Richard Millman in association with Meadow Mill Athletic Club
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THE RULES OF SINGLES SQUASH MAY 17TH 2013 (with accompanying Advice, Interpretation and Suggestions by Richard Millman)
THE RULES OF SINGLES SQUASH
May 17th 2013
(with accompanying Advice, Interpretation and Suggestions
The Rules as they are currently written as of February 2012 appear in black type.
Words in Italics are intended as thought provoking advice for anyone who is interested in the game of Squash.
Words in Bold Italics are offered as suggestions to consider in the future writing and implementation of the rules.
It is with great pleasure and honor that I offer this rendition of the Rules of Singles Squash complete with my personal advice, interpretations and suggestions.
The game of Squash is unique in the modern human experience, testing every mental, physical and emotional system that we command.
Truly it is the game of mind, body and soul.
How important then, is it that the Rules by which we play are clear and consistent in order to avoid misinterpretation by any participant or spectator? And that we make strenuous efforts to learn, understand and play by these rules?
In my work here I have tried to convey my contributions as logically as possible – remembering of course that a game that challenges and stimulates complex and intelligent minds is necessarily complex in and of itself.
And yet, the basic ideas of the sport are not confusing in their own right. Provided we explain the concepts and Rules of the game clearly, all participants, whether on or off the court, should be able to understand and execute the simple sequences that should be followed.
In the long and storied history of Squash, I hope that we are still experiencing the very youth of the game and that its evolution will enjoy a far longer future than the period that we have so far enjoyed.
If this is to be the case, we that are currently engaged in conducting the sport; whether players, coaches, referees, administrators, commentators, promoters or manufacturers; carry a high responsibility. That is to safely deliver our sport in the best possible condition to the generations to come.
To that end I would ask that you find time to read the following.
One final request:
In a busy world we are often focused on execution of the Status Quo because we are short of time. If the Status Quo is flawed however, we may find that much of the work we have done has been of reduced value.
If you are currently engaged in conducting some aspect of the game of Squash, I would ask you to stop for a moment and question the Status Quo that you accept on a day-to-day basis and ask yourself if there is some contribution – however small – that you can make to the logical ( and it must be logical, provable and definable) evolution of our game.
If you are a Referee – how much do you try and learn about the game from Coaches and Players?
If you are a Coach – how often do you read the Rules or keep up with the advances in the game?
If you are a Player or Commentator – how often do audibly discuss the Theory of Squash with other players, mentors, commentators or spectators?
If you are an Administrator – how often do you go and talk to Players, coaches, referees, spectators?
We all have our theories of Squash, but in being busy in our lives, how often do we examine the dearly held beliefs that our personal theories are comprised of?
John Lennon said that: ‘Life is what happens while we are busy doing other things.’
It isn’t easy to evolve, but every once in a while an opportunity comes along to ‘stop and smell the roses’ and to re-appraise and re-direct the road that we work so hard to travel along, day after day.
It may be that you are on the right road, but if you are, please take a moment to read this and perhaps pass on your thoughts,
so that those of us that are less fortunate than you, may see our paths more clearly.
I hope you enjoy the read – and the contemplation!
May 17th 2013
The game of Squash is played in a confined space, often at a high speed. The following principles are essential for the orderly playing of the game.
Safety: Players must always place safety first, and not take any action that could endanger the opponent.
Fair play: Players must respect the rights of the opponent and play with honesty. (More importantly, if you move at the appropriate time you will not only respect your opponent’s rights, you will maximize your advantage in a fair and proper way.)
1 The Game
1.1 Singles Squash is played between two players in a court, each holding a racket to hit the ball. The court, ball and racket must meet the WSF specifications in Appendices 7.1, 7.3 and 7.4.
1.2 Play consists of rallies( this is the key word – a Rally is the unit of play in Squash – the period during which players must focus their competitive attention at maximum level for the entire duration. There are no peaks and troughs in concentration, the player must operate at 100 per cent with their primary mental physical and emotional focus on the ball and their peripheral focus on the environment, until the rally is over. Coaches must beware not to allow their advice to players to become distractions. The ball is always the primary focus and comments like ‘get back to the T’ or ‘use a banana shape for movement into the front corners’ distract the player from the absolute focus on the ball that is necessary for a rally.When coaches have students focus on one particular stroke or aspect of the game, the emphasis given to that particular activity can become over-emphasis which in turn will lead to the player giving that activity an undue proportion of their attention and even to making the player think that the activity is a task in itself – ie: hitting a forehand drive – if the student views this activity as a separate task they will then habitually raise their attention level to execute what they perceive to be a self-contained task during the course of the rally – and then fatally drop their focus when they have completed this artificial task. Shots are not tasks – they are simply component parts of the rally – which is the shortest period of time for which a player must maintain 100 per cent continuous focus – with no interruptions – in Squash. The Rally is the task ), each starting with a serve. If the serve is good, the players return the ball alternately until the rally ends (see Rule 5).
1.3 Play must be continuous ( if play must be continuous – then so must attention to the ball – no intermittent distractions during the rally – as stated in my 1.2 comment) as far as is practical.
2 The Warm-Up
2.1 At the start of a match, the two players go on court together to warm up the ball for a maximum of 5 minutes. After 2½ minutes the players must change sides, unless they have already done so. ( Every court is different. Your first job is to establish what a good width and length is on this particular court. After that, it is perfectly reasonable to investigate what your opponent is good/bad at. You might try some lobs, a boast, a ball down the middle – just to see how the opponent deals with those. Don’t read too much into it as players are often different in the warm up to the way they are in the game itself. If however, the opponent is clearly weaker in one or other back corner, or seems slow to the front, or struggles with volleys – then take note!)
2.2 The players must have equal opportunities to hit the ball. A player retaining control of the ball for an unreasonable time is warming up unfairly and must be penalised under Rule 15 (Conduct).( As a practical fact and as proper etiquette, players should not hit the ball to themselves more than twice. More than that and the opponent feels alienated. We are there to try and win by our skill -not by gamesmanship).
3.1 The winner of a rally scores 1 point and serves to begin the next rally. (Hopefully if you are serving, you aren’t just starting the next rally, you are trying to gain an advantage to get ahead in that rally. Look at the opponent, see where they are standing and try and aim your serve at a point that will give them the most difficulty. Then before you hit the ball, get your body movement traveling at a momentum that allows you to get into position in time to defend against your opponent’s possible returns – before they can hit the ball. You always need to organize enough time to be waiting for the opponent to hit the ball. You can do this by combining good, early movement ( priority 1) with appropriately paced ( priority 2) and appropriately placed ( priority 3) shots. Make sure that your balance and weight are always a)directed toward and b)moving with, the ball – wherever it is. Try and develop a serving ‘ritual’. In other words a systematic approach to serving that you can reproduce time after time, perfectly. Consistency is what you want.)
3.2 Each game is played to 11 points, except that if the score reaches 10-all, the game continues until one player leads by 2 points.
3.3 A match is normally the best of 5 games, but may be the best of 3 games.
3.4 Alternative scoring systems are described in Appendix 3.
4 The Serve
4.1 The player who wins the spin of a racket serves first.
4.2 At the beginning of each game and after each change of server, the server chooses from which box to serve ( if, during the warm-up, you notice that the opponent is particularly strong on the backhand, you might start serving to the forehand. However, generally the backhand side for most players is the weaker side and is a good place to start. Having said that, anything you can do to break up an opponent’s rhythm is a good idea – so once you get into the match, it might well be worth mixing up which side you start from.). While retaining the serve, the server must serve from alternate boxes.
4.3 If a rally ends in a let, the server must serve again from the same box (‘though not necessarily with the same serve – remember to mix up the rhythm.).
4.4 If the server moves to the wrong box to serve, or if either player is unsure of the correct box, the Marker must inform the players which is the correct box.
4.5 After the Marker calls the score, both players must resume play without unnecessary delay. However, the server must not serve before the receiver is ready( If you think the opponent is serving before you are ready – just turn away from the opponent into the back corner until you are ready to receive. Don’t waste time – as soon as the score is called you should be prepared, but you can at least make sure that you receive fully prepared to play).
4.6 A serve is good,( in this case ‘good’ means legal – for a serve to be good follow my advice in 3.1 and 4.2 and try to develop a range of at least three different serves ( one standard and two variations) that you can use to help further break up the opponent’s rhythm.) if:
4.6.1 the server drops or throws the ball from a hand or racket and strikes it correctly on a first or further attempt before it touches anything else; and
4.6.2 at the time the server strikes the ball, one foot is in contact with the floor inside the service-box with no part of that foot touching any boundary of that box, and
4.6.3 the ball is struck directly to the front wall, hitting it between the service-line and the out-line; and does not hit the front and side walls at the same time; and
4.6.4 the ball, unless volleyed by the receiver, bounces for the first time in the quarter-court opposite to the service-box without touching any line; and
4.6.5 the ball is not served out.
4.7 A serve that does not comply with Rule 4.6 is a fault and the server loses the rally.
4.8 If the server drops or throws the ball but then makes no attempt to hit it, the server may make another attempt to serve.
4.9 A let is allowed if the receiver is not ready to return the serve and does not attempt to do so. However, if that serve is a fault, the server loses the rally.
5 THE PLAY
5.1 If the serve is good, play continues as long as a return( The word ‘return’ is interpreted as ‘getting the ball back.’ You don’t want to simply get it back – you want to do more than that.This might sound pedantic – but words are powerful and strongly affect thoughts. Ideally, you want to strategically move yourself into position while simultaneously striking a ball that gives you an advantage – or at the very least diminishes any advantage that your opponent may have gained with their last shot. So don’t just return it – plan how to use your shot to put you ahead in the rally. Not simply get back to where you were.):
5.1.1 is struck correctly before it has bounced twice on the floor; and
5.1.2 hits the front wall, above the tin and below the out-line, without first having bounced on the floor, either directly or after hitting any other wall(s); and
5.1.3 rebounds from the front wall without touching the tin; and
5.1.4 is not hit out; and
5.1.5 does not hit either player or the non-striker’s racket;
5.2 or until
5.2.1 a player requests a let or makes an appeal, or
5.2.2 one of the Officials makes a call.
6.1 A maximum of 90 seconds is permitted between the end of the warm-up and the start of play( an opportunity for you to once more carefully go over your game plan in your mind), and between each game( an opportunity to review how things went in the previous game and to consider how to adapt your game-plan if necessary. If a coach or friend is advising you – let what they have to say wash over you – don’t attempt to have a conversation – your job is to receive and assimilate information, not transmit it – and then just use what ever info that you feel is most useful. Don’t over complicate things – one or two ideas is plenty. Then re-affirm your game-plan and go to it. See if you can come up with a one or two word mantra that you can repeat between rallies to keep your game-plan on track.).
