Tennis Etiquette for Observers

Many sports fans are loud and boisterous observers of football or hockey games, so it may come as a surprise that the rules for observing a tennis match involve a lot of reserve and quiet. Being courteous courtside is essential to your enjoyment of a tennis match as well as to the players having a smooth game, so learn the rules before you go!


Cheering and loud talking are generally a no-no while observing a tennis match. Your cellphone should be on silent. Tennis players require extreme focus and concentration and listening to your loud conversations, cheers or cellphone ringtone is very distracting. Even whispering may not be as quiet as you think, particularly depending on how sound carries with the design of the court.

Know When to Cheer

Tennis matches are very exciting, but it is important to know when to cheer. Immediately after a point, you are welcome to cheer encouragement, but only right after the shot. After that, you need to return to being a silent observer. An enthusiastic and involved crowd is motivating to a tennis player between points but keep your cheers encouraging and positive. Heckling and booing do not belong at a tennis match.


A tennis match is intense, so flashes from cameras mid-play can really throw a player off their game. Do everyone a favor and make sure your flash is off before capturing any photos with a cellphone or camera. A tennis ball is small and moves extremely fast so do a favor to the player who is trying to track it and make their shot.

Be Still

During a tennis match, you should refrain from moving too much or leaving your seat until the

appropriate time. Match spectators should stay in their seat until the end of a point and only leave their seat during a player changeover. Watch for a player changeover to happen when players switch sides, typically every other game. Suddenly standing up in your seat is also a distraction and potentially blocks the spectators sitting beside you so stay seated until the end of a point.

Leaving your seat mid-play is disrespectful since it is distracting. Although tennis is a sport, treat a tennis match like a theater production where you would only get up and leave your seat during intermission. Likewise, if you were out of your seat and standing before the point began, do not return to your seat until the point is over or game ends. Make sure you have the things you need to be comfortable during the match so you do not need to leave your seat. Use the restroom before the match, bring water, and wear sunscreen and a hat.

Be Careful Where You Stand

If you are viewing a less formal tennis match, you may find yourself standing outside the tennis court fence. That is fine, however, make sure you are not in the players’ field of vision since that is very distracting. Avoid this by not standing directly behind the baseline.


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