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View Full Version : Serve Foot Fault - It's Common - Watch Your Opponent!


itisgregory
01-10-2009, 12:14 PM
Foot faults are much more common than most players realize. If it is obvious call your opponent out and see how easily it is to win some free points because they will be rattled and start making serve errors.

At the club/recreational tournament level I have seen many players at ALL levels of experience consistently foot fault on each serve and not be called out. I have seen foot faults as egregious as an entire (yes - entire not partial) foot land well inside the baseline WELL before contact with the ball. In this case, a singles opponent can easily see this if they are watching out for it.

The more common foot fault is the foot that clearly touches the baseline WELL before the ball is struck. Those are much more difficult to call in singles and the rules say that if in doubt give the benefit to your opponent. In other words, don't call it.

I CHALLENGE EACH OF YOU TO WATCH YOUR OPPONENT AND I GUARANTEE THAT AT LEAST ONE OF YOU READING THIS POST WILL MAKE THIS DISCOVERY.

EikelBeiter
01-10-2009, 12:43 PM
Where I live it is "not done" to call your opponent on a foot fault. It is hard to notice anyway because you should have your eye on the ball in order to hit a good return. But if you notice the guy foot faulting in a singles match against a team mate, then you still don't say anything really. I suppose you could mention it after the match, but i've never seen that happening either. Once you have a referee though, he will get called on it of course.

Djokovicfan4life
01-10-2009, 12:51 PM
Man, one of the guys in the league that I play in has a major foot faulting problem. He actually steps well over the line with BOTH feet before making contact. I think if we called him on it he probably wouldn't even be able to serve properly, since it's become such a part of his service motion.

wihamilton
01-10-2009, 01:23 PM
Meh this is something you should tell the ref (if there is one) to look for. If there isn't one, I'd probably mention it to my opponent during the change over before I started calling him on it.

I don't really think it's a good idea to look for foot faults when returning. You should be focusing on the tennis ball, not your opponent's feet.

WildVolley
01-10-2009, 01:31 PM
A lot of players at the lower levels grossly foot fault consistently. I tell my players at high school matches to tell a coach.

It's best to give a warning, but if it is egregious after the warning, I have no problem calling it on an opponent. But it can't be close. Some people step a foot into the court before they hit the ball!

Sleepstream
01-10-2009, 01:40 PM
There are times when I'll go to the courts and watch. I see many foot faults from most of the players there, with most being pretty easily spotted faults. This is pretty common within the range of beginners to ~4.5s. I rarely see any foot faults from the college players when they practice.

SourStraws
01-10-2009, 01:43 PM
Man, one of the guys in the league that I play in has a major foot faulting problem. He actually steps well over the line with BOTH feet before making contact. I think if we called him on it he probably wouldn't even be able to serve properly, since it's become such a part of his service motion.

I'd definately call him on that..... Just cause Imo.... It's a bad habit to have in general.

To the OP.... Thanks for making this thread, cause I might be foot-faulting without even knowing it lol...... I dont really mind foot faulting unless the opponent has a significant advantage over me

oneguy21
01-10-2009, 01:49 PM
If I focused on my opponent's feet I'd probably see them foot faulting a lot, but I'm too focused on their toss.

itisgregory
01-10-2009, 10:43 PM
Many of you mentioned that the returner should be looking at the ball toss and not the opponent's feet.

If you suspect an obvious foot fault you should choose to look for it at the risk of taking your eye off of the ball and missing the return. If you catch the opponent faulting you will win back the point simply by "throwing his serve off." Besides most foot faults happen at the under 4.5 level and if you are a good returner then you can actually notice the obvious foot fault and still concentrate on returning the serve. In addition, most player's serve below 4.5 is slow so there is time to react.

Nanshiki
01-10-2009, 10:47 PM
I don't see how you could see their feet that precisely through the net tape, unless you're 6'5" or something.

Also, most foot faults happen so fast you can barely prove it without a camera, unless they're painfully obvious.

BU-Tennis
01-10-2009, 11:12 PM
The problem is that most people aren't thinking about the opponent foot faulting. When starting a match you're mostly focused on your game and strategy and not the other persons faults. And in high school tennis it is illegal for a coach, at least where i live, to tell a player about an opponents faults because they are not allowed to suggest calling a line judge, it is supposed to be purely up to the players. I had this happen to me at a match once. Afterward my parents and coach told me he stepped in about 2 feet before hitting the ball, but i was so concentrated on making a solid return i failed to notice. (It is a good thing i won or i would have been very disappointed that i hadn't noticed).

naylor
01-10-2009, 11:53 PM
I was watching the finals of our top interclub league - both teams were made up of current and past Davis Cup players - and most of the players foot-faulted quite regularly. By this, I mean 2 / 3 serves in every 10 (during their service game). By far the bulk of the footfaults took place in the doubles matches, where the pressure is to S&V. But all the faults were "minor" - foot starting a fraction on or twisting in and onto the line - never actually fully going over the line. Very seldom happened in singles, since very few players played an outright S&V game (even though they were playing on artificial grass). There was a chair umpire, but he didn't see / call any of the faults.

