Can Tennis Players Talk To Their Coaches (During A Match)?

One of the most enjoyable things about tennis is that once you’re on the court, you’re on your own. Only you can find a way tactically and mentally to beat your opponent. Tennis demands a lot physically on your body, but you need the right mindset and the right strategy to win matches.

Coaches can help you prepare for matches, but you have to do it yourself on the court and adapt to any new situations which may arise. For example, your opponent might be playing differently to what you expect, or you might be struggling with part of your game.

As a rule, coaches are not allowed to talk to their players during a match. However, WTA players are allowed, but only once a set during tour events. Let’s explore this in more detail.

What is the tennis rule on coaching in tennis?

At present, coaches are not allowed to offer any tips or advice from the stands at any point during a match. However, the tennis rules on coaching do differ between the ATP and WTA.

WTA Tour

In the women’s game, tennis coaches are allowed to come on to court at the end of a set to offer their advice and support. However, this is currently only allowed during WTA events, not during Grand Slams. Furthermore, in 2020 the WTA have been experimenting in allowing coaches to coach from the stands. Halep’s coach has been particularly supportive of this.

ATP Tour

In the men’s game, coaching is not allowed at all at any ATP tour events or in Grand Slams. It seems most ATP players are happy to keep it this way, but there are some who want the rules changed. For example, Djokovic is particularly keen on involving coaches more during a match:

“When the WTA introduced on-court coaching, many ATP players were not really positive about it. I thought it was a good move for the sport,” he said. “I mean, we’re probably one of the only, maybe [the] only global sport that doesn’t use coaching during the play. Even golf, individual sport, you have caddies that you communicate with throughout the entire course.”

Source: https://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2017/07/roger-federer-novak-djokovic-differ-court-coaching/67502/

Why is coaching not allowed in tennis during a match?

For many players and fans of the sport, they enjoy seeing 2 individuals competing against other in a singles match, without help from anyone. It’s up to the player alone to find a way to beat their opponent, using clever strategy as well as being physically fit.

One strong argument against coaching in a match is that not every player can afford a tennis coach. Imagine a lowly ranked tennis player on the ATP tour playing the match of his life against Djokovic, going up by a set. And then during a changeover, Djokovic’s coach runs onto the court, whispers some advice from his observations of the match, and Djokovic storms to victory winning the next 2 sets 6-0 6-0. Is that fair?

I personally feel that coaching shouldn’t be allowed in tennis during a match. In my opinion, each player has to find a way to beat their opponent using their own tactical nous. For me, it’s interesting as a spectator to observe a player adapting their game during a match to counter their opponent. It’s a bit like chess really!

What about during bathroom breaks or during rain delays?

Bathroom breaks are a controversial topic in tennis at it often seems players take one after they’ve lost a set. In fact many have admitted that they use these few minutes to collect their thoughts in private before stepping back out on the court. They are not allowed to receive coaching at any point during this time. A line judge may accompany the player to the bathroom just to make sure nothing untoward is happening!

However, rain delays are another matter. As these can last anywhere from 30 minute to a few hours, a tennis player is allowed to see their coach during this time. There have been some monumental turnarounds over the years in Grand Slam matches due to a rain delay benefitting one player over another!

What is a coaching violation?

A coaching violation is where a coach tries to help their tennis player during a game or in the warm up. In fact any sort of communication is not allowed, including visual or audible signals.

In recent years, Serena Williams received a coaching violation in the 2018 US Open final against Naomi Osaka. Her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou was recorded on camera making a gesture for Williams to come to the net more. Amazingly he later admitted doing this, and he says all coaches are doing this all the time!

Will on-court coaching ever be allowed in tennis?

While on-court coaching is only allowed at WTA events, it looks like overall support for the idea is growing. Furthermore, with the possibility of the ATP and WTA tours merging, this controversial topic will have to be addressed. You’d think it’s more likely that on-court coaching will be allowed at all men’s and women’s matches, rather than just removing the privilege from the women’s game.

Do all tennis players have coaches?

Virtually all professional tennis players have coaches. You might think why do the top players like Nadal, Djokovic and Federer need a tennis coach, but there are several reasons.

  • Tactics and strategy when facing tricky opponents
  • Support from a mentor (you often seen players glance at their coach in a match to pump themselves up after they’ve won a tricky game or a close set)
  • Improving their weaker areas. (Yes, even the pros have weaknesses too)

Nick Kyrgios is one of the biggest names in tennis who famously doesn’t have a coach. In fact, he hasn’t had one since 2013!

“I just don’t think a coach is ready for me and I want to spare him that because it would otherwise be a nightmare. At the current stage of my career, it is already too advanced for a coach because my paths have already solidified. And I just don’t like to listen to advice, to be completely honest.”

Source: https://www.tennisnet.com/en/news/nick-kyrgios-coaches-are-a-waste-of-money

What are the roles and responsibilities of a tennis coach?

You could argue a tennis coach at the club, college or recreational level will have more responsibilities and duties than the top level coaches who work with the pros. A club level tennis coach may have to:

  • develop the overall game of a group of students,
  • coordinate individual and group lessons,
  • explain the rules of the game to beginners and younger students,
  • schedule meetings with parents,
  • attend matches and tournaments.

At the professional level, a tennis player will have a whole team around him including a physio, nutritionist and a tennis coach. A tennis coach at this level can help a bit on developing a player’s weakness, but overall they will probably help with the tactical and strategic side of the game when facing different opponents. They can also help with the mental side of the game to help players cope with the pressure situations, such as break points and match points.

What does a tennis coach get paid?

It’s not as much as you think. Coaches who work with players at the top of the ATP and WTA rankings will certainly make a lot of money, receiving a salary plus a performance related bonus. So the better the tennis player does at a tournament, the more the coach will earn. But at the lower levels, particularly outside the top 100, it’s considerably less.

How do you become a tennis coach?

It varies country by country, but you will undoubtedly need some coaching qualifications. Here is how you can become a tennis coach in the UK and USA

UK

There are 5 levels of tennis coach qualifications in the UK, all acquired through the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association)

  • Tennis Coaching Assistant (Level 1)
  • Tennis Coaching Assistant (Level 2)
  • Tennis Coach qualification (Level 3)
  • Senior Club Coach qualification (Level 4)
  • Senior Performance Coach qualification (Level 4)
  • Master Club Coach qualification (Level 5)
  • Master Performance Coach qualification (Level 5)

USA

In the US, there are two organizations that can certify people who want to become tennis coaches; United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) and the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR).

Are tennis players allowed to talk to each other?

Tennis players can talk to each other but it depends under which circumstances. The USTA outline the rules on the website:

  • Singles players should not talk to each other during a point.
  • Doubles players can talk in-between points and during changeovers.
  • Doubles players can also talk to each other during a point but only if the ball is travelling towards them. If they talk or shout just after they’ve hit their shot, it can put off their opponent who may claim the point due to a hindrance.
can tennis players talk to their coaches
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Gavin Scott

Gavin runs the place around here. He likes making a "little noise" about all things to do with tennis. Check out his about page to learn more.

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