Posted: February 16th, 2022




Tennis is a racket sport in which either two or four players strike a hollow rubber ball over a net with rackets. As mentioned, it can be played by two players individually, better referred to as singles, or by four players, two teams of two players- doubles. Interestingly, historically the ball was struck by the palm, hence the name of the game of the palm. During the 16th century, rackets came into use and replaced palm, and the game earned the name tennis. Tennis is both an indoor and outdoor sport.

Tennis is one of the most respected and challenging sports in the world, which is played on various court surfaces like grass courts, hard courts, artificial grass courts, and clay courts. There is specifically approved tennis attire, including sun protection like hats with visors. It is an individual game; tennis is regarded as an individual sport, especially at the professional level, as it always involves two players- singles. When a particular player loses, they are the only ones affected as they play for themselves. Mental fitness is prized just like physical fitness. 

Like other sports, tennis players have coaches who are responsible for pushing the players in the right direction and contributing to them winning in matches. But how far does a coach go during a game?

The role of a tennis coach

Coaches in tennis play a significant role both at the professional and the beginner’s level. They should be energetic and passionate about the sport.

  • They are mentors to the players and offer support and encouragement. The aspect of support is usually visible when a player wins a tricky game; they always look towards their coach.
  • Coaches organize and coordinate tennis lessons.
  • A coach explains the rules of tennis to beginner players and develops innovative ways to assist in remembering the rules.
  • Encourages discipline in players in areas such as consistency in practice, keeping time, and maintaining focus.
  • Coaches recognize their players’ talents.
  • Coaches develop training programs for their players
  • Coaches employ a team of other relevant professionals who work with the players, for example, nutritionists and doctors.
  • Coaches help players improve on their weaker areas
  • Coaches equip their players with strategy and tactics to use when facing different opponents or to have a tough match.


Coaching violation

Tennis coaches help their players prepare for matches, but during a warm-up, game, or match, the players compete against each other without the help of anyone. The players have to be tactical and find a way to beat their opponent. Coaching is considered any communication, advice, or instruction of any kind by any means to a player in an attempt to help a tennis player. No communication is allowed, whether verbal or visual signs between the players and the coaches. Is the no coaching rule always observed? Some argue that if you listen keenly, you will hear coaching during matches, especially during open games through the crowd’s chattering. 

 Famous tennis players like Serena Williams and Stefanos Tsitsipas have received coaching. Serena Williams received hers after her coach Patrick Mouratoglou was being recorded, making a gesture to help her during the match. Serena denied the racket violation’s offense and verbally insulted the chair umpire, costing her a game; Serena called him a thief. Serena Williams was given a three-code violation got fined. Later in an interview, the coach confessed to having committed the breach and added that other coaches do the same.

The no-couching rule in tennis, among other factors, makes the sport exciting and unique. It is important to note that communication that falls under encouragement is allowed. But the question is, where do you draw the line between coaching and motivation? The interpretation is usually up to the match umpire’s performance, which can sometimes get overlooked. Clapping or raising a fist can be interpreted as communication involving coded gestures. There is so much a coach can convey in a small snippet of gesture, for example, being more aggressive with a hand motion pointing towards a particular direction. In other sports like football and boxing, the coach can keep contact with the players while the game is on.

Has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the no coaching rule?

Since the onset of Corona Virus, are the existing Covid-19 guidelines, there are fewer spectators buying tickets to watch the match live, hence less chatter with the players. Therefore, it is much harder to communicate, and the players have to rely on themselves. 

Masks hide the moving lips and make it impossible to locate who is communicating. Coaches’ attempts to communicate with their mask on resulted in penalties to both players. Should the coach take responsibility for their actions and be penalized instead? Since the player is responsible for their coach, they take responsibility for the coach’s actions.

Nonetheless, coaches should not be expected to sit still in their seats. Coaches should be expected to be actively involved in the game while only giving encouragement, which could sound like, ” Great serve, keep going.”


Have you wondered why coaching is not allowed during the match? Here are the reasons

  • Some players cannot afford a coach. It would be unfair for the players who cannot afford full-time coaching or the same level of coaches as top players.
  • In tennis, the players are expected to be entirely on their own since tennis is an individual sport and not teamwork.
  • Tennis is a mind game as well as a physical game. The players’ mental, emotional, and physical abilities are usually tested. In addition, it is an exercise in problem-solving
  • Other reasons include the fact that coaches are not equal financially and professionally. Therefore, no coaching promotes fairness, honor, and integrity.

What happens during bathroom breaks? 

During bathroom breaks, which are essential as they help the players collect their thoughts in private, the players are usually accompanied by a line judge to avoid external interference, which includes coaching. Players are limited to one bathroom break per match, which lasts approximately three minutes, with only two minutes to change their clothing.

The exception to the no coaching rule

There is an exception to this rule.

Rain delays- in the event of substantial rain that causes the match to get suspended, tennis players leave the court and can see and speak with their coach—rain delays that might last a couple of minutes to hours. Over the years, rain delays have benefited one player over another. 

Women’s games- Lately, women’s games and tournaments have been exempted from this rule. Tennis coaches can come to the court at the end of a set and during switchovers to offer support and advice. Allowing coaching in women’s games is a break of tradition and has sparked different reactions. In Grand slams, however, no coaching rule is observed.

When a player does not follow the tennis code of conduct, the umpire first issues them with a warning. If this escalates, they receive either a point penalty or a suspension point. If they continue violating the rule, they get disqualified.

Other violations committed over the years during the tennis games by players and coaches are as follows.

  • Verbal abuse and language directed towards a spectator and the chair umpire
  • Unsportsmanlike conduct directed towards an umpire or an opponent. This violation is quite vague and can include a variety of violations.
  • Physical abuse such as hitting
  • Time violation for either vomiting outside the court being late after a break between sets. The player is supposed to start their serving motion within 25 seconds.
  • Visible obscenity or shouting an obscenity
  • Math fixing
  • Racket violation-smashed a racket in the grass, throwing ones’ racket in anger and breaking a racket
  • Ball abuse. A player throws the ball out of court
  • A coach made sexual advances towards a player
  • A player was changing a shirt mid-match. Change of clothing is only allowed during the little bathroom changes.
  • Arguing against chair umpire
  • No press. Failing to honor let media obligations such as refusing to meet the press. After a match, the players are required to have availability to the press.
  • Best effort violation is given when a player doesn’t provide the best effort on the court. Players are expected to give their best to keep the competitive balance and to prevent match-fixing
  • Doubles attire
  • Default or disqualification after a player has committed four code violations warnings. In some cases, though, a disqualification can occur with less than four violations

 if judged severely. 

Most tennis players only take one warning before they change their violations, but there are always incidents where the player carelessly commits them even when they are fully aware of the consequences. Avoiding these violations may protect a player from fines that are given by their tours.

Tennis players talking to each other during a tennis match

The players can talk to each other during a game or match but with exceptions.

  • Single players are not allowed to talk in between points
  • Double players are allowed to speak during changeovers and points.
  • Doubles partners are prohibited from talking when the ball is directed towards their opponents’ side.

In conclusion

The rules of modern tennis keep changing, and maybe one day this rule too will change, and coaching will be allowed during a match. Coaching during a game may help a player figure out challenges during a tough match and significantly affect the outcome. Allowing coaching would change the competition seriously. The no coaching violation promotes fairness, integrity, and honor.

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