The Hindrance Quiz checks your understanding of the ITF and USTA rules of hindrances. Correct answers are the simple quick answers, not burdened with a barrage of what-ifs or embellished with nuances on the court.
A “yes” means the action was a hindrance, and a point is awarded or re-played. A “no” answer means there was no hindrance and all players should focus on the match and continue playing.
Hindrance : Yes or No?
1. Hat flies off an opponent’s head. Hindrance? Yes or no?
2. Ball falls out your pocket. You nearly trip on it. You stop play. Yes or no?
3. Ball falls out of an opponent’s pocket accidentally. Yes or no?
4. Playing outside, ball hits a bird. Yes or no?
5. A ball from an adjacent court is flying high. You think the opponent is hindered. Yes or no?
1. Hat flies off an opponent’s head. No hindrance. Continue playing.
However, if you are—truly and sincerely—distracted by the unintentional action of a hat flying off and unable to make the shot, don’t attempt a return, and immediately stop playing. Replay the point. The Code #36.
2. Ball falls out your pocket. You nearly trip on it. You stop play. Yes, that’s a hindrance. You lose the point. When you stop playing because of your unintentional act, you lose the point. The Code #36.
3. Ball falls out of an opponent’s pocket accidentally. No hindrance. Play on! It is to your advantage to stay in the point. However, if you are—truly and sincerely—distracted by the unintentional action of an opponent and unable to make the shot, don’t attempt to return the shot, immediately stop play, and call hindrance. Replay the point. And if the ball falls out again? That is a hindrance and you earn the point. The Code #36.
4. Playing outside, ball hits a bird. Yes, that’s a hindrance. A bird flying overhead is not predictable. Re-play the point. International Tennis Federation (ITF) Rule 26. Case 3.
5. A ball from an adjacent court is flying high. You think the opponent is hindered. No hindrance. Keep playing. If you stopped play, it is a hindrance and you lose the point. When a player stops play because they thought the opponent was being hindered, the player loses the point. ITF #26, Case 2.
Hindrance means to stop, delay, or obstruct an action. A hindrance in tennis could be deliberate (loud yelling to distract the opponent), unintentional (shoe falls off once) or a simple stoppage of the game (dog runs on court). A deliberate hindrance results in the loss of a point. An unintentional hindrance and stoppage of play may result in replaying the point or loss of point.
Barbara Wyatt is a Writer, Photographer, USTA Official, and Mobile App Developer of iKnowTennis!, the tennis rules app. Her poem, Ode to Tennis, an amusing poem on the joys and frustrations when learning tennis, is available at Amazon. She can be reached by e-mail at BarbaraW@iKnowTennis.com.