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Is My Opponent Creating A Hindrance By Talking? Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 167

By Kselz @TennisFixation

Just when you think you've heard about every crazy thing that can happen in tennis, someone tells you about a new crazy thing! In this week's episode, we're going to talk the weird thing that one of my Tennis Quick Tips listeners experienced and we'll decide whether or not it was a hindrance. You can listen to this episode by clicking on the media player in this post or by listening in with your favorite podcast app. You can also subscribe in iTunes by clicking on this link:

Is My Opponent Creating A Hindrance By Talking? Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 167


One of the things I love about tennis is how there is always something weird, strange or just plain unbelievable happening out there on the courts. And today's episode presents us with one of those weird, crazy situations.

Tennis Quick Tips listener Judy recently reached out to me with this question from one of her matches:

This is such a crazy situation....during my service game, in between points being served, one of the opponents shouts out to her team mate on next court.... wanted to know who won... the team mate answers... mini conversation occurred... besides being rude and interrupting my tennis service... is this considered a hindrance... this has never happened to me before in my 20 years of play... I'm still stunned... and I then go on to lose my serve and then the was not done during the actual serve but in between points....I'm still talking to myself....they didn't seem to think it was an issue.

I love it! Her opponent starts a conversation with a teammate on another court right in the middle of the match. Right in the middle of a game! Obviously, a lot of players would be distracted by this just like Judy was. But was it a hindrance.

The Rules on Hindrances

Well, let's look at what the rules say about hindrances. And I'm using the USTA Rules of Tennis here which are basically the ITF Rules of Tennis. So if you're playing tennis outside the United States, it's probably that these same rules apply in your matches. But make sure to check your own tennis rules.

So, Tennis Rule 26 addresses hindrances and that rule says:

If a player is hindered in playing the point by a deliberate act of the opponent(s), the player shall win the point.

However, the point shall be replayed if a player is hindered in playing the point by either an unintentional act of the opponent(s), or something outside the player's own control . . . .

What the rules tells us is that, a hindrance can be caused by either a deliberate act or an unintentional act. If it's a deliberate act, then you win the point. If it's unintentional, then you play a let. In Judy's case, it's pretty clear that her opponent acted deliberately. Chatting it up with a teammate on the next court certainly didn't happen by accident. It was deliberate and intentional. And it definitely irked Judy. And it would irk me too! But was it a hindrance?

For guidance on this, we need to look to the Code which is not part of the rules of tennis but applies in almost all matches, certainly those played in the United States. The Code is our guide to fair play and the "unwritten" rules of tennis. So what does the Code have to say about hindrances?

Paragraph 33 of the Code tells us how to claim a hindrance. It says, "A player who claims a hindrance must stop play as soon as possible." In other words, if you've been hindered, you need to immediately stop play and call the hindrance. You can't keep playing to see if you end up winning the point or not. You need to stop as soon as you're hindered.

Paragraph 34 of the Code talks about talking when a ball is in play and says:

* Singles players should not talk during points.
* Talking between doubles partners when the ball is moving toward them is allowed.
* Doubles players should not talk when the ball is moving toward their opponent's court.
* Any talking that interferes with an opponent's ability to play a ball is a hindrance.

What About Hindering a Server?

So let's look at Judy's situation. She's the server. This chat occurred during the game but not while she was in the middle of her service motion. It was in between points. So it doesn't appear to me that her opponent's talking actually hindered her play of a ball.

But what about the fact that this occurred when she was the server? Judy flat out says this bothered her and may have even caused her to lose her service game. USTA Rule says that "[T]he receiver shall play to be the reasonable pace of the server and shall be ready to receive within a reasonable time of the server being ready." So, at a minimum, her opponent's on-court chatting could have interfered with Judy's ability to keep her reasonable pace going.

And, the Code does talk about delays during service in Paragraph 30. But these are specifically delays between the first and second serve, which is not Judy's situation.

Was This a Tennis Hindrance?

Looking at all of these provisions of the rules and the Code, my conclusion is this was not a hindrance. It was crazy. It was possibly rude. At a minimum, it demonstrated the complete cluelessness of the opponent. Or maybe it actually showed her elaborate attempt at distraction. But I do not think it was a hindrance as contemplated by the tennis rules.

So what do you do if this happens to you? What could Judy have done? I think all you can do is stay strong and TRY to not let it get to you. I know that's easier said than done. I wouldn't even say anything to my opponent about it at that moment because that may just let her know she's getting to you. If it continues happening, yes, say something. Because then it would be interfering with the server's pace of play and might even be slowing down the match. But as a one time thing, I think you have to let it go, take a deep breath, relax, and keep playing tennis!

Thanks so much to Judy for sending in her questions. If you've got questions or want to let me know about your own crazy tennis situation, feel free to email me at [email protected]

You can find the show notes for this episode at Thanks for listening and, as always, Happy Tennis!


Here's a link to Will Hamilton's Fuzzy Yellow Balls YouTube video called "How to Beat a Pusher Using the 'Serve +1' Play":


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Is My Opponent Creating A Hindrance By Talking? Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 167

© Kim Selzman 2019 All Rights Reserved

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