Double vs Single Courts: Key Differences Explained

Are you a tennis or badminton enthusiast? Do you know the difference between playing on a single court versus a double court? The court size and dimensions can have a significant impact on your game. In this article, we will explore the differences between single and double courts in both tennis and badminton.

For tennis, a standard court is 78 feet in length. A singles court is 27 feet wide, while a doubles court is 36 feet wide. The service line remains the same, regardless of whether the court is a doubles or singles court; it is always 21 feet from the net. The total playing area of a doubles court is around 260 square meters. Knowing the difference between a single and double court can be crucial when choosing the right option for your game.

In badminton, the court sizing is different for singles and doubles. The doubles court has wider sidelines, 6.1 meters or 20 feet, than the singles court, which is 5.18 meters or 17 feet. The singles service boxes are slightly longer, with a boundary line that sits at the very back of the court. Understanding the court size and dimensions can help you choose the right court for your badminton journey.

The Obvious: Court Dimensions

When it comes to the difference between single and double courts, the most obvious factor to consider is the court dimensions. A standard tennis court is 78 feet long and 27 feet wide for singles, while for doubles, it is 78 feet long and 36 feet wide. This means that a doubles court is wider than a singles court by 9 feet.

The wider playing area of a doubles court emphasizes teamwork and net coverage, making it a great option for those who enjoy a more collaborative style of play. On the other hand, a singles court offers a more compact playing area, which can be beneficial for players who prefer a more individualistic style of play.

It’s important to note that while it is entirely possible to get a singles court, most tennis courts are painted for both singles and doubles to allow the user the choice. So, whether you’re looking to play singles or doubles, you can easily adjust the court to your preferred dimensions.

Key Line Differences

When choosing between a single and double court, there are key line differences to consider. These differences can affect the game’s dynamics and strategy.

Court Dimensions

A standard tennis court is 78 feet in length. A singles court is 27 feet wide, while a doubles court is 36 feet wide. The service line remains the same regardless of whether the court is a doubles or a singles court; it is always 21 feet from the net. The total playing area of a doubles court is around 260.

The standard badminton court measures 20 feet (6.1 meters) in width and 44 feet (13.4 meters) in length. This court size is applicable for both singles and doubles. However, there is a slight difference in the width of the court for singles and doubles matches. The doubles court has wider sidelines (6.1m or 20 ft) than the singles court (5.18 m or 17 ft) to make room for both players.


While the dimensions of the service boxes remain the same, players in doubles must serve diagonally into the correct box, unlike singles. This means that the server must hit the ball into the service box diagonally opposite them. This is to ensure that both players on the receiving side have an equal chance to return the serve.


Doubles side tramlines are lines running parallel to the sidelines, defining the outer limits of the doubles court. These lines are only used in doubles play and are not present in singles play. They allow for a larger playing area in doubles, which can lead to more strategic gameplay.

Beyond the Basics: Strategic Nuances

When it comes to doubles tennis, there are certain strategic nuances that can help you take your game to the next level. Here are a few key factors to consider:

The “Alleys” in Doubles

One of the biggest differences between singles and doubles tennis is the inclusion of the alleys. These extra strips of court on either side of the doubles sidelines can be a boon or a bane, depending on how you use them. On the one hand, they provide a larger target area for your opponents to hit into, making it harder to defend the court. On the other hand, they also give you more room to hit powerful passing shots, especially if you can catch your opponents out of position.

Angles and Geometry

Another key factor in doubles is the importance of sharp angles and intercepting volleys. Unlike in singles, where players often try to hit the ball deep and keep their opponents pinned to the baseline, doubles players need to be able to hit a wider variety of shots to keep their opponents guessing. This means using angles to create openings in the court, as well as being able to move quickly and intercept balls at the net.

Serving Tactics

Finally, serving in doubles requires a different approach than serving in singles. For one thing, doubles servers often choose wider serves to open up the court and force their opponents to hit from a more difficult position. Additionally, serving down the center (“T”) can disrupt the return team’s formation and make it harder for them to cover the court effectively.

