Cheating In Junior Tournament

sgrd0q

New User
Hi everyone. For those of you who coach junior players or are parents with junior players - how do you teach your player to handle cheaters?

My son was in an U12 tournament this weekend. First match he won handily. Then he played a boy who would call balls out that were clearly not even close to being out and then argue aggressively every time my son called an out. To the point that my son said, whatever, and let the other kid have his way every single time. So my son stopped trying, just went through the motions and lost. I was unhappy he quit, but I realize he was super upset.

How do you handle those situations? I used to play team sports at his age (not tennis) and typically those disagreements were worked out between the teams - sometimes less peacefully than other times :) - but in an individual sport, and in a new environment (for him) he ended up just shutting down.
 

cortado

Semi-Pro
Can he not just refuse to agree to balls called out that are clearly in?
If they can't reach agreement won't somebody else be forced to watch the match and verify calls?
That or just punch the kid.
 

RiverRat

Professional
I've taken each of the first two suggested approaches. Bottom line: your son needs to get a line judge unless he is enough better to overcome the calls. It's a helluva life lesson that others can be so petty and dishonest.
 
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Cashman

Hall of Fame
Tennis is like that. When you call your own lines, cheaters gonna cheat. Get a line judge if you can. Otherwise all you can do is call them out when it happens, then just shrug and move on.

More of a worry is your son’s submissiveness when his own calls are challenged. He should have more self respect than that.
 

happyandbob

Professional
I used to tell my son that you have to focus on the stuff you can control, which are your effort, your shots, your emotions. If it's out of your control, you have to try to put it out of your mind, but if the kid is making multiple bad calls, to warn the kid that the next bad call and you will call the official over. And then call the official over if it happens again.

That being said, and admittedly it was probably the wrong thing to do, but one time my son was playing U14 against a kid who was calling anything close to a line out. His opponent happened to look up into the viewing area and I caught his eye and shook my head at him. Then I took my iphone out and kept it pointed in his direction looking like I was filming his calls. Miraculously, the calls got better.

It was probably the wrong thing to do as a grown-up vs a kid, but I must admit it made me happy.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
I've not played jr tennis and have only watched a bit of it. But, from what I've heard, cheating in juniors is rampant. I would hope that the vast majority of players are honest.

Let your son know that there will probably always be some bad calls -- some of these are intentional, some are not. If there are only a couple of "bad" calls in a match, your son should learn to accept it. It happens. But....

Many players do not realize that, if your head is turning or your eyes are moving as the ball is bouncing, the ability to make a good / correct call is very poor. This is why trained linespersons are not watching the ball as it is bouncing. Instead, they are fixated on the line with their head and eyes very still = not moving. They get their eyes to the line before the bounces so that they can do this.

Unfortunately, this is often not what happens during play. The head is often turning as the ball is bouncing on your own side. If you haven't gotten your eyes fixated on the line before the bounce, your ability to make a good call is seriously compromised. But, from the perspective of the player who hit the shot, they are usually able to see the bounce without the need for head movement since they are much further away from the bounce event.

Make sure that your son is aware of this so that he is not, unintentionally, making erroneous calls on his side of the court. And this will also let him know why others are sometimes making bad calls -- unintentionally.
 
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SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Ask the tournament desk at the onset, before your son's first match, how to handle blatant cheating. Ask if a ref or linespersons can be called in on a match if your son is faced with a chronic cheater.

 

nyta2

Professional
Hook back then call the line judge.

Don’t get mad. Get even.
admittedly i've done this way back when, as young player (no parents around)...
but as a parent i'd advise
* challenge firmly, but politely...
* if persists, find a judge
* if no judge, find any adult that could act as a judge?
* if nobody, beat them despite the cheating... tell them to think of it as a training modifier,... because clearly they can't beat you without cheating...
in the end it's just tennis, and likely that junior match is just one challenge of thousands to reach their potential
and besides... if it hit the line, it was an accident anyway, so just presume all lines are out.
 

nyta2

Professional
I used to tell my son that you have to focus on the stuff you can control, which are your effort, your shots, your emotions. If it's out of your control, you have to try to put it out of your mind, but if the kid is making multiple bad calls, to warn the kid that the next bad call and you will call the official over. And then call the official over if it happens again.

