The proposed site should be large enough to accommodate the desired number of courts, in an appropriate layout, and include access to the courts and additional amenities.
Recommended minimum dimensions for multiple courts for international competition (with preferred dimensions in brackets)
When planning the layout of the courts, it is necessary to provide sufficient space around each court to be able to play comfortably.
Recommended dimensions for the run-back (from the baseline to the backstop at the end of the court) and side-run (from the outer-most sideline to the sidestop at edge of the court) depend on the level of the play and number of courts (see table 1.0 below).
Table 1.0: Recommended court dimensions.
|Total length including run-backs
|Total width including side-run (doubles)
|Run-back (distance behind baseline)
|Side-run (distance to side of court)
|Spacing between multiple courts
The additional space advised for international competitions is to allow for umpires and line judges.
A minimum of 3.66 m is required between the sideline and any fixed obstruction such as a fence, wall, floodlight pillar, etc. However, if multiple courts are grouped side-by-side, the gap between adjacent courts may be reduced to 4.27 m at international level and 3.66 m for recreational/club play. In essence, the space between adjacent courts is ‘shared’, which recognises that the only physical obstruction is the net post of the adjacent court.
Note that all fixed objects that need to be courtside should be positioned in line with the net and courts should not be arranged back-to-back (unless dividers are used) for the players’ safety.
When designing facilities, accessibility to all potential users should be considered. For example, wheelchair users require appropriate provision of ramps, paths, doorways and changing/showering/toilet facilities. The following guidelines are provided courtesy of the LTA.
As you can see from the diagrams below, the camber of the wheels on the sports chair are much wider than the day chair and can range up to 25°. This provides more mobility and a stable base for the player to move around the court. The base width of the sports chair (measured from the outside edge of the wheels) can reach up to 1200 mm (the critical diagonal measurement from front castor to back castor by the anti-tip bar could be more) against that of 800 mm for a day chair. Therefore, when building new or enhancing existing facilities, certain access issues, e.g. access onto the courts, corridors, will need to cater for the additional width of a sports wheelchair. Note, however, that sports chair wheels can be removed to facilitate access where space is limited in existing facilities.
Day chair (left) and a sports chair. Courtesy of Sport England.
Design principles – general
There are a wide range of disabilities which need to be taken into account when managing and designing a sports facility. These include mobility, visual, hearing and learning disabilities. Clubs should also take into consideration how the public, both players and spectators, can access the club.
- Disabled parking bays should be located close to the main entrance.
- A standard disabled parking bay is 3.6 m wide. Alternatively you can have two standard bays at 2.4 m wide plus 1.2 m common access aisle.
- When designing new car parks, ensure that they are flat. Dropped kerbs should be provided in appropriate positions.
- Avoid speed ramps on the route from disabled parking bays to the facility entrance.
Access from car park to front door
Disabled access should be clearly marked with symbols.
- Access should be a clear, unobstructed route way with a firm, even surface that is non-slip.
- Consider a minimum footpath width of at least 1.5 m, or 2 m, to allow for the passing of wheelchairs, prams or pushchairs.
- Provide for both stepped and ramp access.
- Automatic doors are preferred for main entrance access.
Access within facility
- Entrance doors should have a clear width of more than 1200 mm. This is to accommodate sports wheelchairs.
- The threshold should not be above the floor surface and attention should be given to mat wells and gratings, as these may impede movement/wheelchair mobility.
- Ramped access within centres is advisable.
- Consider incorporating a low level reception desk or a bar hatch system in the Reception area.
- Reduce the strength of door closers. Lighter doors also benefit young children and the elderly.
- Public telephones should be accessible to people with disabilities/in wheelchairs.
- Consideration should be given to access onto the indoor and outdoor courts. This should incorporate suitable access from the clubhouse and for wheelchairs.
On-court player accessibility
Secure area for the storage of wheelchairs (both day and sports).
- Is there adequate space between court net posts for sports wheelchair access?
- Is there enough room between courts for a sports wheelchair?
- Is there enough access around the court to allow players to change ends easily?
- Do floodlighting columns cause additional restrictions on movement?
Problems that may be encountered by wheelchair and semi-ambulant users are:
- Inaccessible toilet and changing facilities;
- Corridors and doorways that are too narrow or obstructed;
- Changes in level i.e. steep ramps, kerbs.
Problems that may be encountered are:
- Poor use of colour contrast which could hinder location and comprehension;
- Poor illumination due to low level lighting, glare and reflection;
- Poor signage – consider incorporating Braille;
- Poor written information.
Problems that may be encountered are:
- Hard surfaces which could lead to a confusing and noisy environment;
- Insufficient information which results in restricted independence;
- Poor staff communication.
People with learning disabilities may have a combination of other impairments such as mobility or visual. It is therefore recommended that as well as the above points, you should consider the following:
- Avoid too many colour schemes and complicated signs which could cause confusion;
- Use signage, layout and lighting of the building to clearly identify routes and public areas;
- Trained staff that are easily recognisable.
Toilets and changing facilities
- Provision of changing facilities should cater for both the individual/independent user and small groups during public sessions. Ideally a separate disabled toilet should be incorporated.
- Consider the proximity of the changing areas to the activities within the building. Storage areas for items such as wheelchairs, etc., are a useful addition.
Design principles - existing facilities
- In addition to the signage of designated areas for disabled people (e.g. car parking spaces, entrances, disabled toilets, etc.) care should be taken to provide clear signage to facilities such as lifts, fire exits, changing rooms and the main activity and social areas within the tennis facility.
- It is advisable to undertake an access audit to determine the current accessibility situation at the club.
Design principles -new facilities
- New facilities (particularly indoor centres) may have a number of wheelchair users visiting at any one time. It may, therefore, be necessary to design for ‘passing bays’ positioned at strategic points, i.e. at the back of each court or on narrow access paths. This would enable the players to pass with ease. Also, designing open plan areas into the facility assists with access issues.
- Showers, toilets and cubicles (if provided) should allow for easy transfer from a wheelchair. There should not be any step up or down into the shower compartment. Shower heads, soap dispensers, etc., should all be located within easy reach when seated (approx. 1.3 m).
- New facility projects should have an ongoing accessibility appraisal undertaken throughout the process.
- Court surfaces – refer to guidance notes on court surfaces. The order of preference of court surfaces for a wheelchair player is: acrylic, asphalt, clay, carpet, grass, artificial grass.
Wheelchair spectators (indoor centres)
- Spectator seating should incorporate a slightly higher main handrail with a clear viewing panel below.Emergency exit routes and procedures
- The incorporation of suitable emergency exits/routes including lifts and stairs is advised. Note that wheelchair stair lifts are not suitable as a means of escape in an emergency situation.
- Alarm systems tend to be audible and rarely incorporate a visual system. Consideration should therefore be given when incorporating an alarm to whether or not it is suitable for the visually and/or hearing impaired.