The Foot Fault Rule

It’s USTA league season again (well, when isn’t it?). And one of the most missed/ignored rules is the foot fault. Here’s a reminder from Sheila Banks, Director of Adult/Senior Recreation USTA/Pacific Northwest, reminding players of the foot fault rule and how to handle a team that is committing foot faults:

Please pass this on to your Captains as I have received concerns that many players are footfaulting during their matches.

Foot Faults are considered cheating and at no time to be allowed. Here is the description of a Foot Fault as well as how to handle it in an unofficiated match. We have allowed Court assistant to help out in these cases and they may be spectators or additional team members. Once the individual comes to the net, the person should not make a call unless a player appeals to the court assistant.

Friend at Court – Foot Fault p.15

During the service motion, the server shall not:

  • Change position by walking or running, although slight movements of the feet are permitted or
  • Touch the baseline or the court with either foot or
  • Touch the area outside the imaginary extension of the sideline with either foot or
  • Touch the imaginary extension of the centre mark with either foot

And for reference:

Code p. 54/55

Footfaults: A player may warn an opponent that the opponent has committed a flagrant foot fault. If the foot faulting continues, the player may attempt to locate an official. If no official is available, the player may call flagrant foot faults. Compliance with the foot fault rule is very much a function of a player’s personal honor system. The plea that a Server should not be penalized because the server only just touched the line and did not rush the net is not acceptable. Habitual foot faulting, whether intentional or careless, is just as surely cheating as is making a deliberate bad call.

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  • tennisboy

    I've had the opposing team use a one time in the match shift at a critical point (in a tie breaker) and step to the right across the center mark when serving to the ad court thus pulling me, the returner, out of position and into his partners court and winning the point. Too late to “warn” of what I saw as a foot fault. Match over. Can I just call a foot fault at that point and say play two?

  • tennisboy

    I've had the opposing team use a one time in the match shift at a critical point (in a tie breaker) and step to the right across the center mark when serving to the ad court thus pulling me, the returner, out of position and into his partners court and winning the point. Too late to “warn” of what I saw as a foot fault. Match over. Can I just call a foot fault at that point and say play two?

  • Anyone can call a footfault; you don’t have to give a warning. The Code exists to provide clarification on how to implement the call in various situations, but the rule is clear and all players know about it. When your opponent does it, just call it. Don’t play two, it was a fault, after all.

  • Fredrick Pearce

    HahaHa, I love this! I always knew a foot-fault was a foot fault. I now live where (Philippines) everyone faults, and to mention it would just cause major upheaval within the “club”. Lol, I’m serious, while starting the serve, walking and taking steps into the court, EVERYONE!
        I think I’ll ask that the opposing team “forfeit” today just to have the argument. Thanks again.