Why Do Tennis Players Smash Their Rackets? (& Consequences) (2022)

When you watch tennis, you can see that a lot is going on in the player’s heads. You will see joy, doubt, confusion, anger, frustration, and everything between. When things are on the negative side of the emotions, things can get rough. Many times, this will mean outbursts such as smashing a tennis racket.

So, why do tennis players smash their rackets? Tennis players smash their rackets because of anger or frustration. These emotions can be towards themselves for failing an important play, the opponent too skilled to beat or disliked, or the umpire for making an unpleasant judgment.

That being said, the emotions causing the players to break their rackets in tennis are always associated with negativity such as frustration or anger. Nobody will break their racket if they are happy and winning the game.

Now, there are generally three targets frustration and anger can be pointed to. These are yourself, the opponent, and the umpire. Let’s learn more about these and why they can cause the player to lose control and smash or break the racket or behave aggressively.


  • Three Reasons Why Tennis Players Smash Their Rackets
    • 1. Frustration Towards Themselves
    • 2. Anger Towards the Opponent
    • 3. Anger Towards the Umpire
  • What Happens When You Break a Racket In Tennis?
  • What Happens If Your Racket Gets Accidentally Broken In Tennis?
  • Which Tennis Player Has Broken the Most Rackets?
    • Marat Safin
    • Serena Williams
  • My Favorite Tennis Equipment

Three Reasons Why Tennis Players Smash Their Rackets

Out of these three people, you can target anger and frustration; yourself is probably the worst feeling as there is nobody to blame other than yourself. At least that’s how I feel, so let’s start there.

1. Frustration Towards Themselves

The most common and understandable reason to smash a tennis racket is frustration towards yourself. It’s only natural to beat yourself up and get discouraged when you can’t gain the upper hand.

In tennis, this always starts with little steps. For example, after a couple of missed swings, you can start talking trash about yourself in a small voice. When the match proceeds and the failures continue, it can ultimately result in an outburst of emotions.

When you are at a point where you can’t control yourself, it often will lead to physical outbursts as well, which in this case, is smashing the tennis racket on the field. Nearly always, the smash is accompanied by curse words and gestures.

In tennis doubles, the frustration can also be targeted at a teammate. However, this kind of frustration rarely ends up with an aggressive racket smashing as it would be the ultimate disrespect and would make it very uncomfortable for the teammate. Nobody wants that.

2. Anger Towards the Opponent

Anger towards an opponent is also a big chunk of tennis racket smashes. If you have ever watched a professional tennis match, the atmosphere is quite tense compared to virtually any other sport. The crowd is silent, and the bounce of a ping pong ball echoes on the field.

This can lead to a lot of tension and stress, which can cause an outburst when things go south, especially when you and/or your opponent won’t like each other one bit. This can lead to unsportsmanlike behavior such as gestures or even violent behavior, leading to serious punishments.

3. Anger Towards the Umpire

When the game is fierce, and the points are tied, it can bring up emotions to the surface. Naturally, each player strives for victory, but when an umpire makes an unfair judgment, it can cause inappropriate behavior towards the umpire even when it isn’t.

Umpires can make the wrong decisions, which will often get sorted out by the chair umpire or a discussion between many umpires. This takes a bit of time, giving the player time to cool off.

However, in most cases, the player shouts to the umpire because they are about to lose a point, which isn’t wanted.

Sports can do weird things to the mind, which can be seen in other sports. For example, soccer players famously fake injuries, ice hockey players will straight upbeat each other, and football players will occasionally headbutt others without a helmet to challenge the other team players.

What Happens When You Break a Racket In Tennis?

All things considered, the players can’t just rampage on the field where there are children, astonished fans, awkward opponents or teammates, and angry umpires. There must be consequences, so what are they?

When you intentionally break a tennis racket, you usually will be given a warning. However, further punishments include lost points, expensive behavior fees, and disqualification from the game. Rackets smashed due to frustration towards yourself are more understandable than the opponent or umpire.

It also depends on the umpire what will happen to the racket smasher. Generally, when you smash a racket due to frustration on yourself and break the racket with one or couple of hits on the ground, the umpires look the other way or give a warning at most.

