Rule Submission TitleAllow coaching
USAP Board VoteFailed
USAP Board Vote ReasonThe current rules on coaching are adequate. The Board is concerned that the proposed methodology will lead to disruption in the flow of the game and will make an already challenging enforcement issue more complicated. Expanding coaching will not improve the sport.
USAP Rules Committee VotePassed with modification
USAP Rules Committee Vote ReasonAllowing coaching between rallies within these prescribed conditions and restrictions will be a net benefit for the sport. The most important of these conditions is that coaching between rallies must not affect the flow of play. That is, coaching must not delay the start of the next rally. The prohibition against coaching is a historical carryover from tennis, which is primarily rooted in the philosophy that, in an individual sport, players are expected to independently recognize when adjustments to their strategy during a match are necessary to prevail over an opponent. At the amateur level, there are millions of new and inexperienced players coming into our game. For amateurs who play competitively, getting help with strategy during a match can improve their play more quickly, provide a better tournament experience and increase their overall enjoyment of the game. That will be good for the sport. At the professional level, the coaching prohibition is largely unenforceable. Even tennis is acknowledging this and has taken initial steps to ease the coaching prohibition. From the officiating standpoint, the change is neutral. Referees will continue to be required to enforce coaching rules. This does not presume to eliminate all of the challenges that exist in regulating coaching. Rather, it provides a manageable basis for allowing coaching in the sport.
Existing Rule #13.G.1.j.
Proposed Rule Change (edited)

Under 13.G: Actions that warrant a TW

13.G.1.j. - Except during time-outs and in-between games, rReceiving coaching from anyone other than a partner during a rally.

Additionally, add the following:

11.Q Coaching: Players are allowed to receive coaching at any time during a match except during a rally (see Rule 13.G.1.j). Coaching between rallies shall not interrupt the flow of the match (see Rule 10.C). Coaching shall be subject to the following restrictions:

11.Q.1 Each player may identify one person to serve as their designated coach. Players shall identify the coach and the coach’s location to the opponents and the referee. Players are allowed to change their designated coach between games. In doubles, both designated coaches are considered the team’s coaches and are allowed to coach both players.

11.Q.2 Coaches shall be positioned outside the playing surface, except at courts that have designated team or coach’s boxes in locations approved by the Tournament Director. In officiated play, coaches and designated team or coach’s boxes shall not be positioned within the imaginary extension of the non-volley zone.

11.Q.3 Designated coaches shall not be allowed to enter the playing surface at any time during the match.

11.Q.4 Coaches shall not assist players in making line calls (i.e., whether a ball is “in” or “out”), making appeals to the referee on line calls or requesting a video challenge. Players must independently make prompt line calls in accordance with Rules 6.D.7 and 6.D.9.

Proposed Rule Change

13.G.1.j. - Receiving coaching from anyone other than a partner during a rally

Legislative format showing the changes to the original rule.

13.G.1.j. - Except during time-outs and in-between games, rReceiving coaching from anyone other than a partner during a rally.

Original Rule Text

13.G.1. - Verbal Warning and Technical Warnings. The referee is empowered to issue a single verbal warning to each player/team or call technical warnings. Actions
or behavior that shall result in a verbal or technical warning:

13.G.1.j. - Except during time-outs and in-between games, receiving coaching from anyone other than a partner.

Reasoning Behind Suggested Change

The game is evolving rapidly and competition at all levels is increasing.  Players are developing and enhancing their physical and mental skills.  Coaching can help with growing those skills resulting in a positive experience for players.  Eliminating the restraint on coaching times can relieve the burden for referees to judge the degree of coaching that could lead to a warning.  This type of warning interrupts the flow of the game and puts the referee in a negative light with players and supporters.  As the facilitator of the game, allowing the referee to assist players in rule compliance will increase their knowledge and result in a more enjoyable experience for all.

Rule Book Year2024
Rule Change ID925
Date CreatedMarch 14, 2023
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