Street Paddle Tennis

By Bruce Firestone | Uncategorized

Sep 24

Street Paddle Tennis is a game designed by a group of kids
(from Red Pine Camp on Golden Lake,
Ontario) to be played on the road
in front of their homes.  


This is a video made circa 2001 of our family playing the game on our street–a quiet crescent in Kanata (Zokol crescent to be precise). I apologize for the quality of the video but it was the best we could do back then.

Our neighbors somehow put up with us colonizing the roadway for long periods each summer, bless them…

It uses unique rules so that with just 2 paddles and a tennis ball (or whiffle ball for slower play for elders and kids) plus sneakers, the game can be played competitively without a net: just draw the court drawn using street chalk and there you go…

The rules of the game are spelled out in book 2 (American Spring, of Prof Bruce’s Quantum Entity trilogy.

Here’s an excerpt from that book in which young Naya is thinking of using the game as part of her Skip-Aid fundraiser that she will be holding in San Fran later that year (which is 2070 by the way):

Anywho, Street Paddle Tennis is probably the cheapest sport you can do other than Ultimate. You got sneakers, some street chalk, a couple of wooden rackets and some tennis balls or whiffle balls, you in business!

The court is laid out by pacing it—its 54 feet long and 24 feet wide. You put a chalk line down the middle and a service line 8 feet either side of the center line. Any asphalt surface will do.

The court looks like this—


The boys will show people how to play and explain its rules, which are:

Rules for a Serve—

1. Serve must be underhand.

2. Serve can be out of hand or bounced once.

3. Serve must go over the serve lines (it may land anywhere in the court past the serve line).

4. Person who is serving must stand on backline.

5. Receiving person must also be standing on their backline.

6. Both people must be standing within two feet of the back centerlines.

7. Whoever has a ball, serves.

8. Once the person who is serving hits the ball both players can move.

Rules for rallying—

1. Players must hit ball on first bounce (or you may volley it out of the air except on a serve).

2. Ball must pass the center of the court (except on the serve, when the ball must go past the serve line).

3. Ball must land inside the court or on back lines or sidelines.

4. No overhand smashing (you may hit the ball overhand, except on a serve, as long as you stop at the vertical; i.e., no follow through on overhand hits—the idea is to promote longer rallies.)

5. Paddle or player cannot cross centerline.


1. If serve does not go over (or touch) serve lines, it is a point for the other player.

2. If ball lands out of bounds (before a bounce), a point is awarded to other player.

3. If ball dose not make it over the centerline then point is awarded to other player.

4. If ball bounces twice on a side then point is awarded to other player.

5. First player to seven points wins. (You do not have to win by two points.)

6. Point is awarded on every play except a let (the players play the point over).


1. Players who are playing referee themselves.

2. If both players are not sure about a point then it is a let.

Spirit of the Game—

1. In a Street Paddle Tennis competition or tournament, scores are recorded after each match.

2. Each player also reports a ‘Spirit of the Game’ score for the other player(s)—this is a score that measures sportspersonship.

3. A score of 10 indicates a very high standard of fair play. A score of 5 or less indicates very poor sportspersonship. Individuals with consistent scores of 5 or less may not be asked to return for tournament play. Fair play is always encouraged.


1. Doubles are played like singles.

2. Both players have to start at their back line on the serve.

Safety + Suggestions—

1. Never play in traffic.

2. Any asphalt surface will do—such as a parking lot at work or school.

3. Chalk as many courts as you have room for and have a tournament amongst all your friends.

4. If sun or wind or other factors make a difference in the game, switch sides from time to time.

5. Each set is best of five games—first to three games, wins the set.

6. Each match is best of three sets—first to two sets wins.

7. Always play fair and, if in doubt, call a let.

8. You may use spray-on chalk to lay out a court on grass—street paddle tennis on a grass court is a different game but just as much fun; you can pretend you are playing at Wimbledon. You will have to make sure that the grass is fairly short.

Keys to Competitive Street Paddle Tennis/Handicapping the Game—

1. Rush the Centerline—it is a good strategy if your opponent does not have a good passing shot.

2. Move Your Opponent Back and Forth, Up and Down the Court.

3. Spin the Ball.

4. Get lots of competition with players better than you.

5. Organize Tournaments and Clinics.

6. Make holes in your racket for a faster racket. Before drilling the holes, take duct tape and place it around where you want to drill. Be sure not to make the holes too big so they won’t affect your shot. After drilling the holes remove the tape, you should be left with a smooth hole. (Adam, age 13 discovered this).

7. Handicap the games so that everyone can play with everyone.

8. That means that better players can play with others who aren’t as good and it can still be competitive.

9. The maximum handicap allowed under Street Paddle Tennis rules is 5. That means that a better player starts the game with a ‘0’ while his or her opponent starts with 5 points. So the weaker player has to win just two points to win the game while the stronger player has to get seven!

10. Create your own ladder of competition with a handicap like golf only the inverse of it. For example, on our block we have the following rankings:

a. Finn Handicap 5

b. Adam Handicap 5

c. Magellan Handicap 4

d. Damien Handicap 3

e. Dekka Handicap 2

f. Naya Handicap 1

g. Ellen Handicap 0

11. Obviously, Street Paddle Tennis handicaps are the opposite of golf—the higher the handicap, the better the player!

12. In the above ladder, if, for example, Finn plays Naya, the score starts off Naya 4, Finn 0.

Bruce M Firestone, B Eng (civil), M Eng-Sci, PhD, Ottawa Senators founder, Real Estate Investment and Business coach, ROYAL LePAGE Performance Realty broker,  1-613-762-8884

Spread The Word

About the Author

Bruce is an entrepreneur/real estate broker/developer/coach/urban guru/keynote speaker/Sens founder/novelist/columnist/peerless husband/dad.