I am wondering what is the reason a player is not allowed to damage their racquet on purpose, assuming they have another to play with.

I can see why such behaviour would be discouraged, but why is there a specific rule regarding it? Assuming the player does not present a danger to anyone, how is that different from kicking a bottle or throwing a bag on the floor etc...?

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    In addition (this is a guess) -- the idea behind a lot of rules and customs in tennis would be to promote a general atmosphere of good sportsmanship. Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 17:08

4 Answers 4


Racquet abuse is not the only offense that can lead to a point penalty in tennis. Kicking a bottle, throwing a bag, or using profanity will often lead to a warning from the chair umpire, if not a point penalty (depending on the number of offenses committed that match). These rules are in place to uphold the integrity and professionalism of the game and to ensure that players follow a certain code of conduct. They are analogous to technical fouls in basketball for yelling at a referee or throwing the ball.

To an extent, they also serve to protect offender's opponent, onlookers, and any officials. Smashing or throwing a racquet can create a safety hazard for those in the area. In addition, tirades can quickly escalate.


From my personal experience, it can be a distraction for the opponent. She / he might already be totally focused on the next point, and an opponent destroying his racket will not only be noisy, but also take extra time to get ready for the next point.

Also, smashing a racket into to ground could damage some types of courts, e.g. clay or grass, which could potentially be dangerous.


It's known as 'Gamesmanship' and was long ago described in a book of the same name. The idea is to psychologically disturb your opponent and so cause them to lose focus, put them off their game.

John McEnroe was infamous for racquet abuse, and yelling abuse at the umpire, and he was believed to do this only to upset his opponents.

American athletes at the Olympic Games in the 1980s were accused of gamesmanship by arriving late and slowly to the starting line, taking a long time to get settled, looking around at the crowd etc. Behaving like they 'owned' the event. This made the other contestants angry, made them lose focus - and the race.

So now there are rules against this kind of manipulation of the opponent's mood.

  1. It is disrespectful to the sport.
  2. It takes the focus away from the match.
  3. Gamesmanship, a dirty trick.
  4. Broken pieces can injure anyone.
  • Are you able to provide some references to support any of the points you've made here? In general, Stack Exchange is looking for answers which represent a consensus view of a subject, rather than personal opinions on a subject.
    – Philip Kendall
    Commented Jan 20, 2022 at 19:12

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