6.2 A maximum of 90 seconds is permitted to change damaged equipment. This includes glasses, protective eye-wear or a dislodged contact lens. The player must complete the change as quickly as possible, or Rule 15 (Conduct) must be applied.
6.3 Intervals in the case of injury or bleeding are specified in Rule 14 (Injury).
6.4 During any interval, either player may hit the ball.
7.1 A match is normally officiated by a Marker and a Referee( The game of Squash is a spectacle and a drama – and it should be. Without going over the top, try to speak in a voice that is both clear enough and loud enough that both the players and the spectators know what is going on and are kept on the edge of their seats. This will both make the match run more smoothly and add to the sense of occasion for all concerned.), both of whom must keep a written record of the score(learn a simple system from your club coach or a local referee. Make sure you write down the score before you call it. Otherwise you may be looking at the marking sheet when something untoward – like a ball going out – happens.), which player is serving, and the correct box for service.
7.2 If there is only 1 Official, that Official is both the Marker and the Referee. A player may appeal any call or lack of call made by that Official as Marker to that same Official as the Referee( there is no appeal to that one official’s calls as Referee – only as Marker – be clear on the difference as per the descriptions of the duties of a Marker and the duties of a Referee in 7.6 and 7.7).
7.3 The correct position for the Officials is seated at the center of the back wall, as close to that wall as possible and just above the out-line.
7.4 An alternative Officiating system called the 3-Referee System is described in Appendix 4.
7.5 When addressing players, officials must use the family name.
7.6 The Marker must:
7.6.1 announce ( good word ‘announce’ – here again you should speak in a voice that implies a sense of occasion – enough volume and just a touch of drama that relays to both the players and the audience the import of the moment) the match, introduce each game, and announce the result of each game and of the match;
7.6.2 call “fault,” “down,” “out,” “not up” or “stop”, as appropriate;
7.6.3 if unsure about a serve or return, or unsighted, make no call;
7.6.4 at the end of a rally, call the score with the server’s score first, preceded by “hand out” when there is a change of server;
7.6.5 after a player’s request for a let, wait for the Referee’s decision, then repeat the part of that decision that affects the score, and then call the score;
7.6.6 after a player’s appeal against a Marker’s call or lack of call, wait for the Referee’s decision and then call the score;
7.6.7 when a player needs 1 point to win a game, call “game ball”, or if 1 point to win the match, call “match ball”;
7.6.8 when the score reaches 10-all, call “10-all: a player must win by 2 points”.
7.7 The Referee, whose decision is final ( final means final – don’t try and drag your appeal on – otherwise you are likely to get a conduct warning):
7.7.1 must ensure that the court is satisfactory for play and postpone or suspend the match if this is not the case. If a match is suspended and resumes later, the score stands;
7.7.2 must allow a let if, through no fault of either player, a change of court conditions affects a rally;
7.7.3 may award the match to a player whose opponent is not on court ready to play, within the time stated in the competition rules;
7.7.4 rules on all matters, including all requests for a let and all appeals against a Marker’s call or lack of a call;
7.7.5 must, if disagreeing with the Marker’s call or lack of a call, rule immediately, stopping play if necessary;
7.7.6 must, if the Marker calls the score incorrectly, correct the score immediately, stopping play if necessary;
7.7.7 must enforce all the Rules relating to time: and
126.96.36.199 must announce( again all these calls should relay a sense of moment, the imminent approach of the action. Don’t go over the top – but having a match Marked and Refereed should heighten focus and importance and thereby crystallize the effort levels of the players. If your voice is dull and boring or if you are checking your text messages or talking to your buddy through the performance of your scoring duties, the players and the audience are going to feel as though the occasion is of no moment and the whole deal will feel like a bit of a damp squib. As a Marker and Referee you have an opportunity to subtly add to the sport of Squash – without ever affecting the fair outcome of the match. See my intonation advice in Appendix 2.) “Half-time” during the warm-up, unless the players have already changed sides, and “Time” at the end of it; and
188.8.131.52 must announce “15-seconds” before the end of all intervals and “Time” at the end of them. It is the players’ responsibility to be close enough to hear these announcements;
7.7.8 must, if the ball hits the non-striker, make the appropriate decision;
7.7.9 may give an explanation for a decision;
7.7.10 must announce all decisions in a voice loud enough to be heard by the players, the Marker and the spectators;
7.7.11 must, if a player’s conduct is inappropriate, apply Rule 15 (Conduct);
7.7.12 must, if the behavior of any person, other than that of a player, is disruptive or offensive, suspend play until the behavior has ceased, or until the offending person has left the court area.
8.1 After(! here’s where the logic starts to break down – really think about whether this is valid. Personally I think this is a poor direction and choice of word.) completing a reasonable follow-through (Instead of reading ‘After’ try and think about this as ‘Before’ so that you are organizing your movement and shot to facilitate a good and ready position for all of your opponent’s possible choices ‘before’ you attempt to execute your movement and stroke.) (‘After completing a reasonable follow-through’: this description is not conducive to a flowing game. As you will see from video, players must begin to move/recover fractionally BEFORE they even strike the ball – movement being an integral part of an athletic shot and the legs and core the source of the energy that a player transfers into the ball- an essential element of the mechanics of striking a Squash ball. It is necessary to promote both the outgoing player’s ability to be in position for the next shot and the incoming player’s access to the ball that has just been hit. Allowing/encouraging players to stand still while hitting the ball/completing their follow-through will lead to interference. The point is this – as soon as the ball is struck ( i.e: immediately upon contact) it becomes the right of the next player to gain access to the ball. In a game of moments – the time spent on completing the follow through while standing still is time spent denying the incoming player the right to access the ball – more importantly it disadvantages the player who has just struck the ball as they need to be in position to defend the court against all of the incoming players options. Not only is it not necessary to stand still to complete a follow-through, it is frequently detrimental to the player executing the stroke to do so.
I believe that it is important that the writer of the rules and Markers and Referees in general, carefully watch a slow motion video to understand the sequential progress of a game of Squash. I cannot emphasize enough how important this issue is, in my opinion, to the future of the game. Players and coaches alike are guided by the wording of the rules. If the wording is retrospective ( i.e: After completing a reasonable follow-through) then players will act retrospectively. If on the other hand the wording is proactive ( i.e: Before striking the ball a player must ensure that their position on completion of the shot will not deny the opponent the following 4 requirements…) then players and coaches will consider their actions prior to executing the stroke. This is a key logical and intellectual difference.), a player must make every effort( misleading – either there is interference or their isn’t – making an effort is irrelevant) to provide the opponent ( provide the opponent??? I don’t want to have to provide the opponent with anything – I am trying to win – in a sportsmanlike manner. If I am having to provide my opponent with things I can’t have organized myself very well. I want to provide myself with great position and a readiness to cover every possible choice the opponent can come up with. To do that I need to organize myself before I hit the ball. Not try and desperately get out of the way after I have failed to think through the consequences of my actions. The rule as written, unfortunately promotes a ‘shot-centric’ mentality instead of a ‘rally-centric’ mentality. In other words: by focusing the player on a single shot the rules discourage proactive organization of a dynamic and flowing rally and describe a player standing still, completing a follow-through and then desperately and re-actively trying to move out of the opponent’s way. Your focus shouldn’t be what you are doing for your opponent, it should be on what you are doing (in a fair and sportsmanlike way)for you! And of course if you start your movement into position as a part of the execution of your stroke, your opponent will automatically have clear access to the ball – but more importantly you will 1) find yourself in a better position ahead of the play, 2)play a mechanically more sound shot and 3)you will be waiting to pounce upon their next choice. Think Rally-centrically – not, as the rules intimate, Shot-centrically)with the following 4 requirements:
8.1.1 a fair view of the ball on its rebound from the front wall ( providing that the opponent has not contributed to a loss of view by moving before the ball was struck and thus creating their own loss of vision); and
8.1.2 unobstructed direct access to the ball( automatic – if you organize your movement into position in a proactive, timely fashion); and
8.1.3 the space to make a reasonable swing at the ball( mmmm.. What is a reasonable swing? If the opponent has prepared their racquet and clearly indicated the space they are going to use to swing – no problem. If, however, they run to the shot with their racquet down( perhaps they are a former tennis player) and then suddenly lift it up at the last moment, then this is not a reasonable swing and can lead to injury – through no fault of the non-striker. Preparation is the indicator and therefore must be considered together with the space offered) ; and
8.1.4 the freedom to hit the ball to any part of the entire front wall ( This refers to the so-called ‘triangle’ rule whereby an imaginary triangle is formed by taking a line from the ball (at the moment that you are ready to hit it) to each of the front two corners to form a ‘no-go’ triangle that the non striker must be outside of when the striker is ready to hit. It doesn’t matter if the player has plenty of room to hit the ball straight – they must be given the opportunity to hit any part of the front wall. Once again however, if ( when you are the player that hit the previous ball) you organize to benefit yourself – in advance – you will find that you have positioned yourself favorably and automatically allowed the opponent the freedom to hit any part of the front wall. That freedom should be a natural side effect of you helping yourself – not the focus of you helping the opponent).
Interference occurs when the player does not provide the opponent with any of these requirements. ( Perhaps this might deserve a re-write? Something like: Interference occurs when a player fails to properly plan and execute their movement and shot in advance (proactively), thereby causing the game to progress while leaving them behind , out of position and blocking the incoming player.)
8.2 A striker who believes that interference has occurred may stop and request a let, by saying “Let, please”. A Referee accepting any other form of request, must be satisfied that the player is actually requesting a let (in other words: you have to communicate. Dabbing your finger in the air and hoping the Referee and your opponent know what you mean won’t pass muster.). Any request for a let includes a request for a stroke ( Please don’t hold your clenched fist up and try and influence the Referee to give you a stroke. By all means be demonstrative if you were in position to play a winning stroke and show that you wanted to play the ball, but don’t try and bully the Referee into giving you the decision – it just reflects poorly on you and brings the game into disrepute. Simple say in a firm clear voice: ‘Let, please’ Don’t forget to say ‘please’. Aggressively shouting the word ‘Let’ – is just rude.). Only the striker may request a let for interference, and that request must be made without undue delay.
