Gummiarm Rule Introduced in Scottish Open
Date: 2002-08-07


The management of the Scottish Open racketlon championships (to be held this weekend) announced earlier this week that a modification of the racketlon rules will be tested in Scottish Open. Present racketlon rules dictates a replay to 5 points in each sport in case of a draw after the first four sets. If the match is still undecided there is another identical replay... and another... until the match is decided. The new rule proposes a simplification of the draw situation as follows:

The reason behind why the server only gets one chance is obviously to off-set his serving advantage.

This change has been discussed for some time in the racketlon community and if this Scottish Open test turns out well it will be introduced into the official racketlon rules and applied in Gothenburg Racketlon World Open in November.

Here is a summary of the analysis that preceeded this change:


Arguments FOR

Simplification. This is the main argument for this single point rule. At present the length of a match that needs to be decided through replay(s) are increased considerably, causing delays in time schedules and headaches for tournament managements.

Drama. The proposed rule will make for a highly interesting climax of a tight match. It is sometimes referred to as the "Gummiarm Rule" (a term coined by Scottish Open manager Phil Reid). Gummiarm is Swedish for "rubber arm" referring to the occasional behaviour of the arm holding the tennis racket at the time of ball impact when nerves are tightly strung - as will most likely be the case when this rule is applied. There is no escape. The winner of the Gummiarm Single Point is the winner of the match.


Arguments AGAINST

There are a few arguments that have been brought forward against the new rule but none of them is arguably strong enough to off-set the positive side. Here goes:

"Advantage for tennis specialists". True, since the gummiarm single point is played in tennis, tennis players will have a better chance to win it. But tennis players often argue that they are disadvantaged by the fact that the tennis set is played last in a racketlon match (and thereby affected by the fatigue incurred during the other games and the nerves associated with the end-game). So, the single point advantage could be thought of as a bit of a well-deserved compensation for the tennis specialists. But since this is a matter of only one single point deciding the whole match implying much gummiarm psychology the emphasis is also on psychological strength which gives the non-tennis specialist a fair chance.

"Too much chance". It is true that chance will play a big role when the winner is decided by a gummiarm single point. But does that really matter much after four full-length racketlon sets that still have not been able to decide a winner? Surely, a single point is better than drawing lots. And the other alternative to play more points would necessarily involve the other sports as well in order not to advantage the tennis specialists too much - and then we are back at the disadvantages of the present rule.