That being said, and admittedly it was probably the wrong thing to do, but one time my son was playing U14 against a kid who was calling anything close to a line out. His opponent happened to look up into the viewing area and I caught his eye and shook my head at him. Then I took my iphone out and kept it pointed in his direction looking like I was filming his calls. Miraculously, the calls got better.

It was probably the wrong thing to do as a grown-up vs a kid, but I must admit it made me happy.
i kinda like the idea of recording the match, and letting the kid know you're doing it... (even if you're not)
 

MaxTennis

Semi-Pro
I've not played jr tennis and have only watched a little if it. But, from what I've heard, cheating in juniors is rampant. I would hope that the vast majority of players are honest.

Let your son know that there will probably always be some bad calls -- some of these are intentional, some are not. If there are only a couple of "bad" calls in a match, your son should learn to accept it. It happens. But....

Many players do not realize that, if your head is turning or your eyes are moving as the ball is bouncing, the ability to make a good / correct call is very poor. This is why trained linespersons are not watching the ball as it is bouncing. Instead, they are fixated on the line with their head and eyes very still = not moving. They get their eyes to the line before the bounce so that they can do this.

Unfortunately, this is often not what happens during play. The head is often turning as the ball is bouncing on your own side. If you haven't gotten your eyes fixated on the line before the bounce, your ability to make a good call is seriously compromised. But, from the perspective of the player who hit the shot, they are usually able to see the bounce without the need for head movement since they are much further away from the bounce event.

Make sure that your son is aware of this so that he is not, unintentionally, making erroneous calls on his side of the court. And this will also let him know why others are sometimes making bad calls -- unintentionally.
I mean, yeah. Some calls are unintentional and I would let those slide once or twice. But if it's blatant like inside the line (and the smart hooks cheat on the big points like break point and set point), then that's when you have to put the foot down and fight fire with fire.
 

tlsmikey

New User
Have two daughters in junior tennis. It's a rampant problem, one that the USTA have been aware of for years but have done next to nothing about.

My instructions to my daughters are similar to above:
-On first blatant call, challenge firmly. Come to the next and let the opponent know that was a bad call and give them the impression there will be nothing further
-Second call, repeat step one.
-Third call, walk over and ask for a line judge.

As their coach tells them, even if they are cheating it shouldn't be that close if you're the better player. You can put the ball farther inside the lines and still win (especially 14s and under) so don't think too much about it, but do insist on a line judge and make sure they keep coming on court when asked. As others have said, a lot of times it can be unintentional as well. When it starts to occur on game points or break points.....then it gets more interesting.

I've personally witnessed a junior excellence match where on match point a second serve landed in the middle of the box and the opponent called it out after a back and forth game of them hooking each other.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
I think modern society has largely lost the plot. We've become so self-centered that we aren't focusing on things that make a great society - honor, work ethic, altruism. These values are not getting passed down to kids. Rather it's "win at all costs", "if you aren't cheating, you aren't trying", "it's not your fault, it's someone else's", "second place is the first loser"etc.

As a result tennis etiquette and sportsmanship is falling apart. As are other areas of society. Arthur Ashe would be turning in his grave watching modern junior tennis. The gentleman athlete is a thing of the past. Just like the gentleman businessman whose word was his bond.
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
Firstly, you should teach your kid to not change his own calls just because his opponent protested as long as your kid is calling limes fairly. If the other kid is blatantly cheating, he should protest calls a few times and then call a line judge. If a line judge is not available, he has to learn to just play through it and be mentally tough with more of an effort to not hit too close to the lines. I do not support retaliation in the form of cheating back on your own line calls as teaching your kid good sportsmanship is more important than him winning a junior match.

Unfortunately, I’ve found that players who cheat on their own calls are the ones who challenge every close call that their opponent makes. I think they use it as justification in their mind to cheat blatantly by convincing themselves that their opponent is not calling lines fairly also. As an adult, you can avoid these players socially, but have to deal with them in leagues and tournaments. I just look at it as an extra challenge or handicap to overcome and try not to hit too close to the lines. I try not to get angry or stop caring about winning as that is exactly what the cheater is hoping for - that you will use his cheating as an excuse to start tanking the match.

Once your son learns to deal with bad line calls, he will then have to endure the next level of cheating - opponents who call the score wrong at crucial times and argue about it, call let serves if your son hits an ace/winner etc. Unfortunately, life outside of tennis is full of people who skirt rules, etiquette also and competing against them is part of tennis and life.
 

