Platform tennis is a sport which borrows elements from squash and tennis and turns them in to a unique game. Invented by James Cogswell and Fessenden Blanchard in the 1920’s as they wanted something to play in the winter months when they could not play tennis. The familiar elements of both squash and tennis and the specialized equipment for platform tennis, has made for a competitive sport that can be played all year round and is especially suited to doubles play.
Platform tennis traditionally is played on a raised platform with lighting around the court so it can be played at night as well as during the day. The raised platform allows for heating to be deployed under the court ensuring that games can be played all year round, even in the snow.
Typically, platform tennis, unlike traditional tennis, is a game which is predominantly played as a doubles game, although there are rules for singles matches as well. Although platform tennis is played worldwide, it is still very much an American sport and has its own professional body, the American Platform Tennis Association.
One of the biggest differences between tennis and platform tennis is the specialized platform tennis paddles which are designed to make the game less power oriented and slower, which is perfect as the court is considerably smaller than a standard tennis court. Platform tennis balls also differ to traditional tennis balls, being made of hard foam, which again reduces the speed of the game and improves gameplay on a smaller court. You can even get good platform tennis equipment sets which has everything you need to start playing.
Object of the Game
The principal object of Platform Tennis is to win two of the three sets which make up a match. Predominantly played as a doubles game, you require a good understanding of your partners skills and weaknesses to cooperate with their shots and compliment their game. Ideally, you will have worked out platform tennis strategies to compliment each others strengths and weaknesses to defeat your opponents.
Platform tennis is played on an enclosed court which allows you to play the ball off the walls, a bit like squash, about a quarter of the size of a regular tennis court, and requires quick reflexes and decent fitness levels for you to be competitive.
Players & Equipment
The court measures 20 feet wide x 44 feet long and is enclosed by a 12 foot wire mesh fence. Like tennis, there is a net which separates the two sides of the court, which should be a regulation 34 inches in height. For more info on nets, check out our review of the best platform tennis nets.
Where a racquet is used in tennis to hit the ball, in platform tennis, players hit the ball with a paddle which can be up to 18 inches in length and is typically made of composite materials like titanium and graphite. The platform tennis paddle does not have strings, but rather has holes in the face which allow for better manoeuvrability and added control when playing the ball.
Platform tennis balls differ from regular tennis balls as they are made of hard foam and are manufactured by Wilson and Viking.
The only other specialized equipment you might need, is a good pair of platform tennis shoes and comfortable clothes like technical shirts which wick away sweat.
Scoring or winning points in platform tennis is similar to traditional tennis, so if you have played or follow tennis, this should be very familiar. You only lose a point when the ball is in play if:
- Any player, players equipment (paddle) or clothing touches the net.
- A player handles or even catches a ball.
- A player hits a ball by throwing their paddle at it.
- You allow the ball to bounce twice.
- The ball hits the net or another player, or bounces outside of the tram lines.
- A player hits a ball whilst it is still in their opponents half of the court, before it passes over the net.
Just as in traditional tennis, point scoring is recorded as 15-love, 30-love, 40-love, 15-all, 30-all, deuce, 30-15, 40-15 and game. If a game goes to deuce, the game is won when the first team or player wins the advantage point and then the game point consecutively. If a player is at advantage but loses the point, the score goes back to deuce until a player or team has won two consecutive points.
Winning the Match
The match is won when one team or player wins two of the three sets. To win a set, a team or player will need to win six games, by doing this twice, they will then win the match.
Rules of Platform Tennis
Before the match begins
- Before you start the match, a paddle spin is performed to determine which end a team or player will start from and if they will serve or receive the ball first.
- Both teams then take their positions on either side of the net (on their side), with one player of the serving team designated as the server.
- The server stands behind the baseline and between the centre mark of the court and the sideline to serve and serves the ball diagonally across the court to the opposing teams receiving player.
- The other member of the serving team can stand wherever they choose (on their side of the court) and the receiving player can also stand wherever they choose on their side of the court.
- The serve always starts from the deuce side of the court and then alternates with the advantage side until the game is won or lost.
- The ball must pass over the net and bounce in the receivers court before the opposing team or player can return it. The ball has to bounce, you are not allowed to volley the return of a serve.
- Unlike tennis, there is no ‘let’ point or first serve. Only one serve is allowed per point and if the ball clips the top of the net and remains in play, the point carries on as normal till the point is won or lost.
- Scoring is as follows:
- If a game goes to deuce, the game is won when the first team or player wins the advantage point and then the game point consecutively. If a player is at advantage but loses the point, the score goes back to deuce until a player or team has won two consecutive points.
- To win a set a player or team has to win 6 games.
- To win a match, a player or team has to win 2 sets.
Here’s a great YouTube video that explains more on the rules of platform tennis and some of the reasons why people of all ages and ability enjoy it so much:
It may seem at first when you watch the game, that platform tennis is quite different to traditional tennis or squash, but once you start playing, you soon realise how easy it is to pickup the small differences and how these differences really make it a fun game to play for all the family. With the added element of being able to return the ball off the side screen/fence, it really adds a new dimension to the game and gives you a second chance to win a point as the ball goes flying past you!
Platform tennis is a fun game to play competitively in a club or tournament, or simply casually with friends and family, and it is a great way to socialise, keep fit and make new friends.