Monday, February 7, 2011

Egregious foot faults

I don’t know what it is, but foot faulting has become practically an epidemic among men that play ALTA.  This past weekend, nearly every one of our opponents was guilty of this sin, even on their second “power puff” serves.

You may feel that this is not a big deal, that foot faulting is just a bad habit.  But actually it’s no different than any other form of cheating.  During practices you may have heard one of your teammates say about a shot that was close to the line “on Saturday that would have been out” or convey the adage “when in doubt it’s out” as a philosophy for match conduct.  In fact, I heard one of my opponents this past Sunday – in an otherwise very congenial match – tell his partner to call the next close one “out” after she played one of my close-to-the-line shots as “good” and they subsequently lost the point.  This, of course, is cheating.  A ball that’s 99.9% out is in; read the code.

But foot faulting is cheating also, especially when it gains the server an advantage – a bigger, harder-to-return serve or a step or two closer to the net in preparation for the next shot.  Now I’ve played against men whose serve was a “patty cake” and their foot faults gained them no advantage because they didn’t follow their serves to the net.  Doesn’t matter, it’s still cheating.

The rules state that you can warn your opponent about their foot faulting, and subsequently call foot faults, but in my experience that makes for a very unpleasant morning (or afternoon) of competitive tennis because those that foot fault act as if you’re attacking their character when you point it out.  I don’t know what it is, but the most aggressive hotheads I’ve ever encountered on the tennis court are those that foot fault.  In fact, I’ve played entire matches with unpleasant individuals without even noticing their foot faulting only to be told by a teammate afterwards that they were egregious “foot faulters”.

ALTA has tried to address this on at least a couple of occasions recently in their Net News magazine, but it hasn't seemed to have stemmed the problem:  during this winter’s mixed doubles season, I’ve witnessed more men that foot fault than I have in 10 years of playing ALTA; it’s become more widespread than ever and it needs to stop.


  1. I noticed the same thing with a men's pair my team played against this weekend, hence the search that lead me to this article.
    It's a real shame that you can't actually call anyone on it without making yourself into an object of ridicule. We mentioned to our teammates that were playing the offenders while they were off court after the 2nd set (in a legal way - no instructions, just a conversation about foot fault rules) and they didnt mention it to the offenders at all. One player crossed the baseline with his HEEL on both serves, both sides. The other was legal from the deuce court but stepped entirely over the center line for his serves from the ad side before jumping to hit the ball.
    How can you possibly bring it up without being the bad guy? it's so frustrating...

  2. Yeah, I tend not to mention it if I notice it because it usually ruins my whole morning/day if I do. We "rules keepers" are the bad guys in a society that tries to excuse everyone's faults;-)