Keendog

Professional
No when the game is rigged the only way to win is not to play the game. It is not something he has to put up with, either get a line judge or if they aren't providing them don't play those tournaments. If you're organising tournies then you know these ****heads are turning up and you need volunteers to moderate and should have enough people around. The reason tournies are rife with cheating is because these guys are so painful they can't get anyone else to play with them so have to enter tournaments.

Advise your kid to stand up for his own calls always and if he doesn't want to play a cheater walk off court, don't give up. Make sure everyone knows why he walked off court.

Lots of people believe tournaments aren't good for young juniors because of this reason and you risk the kids falling out of love with the game.

It's sad, but I find it doesn't really exist within the club environment as your reputation will soon get around, only in comp where you play randoms all the time.
 

Keendog

Professional
Firstly, you should teach your kid to not change his own calls just because his opponent protested as long as your kid is calling limes fairly. If the other kid is blatantly cheating, he should protest calls a few times and then call a line judge. If a line judge is not available, he has to learn to just play through it and be mentally tough with more of an effort to not hit too close to the lines. I do not support retaliation in the form of cheating back on your own line calls as teaching your kid good sportsmanship is more important than him winning a junior match.

Unfortunately, I’ve found that players who cheat on their own calls are the ones who challenge every close call that their opponent makes. I think they use it as justification in their mind to cheat blatantly by convincing themselves that their opponent is not calling lines fairly also. As an adult, you can avoid these players socially, but have to deal with them in leagues and tournaments. I just look at it as an extra challenge or handicap to overcome and try not to hit too close to the lines.
I agree but there is a lot of tennis that could be played outside of tournaments as well, it's not like he has to play tournaments if his son isn't enjoying it, assuming he's not raising novak djokovic II
 

RiverRat

Professional
How do you handle those situations? I used to play team sports at his age (not tennis) and typically those disagreements were worked out between the teams - sometimes less peacefully than other times :) - but in an individual sport, and in a new environment (for him) he ended up just shutting down.
Hey, I've noticed your absence from the discussion and can feel the pain that your son felt and that you felt seeing him shut down. Try not to make too much of this event with him and praise him for not having retaliated. Reassure him that you know he was trying to do the right thing and that that is always the most important. Let him know that in the event it happens again, he'll have this experience to draw from. Ask him what he learned. Let him know that every good tennis player has faced this same situation and that they all learned from it. Most importantly, let him know that you know he can handle these fools because it's obvious he has more strength and integrity than they do.
 

Grip n Rip

New User
I mean, yeah. Some calls are unintentional and I would let those slide once or twice. But if it's blatant like inside the line (and the smart hooks cheat on the big points like break point and set point), then that's when you have to put the foot down and fight fire with fire.
As an adult I'd agree but I think under 12 years old is a probably a bit too young for "it's a dog eat dog world" kind of lesson
 

happyandbob

Professional
Hey, I've noticed your absence from the discussion and can feel the pain that your son felt and that you felt seeing him shut down. Try not to make too much of this event with him and praise him for not having retaliated. Reassure him that you know he was trying to do the right thing and that that is always the most important. Let him know that in the event it happens again, he'll have this experience to draw from. Ask him what he learned. Let him know that every good tennis player has faced this same situation and that they all learned from it. Most importantly, let him know that you know he can handle these fools because it's obvious he has more strength and integrity than they do.
(y) such good advice
 

onehandbh

Legend
No when the game is rigged the only way to win is not to play the game. It is not something he has to put up with, either get a line judge or if they aren't providing them don't play those tournaments. If you're organising tournies then you know these ****heads are turning up and you need volunteers to moderate and should have enough people around. The reason tournies are rife with cheating is because these guys are so painful they can't get anyone else to play with them so have to enter tournaments.

Advise your kid to stand up for his own calls always and if he doesn't want to play a cheater walk off court, don't give up. Make sure everyone knows why he walked off court.

Lots of people believe tournaments aren't good for young juniors because of this reason and you risk the kids falling out of love with the game.

It's sad, but I find it doesn't really exist within the club environment as your reputation will soon get around, only in comp where you play randoms all the time.
Have your kid set up his/her own hawkeye. Set phone's camera at 480 fps, 240 fps or 120 fps (or 500, 250 if PAL country). Change the camera position on every changeover to cover opponents side better.

