What Is Fault In Tennis? (The True Meaning Of This Popular Term In Tennis!)

Last Updated on October 29, 2023 by Alex PT

In tennis, a fault is a serve that fails to land within the proper service court. There are two types of faults:

  • Foot fault: A foot fault occurs when the server steps on or over the baseline or the imaginary extension of the center mark during the service motion.
  • Serve fault: A serve fault occurs when the ball lands outside the service court or hits the net.

What is a Fault in Tennis?

1. Definition of a Fault

A fault in tennis refers to an unsuccessful serve where the ball does not land in the correct area of the court. The server gets an initial attempt followed by a second chance. When a server fails both times, it results in a “double fault,” awarding a point to the opponent.

2. Types of Faults

There are mainly two types of faults in tennis:

  • Foot fault: This happens when the server’s foot crosses the baseline before the ball leaves their hand.
  • Service fault: This occurs when the ball fails to land in the correct service box after being served, which is diagonally opposite from the server’s service area.

3. Implication of a Fault: Double Faults

When the first serve results in a fault, the server gets another chance. If the second serve also results in a fault, it’s referred to as a “double fault”. A double fault automatically gives the opponent a point.

4. Consequences of Frequent Faults

Frequent faults can disrupt the rhythm of a player’s game and give unnecessary points to the opponent. Scoring a significant number of double faults in a match can lead to a loss.

5. Minimizing Faults

Players should maintain proper serving posture and practice their serves regularly to minimize faults. They can position themselves strategically behind the baseline and aim for consistent, precise serves into the correct service box.

6. Notable Professional Cases

Even professional players sometimes struggle with faults. For example, former US professional, Tim Trigueiro, set a record in 1999 for the most double faults in a match at 26.

7. The Rule Book

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) is responsible for law formulation and enforcement in tennis, including those that pertain to faults.

Key TermDefinition
FaultAn unsuccessful serve where the ball doesn’t land in the appropriate area
Double FaultTwo consecutive faulty serves, resulting in a point for the opposing player
Service FaultAn unsuccessful serve where the ball does not land in the correct service box
Foot FaultA type of fault where the server’s foot crosses the baseline before the serve

What happens when a tennis player commits a fault?

When a tennis player commits a fault, it means that they have failed to serve the ball correctly. There are two types of faults: a foot fault and a service fault.

A foot fault occurs when the server steps on or over the baseline or the imaginary extension of the center mark during the service motion. A service fault occurs when the ball lands outside the service court or hits the net.

If a server commits a fault, it lose the point. If a server commits two faults in a row, it is called a double fault and they also lose the point.

There are a few things that players can do to avoid committing faults. First, they need to make sure that they are standing behind the baseline when they serve. Second, they need to make sure that they are tossing the ball high enough and with enough backspin. Third, they need to make sure that they are hitting the ball with a smooth, fluid motion.

Faults are a common occurrence in tennis, but they can be costly mistakes. By following the tips above, players can reduce the number of faults they commit and improve their chances of winning matches.

Reasons For Fault In Tennis

You will find several reasons why a service trial might lead to a fault. In case the ball fails to disengage the net or bounces anywhere apart from the cross-court service box, it’s a fault. This is probably the most frequent reason for a fault occurrence in Tennis.

Whenever a server takes a wrong place when serving, it is normally called a fault. When the server’s foot mistakenly touches the ground line behind the baseline, just between the sideline and the extensions of the middle line. It is a fault! The server’s feet mustn’t touch the baseline of the centerline the extension or even the sideline at any time before he/she plays or strikes the ball. To help stop the serve receiver from being misled about where the service will be played, the server also needs to remain at the same point on the court. A server can only jump while serving, however, he/she can’t run or walk when making a serve.
Unlawful Ball Discharge; The ball should be released by the server with only one hand. The only exception is for one-handed players, who sometimes use the racket to pull out the ball.
A Miss; a fault also happens when a server moves while making the serves and still misses the ball. However, if a serve doesn’t mean to shoot the ball even after releasing it to the air, he/she will be required to retake the serve, and no fault is committed. A fault is also committed whenever the tennis ball, prior to bouncing, hits any other item apart from the opponent’s body, racket, or net cord. For instance, if the tennis ball hits the net post, and then bounces into the appropriate court, the service is nevertheless a fault.
A play stops immediately after a fault is committed. After the first fault foul is committed, the serve will be given another chance to make the service. If after this chance, the server commits the same fault foul to make it two in a row, then the point will be awarded to the opposition. This is popularly known as a double fault.