8.3 The Referee may allow a let or award a stroke without a request having been made, stopping play, if necessary.
8.4 The Referee, if uncertain about the reason for the request, must ask the player for an explanation ( a simple explanation – not a manifesto!)
8.5 If the striker requests a let and the opponent’s return then goes down or out, the striker wins the rally.
8.6 Fair View.( Remember – Fair View providing the would-be striker hasn’t gone off in the wrong direction on a wild goose chase and thereby created the visual interference themselves. If you stayed where you were and were ready to play if you could only have seen the ball then…) If the striker requests a let for lack of fair view of the ball on its return from the front wall, then:
8.6.1 if there was no interference, no let is allowed;
8.6.2 if there was interference but the striker would not have been able to make a good return, no let is allowed;
8.6.3 if there was interference and the striker would have been able to make a good return, a let is allowed;
8.6.4 if there was interference that the opponent was not making every effort(misleading – either there is interference or there isn’t – making an effort is irrelevant – however pleasant it might be) to avoid, a stroke is awarded to the striker.
8.7 Direct Access. If the striker requests a let for lack of direct access to the ball, then:
8.7.1 if there was no interference, no let is allowed;
8.7.2 if there was interference but the striker would not have been able to make a good return, no let is allowed;
8.7.3 if there was interference but the striker’s freedom to get to and play the ball was not significantly affected, this is minimal interference and no let is allowed.
8.7.4 if there was interference but the striker did not make every effort (misleading – either there is interference or their isn’t – making an effort is irrelevant) to get to and play the ball, no let is allowed;
8.7.5 if the striker continued play beyond the interference, and then requested a let, no let is allowed;( provided the interference did not affect the execution and outcome of the shot).
8.7.6 if the striker had direct access but instead took an indirect path to the ball and then requested a let for interference, no let is allowed, unless the player was wrong-footed, in which case Rule 8.7.7 applies;
8.7.7 if the striker was wrong-footed, but then showed the ability to recover and make a good return, a let is allowed, unless the striker would have made a winning return, in which case a stroke is awarded to the striker;
8.7.8 if there was interference and the striker would have made a good return, a let is allowed;
8.7.9 if there was interference and the striker would have made a winning return, a stroke is awarded to the striker;
8.7.10 if there was interference that the opponent was not making every effort to avoid ( this is not logical – whether or not the opponent was making every effort is irrelevant – either there was sufficient interference to justify a stroke or there wasn’t. It makes no difference how hard the player is trying to get out of the way – if they are in the way- they are in the way! The lack of proactive planning is a mistake – no matter how hard they try and slam the barn door after the horse has bolted!), a stroke is awarded to the striker:
8.7.11 if there was interference that the opponent was making every effort to avoid but was prevented from doing so by the striker’s position, a let is allowed; ( could this be reworded?- perhaps: if the incoming striker prevents the opponent from providing a clear path to the ball – by blocking the opponent’s egress at the moment that the opponent is attempting to move – a let is allowed)
8.7.12 if a player’s direct access to the ball is obstructed before the opponent’s return has reached the front wall, that player’s appeal may be considered, even though that player is not yet the striker.( illogical – a player should become the striker as soon as the opponent has struck the ball – not when the ball hits the front wall -this rule is unnecessary and leads to confusion)
8.8 Racket Swing.( I refer you back to my earlier remarks in 8.1.3 about what a ‘reasonable’ swing is.)
A reasonable swing comprises a reasonable backswing ( Prepared in a timely fashion and not suddenly and dangerously produced without consideration of the opponent’s position and safety. As a Squash player you need to develop your peripheral awareness and intimately know what is happening in the environment around you at all times. Hitting someone because you didn’t realize they were there, usually reflects on your lack of sensitivity and competitve awareness, more than it does on them crowding you.), strike at the ball and a reasonable follow-through. A player’s backswing and follow-through are reasonable as long as they do not extend more than is necessary for the return being attempted.
If the striker requests a let for interference to the swing, then:
8.8.1 if there was neither interference, nor reasonable fear of injury, no let is allowed;
8.8.2 if there was no interference, but there was a reasonable fear of injury, a let is allowed;
8.8.3 if there was interference but the striker would not have been able to make a good return, no let is allowed;
8.8.4 if the striker continued play beyond the point of interference and then requested a let, no let is allowed;
8.8.5 if the swing was affected by slight contact with the opponent who was making every effort ( misleading again – either there is interference or their isn’t – making an effort is irrelevant as it is post-shot reactive player due to a failure to plan and start movement in advance) to avoid the interference a let is allowed ( was the stroke affected or not? If it was it should be a stroke. If not it should be a no-let. Encouraging players to marginally make contact with their opponent’s swing will lead to abuse of the rule.), unless the striker would have made a winning return, in which case a stroke is awarded to the striker;
8.8.6 if the swing was affected by contact with the opponent who was not making every effort ( misleading again – either there is interference or their isn’t – making an effort is irrelevant) to avoid the interference, a stroke is awarded to the striker;
8.8.7 if the swing was prevented by significant contact with the opponent, a stroke is awarded to the striker, even if the opponent was making every effort ( misleading – either there is interference or their isn’t – making an effort is irrelevant) to avoid the interference;
8.8.8 if the striker encounters interference while turning( this is a bit of a minefield which I feel needs to be cleared up once and for all. ‘Turning’ is dangerous and players should not hit the ball when turning – the fear created ( or that can be created) is not conducive to good sportsmanship and I feel that Squash would be better off if ‘turning’ was simply not an option for continuing a rally. There is no need to ‘turn’ ‘if the player organizes themselves adequately – it is often used to avoid a difficult serve or cross court lob. If the opponent has hit an unreasonably loose, wide, cross-court or a shot down the middle, then there should be ample time to set up without turning – in which case if there is interference a simple let/stroke decision needs to be made. Please let’s get ‘turning’ out of the game) or while making a further attempt to hit the ball and could then have made a good return, then:
184.108.40.206 if the opponent was making every effort(once again – either they are in the way – let/stroke or they aren’t – no let. The effort thing is not relevant to the amount of interference and more importantly is again a retroactive instruction to the player to ‘ try and get out of the way’ which is an exhortation to work on the opponent’s behalf after having executed a shot, instead proactive advice to consider their behavior before choosing how to execute their shot in order to avoid being out of position and thereby creating a conflict of interests.) to avoid the interference, even though the swing was prevented, a let is allowed;
220.127.116.11 if the opponent was not making every effort( again irrelevant – if they were making every effort and were plum in the way how is that different to standing stock still? And what if they were too frightened to move because they didn’t know where the ball was going to go? In my opinion the ‘every effort’ advice and ‘turning’ just need to be removed. It would simplify things greatly.) to avoid the interference, a stroke is awarded to the striker;
18.104.22.168 if the opponent had no time to avoid the interference, a let is allowed.
8.8.9 if the striker caused the interference by using an excessive swing, no let is allowed;
8.8.10 if there was interference and the striker then exaggerated the swing, a let is allowed.
8.8.11 A player’s excessive swing can contribute to interference for the opponent when it becomes the latter’s turn to play the ball.
8.9 Freedom to hit the ball to any part of the entire front wall ( This refers again to the ‘Triangle’ rule that we discussed in 8.1.4).
If the striker refrains from hitting the ball, and requests a let, then:
8.9.1 if there was no interference, nor reasonable fear of injury, no let is allowed, or
8.9.2 if there was interference and the ball would have hit the non-striker on a direct path to the front wall, a stroke is awarded to the striker, unless the striker had turned or was making a further attempt, in which case a let is allowed, or
8.9.3 if the ball would first have hit a side or back wall, but would have hit the opponent before reaching the front wall, a let is allowed, unless that return would have been a winning return, in which case a stroke is awarded to the striker.
9 BALL HITTING A PLAYER
9.1 If the ball, on its way to the front wall, hits the non-striker or the non-striker’s racket, play must stop.(think about this again in light of the ‘Triangle’ rule.) Then:
9.1.1 if the return would not have been good, the non-striker wins the rally;
9.1.2 if the return was going directly to the front wall, and if the striker was making a first attempt without having turned, a stroke is awarded to the striker;
9.1.3 if the ball had struck or would have struck any other wall before the front wall and the striker had not turned, a let is allowed;
9.1.4 if the striker had not turned and was making a further attempt, a let is allowed;
9.1.5 if the striker had turned before hitting the ball, a stroke is awarded to the non-striker, unless the non-striker made a deliberate movement to intercept the ball, in which case, a stroke is awarded to the striker.
9.2 If the ball, on its return from the front wall, hits a player before bouncing twice on the floor( the classic situation in which this occurs is when you have hit the ball down the center of the court and are standing behind an opponent ( ‘the striker’ in the wording of the rules) who you think is about to hit the ball), then:
9.2.1 if the ball hits the non-striker or the non-striker’s racket, before the striker has made an attempt to hit the ball and no interference has occurred, the striker wins the rally. If interference has occurred, Rule 8 (Interference) applies;
9.2.2 if the ball hits the non-striker, or the non-striker’s racket, after the striker has made one or more attempts to hit the ball, a let is allowed, providing the striker could have made a good return. Otherwise, the non-striker wins the rally;
9.2.3 if the ball hits the striker and there is no interference, the non-striker wins the rally. If interference has occurred, Rule 8 (Interference) applies.
10.1 The loser of a rally may appeal against any call or lack of a call by the Marker by saying “Appeal, please”. A player may not appeal against any decision of the Referee.
10.2 The player must specify which return is being appealed, and, if there is more than one appeal, the Referee must consider each one.
10.3 After the ball has been served, neither player may appeal anything that occurred before that serve, with the exception of a broken ball.
10.4 At the end of a game, any appeal regarding the last rally must be immediate.
10.5 In response to an appeal against a Marker’s call or lack of call the Referee must:
10.5.1 if the Marker’s call or lack of call was correct, allow the result of the rally to stand; or
10.5.2 if the Marker’s call was incorrect, allow a let, unless the Marker’s call interrupted a winning return by either player, in which case award the rally to that player; or
10.5.3 if the Marker did not call a serve or return that was not good, award the rally to the other player; or
10.5.4 if the Referee was uncertain whether the serve was good, allow a let; or
10.5.5 if the Referee was uncertain about the return, allow a let, unless the Marker’s call interrupted a winning return by the striker, in which case award the rally to that player.
11 The Ball
11.1 If the ball breaks during a rally, a let is allowed for that rally.
11.2 If a player stops play to appeal that the ball is broken, and it is found that the ball is not broken, that player loses the rally.
