Coaching

Should on-court coaching be allowed?

Stefanos Tsitsipas tweeted that he believes in coaching during matches. Should on-court coaching be allowed?

I posted my vlog “Should on-court coaching be allowed?” on YouTube and Instagram last night and the response is pretty clear. The majority thinks it shouldn’t be allowed. Most tennis fans are quite traditional though, so I don’t think that response is surprising. I am a bit torn myself as I lay out in my vlog (watch it below). Overall, I think there are pros and cons and that the concept could be tested at a few ATP 250 tournaments to study the reaction and the impact.

Should on-court coaching be allowed?

On-court coaching on the WTA tour and in men’s events like the Ultimate Tennis Showdown and the Next Gen Finals. The pros and cons of on-court are the following:

Pros

Increased drama
You get an insight into a player/coach relationship
Potential increase in momentum shifts in a match
(It goes on anyway…)

Cons

Where should it be applied? Will “richer” players get a better tactical coach?
You remove the element of tennis being an individual sport
You break the long-standing tradition of the sport

I’m not a fan of tradition for tradition’s sake, but I think there is an argument in there somewhere.

Why not try?

I don’t see many arguments for not giving this a try in more exhibition tournaments or in certain tournaments during a test period. Tennis, like all other things, needs to evolve, and this could be a part of its evolution as a sport. I think most people agree that team events like the Laver Cup are better thanks to the coaching element from the coaches as well as the team members. But it hasn’t been properly tested in the individual format on the ATP tour. I think the general consensus on the WTA is that it’s overall a positive thing, but how it would be implemented throughout the tour is not clear.

Keen to hear your thoughts hear. I go for the “why not try?”.

TN

View Comments

  • Unrestricted coaching will favor those with vast resources. Tools like huge statistical databases connected with real-time AI-analysis software will be able to device high probability strategies. The embryos if this is already in some mobile apps and systems like the in/out device with cloud based AI-coaching. https://inout.tennis/en/index.htm

    There is enough money in tennis to drive such development quickly. It's easy to say that only human, manual coaching should be allowed but cheating is too easy with technology. I don't have the answer...
    Perhaps some controlled instances of coaching time-outs during a match.

    The Mouratoglou exhibition tournaments experimented a bit with open coaching but I don't think it added much. The format didn't show what it would look like in a normal tennis pressure situation.

  • A huge part of the tennis skill set is the ability to problem solve and adapt your game to conditions, including what is working/not working for your opponent and what is working and not working in your own game that day. Also including the willingness to choose to take calculated risks in order to win or minimise risks in order to not lose. Above all the ability to stay calm and the intelligence/experience to make rational decisions under intense pressure. This is part of what makes it such a fascinating game once basic shot making is mastered. Also a major reason why some players win multiple titles and others none.

  • Agree with both Hans and David. Banning the use of apps and softwarer keep things organic. To keep things organic and worked by the intelligence of people and not software. Coaching a la Mouratoglou and Laver Cup.

  • No, it will make the game even slower.

    Could well lead to special coaching breaks (like "TV breaks" where the formerly quick change-overs had been lengthened). Or small extensions on the current breaks. Maybe eventually (or for richer players sooner, now) a whole team to coach (like in American football): a technique coach, a tactics coach, a fitness coach, an analytics coach, a psychology coach. This is already the case to some extent but the full brunt could be brought to bear during the match - and then breaks adjusted to suit it.

    It should just be the best the player can do during a match - not the best a whole team can bring.

    Almost all of the coaching breaks on the WTA (even where the relationships are good) are already excruciating and I don't know why you would want to expand that.

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