With social media so important in kids' lives, bring a gorilla pod and mount a camera and record the match. Then when a bad line call happens, pause the camera and review the footage with your opponent. If opponent still does not admit it, then immediately upload the footage and a nice portrait of your opponent to social media.

Warning:
Opponent's blood pressure may temporarily increase.
 

HuusHould

Professional
Otherwise all you can do is call them out when it happens, then just shrug and move on.
Yeah, at least make sure you call there out balls out. I've been generous on the calls against hookers, hoping they might reciprocate and at least call my in balls in, unfortunately it doesn't work that way. I guess you could even reverse the normal benefit of the doubt in your favour. I understand this is difficult in the situation the OP mentioned though. Haha, I think I misinterpreted. Yeah call them out, let them know you think what they're doing is wrong. It's easier said than done, but the truth normally comes out in this game, people like that can't help themselves when the match is on the line and soon get a reputation.
 
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MaxTennis

Semi-Pro
IME with adult rec, the higher one goes past the median [3.0 - 3.5], the less cheating. I see relatively few arguments at 4.5 and almost none at 5.0+. I'm thinking by that time, the cheaters have been weeded out.
The worst case of hooking I've seen was in a league match with 3.0 women. It was catty LOL
 
IME with adult rec, the higher one goes past the median [3.0 - 3.5], the less cheating. I see relatively few arguments at 4.5 and almost none at 5.0+. I'm thinking by that time, the cheaters have been weeded out.
That's my experience too. There are exceptions but I think at 4.5 you have more serious players, who know the rules and like to play by the rules. And it's a smaller fraternity where more people know each other and if you aren't fun to play with you don't get asked to play.
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
I don't entirely disagree with this. Looking back you do regret it if you don't stand up for yourself. Certainly calling a line judge if you have access to one is a good idea. You have to be careful people dont just see your "payback call/s"
I totally disagree. Cheating is compromising on your own values and morals just to win a tennis match. If the small amount of stress put on you by a cheater in a tennis match is enough to make you a cheater yourself, the smallest amount of life stress or the attitude that the system is rigged against you will likely make you go down the crooked path quickly - this is how white-collar and hard-core criminals are made. Use this as a test of your own character and stand up to be true to your values. If you also cheat to win a tennis match, it doesn’t matter who cheated first and you are as bad as your opponent. Standing up for fairness is openly calling him a blatant cheater and telling him to stop - also, say that you will make sure that others hear about how he cheats.

I would support not being over-generous on calls as you might be normally if you run into a blatant cheater, but anything more than that is cheapening of your own standards. I think @MaxTennis is still in his twenties not far removed from his junior days, but he hopefully develops better ethics as he grows up and doesn’t use retaliation as an excuse to make bad line calls.
 
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mcs1970

Hall of Fame
Your kid needs to be firm and fight for what is his. Else folks will always try to cheat. This goes beyond Tennis. Corporate America is also filled with folks trying to claim credit for other’s work If you don’t teach him to stand up for himself you are doing him a disservice.
 

Searah

Semi-Pro
become the alpha.

"no.. it's game now.. my shot was clearly in" --- proceed to pass him the balls for his turn to serve.
or re-adjust the score board to show dominance and keep on playing.

eventually one will roll over or someone will be forced to supervise.
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
Stronger players are taught not only good techniques but good line calling -- don't call unless you are sure.
Also I think stronger players ‘see‘ the ball better, ‘feel’ their shot better and usually know that their shot is out as soon as they hit the ball in 99% of cases. Their advanced opponents likely feel the same way about their own shots. So, I think they know that they can’t fool their opponent by making bad calls - both know that the other one is cheating right away. Plus, the fact that it is a much smaller fraternity of players at 4.5+ levels makes advanced players more worried about keeping their reputation clean. They also have more confidence that they can win without cheating as they feel the outcome is more in their control than a less-skilled player might feel.

In contrast, lower level players hit their shot a foot out, a serve out by six inches and then ask if their ball was really ‘out’ - they seem to have no idea from their ‘feel’ that their shot is out. Also, due to poor anticipation they are often caught in awkward positions while hitting shots near their feet and don’t ‘see‘ fast serves very well either. So, it is not surprising that they have higher doubt on many close balls - the problem is when it is accompanied by the attitude that they will call all close balls out. If they gave the benefit of the doubt to their opponent on close calls where they didn’t see the ball properly, there would likely be no ‘hooking’ issues at lower levels also.
 