11.3 If the receiver appeals that the ball is broken before attempting to return serve, and the ball is found to be broken, the Referee, if uncertain as to when it broke, must allow a let for the previous rally.
11.4 A player who wishes to appeal at the end of a game that the ball is broken, must do so immediately.
11.5 The ball may be changed if both players agree or if the Referee agrees with one player’s request.
11.6 If a ball has been replaced, or if the players resume the match after a delay, the players may warm up the ball. Play resumes when both players agree or at the discretion of the Referee, whichever is sooner.
11.7 The ball must remain in the court at all times, unless the Referee permits its removal.
11.8 If the ball becomes wedged in any part of the court( this might happen in a front wall/side wall nick or in a door or in a floor board or floor nick), a let is allowed.
11.9 No let is allowed for any unusual bounce.
Either player may request a let because of distraction, but must do so immediately.
12.1 If the Referee decides that there was no distraction that affected the striker, no let is allowed.
12.2 If the distraction was caused by one of the players, then;
12.2.1 if accidental, a let is allowed, unless a player’s winning return was interrupted, in which case the rally is awarded to that player;
12.2.2 if deliberate, Rule 15 (Conduct) must be applied.
12.3 If the distraction was not caused by one of the players, a let is allowed, unless a player’s winning return was interrupted, in which case the rally is awarded to that player.
12.4 For major events Appendix 5 (Distraction) may be applied at the discretion of the Tournament Director.
13 FALLEN OBJECT
13.1 If either player drops the racket, that player may pick up the racket and play on.
13.2 If the striker drops the racket because of interference, the striker may request a let.
13.3 If the non-striker drops the racket because of contact during the striker’s attempt to reach the ball and requests a let, Rule 12 (Distraction) applies.
13.4 If any object, other than a player’s racket, falls to the floor during a rally, play must stop.
13.4.1 If the object falls from a player without there having been any contact with the opponent( make sure your protective eye-wear is secure. If it hits the floor:), the opponent wins the rally.
13.4.2 If the object falls from a player because of contact with the opponent, or falls from a source other than a player, a let is allowed. However, if a player’s winning return was interrupted, the rally is awarded to that player.
13.4.3 If the object was not seen until the rally ended and had no effect on the outcome of the rally, the result of the rally stands.
( In my opinion rule 14 is very well written and extremely clear. Make sure you understand it before you play.)
14 ILLNESS, INJURY AND BLEEDING
A player who suffers an illness that involves neither an injury nor bleeding, must either continue play without delay, or concede the game in progress and take the 90-second interval between games to recover. This includes conditions such as cramps, nausea, and breathlessness, including asthma. Only one game may be conceded. The player must then resume play, or concede the match.
14.2 Injury. The Referee must:
14.2.1 if satisfied that the injury is genuine, advise both players of the category of the injury and of the time permitted for recovery. Recovery time is permitted only at the time the injury takes place;
14.2.2 if not satisfied that the injury is genuine, advise the player to decide whether to resume play immediately, or to concede the game in progress and take the 90-second interval between games and then resume play, or concede the match; Only 1 game may be conceded.
14.2.3 if satisfied that this is a recurrence of an injury sustained earlier in the match, advise the player to decide whether to resume play or concede the game in progress and take the 90-second interval between games; or concede the match. Only 1 game may be conceded.
14.3 Categories of injury.
14.3.1 Self-inflicted: where the injury is the result of the player’s own action. Such an injury could be a muscle tear or sprain, or a cut or bruise resulting from a player’s collision with a wall or falling to the floor. The player is permitted 3 minutes to recover and, if not then ready to resume play, must concede that game and take the 90-second interval between games for further recovery. Only 1 game may be conceded. The player must then resume play or concede the match.
14.3.2 Contributed: where the injury is the result of accidental action by both players. An interval of 15 minutes is permitted. This may be extended by a further 15 minutes at the discretion of the Referee. If then unable to continue, the match is awarded to the opponent.
14.3.3 Opponent-inflicted: where the injury is inflicted solely by the opponent.
22.214.171.124 Where the injury is accidentally inflicted by the opponent, a Rule 15 (Conduct) penalty must be imposed. The injured player is permitted a maximum of 15 minutes to recover. If then unable to resume play, the match is awarded to the injured player.
126.96.36.199 Where the injury is the result of the opponent’s deliberate or dangerous play or action, and if the injured player requires any time for recovery, the match is awarded to the injured player. If the injured player is able to continue without undue delay, a Rule 15 (Conduct) penalty must be imposed.
14.4 An injured player may resume play before the end of any permitted recovery-period. Both players must be given reasonable time to prepare to resume play.
14.5.1 Whenever bleeding occurs, play must stop and the player must leave the court and attend to the bleeding promptly. Such time as is reasonable and necessary is allowed.
14.5.2 If the bleeding was accidentally caused by the opponent, then a Rule 15 (Conduct) penalty must be imposed. The injured player is permitted time to stop the bleeding.
14.5.3 If the bleeding is the result of the opponent’s deliberate or dangerous play or action, the match is awarded to the injured player.
14.5.4 Play may resume only after the bleeding has stopped and, where possible, the wound has been covered.
14.5.5 A player who is unable to stop the bleeding within the time permitted, must either concede 1 game to gain a further 90 seconds and then continue play, or concede the match.
14.5.6 The court must be cleaned if necessary and any bloodstained clothing must be replaced.
14.5.7 On resumption of play:
188.8.131.52 If the bleeding recurs, no further recovery time is permitted, and the player must concede the game in progress and use the 90 second interval between games for further treatment. If the bleeding has not then stopped, the player must concede the match.
184.108.40.206 If the covering on a wound falls off, play must stop and Rule 13 (Fallen object) applies. If no blood flow is visible, play may continue without the covering.
14.6 When an injury also involves bleeding, the recovery time may be extended only while the bleeding and its treatment continue.
14.7 If a player’s vomiting or other action causes the court to become unplayable, the match is awarded to the opponent.
15.1 Players’ obligations.
15.1.1 Players may not place any object within the court ( While it is common practice to leave a wallet or watch or similar property at the front of the court – it is actually against the rules – so you might avoid an awkward situation by simply not asking your opponent if it is OK with them and putting your property in a more appropriate place).
15.1.2 Players may not leave the court during a game without the permission of the Referee.
15.1.3 Players may not request a change of any Official.
15.2 Players must behave in an acceptable manner that is not unfair, dangerous, abusive, offensive, or in any way detrimental to the image of the game of squash ( as much as you are trying to win and as frustrated as you may feel, etiquette is one of the things that separates Squash from many other sports that are losing the battle of respect. Fight as hard as you can to win – but win by the excellence of your play and don’t disrespect your opponents or spectators or the Officials of the tournament).
15.3 If a player’s conduct is unacceptable, the Referee must penalize the player, stopping play if necessary. Unacceptable behavior includes, but is not limited to:
15.3.1 audible or visible obscenity;
15.3.2 verbal, physical or any other form of abuse;
15.3.3 dissent to the Referee( Disrespecting a Marker or Referee is a really low blow. They are an easy target and they are just doing their best. I know it’s frustrating and I have been guilty myself, but maintain calm and don’t make disparaging comments about their abilities. You don’t have to agree but you don’t have to be unpleasant) ;
15.3.4 abuse of equipment or court ( I.e: Don’t smash your racket against the wall, or throw your racket and glasses down in disgust or smash the ball at the wall in anger – particularly not in the direction of the Marker and Referee or the crowd);
15.3.5 unnecessary physical contact, which includes pushing off the opponent;
15.3.6 unfair warm-up ( Remember – in the warm-up: don’t hit the ball to yourself more than twice. There is no need to do this and it may simply alienate the opponent);
15.3.7 delaying play, including being late back on court ( Go back on court when the Referee calls 15 seconds, not when the Referee calls ‘Time’. ‘Time’ is called to start the game, not to recall you to the court);
15.3.8 dangerous play, including excessive racket swing;
15.3.9 deliberate distraction;
220.127.116.11 receiving coaching during play ( make sure your coach or supporters don’t give you advice as to how to conduct yourself strategically during the play. There is nothing wrong with encouragement – in fact it adds to the sense of occasion. You can exhort your player to greater efforts – just not give them specific advice. Make sure the cheering goes on at a appropriate times – e.g. Just before the start of a game or at the end of a point before the Marker calls the score. Don’t drown out the Marker as the calling of the score is the indication to the players to commence play).
15.4 The penalty for any offense must be a Conduct Warning, a Conduct Stroke, a Conduct Game or a Conduct Match depending on the seriousness of the offense. The Referee may issue more than one warning, stroke or game to a player for a subsequent similar offencs, providing any such penalty may not be less severe than the previous penalty for the same offence. These penalties may be assessed by the Referee at any time, including during the warm-up and following the conclusion of the match.
15.4.1 If the Referee:
15.4.2 stops play to issue a Conduct Warning, a let is allowed;
15.4.3 stops play to award a Conduct Stroke, that Conduct Stroke becomes the result of the rally;
15.4.4 awards a Conduct stroke after a rally has finished, the result of the rally stands, and the Conduct Stroke is added to the score with no additional change of service-box;
15.4.5 awards a Conduct Game, that game is the one in progress or the next one if a game is not in progress. In the latter case an additional interval of 90 seconds does not apply.
15.4.6 awards a Conduct Game or a Conduct Match, the offending player retains any points or games already won.
NOTE: The court dimensions and markings are specified in Appendix 7.1
APPEAL A player’s request to the Referee to review a Marker’s call or lack of call.
ATTEMPT Any forward movement of the racket towards the ball. A fake swing or feint at the ball is an attempt, but racket preparation with only a backswing with no forward movement towards the ball is not an attempt.
BOX, SERVICE-BOX A square area on each side of the court bounded by the short line, the side wall and by 2 other lines, and from within which the server serves.
CORRECTLY When the ball is hit with the racket, held in the hand, not more than once, and without prolonged( Could this be clarified- perhaps ‘prolonged’ could be defined as ‘carried’ or ‘struck more than once’?) contact on the racket.
DOWN Indicates that a player’s return hit the tin, or the floor before reaching the tin.
FAULT Indicates that a serve is not good.
FURTHER ATTEMPT A subsequent attempt by the striker to serve or return a ball that is still in play, after having already made one or more attempts.
GAME A part of a match. A player must win 3 games to win a 5-game match and 2 games to win a 3 game match.
