What Is the Difference Between Long Tennis and Lawn Tennis?

Long Tennis and Lawn Tennis, is there any difference between both?

Most people find this confusing and don’t know whether both are the same or different.

Based on my experience and checking out the rules that guide each of these racket game, here’s what I found:

The difference between long tennis and lawn tennis is mostly the playing surface. Lawn tennis is usually played on grass courts, in addition to different surfaces such as hard courts and clay courts. Long tennis can be played on concrete surface. Today, both sports are referred to as “tennis.”

Nowadays, the word long tennis and lawn tennis are becoming obscure as people simply refer to them as tennis.

But the question remains, is long tennis the same or different from lawn tennis? If you’re also interested in the question, then read on.  

Long tennis and lawn tennis are practically the same game with the same procedures and practices but with a very slight difference.

Playing Surface: Where Long Tennis and Lawn Tennis Are Played

One of the differences between them is the surface on which the games are played. 

Lawn tennis, which is the more traditional game, is played on a grass surface or trimmed lawns – lawn + tennis. Long tennis (also called plain tennis), which is the modern form of the game, is played on hard or clay court.

We can conclude that lawn tennis and long tennis are now the same game as modern-day people have found a better replacement for the traditional grass surface that was used for most games years ago. 

More so, nobody would restrict the tennis game to the “lawn” in this age just to maintain the “lawn” in its name.

That’s why both games are now commonly referred to as “Tennis” for short, irrespective of the surface on which they are played.

Modern-day tennis (lawn tennis and long tennis) took over in popularity from croquet, another older game.

Both lawn tennis and long tennis got the shape and size of the lawn (or court) from croquet.

In fact, the first “lawn” tennis game was played in Birmingham, England around 1859–65 and inspired by croquet and older racket games.

The ancient tennis sport started as court tennis and was played throughout Europe in the courtyards of old castles.

Many years later, court tennis was moved to the field and was named “Lawn tennis” when it became popular in the 1870s in England and around the world. 

With development, tennis was moved back to the court recently and was called “long tennis.”

Hence, long tennis can also be referred to as real tennis.

But nowadays, other attachments names like “lawn, real, court, long” have been dropped in favor of just “tennis.”

Scoring System of Long Tennis vs. Lawn Tennis

Another difference between real tennis and lawn tennis is their scoring systems. The real tennis game doesn’t have the two-game buffer rule that lawn tennis has. 

However, both games require six-game wins to win a set, and both games record scores in the same increments.

But sometimes, some real tennis games may require nine-game wins to win a set.

For both games, points are either won or lost when errors are made i.e. when the tennis ball is hit into the net or out of the lines.

Points can also be won by hitting the tennis ball into the winning openings – winning gallery, grille, dedans – or so that the ball bounces on the ground twice between the service line and the end wall at the hazard end. 

If the tennis ball bounces for a second time anywhere else on the court or it enters any other gallery before the opponent touches it, a chase is said to be set/laid).

However, when a chase is set, that chase is noted and held in abeyance until the chase is played off, the score does not change.

When two chases are set, or if there is one chase outstanding and the score is at game point, the tennis players change ends.

When the player change ends, the chase(s) is played off in the order in which it was set and the receiving player (or server if it was a hazard chase) must play his or her shots so that their second bounce is closer to the back wall than the chase being played.

For instance, if the chase is about six yards, the receiving player must play to at most five yards or the point is lost.

However, if the tennis ball falls short of the six yards on the second bounce, a shot does not have to be played and the point is won by the receiving player (or server).

Long Tennis vs. Lawn Tennis: Playing Equipment

Another difference is the equipment used by both games. The equipment used by both games is significantly different.

For instance, real tennis (long tennis) balls are heavier than lawn tennis balls. Also, balls used in long tennis are hand-made.

Instead of being hollow, long tennis balls have a cork core that is covered by 10m of tightly-wound woven tape and beaten into shape.

A tight lattice of a crisscrossed string is also tied over the taped long tennis ball.

Once all these are done, a dense Melton wool cloth is hand-stitched together in two figure-of-eight knot sections to form a cover.

These long tennis balls are solid and heavy and do not bounce as much as the lawn tennis balls. Long tennis balls tend to skid on the shiny court surface.

Playing Rackets

Aside from the different balls, the long tennis game uses rackets that barely resemble the rackets used in the lawn tennis game.

Most modern tennis players are not familiar with the long tennis racket. 

The long tennis rackets are mostly made from wood and have smaller, asymmetrical heads.

In terms of dimensions, the heads of long tennis rackets can’t exceed 9½ in. (about 241mm) in length by 7 in. (about 178 mm) in width. The overall racket length may not exceed 27 in. (about 68 cm).

From this dimension, it can be seen that long tennis rackets are slightly heavier and longer than lawn tennis rackets.

This is because the technique for playing the long tennis game uses relies less on wrist action and spin generation is not a major concern.

Another difference between both games can be seen in the courts they’re played in. Long tennis courts are indoor, enclosed by walls, and have no universal standardization. 

The walls play a very significant role in the game by changing how long tennis is played and the rules by which the game is played. For instance, the long tennis ball is allowed to ricochet off the walls.

As stated above, long tennis courts do not have “standard dimensions.”

Most long tennis courts are about 110 by 39 ft. (34 m by 12 m) above the penthouses and about 96 by 32 ft. (29.3 m by 9.8 m) on the playing floor.

This measurement varies by a foot or two per court. 

Long tennis courts are also doubly asymmetric. That is, either end of the court differs in shape from the other. The right and left sides of the court are also different from each other. 

Lawn tennis courts, on the other hand, can either be indoors or outdoor.

The Professional Players

Both long tennis and lawn tennis games have different tennis pros.

While the tennis pros in the lawn tennis game include Roger Federer and Serena Williams, two of the most popular long tennis pros are Robert Fahey and Bryn Sayers. 

Robert Fahey earned the title of world champion in 2018. Despite being over 50 years of age, he remains one of the big names today.


From the post above, it can be seen that long tennis and lawn tennis are originally slightly different from each other in terms of equipment, technique, and court.

Lawn tennis was supposed to be a modern form of long tennis (real tennis). 

However, the more recent tennis games can be played indoor or outdoor and no longer have to be played on the lawn.

Hence, the “lawn tennis” game is now played on a court similar to that of “long tennis.”  As a result, the game now goes by the name “tennis” for short.

If you’re an expert in lawn tennis, that doesn’t mean you can’t get involved in long tennis.