ITF Beach Tennis rule change – 6m zone

The ITF announced a rule change for men’s matches. Starting from 4th of March 2024, in all ITF Beach Tennis tournaments, the area where male players cannot enter during serves has been increased to six meters. This is a trial for the rest of 2024. Players will be asked for feedback each week to decide if this change will be permanent in 2025. 

Prohibited zone - 6m

The prohibited zone is the area between the net and a line parallel to it. So basically, for women’s and junior matches both prohibited zones (of serving and receiving team) will remain at three meters, and only for ITF men’s matches the prohibited zone for the serving team will be increased to 6 meters (the receiving team will remain at 3 meters from the net). Players cannot enter this area until the ball is in play. It will be checked and interpreted in the same way as the 3m rule and the serve. This means that the player’s feet must be behind the 6m “line” and if other parts of the body cross this line in the air it is tolerated.

ITF Beach Tennis 6m rule

What is the purpose of this test?

This test serves to evaluate the possible permanent rule change for the professional men’s game. The main reason for this test is that the points in professional men’s matches are too short, as a rally usually ends after just a few touches of the ball. Our sport is becoming more and more professional (thankfully!) and so is the training and fitness of the athletes. As the serve and the next shot after the serve is a big advantage for the serving team and the well-known 1-2 combination often occurs as a result, this rule tries to even out the imbalance a little more and give the returning team slightly better chances.

Advantages of this Beach Tennis rule

This rule change should not only bring advantages for the returning team, but also offer even more spectacular rallies for spectators and, above all, make streaming and TV broadcasts even more attractive. This is important so that our sport can attract more sponsors. So you see … this rule change doesn’t just have consequences for the players and the organizers.

 

What do the players think about this change?

So far, opinions differ greatly. However, we can already say that so far the majority (including professional male players) think that this test is a good thing. We already had a very similar situation when we introduced the 3m rule for a testing period a few years ago. At first, the change was met with a lot of criticism: “the 3m doesn’t change anything”, “how is it supposed to be controlled” or “it doesn’t make the rallies longer” etc. But in the end, it’s impossible to imagine matches without this rule nowadays anymore. 


In my opinion, this “6m-test” makes a lot of sense. And if the 6m for the serving team doesn’t change the rallies, then at least we’ve found an answer. In this respect, my motto is … let’s test it, collect feedback and see if the rallies generally get longer … and only then should a decision be made as to whether or not this regulation should be permanently adopted 🤓✌️

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🧐 How does the 6 meter rule work in reality?

Let’s summarize quickly again: For women and junior matches, nothing will change. For ITF men’s matches, the receiving team will continue having the 3 meter no block zone where the feet should not enter this zone before the serving opponent hits the ball … not even in the air for the split step! The 6 meter zone is important for the partner of the server. He is not allowed to be closer than 6 meters away from the net when his partner is serving.

 

Now that we all understand more less what the 6 meter rule is about, the big question is what should it look like in reality? WHEN EXACTLY can the server’s partner start entering the 6 meter zone?

With the help of Michele Cappelletti, who is one of the most successful pro players worldwide, we are trying to understand the different interpretations of this new rule.

Michele Cappelletti ITF Beach Tennis 6m rule
  1. The feet and body are inside the 6 meter zone but not yet touching the ground. This is the case when the serving partner jumps into the 6 meter zone with his whole body for the split step. This is not allowed
  2. The feet are behind the 6 meter line while other parts of the body may be inside the 6 meter zone. This is allowed
  3. The whole body is behind the 6 meter line. This is also allowed

So remember, the player may only move his FEET into the 6 meter zone AFTER the server has hit the ball 🦶. We have also explained this again in a video.

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