Serve In Tennis

A shot to begin a game in the game of Tennis is called a service (or more technically, a serve. As the tennis ball is struck by the player, it must not be stopped by the net while it goes into the crosswise service box of the opposition player. The serve is always started when a player strikes the ball just after tossing it into the air. When the net completely stops the tennis ball from crossing over to the opponent’s area, then the point will be awarded to the server. However, if the tennis ball touches the net, but is not stopped by it, and proceeds into the appropriate opponent’s service box, it is called a let. The server is normally done overhead by the players, players are allowed to make service overhead. A serve is normally the only chance that a server has to create his own shot rather than receiving the opposition’s shot. Fortunately, there’s a 25-second limit that is allowed in between points in 2012.
For a beginner, one of the hardest tennis shots is normally accredited to the serve. But as soon as you master and perfect your serving skills as a beginner, realize that serving is a significant edge. Professional and Experienced tennis players are able to reach the serve in a number of different ways and sometimes utilize it as an offensive weapon in order to get a benefit on the stage or even to win it outright. Due to this reason, when skilled players play against newbies, they are foreseen to win the majority of their service games of. Also, the ability to break an opponent’s serve plays an important role in the game. The server has to stay behind the baseline without touching it to provide a legal service.

Fundamental Rules

Good Serve

When a legal ball is sent across the opponent’s service box without touching anything during flight, it is called a great serve. The gameplay starts immediately a great serve is made.


Whenever a server makes a serve and the ball touches the net (but is not obstructed by it) on its way to landing on the cross-court service box, it is called a let. The play would be stopped so that the server could retake the serve. Let is very common during the first serve of the game, this is because most services do not repeat the same mistake of letting the ball touch the net before crossing over to the opposition’s service box for the second time. However, in 1997, Men’s division one tennis enhanced the rule of the game to allow for continuous let serve to be retaken as many as possible.

There are four widely used serves in the game of Tennis, they include; the “slice serve”, the “underhand serve”, the “flat serve”, and the “kick serve”. They are all legal services in professional and amateur tennis competitions. The word kick-serve is normally used in exchange with the word “American twist or even “twist serve”. When a serve has a topspin or probably a serious kick on it, it is commonly referred to as a kick-serve. Most times, when servers change their ball placement or the way they serve, it is usually done as a tactical offensive trick. The kind of serve at the initial serve that makes a great change-up in the game is known as the kick-serve. Next serves ordinarily have a slice, kick or topspin on them, making them not as likely to end up in the net or perhaps out of bounds.

The list below includes a lot of different tennis terms used by experienced tennis players and enthusiastic fans. If you would love to be a tennis player one day, then you definitely should be acquainted with nearly all these terms!

The table below consists of some other popular terms in Tennis.

Popular Tennis TermServices Outcomes In Tennis
Deuce Fault
Cross-courtA great serve

Popular Tennis Terms


When a serve lands inside the appropriate service box without it being touched by the opponent, it is called an Ace.


It is the point that follows a deuce score. So, any player that wins after the deuce score, wins the game.


The tennis court has a left part, and it is called the Ad-court. Since the ad factors are always played from the left part of the court, the part was named Ad Court.

Approach Shot

An approach shot is when a player strikes the ball and follows it up to the net.


The ATP, the Association of Tennis Professionals, governs the Men’s Tennis.


It happens when the tennis ball rotates in reverse due to the shot with a backspin. These shots generally stay rather low.


If a tennis player gets a point in a game when his/her opponent is serving, it’s known as a break in Tennis!


When a shot is made into the opposition’s court diagonally, it is popularly called Cross-court in Tennis.


When a shot does not land anywhere near the service line but lands really close to the baseline, it is called Deep!


An expression that can be used once the real score is 40-40.


It is a part of the tennis court where most of all deuce factors are played from. It is known proper side of the tennis court.

Two-fold Bagel

When a match finishes with a score 6-0/6-0, it is usually known as a two-fold bagel of tennis sectors. This is probably the funniest tennis terminology in our opinion.

Two-fold Fault

A server normal has two serve opportunities to start a game. If he misses his/her two chances, it is known as a double or two-fold fault.


This is a kind of match in tennis in which four players participate in the game, facing each other two by two. This kind of game in tennis is referred to as doubles match.

Down The Line

It is a shot which is struck directly on the sideline into the opponent’s court.


An error in tennis is when a player serves or shots the tennis ball only for it not to land within the legal line in which it supposed to land.

Feet Fault

When the server’s foot mistakenly touch the ground line behind the baseline, just between the sideline and the extensions of the middle line. It is a fault!

Pressured Error

A forced error happens when a tennis player hits a great shot that makes the opponent to miss the ball.


Groundstroke happens in Tennis when the tennis ball bounces on your side before hitting it. Slice Backhands, Forehands, and Backhands are groundstrokes.

Final Words

We’ve come to the closing session of this blog post. We hope you enjoyed every bit of it!



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