November 2022 Rules Rule

by Dan Horner, National Rules Commissioner

Headshot of Dan Horner in green shirt.


Q1. Could I get some help on the serve encroachment rule (3.11a)? Is the receiver allowed to run up to the encroachment line in anticipation of the served ball bouncing in the safety zone? For some reason, I thought at one point the rule stated that you could not "time" your breaking the plane with the bounce (been playing a long time).

A1. While what you described is not specifically addressed and thus would be allowed, it has to be done in compliance with both (1) and (2) below.  

Rule 3.11(a)(1) states: "The receiver(s) may not break the plane of the receiving line with their racquet or body until the ball either bounces in the safety zone or else crosses the receiving line. If the receiver steps on the dashed receiving line with either foot (with any part of the foot contacting the line) before either of the two preceding things happen, a point shall be called for the server.”

So as long as they stay behind the receiving line until it bounces or crosses that line AND they never break the short line, they are okay. However, if they are running up to and past the receiving line, I'm guessing they may be crossing the short line, which is a violation and a point for the server.

Q2. Is a ball that bounces and then goes out of play a replay or a side out?

A2. The answer depends on if it was on the serve or during the rally.

If it occurred during the serve, it is a Dead-Ball Serve and the serve is replayed on whatever serve it was (1st or 2nd) without advancing, per Rule 3.8(c).  

If it occurred during a rally, it is a Replay Hinder per Rule 3.14(a)(1) and the rally would be replayed at first serve regardless of what serve they were on.  

Also, I will add that if the ball after hitting the front wall goes out of play “on the fly” without bouncing, then per Rule 3.13(d)(3), it is considered a failure to return and results in their opponent winning the rally.

Q3. [Note: Paraphrased from submitted question]: Can we look into no longer having to wear the wrist cord on the racquet? Injuries have occurred where a player who is falling cannot get the racquet far enough away from their hand because of the wrist cord holding the racquet too close to use that arm/hand to brace themselves. You can’t throw the racquet away from your body to save yourself from injury. Tennis racquets don’t have a wrist cord and racquets don’t fly out of their hands.

A3. You are asking if we can get rid of the requirement of a wrist cord, and the short answer is no. You are correct that tennis doesn't use one, but that is because they are always far away from their opponent so there is zero chance of hitting their opponent with the racquet if it did fly out of (or get flung from) their hands. I liken this to the benefit of wearing a seat belt and the likelihood that the seat belt may give you a bruise if you get into a crash. While that is unfortunate, I would much rather have that than be lying on the ground outside my car. 

National Rules Commissioner Dan Horner welcomes questions from members and will respond timely along with occasionally featuring a few each month in USAR’s Serving Up the News. Write to Dan at, and you may see your questions in a future issue of this newsletter!

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