HAND OUT Indicates a change of server.
LET The result of a rally in which there is no winner. The server serves again from the same box.
MATCH The complete contest between two players, including the warm-up.
NOT UP Indicates that
·1 a player did not strike the ball correctly, or
·2 the ball bounced more than once on the floor or
·3 the ball touched the striker or the striker’s clothing.
OUT A ball is out when it:
·1 hits the wall on or above the out-line; or
·2 hits any fixture of the court above the out-line; or
·3 passes over a wall and out of the court, or
·4 hits the top edge of any wall of the court or
·5 passes through any fixture ( some courts have lighting fixtures that are supported by two ‘down-rods’. If the ball goes between the supports it is out, if it goes to the left or right of the outermost support, it is in. Hey! – you have to draw a line somewhere!)
QUARTER-COURT One of two equal parts of the court bounded by the short line, the back wall and the half-court line.
STRIKER A player is the striker from the moment the opponent’s return rebounds from the front wall until the player’s return hits the front wall (In my opinion this is extremely illogical and would benefit from a review. I would contend that the player is the incoming striker from the moment that the ball leaves the opponent’s racket. To deny them the title of striker from the moment the ball leaves the opponent’s racket is to deny them time – the lifeblood of the game).
TIN The area of the front wall covering the full width of the court and extending from the floor up to and including the lowest horizontal line. The tin must be constructed of a material that makes a distinctive sound when struck by the ball (See also Appendix 7.1).
TURNING The action of the striker who hits, or is in a position to hit, the ball to the right of the body after the ball has passed to the left or vice versa, whether the striker physically turns or not.
N.B. Shaping (preparing) to play the ball on one side and then bringing the racket across the body to strike the ball on the other side is neither turning nor making a further attempt.
WRONG−FOOTED The situation when a player, anticipating the path of the ball, moves in one direction, while the striker hits the ball in another direction.
2.1 MARKER’S CALLS
HAND OUT To indicate a change of server.
DOWN To indicate that a player’s return hit the tin, or the floor before reaching the tin.
FAULT To indicate that a serve was not good.
NOT UP To indicate that a player’s return was not up.
OUT To indicate that a player’s return was out.
10-all : A Player must win by 2 points To indicate that a player must lead by 2 points to win the game, when the score reaches 10-all for the first time in a match.
GAME BALL To indicate that a player requires one point to win the game.
MATCH BALL To indicate that a player requires one point to win the match.
YES, LET/ LET Repeating the Referee’s decision that a rally is to be replayed.
STROKE TO PLAYER (or TEAM) Repeating the Referee’s decision to award a stroke to a player or team.
NO LET Repeating the Referee’s decision that a request for a let is disallowed.
Examples of Marker Calls
Match introduction ( This is where the Marker can heighten the sense of occasion by delivering the intro in a clear voice that infuses listeners with the idea that this is something important.) Smith serving, Jones receiving, best of 5 games, love ─ all
Order of calls Anything affecting the score.
The score with the server’s score always called first.
Comments on the score.
Calling the score (Again – the intonation the Marker uses can make a big difference. Does it sound as though this is an important moment – or dull, boring and of no consequence? Your delivery can really add to the moment – provided you don’t affect the fair outcome of the match.) Not up. Hand-out, 4 ─ 3
Yes let, 3 ─ 4
Stroke to Jones, 10 ─ 8, game ball
Fault, hand-out, 8 ─ 3
Not up, 10-all: a player must win by 2 points
End of a game 11 ─ 3, game to Smith. Smith leads 1 game to love
11 ─ 7, game to Jones, Smith leads 2 games to 1
11 ─ 8, match to Jones, 3 games to 2, 11 ─ 5, 13 ─ 11, 6 ─ 11, 11 ─ 5
Start of a new game Smith leads 1 game to love, love ─ all
Smith leads 2 games to 1, Jones to serve, love all
2 games all, (each), Smith to serve, love ─ all
2.2 REFEREE’S CALLS
CONDUCT WARNING ( Here on the other hand, I would avoid any intonation. Infusing a penalty announcement with any emotion or sense of the dramatic could well inflame a situation. A firm but even tone is my advice here.) To advise that a Conduct Warning has been issued.
e.g. Conduct Warning Smith for delaying play. The result of the rally stands.
(player) for (offense), stroke to (other player or team) To advise that a Conduct Stroke has been awarded.
e.g. Conduct Stroke Smith for delaying play. Stroke to Jones (or Europe).
(player) for (offence), game to (other player or team) To advise that a Conduct Game has been awarded.
e.g. Conduct Game Jones for abuse of opponent, game to Smith (or America)
(player) for (offence), match to (other player or team) To advise that a Conduct Match has been awarded.
e.g. Conduct Match Hassan for dissent to Referee, match to Khan (or Oceania)
FIFTEEN SECONDS (Firm, loud and clear – a warning with a sense of some urgency and direction) To advise that 15 seconds of a permitted interval remain.
HALF-TIME ( Same as Fifteen seconds – meaningfully) To advise that the midpoint of the warm-up period has passed.
NO LET (Crisp, even tone with a slight down tone) To disallow a let.
STROKE TO PLAYER (or TEAM)(Again – Crisp, even tone) To advise that a stroke is being awarded.
TIME ( Similar to Fifteen Seconds and Half-Time with perhaps a touch more of the imperative.) To indicate that the warm-up or a permitted interval has elapsed.
YES, LET (Crisp, even tone with a slight up-tone.) To allow a let.
LET / PLAY A LET (for me, in the spirit of the game, I would suggest adding the word ‘Please’ to the call of ‘Play a let’.)
( this call to be spoken in a conciliatory, up-tone.)
To advise that a rally is to be replayed in circumstances where the wording “Yes, Let” is not appropriate.
Alternative Scoring systems
Point-a-rally scoring to 15.
As in Rule 3 (Scoring) except that each game is played to 15 points. If the score reaches 14-all, the game continues until one player leads by 2 points.
2. Hand-in/hand-out scoring.
Rule 3 (Scoring) is replaced by:
3.1 The server, on winning a rally, scores a point; the receiver, on winning a rally, becomes the server without a change of score.
3.2 Each games is played to 9 points, except that if the score reaches 8-all, the receiver chooses, before the next service, to continue that game either to 9 (known as “Set 1″) or to 10 (known as “Set 2″). The receiver must clearly indicate this choice to the Marker, Referee and the opponent.
3.3 A match is normally the best of 5 games, but may be the best of 3.
The Three Referee System uses a Central Referee (CR) and two Side Referees (SRs) who must work together as a team. All should be the highest accredited referees available. If the 3 officials are not of a similar standard, then the Referee of the highest standard should act as the CR.
The CR, who is also the Marker, controls the match. One of the SRs will keep score as a backup.
3 The two SRs should be seated behind the back wall in line with the inside line of the service box on each side, one row below the CR.
4 The SRs make decisions at the end of rallies – not during them – on the following matters only:
4.1 When a player requests a let:
4.2 When a player appeals against a call or lack of a call of down, not up, out, or fault by the CR:
4.3 If any Referee is unsighted or unsure of the reason for the appeal, that Referee’s decision is “Yes, Let”.
4.4 If direct communication between the SRs and CR during a rally is possible and agreed to by the team before the start of the match, if an SR is sure that a ball was down, not up, out or a fault, and was not called by the CR in the role of Marker, then the SR should immediately alert the CR. If both SRs have alerted the CR in this way, then the CR must stop the rally immediately and award the point as appropriate.( Does this open the system to inconsistency that will irritate players who will not know the exact mechanics of the situation? – ie: if the team agrees that the SR will notify the CR during a rally in one match and then the system is changed in the next match. Perhaps there should be consistency as to the system in every match, in every tournament?)
5 Every appeal must be decided by all 3 Referees, simultaneously and independently.
6 The decision of the 3 referees is final, unless a video referee system is in operation.
7 The decision of the 3 Referees must be announced by the CR without revealing the individual decisions, whether it was a unanimous or a majority decision, or whether the CR agreed with the decision.
8 In the unlikely event of 3 different decisions (Yes Let, No Let, Stroke), the final decision will be Yes Let.
9 Only the CR decides all other matters including time-periods, player conduct, injury and court conditions, none of which may be appealed.
10 Players may only directly address the CR. Dialogue must be kept to a minimum( the current rules governing appeals and explanations are clear. If one MO is followed in one refereeing system and then that MO is not followed here – how can the non-Squash playing public ( our potential Olympic viewers and supporters) understand what is happening? A sequence of: Markers call, Appeal, if necessary a request for a player to explain the reason for the Appeal and final Referee’s decision is all that is required and can be easily followed by spectators – Squash playing or otherwise – if they are familiar – and we are consistent – with the system.).
11 If electronic consoles are available, the 3 Referees give their decisions through their consoles and the CR announces the result. If electronic consoles are not available, the use of WSF standard-size color Referee Decision Cards is recommended so that players cannot see the individual decisions of the 3 Referees.
WSF Standard Decision cards:
L (yellow) = Yes, Let
S (blue) = Stroke
N (red) = No Let
N (red) = Ball was Down/ Not Up/ Out/ Fault
G (green) = Ball was Good
If hand-signals are used:
Thumb and forefinger in the shape of an ‘L’ = Yes, Let
Clenched fist = Stroke
Hand held out flat, palm downwards = No Let
Thumb Down = Ball was Down/ Not Up/ Out/ Fault
Thumb Up = Ball was Good
At some major events crowd interaction and other general noise may occur. To encourage spectator enjoyment, Rule 12 (Distraction) will not apply. Players are required to continue play and Referees are not to ask for spectators to be quiet (the MO used by the Umpires at Grand Slam tennis events seems very workable. Umpires gently ask the spectators to allow the players to continue play, using the words ‘thank you Ladies and Gentlemen’. That conciliatory attitude, inviting the audience to help with the continuation of the match seems to be a pleasant and practical manner of ensuring a fair outcome in these circumstances.).
The exception is that if a very sudden, loud or isolated distraction occurs, a let may be awarded to a player who immediately stops play and appeals.
The WSF recommends that all Squash players should wear protective eyewear, manufactured to an appropriate National Standard, properly over the eyes at all times during play. It is the responsibility of the player to ensure that the quality of the product worn is satisfactory for the purpose.( This is a very loose direction and will be ignored by many. If the WSF could regulate consistent wearing of protective eyewear for all players, many injuries would be prevented world-wide (reference the Canadian experience where Squash eye injuries dropped off the annual ranking list of sports eye injuries after eyewear became mandatory in Squash in Canada) , sales would increase and players could become role models of safety and be paid sponsorship for their trouble. The result would be a safer sport, with more revenue for players, sponsors and events, national governing bodies and of course the manufacturers of the eyewear. It would also add to the consistency of behavior among all players – thereby promoting greater appeal and less confusing inconsistency among both the playing and the viewing public and among agencies such as the IOC.)