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HuusHould

Professional
I totally disagree.
All I'm saying is that I don't entirely disagree with what MaxTennis said, it's hardly saying I agree with it. I also advocated exercising caution if you are going to give any "close calls" against your opponent. I mean in the end you're not really playing tennis if both players are hooking. I'm just saying I understand if someone does try to level the playing field so to speak.
 
I think we need to differentiate cheating vs general bad calls. My son was playing with this 12 year old and for two consecutive serves my son's second serves were out by 6 inches and the 12 year old didn't call them out. Kids are just bad with line calls. Squat down to their eye level and try to call balls in/out yourself. I tell my son to play everything close to the line and don't call them out unless he is 100 sure. People need to remember, chances are your kids are not going to go pro, stop worrying about a bad call here and there.
 
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BallChaser

New User
I think we need to differentiate cheating vs general bad calls. My son was playing with this 12 year old and for two consecutive serves my son's second serves were out by 6 inches and the 12 year old didn't call them out. Kids are just bad with line calls. Squat down to their eye level and try to call balls in/out yourself. I tell my son to play everything close to the line and don't call them out unless he is 100 sure. People need to remember, chances are your kids are not going to go pro, stop worrying about a bad call here and there.
Good parenting advice.
Also serves and shots coming at you are difficult to call even for adult players, because the incoming ball may hide a gap between the line and the ball.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
@giantschwinn
Good parenting advice.
Also serves and shots coming at you are difficult to call even for adult players, because the incoming ball may hide a gap between the line and the ball.
Not just that but, for balls that are very close to us, it traverses our field of vision much too quickly for our eyes to accurately see / track. Our smooth pursuit tracking system simply cannot keep up for a ball that is in very close proximity. This is why you almost never see the ball actually on (or close to) your stringbed.

The other issue, a very important issue, is the one I mentioned in paragraphs #3 and #4 of post #8.
 
@giantschwinn

Not just that but, for balls that are very close to us, it traverses our field of vision much too quickly for our eyes to accurately see / track. Our smooth pursuit tracking system simply cannot keep up for a ball that is in very close proximity. This is why you almost never see the ball actually on (or close to) your stringbed.

The other issue, a very important issue, is the one I mentioned in paragraphs #3 and #4 of post #8.
Furthermore, some people grossly overestimate their visual acuity [usually in their favor].
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Furthermore, some people grossly overestimate their visual acuity [usually in their favor].
True, true. Both static and dynamic visual acuity. But acuity is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to vision & visual skills required for optimal sports performance.

Visual skills are actually both optical and cognitive in nature. It includes skills such as hand-eye-body cooordination, smooth pursuit tracking, saccadic tracking, vigilance, peripheral vision, peripheral awareness, subliminal awareness, reaction time (visual processing), cognitive inhibition (the ability to tune out distractions or irrelevant stimuli), quick shift of visual focus near/far, convergence accuracy, etc. These sites include some other visual requirements for sports:
 

tlsmikey

New User
I've posted this before, but it's worth a read.

SI article on cheating in junior tennis

If SI is covering it, you know it's gotten bad. The real question in my mind is do we want to continue to have tennis as pretty much the only junior sport where the kids make their own line calls? I'd say no, and that as a parent if you asked me to cough up another $20/tournament to have one ref for every couple of courts....I'd do that. Perhaps in the long run technology will solve this with an automated line call system. In the meantime, we're stuck with USTA taking our money and doing nothing.
 

big ted

Hall of Fame
Hook back then call the line judge.

Don’t get mad. Get even.
id never do it because i was never that competitive or ballsy enough lol
but courier said thats what he did in the juniors on the next point
if someone hooked him... then he would say something like "do you still want to play like this?"
 

MaxTennis

Semi-Pro
id never do it because i was never that competitive or ballsy enough lol
but courier said thats what he did in the juniors on the next point
if someone hooked him... then he would say something like "do you still want to play like this?"
Yes, I mean, I would only do this if this was an obviously in ball (like inside the line). If it's close, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt for a few calls.
 
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