More Than a Grunt

I confess… I am a grunter.  I do release air from my lungs as I hit the ball on serves and groundstrokes.  But what about those players who REALLY grunt loudly – or even add something after that?

What Did He Say?

While watching a tournament singles match, I heard one player exhale loudly after each shot + then seem to say something unintelligible after that.  The umpire was nearby, so I asked him what the rule is on that.

He said that if the opponent says that noise bothers him (especially if it comes on shots that are near the line and could be misinterpreted as an OUT call), then he can claim a hindrance and replay the point.

If it happens again, the Grunter would lose the point.


One friend of mine (and you know who you are) has a grunt on a return of serve that sounds awfully like the word “OUT” — and he knows it.  If challenged, he will let the server replay the point.

But on the pro tour, I think in some cases, the grunting has really gotten out of hand and needs to be controlled.  But how?

What do you think?

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14 thoughts on “More Than a Grunt

  1. I confess also! It’s totally an involuntary response from me. It’s not an extreme grunt, but it’s difficult to try and consciously control it. I actually used to enjoy hearing Monica’s melodic double grunt blended with her opponent’s grunt. lol

    Jim, maybe we should form Grunters Anonymous! george

  2. remember the time monica seles (grunter/squealer supreme) tried to play the wimbledon final (i think it was wimbledon) quietly against steffi graf? what happened there?
    i wonder why hasn’t the USTA made a rule preventing grunting?

    Joe, sooo, you are not going to confess? george

  3. 35. Grunting. A player should avoid grunting and making other loud noises. Grunting and other loud noises may bother not only opponents but also players on adjacent courts. In an extreme case, an opponent or a player on an adjacent court may seek the assistance of the Referee or a Roving Umpire. The Referee or the Roving Umpire may treat grunting and the making of loud noises as hindrances. Depending upon the circumstance, this could result in a let or loss of point.

    Bill, and how many times (in pros or tournaments) have you actually seen that rule enforced?! george

  4. My first experience with LOUD grunting was in the 70’s. We were playing in a tournament in Hampton VA. I played a South American off the team at then Hampton Institute. I had never heard anything like that before and managed the noise. I would like to say that was the reason for the loss but the truth was he was just better!!!
    I think the only way to correct this is long term, start with the juniors and set clear guidelines. I’m afraid this generation is a lost cause?

    Ron, i remember at least five years ago the WTA said that same thing. doesn’t seem to me they ever did start with juniors. george

  5. The same way that serve speed is measured electronically, perhaps they could measure decibels emitted and if the level rises above some pre-determined level there could be loss of the point.
    I do find loud grunting to be distracting to play. Perhaps the pros are so well trained that they learn to ignore the grunting.

    Michael, i am sure they can; just as they can put a timer on the court. thanks, george

  6. I would like to know the umpire’s name. He or she should really read the rule book. It has nothing to do with how closely a ball lands near a line. If an opponent or a player from a neighboring court complains about the grunting being too loud and is disturbing them, the offending player is to be informed of such and instructed that any further loud grunts will be considered a deliberate hindrance, resulting in a loss of point.

    Gerry, I think the umpire was just pointing out the potential impact of the violations. Thanks. Geo

  7. ok. i confess! i ask forgiveness.

    (Joe is confessing to being my unnamed grunting friend. George)

  8. Exhaling vigorously while making contact with a shot has many benefits, not the least of which is having enough oxygen in your system to keep playing a point in a high percentage manner rather than having to go for an all or nothing shot because you just cannot keep hitting another shot patiently. Oxygen deficit creates a panic response which is delayed significantly by regular strong exhalations. The reason it works as every respiration therapist and competent yoga teacher knows is that the important part of breathing is the exhalation. However much air is pushed out of the lungs is replaced effortlessly on the following inhalation. There is no need to make a noise while exhaling strongly BUT you cannot make a strong noise without a strong exhalation. It is the easier way of guaranteeing a strong exhalation on each shot (grunting) but you can train yourself to always strongly exhale without noise. I think that is more courteous to the players around you.

    Winder, when I was a teenager, I was into weight lifting… and critical to heavy lifting was exhaling vigorous and intaking an equal amount of air. Thanks. George

  9. While watching WTA matches on TV, I often have my thumb on the mute button. Sharapova vs Azarenka…always watched those matches sans audio!

    Off topic but relating to watching tennis on TV, I highly recommend the ATP’s app: TennisTV (which I view via Apple TV). For a subscription fee of $99/yr you can watch every ATP tournament (no slams)…all the live matches played on every court, replays, archived classic matches, and more.

    Alan, when those two shreekers play, i always mute it! thanks, george

  10. I, personally, do not see any need for a tennis player to grunt, and/or scream when they hit a tennis ball. In my opinion it should not be allowed. It is annoying (to players and fans alike) and distracting. It is not that exhausting to hit a tennis ball. Do quarterbacks groan and grunt when they throw a pass? Do baseball players do it when they swing or throw a pitch or throw to a base? Do hockey players scream when they shoot a puck?
    It seems to be a habit that can be corrected if required.

    Jim, uhoh, i better try to be quiet when we play!! thanks, george

  11. George;
    I am in favor of all players over 50 being “grandfathered” for their grunting! Hard to teach us old dogs new tricks.

    Jim. Ok, I can relax and Grunt away! Thanks. George

  12. only way to stop the grunt is to outlaw it in the 10s and the suceeding years from then ie never let the new generation grunt in tournaments

    I agree that you have to start with younger players. Thanks. George

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