Current National Standards for Racket Sport Eye Protection are published by the Canadian Standards Association, the United States ASTM, Standards Australia/New Zealand and British Standards Institution.
DESCRIPTION AND DIMENSIONS OF A SINGLES COURT
( Could the measurements also be listed in Imperial measurements?)
A Squash Court is a rectangular area bounded by 4 walls; being the Front Wall, 2 Side Walls and Back Wall. It has a level floor and a clear height above the court area.
Length of court between playing surfaces 9750 mm
Width of court between playing surfaces 6400 mm
Diagonal 11665 mm
Height above floor to lower edge of Front Wall Line 4570 mm
Height above floor to lower edge of Back Wall Line 2130 mm
Height above floor to lower edge of Service Line on Front Wall 1780 mm
Height above floor to upper edge of Tin 480 mm
Distance to nearest edge of Short Line from Back Wall 4260 mm
Internal dimensions of Service Boxes 1600 mm
Width of all lines and the Board 50 mm
Minimum clear height above the floor of the court 5640 mm
1. The Side Wall lines are angled between the Front Wall Line and the Back Wall Line.
2. The Service Box is a square formed by the Short Line, one Side Wall and two other lines marked on the floor.
3. The length, width and diagonal of the court are measured at a height of 1000 mm above the floor.
4. It is recommended that the Front Wall Line, Side Wall Line, Back Wall Line and Board are shaped so as to deflect any ball that strikes them.
5. The Tin must not project from the Front Wall by more than 45 mm.
6. It is recommended that the door to the court be in the center of the Back Wall.
7. The general configuration of a Squash Court, its dimensions and its markings are illustrated on the diagram.
A Squash Court may be constructed from a number of materials providing they have suitable ball rebound characteristics and are safe for play; however, the WSF publishes a Squash Court Specification which contains recommended standards. The standards must be met for competitive play as required by the appropriate National Governing Body of Squash.
SQUASH COURT DIAGRAM: GENERAL CONFIGURATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL SINGLES COURT
(To be added. Copy from Current Rules.)
SPECIFICATIONS OF A STANDARD YELLOW DOT SQUASH BALL
The following specification is the standard for a yellow dot ball to be used under the Rules of Squash.
Diameter (millimeters) 40.0 + or ‑ 0.5
Weight (grams) 24.0 + or ‑ 1.0
Stiffness (N/mm) @ 23 degrees C. 3.2 + or ‑ 0.4
Seam Strength (N/mm) 6.0 minimum
Rebound Resilience ‑ from 254 centimeters
@ 23 degrees C. 12% minimum
@ 45 degrees C. 26% ‑ 33%
1. The full procedure for testing balls to the above specification is available from the WSF. The WSF will arrange for testing of balls under standard procedures if requested.
2. No specifications are set for faster or slower speeds of ball, which may be used by players of greater or lesser ability or in court conditions which are hotter or colder than those used to determine the yellow dot specification. Where faster speeds of ball are produced they may vary from the diameter and weight in the above specification of a standard yellow dot squash ball. It is recommended that balls bear a permanent color code or marking to indicate their speed or category of usage. It is also recommended that balls for beginners and improvers conform generally to the rebound resilience figures below.
Beginner Rebound resilience @ 23 degrees C not less than 17%
Rebound resilience @ 45 degrees C 36% to 38%
Improver Rebound resilience @ 23 degrees C not less than 15%
Rebound resilience @ 45 degrees C 33% to 36%
Specifications for balls currently fulfilling these requirements can be obtained from the WSF on request
The speed of balls may also be indicated as follows( this seems out of date – super slow is typically double yellow dot these days and there are a number of larger balls with longer hang times that have taken over from Red and Blue Dots – does this need to be re-written for clarity?)
Super slow ‑ Yellow Dot
Slow ‑ White Dot or Green Dot
Medium ‑ Red Dot
Fast ‑ Blue Dot
3. Yellow dot balls which are used at World Championships or at similar standards of play must meet the above specifications but additional subjective testing will be carried out by the WSF with players of the identified standard to determine the suitability of the nominated ball for Championship usage. The slowest speed of balls intended for elite players and Championship usage may if required be identified by a double yellow dot. Such balls will be deemed for the purposes of this specification to be yellow dot squash balls.
4. Yellow dot balls of a larger diameter than 40.0mm specified above, but which otherwise meet the specification, may be authorized for use in tournaments by the official organizing body.
DIMENSIONS OF A SQUASH RACKET
( again – for convenience – could sizes also be listed in Imperial measurements?)
Maximum length 686 mm
Maximum width, measured at right angles to the shaft 215 mm
Maximum length of strings 390 mm
Maximum strung area 500 sq. cm
Minimum width of any frame or any structural member
(measured in plane of strings) 7 mm
Maximum depth of any frame or other structural member
(measured at right angles to plane of strings) 26 mm
Minimum radius of outside curvature of frame at any point 50 mm
Minimum radius of curvature of any edge of frame or other structural member 2 mm
Maximum weight 255 gm
a) The head of the racket is defined as that part of the racket containing or surrounding the strung area.
b) Strings and string ends must be recessed within the racket head or, in cases where such recessing is impractical because of racket material, or design, must be protected by a securely attached bumper strip.
c) The bumper strip must be made of a flexible material which cannot crease into sharp edges following abrasive contact with the floor or walls.
d) The bumper strip shall be of a white, colorless or un-pigmented material. Where for cosmetic reasons a manufacturer chooses to use a colored bumper strip, then the manufacturer shall demonstrate to the satisfaction of the WSF that this does not leave a colored deposit on the walls or floor of the court after contact.
e) The frame of the racket shall be of a color and/or material which will not mark the walls or floor following an impact in normal play.
f) Strings shall be gut, nylon or a substitute material, provided metal is not used.
g) Only two layers of strings shall be allowed and these shall be alternately interlaced or bonded where they cross and the string pattern shall be generally uniform and form a single plane over the racket head.
h) Any grommets, string spacers or other devices attached to any part of the racket shall be used solely to limit or prevent wear and tear or vibration and be reasonable in size and placement for such purpose. They shall not be attached to any part of the strings within the hitting area (defined as the area formed by overlapping strings).
i) There shall be no unstrung areas within the racket construction such that will allow the passage of a sphere greater than 50mm in diameter.
j) The total racket construction including the head shall be symmetrical about the center of the racket in a line drawn vertically through the head and shaft and when viewed face on.
k) All changes to the racket specification will be subject to a notice period of two years before coming into force.
The WSF shall rule on the question of whether any racket or prototype complies with the above specifications, or is otherwise approved or not approved for play and will issue guidelines to assist in the interpretation of the above.
I believe that at the time of writing, the Sport of Squash is still relatively early in its evolution. If this is the case, not only should we expect the playing of the game to continue to develop but we should expect to constantly monitor and evolve the way that we administer and regulate the game.
We must ensure that the Rules make logical sense and will lead toward a fair outcome – otherwise we will seriously impair the development of the sport.
After all, the Rules are the seed from which all else in Squash grows.
I respectfully request that my suggestions are carefully reviewed.
I am happy to offer them without reservation and equally to offer my assistance in helping to move the game forward.
I have spent 35 years questioning both my own ideas and those of others – always seeking logic rather than simply accepted wisdom. This is the way I teach – asking my students not to accept at face value the ideas I offer them, but to seek to understand and to question until we reach a mutual understanding.
I suggest that the Rules are worthy of such an approach.
As World Squash and other entities review and revamp the Rules please be assured of my willingness to assist.
I can be contacted at email@example.com
Richard C Millman
May 18th 2013.
Last week I returned from the US Open in Philadelphia – buzzing.
Why you may ask?
There are multiple reasons, all of which are swimming around in the cement mixer of my mind.
Here they are – poured out as a stream of consciousness:
Wow! Learning to referee is just like learning to play – you have to learn systems consciously – attempt to implement them while learning them – and do multiple repetitions to get to the point where the structure is automatic and the decision making is considered. All while people are depending on you.
Wow! What an amazing variety of constituencies showed up at this event and tried to work together to produce a success – Players, organizers, sponsors, coaches, spectators, press, caterers, techies, public address, masters of ceremonies, security, hospitality, governing bodies, manufacturers.
Wow! How many of those constituents came with their own agendas?
Wow! How many little niggles do people complain about? I wonder if anyone keeps a list? I wonder how many people try to help?
Wow! How many of those groups are aware of or care about the agendas of the other groups?
Wow! Squash is a fantastic sport.
Wow! There are some amazing players!
Wow! These referees are working 14 hour days for no pay and no-one seems to care. I wonder if anyone even thinks about it when they aren’t at a tournament?
Wow! Some of the players are really selfish! I heard about two tournaments that have lost sponsors but players seemed more focused on getting rid of referees that they don’t like even if it embarrasses the host and than the fact that they had upset someone that had put money into the sport.
Wow! A lot of the people involved are really selfish. Come to that - I am pretty selfish. How can we get together and protect and grow the sport?
Wow! Squash is a small and precious family. How can we make it work when so many of us think we know what is best for the sport? How can we see the game from everyone’s perspectives? Why have we got so many disparate groups?
Wow! I can’t believe the number of people that just took a week’s vacation to come and spend it in Philly at the US Open – what a cool vacation!
Wow! I wonder if we could organize a festival of Squash where everyone got together – players, sponsors, manufacturers, promoters, governing bodies, referees, host institutions, clubs, coaches, referees, urban programs, schools, colleges and in fact anyone with any agenda in Squash – and spend a week together at some great club that has both sports and social facilities, talking, learning, playing, hanging out and eating? Could that be a way forward for our sport? Wouldn’t that be fun – and responsible at the same time? Hmmmm…………..
One of the awesome but little appreciated bonuses of an event like the US Open is the extra curricular discussions that take place around the event. Late night in the pub, coffee time beside the glass court, between matches while waiting for the next game, in the taxi or van on the way to the courts -or over breakfast.
But these discussions are in some respect at least as important as the event itself. For it is in these discussions that those of us that care share our thoughts and learn from others. In that symbiosis challenges can be met – a problem shared is a problem halved.
