis net
A tennis net must be suspended by a cord or metal cable over two net posts and held down in the centre by a white strap.
As discussed in our guide to tennis court dimensions, the posts should sit three feet outside the singles court, or for doubles matches three feet outside the doubles court.
If you’re playing singles on a court where the net is set up for doubles matches you’ll need a pair of singles sticks to prop the net up to the correct height three feet outside of the singles court.
Those posts (or singles sticks) must be 3 and a half feet high while the centre strap should be three feet.
Why are tennis nets lower in the middle?
The reason that tennis nets are lower in the middle is simply down to gravity. It’s impossible to prevent the net from sagging somewhat over such a wide distance, unless it was pulled extremely taut.
What that does do though is offer a bit of strategic nuance to the game that otherwise wouldn’t exist.
How does tennis net height affect strategy?
Given that the net is lower in the middle and higher towards the tramlines, it makes it easier to play cross-court than down the line.
If you’re playing cross court shots there’s greater clearance above the centre of the net giving you more court to aim for and making the shot easier to complete.
Conversely, if you hit a shot down the line the net is higher, increasing your risk of hitting the tape.
It’s worth bearing that in mind, especially when approaching the net. If you choose to cover the passing shot down the line, you’re giving your opponent an easier potential winner if they go cross court.
The same considerations apply when hitting a serve. If you aim down the middle you give yourself a better chance of clearing the net and avoiding a fault.
How to measure the height of a tennis net
While the courts at most private clubs will probably have their nets checked and adjusted regularly, that may not be the case on public courts. For that reason it’s worth checking for yourself before you start a match.
It’s as straightforward as it seems. Just use a simple tape measure to check that the centre of the net is at the correct height of three feet.
If you don’t want to take a tape measure to every match we recommend a simple net checker device which extends to three feet and makes it easy to verify the height is right. They fold away nice and easily so perfect for keeping in your tennis bag.
Failing that you can always use your racket. Most rackets measure 27 inches so you just need to measure nine inches from the racket’s butt and make a small mark. Then use your racket length plus the additional nine inches to find 36 inches (3 foot).
If you’re very lucky you might find that the width of your outstretched hand, from thumb tip to little finger, is around nine inches so you could use that!
How to adjust the height of a tennis net
Once you’ve checked the height you may find the net needs to be adjusted.
If it’s too high you need to tighten the net strap by pulling it through its metal buckle. If it’s too low you should loosen it by feeding the excess strap through the buckle until you reach the correct height.
If the net is still not right you may need to raise or lower it using the metal crank handle in the edge of one of the net posts. Turning the handle clockwise will tighten the net cord and lift it up.