what is a Let Rule in Tennis: A Complete Guide for Beginners and Pros

Last Updated on October 24, 2023 by Robert A. Foreman

If you are wondering what is a let in tennis? We want to tell you that Let is related to interference in a tennis match. 

“The let” in tennis means playing again for the point. There are different types of Let available in tennis. In a professional tennis match, we sometimes see the umpire stop the game by saying, – let.  Usually, the referee calls the “let” to interrupt the game because tennis serves rules. 

That’s not all. I want to explain details about the “let” rule of tennis in-depth here. Let’s check out.

Different Types of Let-in Tennis?

In tennis, Let refers to a rule when a player has to replay for the point under different circumstances. The umpire or player calls are let under two different situations. Those situations are – 

Let in Serving

The most common call of Let when serving is this. Under four circumstances, A umpire or player can call a Let. Those are – 

  • Suppose the ball hits the net’s top chord & falls into the fair play on another side of the serve. Then the player can redo the serve without losing a point. 
  • If the ball hits the top chord of the net & falls on the player’s side, he can reserve it once. If he/she fails again, then the opponent will be awarded a point.
  • If a player serves the ball while the opponent is not ready, it will incur a “Let” call. He/She would have to do it again.
  • Another reason is when a player throws up the ball to serve but doesn’t attempt to hit the ball. It would let him do the serving again. But if he tries to hit the ball after throwing up and misses the hit, it will call for a Let occurrence. 

Let in Rally

Under different circumstances, let can happen when playing tennis. Interruption can come during a Rally too. During the Rally, a let is called when – 

  • If accidentally, a tennis ball falls from any player’s pocket during a match, Let happen. If the ball drops again because of the player’s carelessness, he/she will lose the point by default.
  • In case the tennis ball loses its pressure or is damaged when the match is going on. 
  • Suddenly something enters the court that is not part of the play. Then the umpire calls a Let. For example – a ball from another court, paper or polythene, people or animals, etc.
  • The umpire can call Let in situations like when the audience moves and interferes with the player’s eyesight during the match. 

If this Let situation arises during a match, the player has to repeat the serving & the point will be restarted. No one gains any points.

How many let serves are allowed in tennis

In tennis, there is no specific rule or limitation on the number of “let” serves that can be made during a match. A “let” serve is typically called when the server feels that the conditions were not ideal when they hit the ball, such as if the ball hits the net but still goes over or if the receiver is not ready for the serve.

The purpose of a “let” serve is to stop play and allow the server to re-hit the ball without the point being counted against them.

‘No, Let’ Rule in Tennis

A serve Let counts as fair play under the ‘No Let’ rule. The opponent player must play the ball even though it touches the net. This rule comes in to speed up the gameplay. Both players & the umpire have to agree first in this term.

In the Next-Gen ATP Finals (2018), professionals implemented this ‘No Let’ rule on a trial basis. It didn’t go well because of uncertainty in serving. As a result, ATP stopped using this rule in 2019. 

Nowadays, you can see this rule in recreational matches, but this rule doesn’t apply anymore in professional tournaments.

What Does “Let” Mean in Tennis?

If you say “let,” you’re saying that the previous serve or rally will be ignored and the point will begin again from the beginning. Whenever a second serve misses the net and is called a “let,” the point is re-started with a new serve. The point is restarted with a first serve in all other cases when a let is given.

Rules of Lets in Tennis

There are specific let rules and regulations set forth by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the United States Tennis Association (USTA) that must be followed.

ITF Rules of Lets

The ITF rules state that a let is called when a served ball hits the net and lands in the service box, when a served ball lands outside the service box when a ball is served before the receiver is ready, or when any other hindrance occurs. In these situations, the point is replayed.

USTA Rules of Lets

The USTA has similar rules to the ITF regarding let calls, but they also include the option for the server to choose whether they would like to replay the point or take the point as it stands. This is different from the ITF rules, where the point is automatically replayed.

Some other terms alongside the ‘L.E.T.’ rule

There are some other terms related to Let in tennis. If you are not aware of these situations, you may find something new here. 

  • Firstly, sometimes you might hear ‘Ace.’ on Television or in real matches. You might think, what is an ace in tennis? Ace is mostly first serving where players get the highest power, and the ball reaches the opponent’s court. If the opponent cannot hit back the ball & the ball touches the service area, it’s an Ace.
  • Secondly, what is a volley in tennis? If a player hits back a ball while it’s in the air coming toward him, without touching the ground, then This is called a Volley in terms of tennis. 
  • Thirdly, what is a rally in tennis? Rally means a point that takes a lot of time to achieve. When two players continue to return the ball & the match keeps going on, someone does a fault & the opponent gets the point. This term is called Rally in tennis.  
  • Fourthly, what is netball in tennis? Sometimes when a player hits the tennis ball, it touches the net and drops onto the opponent’s court. If the opponent fails to hit back the shot before the second bounce, it will be a netball in a tennis racket & he/she will lose a point.

Why Do They Call It “Let In Tennis”?

The term “let” in tennis refers to a situation in which a serve is replayed because it touched the net before landing in the correct service box. This can happen if the ball just barely clips the net, or if it bounces off the net and lands in the service box. When this occurs, the point is not counted and the serve is replayed, or “let.”

Some people think that the term “let” comes from the phrase “let it play,” meaning that the point should be allowed to continue. However, this theory is not widely accepted.

what is a “let ball?” and “net ball?”

let ball:

A “let ball” in tennis refers to a serve that is not valid and needs to be replaced. This can happen for a number of reasons, such as if the ball hits the net on a serve and still lands in the correct service box, or if a player is not ready for the serve and makes no effort to return it. When this occurs, the referee will call “let” and the point will be replayed.

net ball:

A “net ball” in tennis refers to a shot that hits the net and then falls onto the correct side of the court. This is a legal shot, and the point will continue as normal. In contrast, if a shot hits the net and then falls into the opponent’s side of the court, it is considered a “net cord” and the point will be awarded to the player who hit the shot.

Difference between fault and let in tennis?

Fault: A fault occurs when a player serves the ball and it does not land within the proper boundaries of the service box or if it hits the net and does not go over. This results in the player losing their serve and the other player receiving a point.

Let: A let is called when a player serves the ball and it hits the net but goes over and lands within the proper boundaries of the service box. In this case, the serve is replayed and the point continues.


Who can call a let?

Any active player and the umpire call a ‘Let’ in singles or doubles.

Can you challenge a let?

players cannot challenge a ‘Let’ in professional matches. 

When should a let be called?

The word ‘let’ should be said loudly enough for the opposition players to hear it as soon as possible when a let happens.


In a nutshell, Let is a form of disturbance in tennis matches. Now, what is a let in tennis? I hope you got the answer already. Let’s just pause & replay

We described Let in tennis, its origin, types of Let calls, and associated rules alongside ‘Let’ here. Learning those rules will help you clear your confusion & enjoy a tennis match to its fullest. Have a good day!

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