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By Richard Pagliaro | Monday, July 19, 2021

 
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Stefanos Tsitsipas makes the case for legalizing coaching on every point. Is he right?

Photo credit: ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament Facebook

Shotmaker Stefanos Tsitsipas delivers a game-changing proposal: legalize coaching on every point.

Tsitsipas says permitting coaching will "modernize" tennis and asserts legalizing coaching is the reality check tennis needs to grow.

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The Roland Garros runner-up made his case in support of allowing coaching in a series of social media posts.

“Coaching on every point should be allowed in tennis,” Tsitsipas posted on Twitter. "The sport needs to embrace it. We’re probably one of the only global sports that doesn’t use coaching during the play."




Tsitsipas has incurred his share of code violation warnings in recent years due to chatter from his father and coach, Apostolos Tsitsipas, and therein lies what the Greek views as the absurdity of the current coaching rule. Tsitsipas says the current rule is ridiculous because just about every coach does coach from the sidelines at times and officials selectively enforce the rule.

Given the uneven application of the current rule, Tsitsipas says it's time to stop the charade and legalize coaching on every point.

"It is also a very basic truth that the vast majority of tennis coaches are actually coaching on court, despite the rules,” Tsitsipas said.




The 2021 Grand Slam rulebook states: “Players shall not receive coaching during a match (including the warm-up). Communications of any kind, audible or visible, between a player and a coach may be construed as coaching.”

Tsitsipas says one rule permitting coaching would not only be a big step forward in the evolution of the sport it would alleviate confusion over differing rules between the two tours and the Grand Slams.

Rafael Nadal agrees with Tsitsipas calling the current rule prohibiting coaching “a little bit stupid.”

“It’s a little bit stupid that you have a coach traveling for you, with you during the whole season and practicing with you every day, and is a little bit stupid that in the most important moment, he cannot tell you anything,” Nadal said at the US Open. “In my opinion, will be good if the coach can talk.”

Tennis Express

Line-calling technology has improved to the point where the US Open will play without any linespeople this summer. Given linespeople often reported instruction coming from the coaching box in the past will the US Open use technology to bug the boxes for coaching?

Or could we see a future where technology transmits coaching rathern than punishing it? Imagine players receiving tactical advice through an apple watch or ear bud receiving real time coaching on court between points?

Traditionalists, including Roger Federer, say problem-solving is part of tennis and permitting coaching would eliminate a uniquely challenging element of the sport that requires player to serve as both competitor and coach figuing out solutions on court.

Opponents of legalization move say permitting coaching will create an unfair economic advantage too.




While Top 10 players can afford to support a coach or even an entire coaching team, younger players trying to crack the Top 100 often cannot afford to pay a coach. Legalizing coaching would further widen the economic divide betwen the high-earning elites and the rising players trying to break through who can't pay the price for a full-time coach, opponents say.

The fourth-ranked Tstitsipas disputes this argument, writing "Everyone has a coach; it's affordable at this level of the sport."

 

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