It is no secret that, within the world of tennis, some players often take out their frustrations on their rackets. It can be heard from across the court, the smashing, bouncing, or spiking of the racket as it hits the floor multiple times. This seems to be the trend in this year’s Australian Open. Players such as Alexander Zverev, Naomi Osaka, Dominic Thiem, Ryan Harrison, and Daniil Medvedve, are some of the few who have displayed these sudden outbursts.
Many will say that this is a classic display of anger amongst tennis athletes, while others see it as bad modelling, as it makes it seem to other players that it is acceptable behaviour. What many people might not know is that most outbursts can lead to fines up to thousands of dollars or even result in occasionally costing a player a point. So, although this may “seem” like a trend among athletes, it is one that does not come without consequences.
Some would say that this is not good for future young tennis athletes to see, but it could be an important behaviour to consider for other reasons. Former French Open runner-up, Henri Leconte, states that “it’s not good for kids to see, but sometimes, it’s very important to show emotion.” In this light, the racket breaking phenomenon may be seen as a way to relieve stress or as a way to show that these athletes are subject to immense frustration, and anger, as much as the next person.
One study wanted to see if the breaking of rackets was prominent in adolescent tennis players. Researchers wanted to investigate antecedents of norm-breaking behaviours of junior tennis players in relation to set outcomes. They found that players’ outbursts were caused by feelings of stress and frustration over the game and bad calls.
These findings reveal that, although it might be entertaining to watch these outbursts, independent of whether they increase or decrease game outcomes, some players behave this way to release their frustration, enabling them to continue with the game. As simply put by some players, in the heat of the game, sometimes, things like this happen.
FEATURED IMAGE: Alexander Zverev smashing his racquet after his fourth-round match against Milos Raonic at the Australian Open. (Kin Cheung/The Associated Press)