Single Toss.

In an effort to come to terms with an imperfection in the present racketlon rules the IRF today makes official that the so called "Single Toss Rule" will be tested during a period of at least 3 tour events (including the recent Swedish Open). The new rule reads as follows:


The Single Toss Rule

The initial order of serving, receiving and ends in each of the four sports shall be decided by one single toss before the match starts, according to the following two procedures of choice:

1) Before the match starts the four sports are allocated between the two players (two sports per player) as follows:

a) The winner of the single toss decides whether to start choosing sport or require his opponent to do so.

b) The player, who starts choosing (player A) chooses one sport in which he gets "first choice". Then the other player (player B) chooses two sports in which he gets first choice leaving the remaining fourth sport to player A.

2) Before play begins in each sport the player who has "first choice" in that sport may choose to start or receive first or to start at a particular end. The other player shall have the remaining choice.


The second of these two procedures contains nothing new. The novelty with the new rule lies in how it is decided which player gets "first choice" in each of the four sports; According to the present rules it is done by means of a toss before each sport. With the Single Toss Rule it is instead done by means of an allocation of sports (procedure 1) before the match.

The new rule addresses a problem in the present rules that has become known as "the unfair lucky tosser advantage", which refers to the fact that someone that wins each of the four tosses before each set will gain an unfair advantage. In fact, many players feel that it is enough to win the serve in both table tennis and tennis to get this unfair advantage since it is often considered a big advantage to serve in these two sports while the situation is less clear in the other two. Although it may be argued that a toss can never be unfair many players feel that the influence of it should be kept at a minimum while increasing the chances that the winner of the match will actually be the best racket player (and not the luckiest tosser). The Single Toss Rule does exactly that. When the choices have been made it is even often not clear which of the players that got the best deal, irrespective of who won the toss.

It might be argued that the Single Toss arrangement also contributes to the game in its own right through being an interesting tactical mind game since there are a multitude of aspects on choosing side or serve. Furthermore, it can be said to offer an "integrated" way to attack the lucky tosser advantage problem in "true racketlon spirit" - i.e. rather than to try and achieve perfect fairness in each of the four sports it aims at achieving fairness in the over-all racketlon match. The Single Toss forces players to compare advantages across sports - e.g. a serving advantage in tennis might be balanced against a side advantage in badminton etc. This is in line with Racketlon philosophy. (Racketlon is not just combining four different sports. Racketlon is a sport in its own right.)

...but let us not overdo it; The simple normal case will probably be that one of the players gets to serve in table tennis and the other gets to serve in tennis - and that the remaining choices are left without much attention.

The IRF decision means that tour event organisers are recommended to apply the Single Toss Rule as of immediately. In line with the IRF policy of "Rules Flexibility" on the 2005 tour organisers are free, however, to deviate from this recommendation. But participants should be adviced that if not explicitly stated otherwise, the Single Toss Rule, as defined above, applies. A final IRF decision on whether to incorporate the Single Toss Rule into the official Racketlon rules is expected after it has been tested at three tour events.

Magnus Eliasson. Not a big fan of leaving anything to chance
and consequently an advocate of the Single Toss Rule.
(Photo: )


For comparison, the rules corresponding to the Single Toss Rule in each of the four individual sports are listed below. Note that all four sports make use of a toss that appears only once, i.e. a single toss, followed (in all cases but squash) by an arrangement (i.e. the right to exercise the remaining choice) that seems to aim at a reasonably fair deal between the winner of the toss and the looser and therefore a minimization of the influence of the toss. From those perspectives the Racketlon Single Toss Rule now introduced clearly offers an alignment with the tossing rules of the individual sports. (By the way: note choice "c" in Tennis):

Table Tennis

The right to choose the initial order of serving, receiving and ends shall be decided by lot and the winner may choose to serve or to receive first or to start at a particular end.

When one player or pair has chosen to serve or to receive first or to start at a particular end, the other player or pair shall have the other choice.


Before play commences, a toss shall be conducted and the side winning the toss shall exercise the choice in either 1 or 2 below:
1 to serve or receive first;
2 to start play at one end of the court or the other.
The side losing the toss shall then exercise the remaining choice.


The spin of a racket decides the right to serve first.


The choice of ends and the choice to be server or receiver in the first game shall be decided by toss before the warm-up starts. The player/team who wins the toss may choose:
a. To be server or receiver in the first game of the match, in which case the opponent(s) shall choose the end of the court for the first game of the match; or
b. The end of the court for the first game of the match, in which case the opponent(s) shall choose to be server or receiver for the first game of the match; or
c. To require the opponent(s) to make one of the above choices.