Coaching is a mode of communication which can be an advise or instruction that is given by a coach to a student. In professional tennis, if a player is travelling with their coach to a tournament, then the coach can be seen seated in the player’s support box in the crowd.
Off-court coaching is when the coach communicates with the player outside the court. During this time, the player is not playing any professional match. On-court coaching on the other hand is a recent trend wherein players can be coached at certain time periods during a professional tennis match.
There are two ways in which a player can receive on-site coaching – verbal and non-verbal. Verbal coaching is allowed only if the player and coach are on the same side of the court. Non-verbal coaching by hand signals are allowed. However, both these forms of coaching must be short, concise and must not interrupt or hinder the flow of the game.
Players cannot communicate with their coach when they take a toilet break or a medical timeout. But the opponent of this player can engage in a conversation with the coach during this break. Players can also receive coaching when play is suspended for a brief time period. Coaches cannot use any electronic devices to coach their players.
In men’s tennis on-court coaching is allowed in selected sanctioned tournaments by the International Tennis Federation at the ATP Tour and ATP Challenger level events. In women’s tennis on-court coaching is allowed.
In team events of tennis, players can receive coaching from the coach who is seated on-court. This coaching is allowed after a set break or during the change of ends. However, it is not allowed after the first game of each set and during a set tiebreak.
Breaching the code of conduct for coaching or coaches makes the player subject to code violation in accordance with the point penalty schedule. Players can be fined up to $5000 for breaching this code. On-court coaching is one of the debatable topics in tennis. While some believe that such a feature improves the quality of matches and gives a sneak peek into player-coach conversations, some others believe that it takes away the players’ ability as an athlete to come out of tough situations on their own.