It's relatively easy to deal with in serious "friendly practices". One of my team players used to step the whole of his left foot into the court towards the net as part of his ball toss - when he jumped forward, he'd be at least three feet inside the court at impact. In doubles practices, the receiver's partner actually called footfault the moment he picked up the bouncing ball and was about to start his service motion (literally, as he was stepping inside the court), and the receiver then made no attempt to play the ball if the server continued with the serve. It used to p*** the server off no end, but after a little while he got the message and starter his action a foot behind the service line. Even his own practice partner had little sympathy, because he'd often played on the other side and been on the receiving end of a cannonball fired from inside the court.

But the guy was quite embarrassing in inter-club matches, usually forcing the other captain to tell ours that his players would start calling faults in the doubles and would want a linesman for the singles afterwards (we played doubles, then singles). In many ways, it was lucky that we played doubles first, so there'd be at least two opposition players that would notice it on the court (if for some reason the opposition captain and team were watching the other match) and raise the matter with their captain - and by the time we got to the singles matches, his infringement was under the spotlight so he had to start well behind the service line. Anyhow, the guy never even attempted to change his service action - so after a very short while all team captains stopped picking him for matches... it avoided any potential embarrassment, and also somehow his service was not that effective when launched from three feet behind the baseline...

itisgregory
01-11-2009, 08:55 AM
Nanshiki,
Without a referee, I am only referring to the obvious foot fault. An experienced player who thoroughly understands and knows how to analyze strokes regardless of height can easily spot the obvious foot fault.

MTXR
01-11-2009, 01:06 PM
Every one i play against foot faults like crazy except for 1 player and just shrugs it off and doesn't care.

All of them have some type of pinpoint stance that i noticed who foot fault. The one that doesn't has a platform stance.

Steady Eddy
01-11-2009, 02:17 PM
If "everybody does it" then why care about it? It's probably always been this way in tennis. That means, it will probably always be this way as well. Just enjoy the sport.

NamRanger
01-12-2009, 09:48 AM
I think if you are foot faulting during a casual tennis match, it's ok as long as you aren't blatantly doing it or doing it on purpose. Usually I just let them foot fault a teeny bit anyways, since it won't make a huge difference.



During a tournament however, yes, you should call a ref to watch the player footfaulting.

itisgregory
01-12-2009, 10:10 AM
Steady_Eddy,
First of all "everyone doesn't do it" and secondly, your attitude toward the subject is precisely part of the problem not just about this subject but about many things in life in general.

Your statement is immature at best. I know this must sound harsh but think about what you said. Just because something has "always" been this way does not mean it should continue if it is wrong to begin with.

itisgregory
01-12-2009, 10:11 AM
Yes, in general this statement I will agree with, since the rules do say "...if in doubt give the opponent the benefit..."

sureshs
01-12-2009, 10:36 AM
It is rampant at the 3.5/4.0 level. I start my serve 6 inches away from the baseline to avoid FF, but so many players don't, and FF left and right. It is really unfair because the better servers among them do get an advantage by stepping into the court. If someone points it out, they get upset and lose their serving edge. Many of them have gotten used to the top of the net view which results when stepping in, and cannot reproduce their serve without FFing. So definitely it is helping them in an unfair way.

itisgregory
01-12-2009, 10:50 AM
Sureshs,
I applaud you for voicing these facts and mentioning what I left out of my original post.

Spokewench
01-12-2009, 11:21 AM
I've been playing about 2 years now and I had never had anyone call me on a foot fault nor had my teammates ever noticed that I foot faulted. Then, I was playing in a USTA match and the other team called it to my attention that I had foot faulted several times, but only mentioned it that once. I have never watched myself serve, so I just stepped back a little from the line than I usually do just to make sure that I did not foot fault. It did not affect my serve and now I continue to step back a little from the line to make sure I do not foot fault. My serve is just the same and so far no one has mentioned that I am foot faulting. I think that the other team was just trying to throw me off cause they were having trouble with my serve.

But, to make sure, I moved my foot back a little bit I know I don't foot fault now.

JavierLW
01-12-2009, 12:48 PM
I've been playing about 2 years now and I had never had anyone call me on a foot fault nor had my teammates ever noticed that I foot faulted. Then, I was playing in a USTA match and the other team called it to my attention that I had foot faulted several times, but only mentioned it that once. I have never watched myself serve, so I just stepped back a little from the line than I usually do just to make sure that I did not foot fault. It did not affect my serve and now I continue to step back a little from the line to make sure I do not foot fault. My serve is just the same and so far no one has mentioned that I am foot faulting. I think that the other team was just trying to throw me off cause they were having trouble with my serve.

