Tennis Foot Fault 101
Tennis rules, apart from scoring, are fairly simple. However, there is one rule on the serve that is much more complicated; the foot fault.
Often, club-level players struggle to follow the rules of foot fault. This article will talk through what this rule entails, offering information and advice on how to avoid it during a tennis match,
The Meaning of Foot Fault
A foot fault will be called if one of the three following scenarios occurs:
- The serving player touches the baseline with their foot during or before coming in contact with the ball.
- The serving player’s foot is seen inside the baseline during or before contacting the ball.
- The serving player’s foot touches the center mark from the wrong side during or before contactingthe ball.
This policy is in place to prevent servers from encroaching on the court and stealing time from their opponents.
Although the advantages of a slight foot fault are negligible, rules are rules. Players must learn to serve with their foot behind the baseline. The foot fault rule, however, has one additional problem. If your feet are in the air, you can go as far as you want into the court.
It is theoretically possible to sprint and jump onto the court and hit the serve even closer to the net by doing so, but this is extremely difficult.
The only thing that matters is the player should land after hitting the ball. The most important thing is to keep the front foot behind the baseline before jumping in the air or contacting the ball.
The perfect placement will entail the player beginning behind the baseline, jumping in the air at the time of the service motion, and landing appropriately inside the baseline after contacting the ball.
Foot Faults in Professional Matches
Foot faults can occur sporadically during a professional game.
One of the biggest reasons for this is that almost any player will be in the air as they contact the ball, regardless of whether they are jumping onto the court.
The arabesque position is completely legitimate, whereby the player explodes up into the ball and lands inside the court on the front foot.
This helps avoid the foot fault law and encourages the player to increase their strength by kinetic energy. Since this is the methodology that professionals use, they don’t need to experiment with the baseline and the resultant foot fault because the benefits are minimal.
However, the occasional foot fault is called. It’s usually greeted with a professional’s bemusement when they gaze at the line judge.
One of the most popular foot faults was the one committed from Serena Williams’ semi-final match against Kim Clijsters in the 2009 US Open. Serena’s second serve was called for a foot fault at 5-6, 15-30 in the second set, and she lost the point.
Serena didn’t take it well. As a result of her outburst at the lineswoman, she received a point deduction, meaning she lost the match.
It also shows that losing a point due to a foot fault can be frustrating. What is important here is how to cope with it and go on with the game.
Serena Williams may be the most well-known of the foot fault meltdowns, but she is not the only one. Tennis fans may be perplexed as to why Williams lost her temper over a seemingly minor officiating decision.
However, foot faults are called extreme rarely, which means players often overstep the line on serve and are not penalized for the same.
Given how often foot faults are named, it’s easy to understand Williams’ anger at being penalized at such a critical point in the match.
A former line judge called Jeff Ponder clarified at the time the line judge was correct in her decision.
He also claimed that foot faults cannot be questioned or checked, which is still true.
Justin Gimelstob, a former serve-and-volleyer, said, “95 percent of foot faults are not named.” Therefore, when they are flagged, they appear to evoke a lot of anger.
Foot Faults in Amateur Matches
Although foot faults are uncommon in the professional game, they tend to crop up a lot in the amateur game.
Ultimately, most people are struggling to get their serve in the court. They are so intent that they don’t focus on what’s going on with their foot. Rules are rules.
But the advantages of overstepping are negligible, and calling is unrealistic so that most foot faults will go unnoticed. When returning a serve, it’s almost difficult to tell if the opponent’s foot is on the line or not when they hit the ball.
If it is blatantly apparent, the best thing to do is to ask the opponent to improve upon it. However, it is slightly inconvenient to call on an opponent.
Focusing attention on what can be changed rather than the opponent’s foot is a much greater use of time. Take accountability for not foot-faulting and not being too engrossed in the opponent.
How to reduce foot faults?
For players who do a lot of foot faults, it’s essential to address it and fix the issue. Here are some useful tips to improve the game by reducing foot faults.:
Step back from the line
The easy solution is to begin a little further behind the line when it comes to foot faulting. Many players don’t realize that their foot can crawl across the line as they’re moving. So, taking a slight step back can make all the difference.
This is the only choice a player has if they’re called into a match and need to make an unexpected change. A slight step back should have little impact on the serve, making foot faulting an easy fix.
Make a video of yourself
Seeing the serve on camera is one of the easiest ways to understand it. When out on the court with a friend, ask them to take a video of you serving.
This way, you can see just how close you are coming to the mark. It’s a simple repair if you are touching the line with your foot. But if you’re stepping a long way into the court, it could take a little more effort.
At the very least, once you see yourself on video, you will have a better idea of what you are up to and will begin taking steps to correct it.
Use something to cover the line during practice.
It’s possible to get a lot better sense of where your feet are if you place a cone or something else on the line.
If you feel your foot going against the cone when making the service motion, you are foot-faulting. It’s possible to lose track of where your feet are when you’re focused on something as difficult as the serve, but the cone will help.
You will gradually improve the game by training yourself to hold your feet behind the line and avoid foot faults.
Improve the Technique
Foot faults can be avoided with the correct technique. As previously said, most professionals jump right into the serve, making it far less likely that they would foot fault.
This will not only help you with your foot fault, but it will also allow you to bring more power through the ball and raise your margin for error. It’s worth trying to improve your technique, and it will help you get the best out of your serve.
If the ball is thrown too far away, it will pull the player into the court. If trying to get the ball in the court, the player will have no choice but to foot fault.
So, make sure to toss the ball up correctly; it shouldn’t go behind the player, but also not too far ahead. Therefore, try to achieve a proper balance.
In summary, foot faults aren’t fatal, so the player needs to correct them if they’re made frequently.
The good news is that foot faults aren’t difficult to fix, and leaving the feet behind the line will not cost the player much. The most important thing to remember if called for a foot fault is to remain calm.
Take a step back from the line, and don’t let the outcome of the call influence the rest of the game.
However, if playing against someone who appears to be foot-faulting all the time, this is particularly difficult.
The best advice is to try not to think about it and focus on the game.
An opponent is unable to gain such a huge advantage that it changes the game’s outcome because calling from the opposite end of the court is extremely difficult.
If it’s evident, it’s worth suggesting it to the opponent at the end of the match. However, the only best thing for a player to do is to concentrate on themselves and their game.