Deck Tennis Rules

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Deck tennis was designed to be played on a ship’s deck within a small area and can also be played as a yard game. It is similar to both lawn tennis and the game of quoits. As in tennis, a net is used and the scoring system is the same, however, it does not require a tennis racket or a tennis ball. Instead, a rubber ring or a rope ring is used, similar to the game of quoits. Although there are no rigid game standards, a few basic rules are followed.

Court Size

    There are no set regulations for the court size; the dimensions are dependent on the shape and size of the ship’s deck. However, the singles court typically measures 30 to 40 feet in length and 10 to 15 feet in width. For doubles play, the court’s length can be slightly less with the width measuring 14 to 15 feet. A net divides the court in half and is set at a height of 36 inches, similar to tennis.

Court Markings

    Two parallel lines, “neutral lines,” are drawn on each side of the net, at a distance of 3 feet from the net. Another parallel “back line” is drawn on each side at a distance of 6 to 8 feet from the ends of the court. One more line is drawn on each side, running perpendicular from the middle of the neutral line to the middle of the back line. These lines divide each side of the court into four sections.

Playing Rules

    To determine who serves the first game, players toss a coin. Each game starts with the server standing behind the back line on the right side of the court. He then alternates from the left and right sides for the entire game. The server must toss the ring cross-court into the opponent’s area. The server wins the point if the ring hits the ground in the correct half of the opponent’s area. If the ring hits the ground outside this area, the opponents win the point. If the opponent catches the ring before it lands, he then tosses it back to the serving side from the spot where he caught it. If it lands within the court’s boundaries and not in the neutral area, the thrower wins the point. The thrower loses the point if it lands in the neutral area or outside the court’s lines. However, if it is caught, it gets thrown back across the net and play continues until the ring hits the court.


    The scoring is similar to tennis; the points are love, 15, 30, 40, game. If the score is tied at 40, this is referred to as deuce. In order to win the game when the score is at deuce, a player or side must win two consecutive points. There are six games to a set and typically a match is the best of three sets.

Miscellaneous Rules

    The server must toss the ring underhand. If the ring hits the net on the serve and lands in the correct area, the server starts the point over. Players must have at least one foot on the ground while tossing the ring. A point is lost if the ring touches any part of a player’s body except the hand.

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