Off-court coaching?

The ATP has announced that off-court coaching will be tested for the 2nd half of 2022. What are your thoughts on off-court coaching?

It’s a bold move, but somewhat expected. With the Next-Gen Finals rules, the ATP has already experimented with some new rule ideas to make professional tennis more exciting to watch. The purists will claim that tennis needs no changes, it’s exciting enough anyway. I’m partly in this camp, while people like Patrick Mouratoglou thinks that tennis needs lots of changes to stay competitive with other sports when it comes to screen time and diminishing attention span. I think an off-court coaching trial makes sense, because it’s better to test rule changes before committing to them.

Nick Kyrgios immediately voiced his opinion, which was in contrast to the star coach from France.

They both raise fair points.  Mourtaglou is right that there is plenty of coaching going on from the stands. He’s been guilty of it himself during his time with Serena Williams. But Nick also has a point, that tennis is a mental sport where you need to figure things out yourself. The rule change might also increase the gap between players that can afford top coaches and players that can’t.

Off-court coaching starts July 11

Thi is what it says on the ATP official website. The ATP has announced that ‘off-court’ coaching will be trialled for the second half of the season. The trial will permit coaching from designated coach seats during qualifying and main draw matches at ATP Tour events, starting from the week of 11 July 2022.

The trial will also take place at the US Open and will run through to the season-ending Nitto ATP Finalsin Turin in November.

Off-court coaching will be permitted under the following conditions:

  • Coaches must sit in the tournament’s designated coach seats
  • Coaching (verbal and non-verbal) is allowed only if it does not interrupt play or create any hindrance to the opponent
  • Verbal coaching is permitted only when the player is at the same end of the court
  • Non-verbal coaching (hand signals) is permitted at any time
  • Verbal coaching may consist of a few words and/or short phrases (no conversations are permitted)
  • Coaches may not speak to their player when the player leaves the court for any reason
  • Penalties and fines will still apply for abuse or misuse of the above coaching conditions

Keen to hear your thoughts about this. Are you excited about the change or concerned?


View Comments

  • It will be something totally counterproductive for tennis.
    It will make it more expensive and unpopular, since children who do not have the possibility of having a coach on the court will think that they are inferior. It becomes nonsense, that each tennis player has a coach.
    Faced with this situation, many parents will take advantage of the situation to occupy that role. As a perverse consequence of this, abuse and coercion by adults will increase.
    I see it as complete nonsense, as it is an individual sport.
    I have a lot of experience in competition and I have experienced what a father is like doing coaching and bothering during the game. Getting him expelled from the court, I have gone from losing to radically winning the game. And there are coaches who turn the tennis player into a puppet (the good thing is to cut the threads of the puppet).

  • One of the beauties of tennis is that it is a mental as well as a physical game. Some have compared it to chess played with racquets and a ball. On court coaching already occurs in the US during matches in team competitions (e.g. NCAA college tennis). This is useful for teaching players how to think and adjust during play. However, at the level of individual competition, I think that on court coaching will remove one of the most interesting parts of the game— thinking for yourself. As the legendary American philosopher Yogi Berra once said about his favorite game, “Baseball is 90% mental. The other half is physical.”

  • Mourtaglou broke the rules constantly and instead of introspecting, apologising, admitting himself a cheat has advocated the rules change to normalise what he did.

    I think it's a poor change.

    The one change I would like to see in tennis is moves to make matches at grand slams a little shorter.

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