It would be even better if the various groups – players, organizers, referees, coaches, spectators – discusses their ideas together. But of course, in the main people hang out with people from their own groups – so there isn’t as much cross pollination of ideas between groups as their could be.
While there are notable attempts to facilitate these ideas – the annual governing body assembly and annual conferences are excellent examples in several countries – in my experience these are never long enough to get a lot done.
At the US Open, less than 50 people showed up each day to the US Squash assembly – and yet when those few people did meet there was some wonderful work done. But ‘hurriedly squeezed in’ is not the maxim that I would hope for in the careful planning and development of our sport.
Funding is always a problem and I do think all organizations from WSF down need to find ways of increasing their research, development and planning budgets. If there are any wealthy Angels out there – earmarking a gift specifically for research developing and planning would really help us…
But I also note the number of incredibly talented volunteers who are passionate about this sport. Anyone who was at the work shop session at the US assembly would have had to notice two things in particular:
1. The obviously high caliber of the volunteers that cared enough to show up to the assembly.
2. That there were very, very few professional players, coaches and club owners present- the people who stand to gain the most from developing the sport.
To me this speaks volumes. We are so fortunate to be able to call on the extraordinary people who are willing to give their time to the benefit of the game of Squash. And we need to find a way to get those who make their livings from the sport to come together and contribute.
This is why I believe that an International Festival of Squash would be the perfect forum.
Working breakfasts, morning work shops given by expers, working lunches, afternoon forums for all the interest groups to talk, informal snack break, evening competition, dinner together and a social end to the day for general mingling.
Now if the WSF, the National Governing bodies of a given hemisphere, the players associations, players, promoters, manufactures, coaches, referees, media and enthusiasts from all spheres met together for a week – in a great club where everyone could break out into groups but could also all come together – tell me that that isn’t a great way to spend a week – both for the participants and for the sport.
Of course we could all just carry on with what we individually and separately believe to be important, butting heads when we do get together and arguing that we know what is important.
Or we could just dismiss the idea as impractical.
Or something amazing could happen.
What would your personal cement mixer pour out after a week like that?
How many personal ‘Wow!’ moments do you think that might provide?
Just a thought…….
Thoughts on the American Squash game from an International viewpoint;
What can we do to help our sport move forward?
‘O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!’
Robert Burns, from his poem ‘To a Louse’
I am not entirely sure that I can justly claim ‘an international viewpoint.’ having spent the greater part of the past 19 years here in the US, but I do travel a fair amount and having represented the US as a national coach and team manager on four continents and having competed over the past few years in the UK, the US and Europe, I have been exposed to a number of different systems.
Let me say first and foremost that this article is intended to highlight ways in which we can further improve a national game that is already ( in my view) doing tremendously well.
Let’s look at what we have to be thankful for:
What makes United States Squash as healthy as it currently is?
Well, there’s no doubting that beyond passion, the biggest single commodity required for Squash to succeed is cash.
We need cash for facilities, to attract world-class coaching staff and to make Squash feasible as a profession, to fund our national governing body, to promote interest in the game, to make it possible for clubs to succeed as businesses and for underprivileged programs to flourish (more on the surprising importance of these later).
Without cash there is no development, no Squash careers, little enthusiasm and in short little chance of long-term survival.
American Squash, in relative terms, is cash rich.
So why is American Squash, across the board, so financially strong ( in comparison with almost every other national game)?
The reason very simply, is Inter-Collegiate Squash.
Now readers may not be aware, that the US is the only nation in the world where Varsity teams ( in the form of Inter-collegiate athletics) are an official and essential part of University life.
There is a fundamental pipeline in this country that feeds the health of our sport.
This is how it works ( starting at the end of the pipeline and working backwards to the beginning):
Financial success is a necessity in the United States. Employers need first class, well-educated employees. Entrepreneurs need first class educations. The Universities who provide first class educations need funds. Where do the funds come from?
From Alumni and Alumnae of those institutions who go on to become successful.
What constituency of students tend to be the most successful? Athletes (apart from Glee club members – and even that is a kind of sports team). Athletes tend to fill about 10 or 11% of the student bodies of most elite Universities and Colleges. That 10 or 11% will eventually provide about 33% of the development funds ( financial gift giving) of those Colleges and Universities. Of course this is an approximation, but talk to the bursars of most first class institutions and that’s what they’ll tell you.
If employers are seeking well-educated competitive employees, that know how to knuckle down under competitive pressure and learning institutions know that those individuals will be the most successful of their graduates, then it stands to reason that schools are going recruit a certain number of those individuals, make damn sure they have a good time that they will never forget, and look after them well into their dotage.
Parents, sharp cookies that they are, quickly recognize that if they want their child to have an edge in the extremely competitive world of college admission, getting their child involved in a sport where recruits are few and far between is a sensible move. Particularly if it is a lifesport that emphasizes sportsmanship ( although this can be an issue with College and Junior Squash) and is fun and healthy.
Right now there are simply not enough American girls playing Squash and just barely enough boys to fulfill the recruitment needs of US Collegiate Squash teams.
That being the case – the door is wide open to families who get themselves organized early in the game.
Hence, bring on the expert Squash coach who can teach excellent fundamentals, and produce a competitive player who will in due course become a recruitable athlete.
So we have probably the most broad and deep talent pool of Squash coaches in the world.
So families pay membership fees, hire Squash coaches, buy equipment, join US Squash, go on the road to play tournaments, and pay for intensive programs of summer tuition.
If that seems expensive – compare the possible outcome of a Squash playing alumni who has gained a first class education and experience and can compete for a six figure income only a couple of years after graduation, to that of a student of similar intelligence that didn’t have squash to gain them an edge in the admission game. Ten or twelve thousand dollars spent on Squash for an average of 5 or 6 years is a small price to pay for the advantage of the opportunity that it may bring, but it is a very valuable cash input to the national Squash program.
Hence the relative wealth of US Squash. Because the pipeline I have described does not exist anywhere else in world in anything like the splendour of the US inter-collegiate system.
So we have the cash to fund activity.
Most of our facilities are built as conduits for the pipe-line. And what beautiful facilities they are. The business of athletics is understood better in this country than anywhere else. Facilities first and foremost are clean. Clubs have program directors and professionals to promote activity. More activity leads to more revenues: people play, lose, want to get better, book lessons, buy more equipment, enter more competitions, spend more time at the facility, spend more money, encourage associates to join etcetera, etcetera.
So we have first class facilities.
In order to keep the facilities and the people active we have developed pretty good organizational skills.
The advent of the feed-in consolation is a wonderful and powerful organisational tool.
Because of it, the number of matches and the consequent additional data provided increases the competitive environment, within a specific constituency, in a manifold way.
Players therefore maximise their playing experience against players of their constituency.
So we have a lot of competitive opportunity – within each constituency.
Another consequence of the Inter-collegiate pipeline is that, when students graduate – or certainly when male students graduate, a proportion of them go on to play adult squash in the various metropolitan hotspots in the US where the game is successful. This in turn creates enough of a seedbed to attract the relatively large group of international transplants that form a good percentage of active adult squash players in this country. Some of the US college alumni play with some of the international players and so we get some exchange of playing styles in the adult Squash community. Of course a fair number of college players graduate and go into elite country clubs and downtown clubs where they play against other former college players. Some of them end up exclusively playing doubles.
So another benefit of the Inter-collegiate system is an active community of adult squash players.
A love of the game is something that can be addicting. Not just for the sake of the exercise, but for all that the game offers, individually and to the community.
College squash players that play with their team for four years are often imbued with a passion for the sport that lasts all their lives. In most this manifests itself as enthusiasm to play or even coach the game and in maintaining long-term bonds – even lifelong – with the team mates they struggled through match after
match with. This is laudable and adds to the constituency of Adult squash that I have described above.
However in one original case, a love of the game that developed in college was combined with a vision that may hold the key to the long-term health, success and survival of our sport. I am speaking of Greg Zaff, the founder of Squash Busters. The success of that program and the corresponding programs that have arisen around the country are well documented and are deserving on continual praise, observation and support. But that is not the issue that I am interested in here. I am not sure whether Greg’s original vision encapsulated the effect that I believe now to be uniquely benefitting our sport as a result of his actions, but whether or not he did, something unique is happening.
I will describe this effect later, but for now suffice to say, that without Inter-collegiate Squash there would be no underprivileged squash programs.
So we have Greg Zaff, his colleagues and the whole realm of Squash programs for ‘at risk’ or underprivileged youth.
To round off the strength of US squash I would add that in John Nimick and his Event engine organization we have the lynchpin of the professional squash tour. Until the advent of Arab and Asian interest in our sport, the US pretty much single-handedly led the world squash tour financially.
Mark Talbott was drawn up by the Inter-collegiate pipeline. Without the pipeline Hashim and Sharif Khan would never have been here, the WPSA and the countless duels between Ned Edwards, Talbott, Khan and Nimick would never have happened. We wouldn’t have had Demer Holleran, Alicia McConnell,
Latosha and Shabana Khan, Ellie Pierce, Tim Wyant, Julian Illingworth,
Gilly Lane, Michelle Quibell or Amanda Sobhy or Dylan Murray or Olivia Blatchford (serious competitors on the international scene). I sure as heck wouldn’t be here.
So we have a great deal to be grateful for and many strengths, mainly centered on the bounty of college Squash.
Where then can we go from here?
In a classic SWOT analysis one goes through Strengths and then on to Weaknesses followed by Opportunities and Threats.
However I hesitate to talk about Weaknesses. Rather I would prefer to offer my observations as to how I believe we can make our Strengths, stronger.
Strengthening our Strengths
In my analysis of the strength of US Squash I highlighted (by placing in italics)
those key areas that I believe have positioned our national game favorably.
It is clear to me from my time spent as a professional in England, Germany and Holland that in most areas I describe above, those countries lag far behind. Certainly they have no Collegiate pipeline driving the process. No resulting cash injection from parents seeking to improve their children’s career opportunities. No consequent infrastructure of multitudinous world-class coaches earning a world-class income. Few if any world-class facilities – and hardly any really clean ones – important as cleanliness is a paying member’s number one priority. No development funds and departments – although the UK has the lottery to fund its national governing body and elite programs.
And yet, the level of player produced by the UK and to a lesser degree Holland and Germany, continually and continuously outstrips the level we produce here. On the world tour England with its lack of a collegiate pipeline and the consequent low-level of funding ( except at the elite level), its generally below par facilities, lack of programming and organization, has 50 full-time players playing on the PSA tour. Egypt has around 40. Australia about the same. Canada – a country of perhaps a tenth of our population has at least 15. Mexico has 11 or 12.
