Monday, February 24, 2014

When to call a foot fault

Kristianne Bontempo | Towpath Tennis Employee | Online Shop Manager

Call a foot fault if you see one clear as day.
The foot fault is probably the most dreaded call to make. Sure you have every right to call one if you see an infringement clear as day, however this one little call can open up a whole can of worms because intentional or not you're basically calling your opponent a cheater. Serena Williams was fined $175,000 and ruined any chance at winning the US Open in 2009 by going absolutely bizerk on a line judge who called a foot fault on her. So at the end of the day, is the call worth the trouble?

Whether we're having a friendly match or battling it out during an intense tournament, there's a time when we're going to be faced with the dilemma of making the difficult (and painfully awkward) call that your opponent has foot faulted. Even though you should never ignore when an opponent is foot faulting, we do believe there's a time and place on when you should make it known. 

When should you let it slide? If you're playing recreationally or if during a match you see a one-time offender, it's a little silly to get everyone worked up over a call that might not make a huge difference in the end result. Unless you're a disliked stickler for the rules, get over it and move on. 

So when should you call a foot fault? Anytime you're playing in a competitive match players are encouraged to make a foot fault call as they see warranted, but it's entirely up to you to make. If you're unsure, we recommend following these guidelines based off of the USTA code of conduct:

  • Begin with a warning. On court blood can be easily washed away with a friendly warning to a foot faulting offender. 
  • Make the call when and only when you see an unavoidable flagrant foot fault. It's hard to tell from across the court if your opponent is just crossing the baseline, however it's a whole other story if they appear to be going for a new long jump record. 
  • If your opponent gets defensive (which more often than not is the case), remind them of the rule and if needed request back-up whether that's your doubles partner, a coach/captain, or if you have access to one an official. 
The thing about foot faults is they're inevitable, but mental meltdowns don't have to be. So choose your battles and don't allow it to dictate your game. The same thing stands if you're the one getting called on a foot fault. Back up a few inches and don't change a thing! 

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