The rules of real tennis have not changed for centuries. Stripped of its special rules for serving and chases, the game is simple to understand. Each player strives to get the ball over the net and in doing so may use any wall - as in squash. The scoring is the same as in lawn tennis (15, 30, 40, deuce, advantage), except that the score of the winner of the last point, and not that of the server, is called first.

The first player to win 6 games wins a set. So, if the score is five games all, there is a final deciding game. At the conclusion of each game, the winner of that game has his or her score called first. As in lawn tennis, singles or doubles can be played. The length of a real tennis court is approximately one and a half times the length of a lawn tennis court: its width a fraction more than the width of a doubles lawn tennis court. Halfway between the two ends a net stretches from side to side of the court. In the centre the height of the net is the same as a lawn tennis net. At either end the net is higher, in fact, five feet.

The origins of tennis being French, various features of a tennis court are still known by their original French names. Thus the long opening at the end of the service side of the court (behind which spectators can sit and watch a game) is known as the Dedans. At the opposite end of the court the buttress projecting from the wall is known as the tambour and the wooden opening near it is called the grille.