But, to make sure, I moved my foot back a little bit I know I don't foot fault now.

That's cool.

I know some people who have such bizarre abnormal service techniques with such a low clearance that they depend on the ability to step past the baseline to serve.

I was called for foot faulting by my opponent at a tournament once (which was improper actually because he should of went to go find an official).

I didnt believe I was doing it, or that he even understood the rules (he thought I was foot faulting over the center mark because my foot tended go over it but not touch the ground on the ad court serve).

So I went and got the official myself and said the following. "My opponent is calling foot faults. Perhaps I even am doing it, but I dont trust him enough to call it."

The official came over watched me for a game, said I wasnt doing it (my opponent then argued with the official because HE THOUGHT I was still doing it), and then after that game I was left alone for the rest of the match.

Something to keep in mind if you ever think your opponent is wrongfully calling it on you (if you have that option).

It was a singles match, and like others of said unless it's totally obvious it's unlikely that they can really tell. In doubles when you are at the net it's a LOT more obvious since you are not trying to return the serve.

mba
01-23-2009, 06:07 AM
In doubles, is it a foot fault if the server serves outside of the doubles side line?

raiden031
01-23-2009, 06:23 AM
Steady_Eddy,
First of all "everyone doesn't do it" and secondly, your attitude toward the subject is precisely part of the problem not just about this subject but about many things in life in general.

Your statement is immature at best. I know this must sound harsh but think about what you said. Just because something has "always" been this way does not mean it should continue if it is wrong to begin with.

Well he can follow your approach and give every opponent a hard time since a large number of people do it. That way nobody will want to play with him because he's known as the only stickler about foot faults in his area.

I see it all the time myself. I don't care because in most cases they are just on the line a little bit and I can't see it giving them more than a negligible advantage. I would only have a problem if they were stepping way inside the baseline such as their whole foot is inside. I've only seen this once and it wasn't a league match so I didn't make a big deal. If a ref is there I'm more likely to tell the ref to watch for foot faults, but if there is no ref, I'm unlikely to bother because all it will do is cause tension and make the game less enjoyable for both of us.

split-step
01-23-2009, 06:49 AM
I was called for foot faulting by my opponent at a tournament once (which was improper actually because he should of went to go find an official).

Nobody likes the grammar n@zi but seriously, 'he should of went to go'? Really??

How old are you?

lawlaw
01-23-2009, 07:00 AM
I had a friend that used to play and he would deliberately play his first service game by stepping well inside the court to serve. He did it not to cheat, but to see if his opponent was both paying attention and was

He said that you would be very surprised how few people would make comment due to people not wanting to get confrontational. He was very good on the mental side and used to have the other guy sussed within the first few games. It's a very active, although slightly questionable, way of imposing yourself on the other guy in the early stages of a match.

If you are in a race and the other guy starts a metre ahead on the track, would you let him know? It's pretty much the same thing. They are gaining an unfair advantage by breaking the rules whether they are aware or not.

MadeToTennis
01-23-2009, 07:30 AM
well, I guess is if the chair umpire got him/her or not. Personally I think it is rather hard to watch their feet for foot fault as you have to watch the balls as well/ I mean in sponsored competitions.

JavierLW
01-23-2009, 07:34 AM
Nobody likes the grammar n@zi

Who is the grammer n@zi?

Dont you mean:

"Nobody likes TO BE the grammer n@zi"

I didnt know there was ONE singular grammer n@zi.....

(if there is, apparently it's you, congratulations smart @ss!!!)

Now unless you have something intelligent to add, go troll someone else's thread.

lawlaw
01-23-2009, 07:37 AM
Oh man, the grammatical hole is getting deeper ;)

(and that makes 50!)

Steady Eddy
01-23-2009, 07:41 AM
Well he can follow your approach and give every opponent a hard time since a large number of people do it. That way nobody will want to play with him because he's known as the only stickler about foot faults in his area.

I see it all the time myself. I don't care because in most cases they are just on the line a little bit and I can't see it giving them more than a negligible advantage. I would only have a problem if they were stepping way inside the baseline such as their whole foot is inside. I've only seen this once and it wasn't a league match so I didn't make a big deal. If a ref is there I'm more likely to tell the ref to watch for foot faults, but if there is no ref, I'm unlikely to bother because all it will do is cause tension and make the game less enjoyable for both of us.
Very sensible post. You expressed what I wanted to say. Thank you.

Sleepstream
01-24-2009, 12:54 PM
As I was watching a college match today, foot-faulting still happens. One player foot-faulted at least twice per service game. It wasn't anything obvious, maybe an inch on the line at the most, but it's still a foot fault.

Kevo
01-24-2009, 09:25 PM
I see foot faults all the time as well. I typically don't say anything, but I have on a few occasions when it as pretty bad. One guy actually managed to get both feet on and over the line. Of course once we told him he denied it and we got into a childish argument. Now, unless there is an official who will come and call them, I don't tend to say anything.