However, if the aggressive behavior continues, the player will lose a point, game, or even a set depending on the behavior severity and the umpire’s judgment. In extreme cases, the player will be disqualified, awarding an automatic victory to the other player that could behave.

Racket abuse will also mean considerable fines, including the cost of that broken racket on the sponsors or player itself. The fees are quite considerable. In the ATP, the racket abuse fine will be $500. However, in the ATF, the fine can be up to $2500, which is something to think about before smashing a racket.

Another thing you should know about the fines is that the racket won’t need to break to be punished with a considerable fine. The ATP rules state this as follows;

”Players shall not violently, dangerously or with anger hit, kick or throw a racquet or other equipment within the precincts of the tournament site. For purposes of this rule, abuse of racquets or equipment is defi ned as intentionally, dangerously and violently destroying or damaging racquets or equipment or intentionally and violently hitting the net, court, umpire’s chair or other fi xture during a match out of anger or frustration”.
”Violation of this section shall subject a player to a fine up to $500 for each violation. In addition, if such violation occurs during a match, the player shall be penalized in accordance with the Point Penalty Schedule”.

That being said, it’s better not to smash rackets don’t the field, at least regularly.

Oh, and racket abuse isn’t the only punishable act player can make on the field. For example, verbal abuse, visual abuse, ball violation, and even the lack of effort can be punishable.

What Happens If Your Racket Gets Accidentally Broken In Tennis?

Tennis rackets are equipment like any other, so they will break sooner or later. What happens when your racket breaks unintentionally during a tennis game?

Generally, when a racket gets broken during a tennis game for natural causes, the point is replayed after a replacement racket has been acquired. However, if a racket gets broken by smashing out of anger, warnings, fines, lost points, and even a disqualification can be given.

So, if the racket breaks during a game because it’s the racket’s time to break, the game is paused, and the player leaves to court to get a replacement.

The most common reasons tennis rackets break during a game are wrong contact points with the frame or a string snap because of improper string tension or worn-out strings.

Related: What To Do With Old Tennis Rackets? (5 Great Ideas)

Which Tennis Player Has Broken the Most Rackets?

Marat Safin

Marat Safin is the undisputed champion of racket smashing in tennis. The short-tempered player has seen smashing the racket many hundreds of times. The former World No.1 Russian tennis player didn’t know the exact amount of broken rackets in his career.

However, his sponsor, the HEAD company, sent him a snowboard as a retiring gift with 1055 carved on it, which he revealed in an interview with ESPN. That’s the exact amount of racket he broke in his career.

Check out the collection of Safin’s racket smashes accompanied by some joyful electronic music.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams is the most famous woman tennis player in today’s world. In addition, she is the top-ranked player on the WTA rankings, only behind Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova, making Serena the world’s third most successful woman tennis player of all time.

However, Serena Williams is the No.1 tennis player in racket smashing when looking at the women league. She has given us many thrilling racket-smashing occasions such as the ones below.

Read also:

My Favorite Tennis Equipment

Thanks for reading this article. I hope it brought you great value that you can implement into your own life! Below you’ll find my top tennis equipment recommendations would like.

  • Racket: My preferred tennis racket is the Wilson Ultra 100 V3. This racket is made from graphite and carbon fiber, making it durable, firm, and easy to swing. The racket weighs 300g, making it lightweight yet not too lightweight to generate power. The racket’s main benefit is power. I like to add multifilament strings to the racket, such as Wilson NXT Soft 16 (recommended tension 52lb/23.5kg), because they are comfortable and soft on the arm with a great feel to the game.
  • Tennis balls: Best tennis balls are always pressurized, and I like them having extra-duty felt, which is fit for hard court play. I like Penn Championship Tennis Balls, and so does the ITF because these balls are approved for competitive play. So yes, these are the real deal.
  • Tennis shoes: I can’t stress enough the importance of comfortable and supporting shoes. ASICS Gel-Resolution 8 tennis shoes are unique because the balance between durability and support mixed with comfort is something out of the ordinary.
  • Fan Equipment: If you’re a fan more than a player, you don’t want to miss Fan Equipment by Fanatics. You can find items from various sports that bear your favorite team’s logo, such as jerseys, gift ideas, or other surprising things.

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