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American Hand Tennis

American Hand Tennis is a new sport created by Duncan Hurd from Harrison, Cumberland County, Maine, in the Summer of 2020. American Hand Tennis is a very fast-paced sport. It is similar to tennis, except that instead of using a racquet, you have to catch the ball and toss it back, underhand. You play on a tennis court inside of the rectangle made by the service line and the inside of the doubles sideline. Most regular tennis rules apply, except that you play best 2 of 3, first one to 11 points, and you have to win by 2.

Equipment Required: Tennis court, net, tennis ball(or any other ball really. Just, tennis balls work best for this game)


Section I - Pregame Rules:

I a.) Can be played with either two or four people.

I b.) At least one ref required for tournament/league play, two refs required for tournament championship games.

I c.) If playing with two people, court dimensions are 21ft. x 27ft. on both sides(you play in the two small boxes inside of a regular tennis court).

I d.) Coin flip determines who starts with the serve. The person who wins the flip decides whether they want to start with the serve, or pick their side of the court. The person who loses the flip gets to choose the opposite of what the winner chose. 

I e.) For tournament/league play, each match is best 2 out of 3(except for championship games, which are best 3 out of 5), and each game is first one to 11 points. You must win by two points, regardless of how high the score goes.

Section II - Serving Rules:

II a.) The serve has to land on the opposite court's box across from where the server starts.

II b.) The server has to serve from outside and behind the playing field in the doubles rectangle on a normal tennis court. This is the serving box. You can serve from either side.

II c.) The serve has to bounce once before the returner can toss the ball back, and the serve must follow tossing rules or it is considered a fault.

II d.) The serve must be tossed underhand. No other throwing motion is allowed. Windmill throws are allowed though.

II e.) The server has two tries for a legal serve. They can only fault once. If they fault twice, it results in an infraction. The opposing player gets a point, and the serve.

Section III - Returning Rules:

III a.) Before the serve, the returner must be opposite of the server and they must be behind the main playing court.

III b.) Once the ball is served, the returner must toss the ball back following the tossing/throwing guidelines.

III c.) While returning the ball, there must be no extra steps taken. Players must return the ball as quickly as possible. When you catch the ball, you have to toss it back in a fluid motion that doesn't take unnecessary steps, and the transfer/motion should be smooth. See motion rules. Infractions like this will result in a penalty. Refer to infraction rules.

III d.) You can catch the ball in the air with no bounce as long as it is not on the serve.

Section IV - Tossing/Throwing Rules:

IV a.) While tossing the ball back on a return, it must have an upward trajectory, and it must be tossed underhand. If it has a downward trajectory or is thrown overhand, it results in an infraction.

IV b.) Upon returning the ball, it must be thrown underhand. But, there is some leeway on the amount of angle in the toss. The ball must be tossed back below a 45° angle. This may change depending on the person reffing the game. Calls on the field regarding a throwing infraction/illegal toss are entirely up to the ref's discretion. They decide the call on the field. Refer to infraction rules.

IV c.) If there is a twisting motion in the arm within the toss motion, then that is allowed as long as you release the ball below a 45° angle.

IV d.) Fake tosses and trick tosses are allowed as long as they abide the tossing/throwing rules, and the returning rules regarding motion and transfers(fakes/tricks have to be one fluid motion, can't be jerky). If the fake/trick looks like it doesn't follow the tossing/throwing/returning rules, then the ref can make a call on the play and halt the game. See infraction rules for more information about ref calls.

Section V - Infraction Rules:

V a.) If there is one ref and the call on the court is an infraction, then the play halts and is reset. The person opposite of who committed the infraction gains a point and the serve if they didn't have it before.

V b.) If there is more than one ref and the call on the court is an infraction, then the play halts. The refs will confer about the call on the court, and they must come to a unanimous decision. If the call on the court stays after the conference, then the player who committed the infraction loses the serve, and the opposing player gets the serve, plus a point. If the call is reversed, then the play is reset and the game continues. If the refs cannot agree upon the call, then the play is reset and the game continues with no penalty.

V c.) If a player does not agree with a call that a ref or refs make, then they can ask for clarification from the ref, but in the end, the ref's decision is final. 

Section VI - Tournament Rules:

VI a.) In a tournament setting, if somebody gets injured or something comes up and they cannot be there, there are rules that apply in the tournament. If somebody gets injured then they will be out of the tournament and they will lose the next game(s) they have.

VI b.) In a tournament/league setting, each player/side gets three timeouts per match. Timeouts should last about a minute. Any player can call a timeout, but they can only call it after the current play ends and before the next play starts. The play starts once the ball has left the server's hand. So, a player could call a timeout while the server is in motion. If they do, the play is called dead and it resets after the minute long timeout. 

Section VII - Motion Rules:

VII a.) When a player catches a serve or toss, if they are in motion they can continue the motion while tossing the ball back. If they aren't in motion when they catch the serve/toss, then they can take a step.

VII b.) Holding onto the ball while in motion for too long can result in an infraction. It shouldn't take more than 3 seconds to toss the ball back. But, in the end, this holding infraction call is up to the discretion of the ref. 

Section VIII - Ball Rules:

VIII a.) If the ball is tossed or served and it hits the net, it is in play.

VIII b.) If the ball is tossed or served and it hits a line, it is in bounds. You must play the line.

VIII c.) If while trying to catch the ball you fumble it a little, it is allowed. But, you must gain possession of the ball as soon as possible, and make sure that when you toss it back you are in legal motion.

VIII d.) You must catch the ball on your side of the court at all times. The net divides the court. 

VIII e.) You have to have possession of the ball for a toss back to be legal. To have possession of the ball, the ball must be in your hand, motionless. This doesn't restrict arm movement. As long as the ball itself is still and in control, it is legal.

VIII f.) If the ball bounces off of your chest and you trap it against it or catch it, it is legal. But, if the ball bounces off of anywhere below the belt or above your neck and you catch it, the play is dead. But, if you trap it against any of those parts, then it is legal and the play continues. The unique situation should not take a huge amount of time either.

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