Playing “Out of Bounds”

When playing doubles, the doubles sidelines run parallel to and outside the singles sidelines on the court. If the ball lands outside the doubles sideline, it is considered out of bounds. However, players can intentionally play a ball that lands outside the singles court in doubles if it bounces back into the valid doubles court before the opponents return it. This is known as an intentional shot and is a legal play in doubles.

Intentional vs. Unintentional

It’s important to note the difference between an intentional and unintentional shot. An unintentional shot is when the player did not mean to hit the ball out of bounds, but it happened accidentally. In this case, the point goes to the opposing team. However, if the player intentionally plays the ball out of bounds and it bounces back into the valid doubles court before the opponents return it, the point is still in play.

“Poaching” Made Possible

Another aspect of playing doubles is the tactic of “poaching.” This is when a player intercepts a cross-court shot at the net. This tactic is far more common in doubles due to court geometry and the option to play shots “out of bounds.” By playing a shot out of bounds, the opposing team is forced to move and cover more of the court, which can create opportunities for poaching.

Overall, playing “out of bounds” in doubles can be a strategic move if executed correctly. However, players need to be careful not to accidentally hit the ball out of bounds, as this can result in a lost point. With practice and experience, players can learn when and how to play shots out of bounds effectively and increase their chances of winning.

Beyond the Court: Implications for Players

Doubles Prioritizes Different Skillsets

When playing doubles, the skills required are different from those required in singles. Doubles play requires a focus on net play, reaction volleys, and court awareness, which are all skills that are not as important in singles. In contrast, singles play focuses more on baseline power and endurance. If you’re looking to improve your net game and reaction time, playing doubles is a great way to do so.

Social Play

Playing doubles is also a great way to make tennis more social. Doubles play is more accessible for social tennis and allows a wider range of skill levels to play together. This makes it a great option for players who want to play with friends and family members who may not be at the same skill level. Additionally, doubles play is a great way to meet new people and make new friends who share your love of tennis.

Additional Considerations

Mixed Doubles Variations

When it comes to mixed doubles, the court dimensions remain the same as doubles. However, tactical adjustments are made based on team composition. For example, if one player is a stronger net player, they may take more shots at the net, while the other player stays back to cover the baseline. Additionally, players may switch positions mid-point to keep their opponents guessing.

Temporary Court Conversions

If you’re looking to practice or play casual singles games on a doubles court, you can mark temporary singles lines within the court. One technique is to use masking tape or chalk to mark the sidelines and baselines of the singles court. Alternatively, you can use cones or other markers to indicate the singles court boundaries.

When marking temporary singles lines, it’s important to ensure that the lines are straight and clearly visible. This will help prevent disputes over whether a shot was in or out. Additionally, players should be careful not to touch or move the markers during play.


Singles and doubles tennis, while played on slightly different courts, represent the beautiful spectrum of our sport. Whether it’s the intensity of a one-on-one battle or the camaraderie and chaos of doubles, there’s a perfect match for every type of tennis lover.



Q: What’s the main difference between a singles and doubles tennis court?

A: The doubles court is wider (by 9 feet) to accommodate four players. This extra space creates the doubles “alleys” – zones between the singles and doubles sidelines.


Q: Do the service boxes change between singles and doubles?

A: The service boxes themselves stay the same size, but in doubles, you must serve diagonally into the correct box. In singles, you have more freedom serving across the full width of the service box.


Q: Why are the lines on tennis courts so confusing?

A: There can be a lot of lines at first glance! Focus on whether you’re playing singles or doubles. In singles, you pretty much ignore the outer doubles tramlines.


Q: Can I practice my singles game on a doubles court?

A: Absolutely! Many players use doubles courts for singles practice. You can even place cones or markers to designate temporary singles lines.


Q: Does playing doubles make me a better tennis player overall?

A: Doubles develops a unique skillset emphasizing net play, volleys, and court awareness. These skills can absolutely benefit your singles game as well!

What’s your Reaction?

Author Information

Leave a Comment