The US currently has 3. On the women’s WSA tour we do have a four players playing regularly – Amanda Sobhy is doing particularly well – ranked 18 at the time of writing. However the only time our world tour players interact with the rest of our community is in National championships.
They almost never interact with our top collegiate players. Or our top adult players.
Consequently there is almost zero trickle down effect.
As I mentioned earlier in this piece, we have a tremendous Inter-collegiate program. Tremendous in numbers ( at the time of writing there are 75 men’s teams and 40 women’s team). Tremendous in terms of inter-collegiate competition ( there were 448 scheduled matches this year in the men’s division). But practically non-existent in terms of competition outside of the college ranks. Maybe twenty players play two or three times outside of college each year.
So, by and large, College players only play college players.
What’s wrong with that, you might ask. Well let’s consider. What is the focus of a college squash program? Winning. The coach’s job depends on it. The team’s funding depends on it. The college depends on it. Win. Win. Win. What’s wrong with that, you might ask.
Even an entry-level sports psychology course will tell you that sport is a process oriented pursuit, not outcome oriented. Spend all your time thinking about the result and you will make no progress in improving the process. You will be distracted, fearful, overly aggressive. The end will justify the means. Added to which you are letting the hormones of 17 to 22 year olds take charge. Not a group well-known for deep consideration before action.
I hear horrified readers indignantly declaring, ‘We have wonderful college coaches who maintain control and prevent all that.’ And I agree – to a point. We have some extraordinary human beings in our college programs. Men and Women that to do their utmost to guide and groom powerful young beings and in many cases guide their charges well into their majority. But let’s face it, one man or woman, whose job is on the line based on their win/loss rate, trying to coach, mentor and guide sometimes as many as 15 or 18 young hormone charged people, with their corresponding maturity of judgement? I have attended many inter-collegiate matches and have been a College coach myself. The coach cannot control what is going on in five different courts, when emotions run high. The concept of fair-minded, strategically thoughtful play has no chance when constantly confronted with the specter of winning/losing. Between trying to administrate, recruit, fundraise, look after the academic performance of their charges and keeping up with NCAA rules, there is almost no chance for a College squash coach to try to coach their players – in the sense of intensive coaching to improve the player. Some players will improve by osmosis – playing against the better players on the team. But the number one player on a college team will almost always reduce their rate of improvement once they go to college. How can they but do so? They spend almost every waking moment playing against players worse than them. This is a well-known fact among elite level coaches in both the Tennis and Squash world. College Tennis and Squash programs are in general the last resting place of once promising world-class talent. Even if they don’t perish there, they certainly experience greatly arrested development.
US College Squash players generally play only in their own constituency.
This is by no means a criticism of students at US colleges. US college students are at least comparable in terms of potential relative to their international counterparts, if not better.
However if forced to spend their time only playing against their own peer group, the resulting lack of experience leads to a curbing of their learning curve.
In the UK, Holland, Egypt, Malaysia and many other countries, students lack the benefit of organized athletics. However they are not limited in their competitive experience. They play open competition. They may play adult amateurs, they may play professionals, they may play up-and-coming juniors. The complexity of their competitive diet is much, much richer than their American counterpart.
It is actually unusual for them to play solely against their own constituency. Therefore they see more styles. The are encouraged to behave with more tact and respect. The need to consider how to play more than the outcome of their matches. They have to learn more ‘ways of skinning a cat’ if you will.
In addition, certainly in the UK, the foundation stone of competitive development is the club league and the club team match. In this environment even hormonal youngsters urgings are tempered by having to play against older and younger members of society. In these circumstances students are more likely to remember their bearing. And if they don’t an older more experienced member of the squash community will have a quiet word with them and nip errant behaviors in the bud.
This is the normal course of development of Squash in the UK. Mixed play during the week in club and team leagues, interspersed with tournament play ( both mixed and in constituency) at the weekend. Six or seven years of this type of experience and players develop a strong understanding of the game, a more balanced mentality and the ability to pass that wide range of experience on.
Acceptable behaviors are easily forgotten in an atmosphere of peer group confrontation. When is the last time you looked at US Squash’s Sportsmanship and Code of Conduct rules? Check ‘em out and tell me if you think the way our young squash players address referees and opponents remain within the guidelines.
As a reminder I am looking for ways to strengthen, so what I am pointing out is as a precursor to the solution.
In the Strengths section earlier in this article, I mentioned several powerful constituencies in the US squash sphere. I have talked about College squash – the most important constituency insofar as the over all health of the sport is concerned. Junior Squash is the next most vibrant constituency.
Much of what I discussed in the section about College squash applies to Junior Squash.
American Junior squash players rarely play against adults or college players. They play junior after junior perpetuating more and more junior strategy, junior behavior, junior fears, junior aspirations.
What chance does a child who wears a t-shirt that states: ‘Beat Hotchkiss’ on its front, have of working on process?
Once again the question arises: Do the teacher/coaches of our scholastic system have enough time to teach/coach well enough to give our junior players the fundamental understanding of the game that is required for them to be able to improve at the rate that they are capable of? I think the answer is that, in general, those juniors who are able to access intensive personal coaching either from a vibrant local guru/pied piper or during vacation visits home, have a better chance than those that are limited to playing solely on a school team but none of them can improve at the rate of their full potential unless, in addition to intensive coaching and practice, they are playing against a full spectrum of squash playing opposition which includes adults, students and, yes, sometimes other juniors.
In the UK, historically, thirteen and fourteen year olds have entered club league competitions and then club teams as soon as they are able. The consequence is that they become steeped in the lore of the game very quickly, both in terms of understanding the game and the accepted etiquette of the game.
In the US at many Junior events, players are speaking in less than polite fashion to each other and the referees, hitting the ball to themselves in the warm up way more than twice ( I have seen juniors hitting the ball to themselves as many as twenty times before hacking the ball impolitely across to their opponent, who has been standing, unsure of what to do, for minutes at a time) and generally are unaware of acceptable modes of behavior.
As I mentioned previously, US Squash has written an excellent ( in my view) Code of Conduct and Sportsmanship that either Coaches, Parents and Juniors are failing to implement or simply are unaware of. Either way patterns of behavior are increasingly ugly and isolated in competition against Juniors only, these behaviors seem to be become ingrained.
The beauty of systems where players play across constituency boundaries is that they are exposed to a great variety of tactics, physical fitness and capacity and sportsmanship. Squash is a game of mind, body and soul – and all of these need nourishment and direction.
So the US Junior player constituency plays in their own constituency, in the main.
Every playing constituency requires motivation, a pump if you will, to drive the pipeline. The beautiful thing about US Squash is that the College game provides a terrific pump to drive the pipeline. That is, insofar as Junior Squash is concerned. When it comes to adult squash, the pipeline churns out a powerful stream of College players, who then may or may not enter the adult ranks. Motivation for some is in short supply. Having played four hard years of Squash, it is not uncommon to hear comments like, ‘ Thank God that’s over, I will never have to play again.’ Thankfully there are only a few that have that attitude and many former players are swept into the ranks of the downtown city center clubs in the larger metropolitan centers and perhaps a little more slowly into the country clubs of their childhoods. Where they play in their own constituency in the main.
A few metropolitan centers have leagues where the odd junior pops up in a team once in a blue moon. And quite a few College alums feed into inter-club play. Of course those players have learned only the etiquette of Student squash, so they are ill-equipped to conduct themselves appropriately in the Adult squash world. If they are fortunate enough to fall into a league where standards of conduct are well established then they quickly learn how to carry themselves. Philadelphia has a well established league as does Boston. I haven’t played in either of them so I can’t comment on the organization and sportsmanship maintained there. Both my wife and I played New York league and I can only say that then (back in the mid to late nineties) it was by far the worst standard of sportsmanship and match organization of any league I have experienced in my life as a squash player. Matches weren’t refereed. Players didn’t play in order ( frequently a number 1 would play a number 3 or whoever was ready to go on court) and players rarely bothered to stay to watch their team mates or to have a social drink afterwards. It was a travesty of the game. Happily the New York squash organization – Metropolitan New York SRA is one of the finest these days – so I am sure things have changed.
If higher standards were set, the trickle down effect of sportsmanship and strategy could only help the levels of play.
There are some motivators for adult play. The few leagues around the country do encourage some participation. Excellent tournaments such as the Hyder, the Price Bullington, The Friends of Squash Grand Masters, The William H White, The Eastern States and of course the Nationals all encourage some participation. And the introduction of regional skill level events has pulled a few more players into the fold. Of course many players just play for exercise and a love of the game. But by and large, adult players only play against adult players and the participation in open tournaments seems to have decayed in many areas.
More motivators are needed.
One such that is enjoying great success in the UK is the regional masters series and the opportunity to play for one’s country. The North South East West and Midlands Masters events are all qualifying events for selection to the England team in your age group, with every age from 35+ to 70+ for men and 35+ to 55+ for women offering the opportunity of an international cap. Few things pull harder at the heart-strings than the opportunity to play for your national flag. For sometime I have been trying to push for such an opportunity for American masters squash. Who among our wonderful group of masters players wouldn’t kill for the opportunity to wear the Stars and Stripes against the Maple Leaf of Canada or the Mexican Eagle?
I have tried to promote this idea with US Squash but as yet it hasn’t been met with much enthusiasm or support. (STOP PRESS: US SQUASH HAS JUST APPOINTED ME TO CHAIR THE US MASTERS COMMITTEE -SO HERE WE GO- 10/12/12) The English masters team offered to travel to the US to play against a US team, another chance to fight the revolutionary war on the Squash court! Unfortunately again this proposal didn’t result in an enthusiastic active response. Last year the World masters was held in Germany and all the great playing nations of the world sent their best players to compete for world honors. Except the USA. Eight American residents attended – several of whom were internationals now resident in the US. I asked US Squash to publicise this event at last year’s nationals in Rhode Island and my request unfortunately was not deemed to be of sufficient importance to warrant the official backing that I had hoped for.
( NB – For those readers that are interested in American representation on the world scene: The British Open Masters should be taking place in Nottingham, England in June of this year and The World Masters will be taking place in Birmingham England in July of next year. To monitor British, European and World Masters events, regularly visit http://www.englandsquashmasters.com
Several US players did attend the World Masters in Birmingham in England in July and met with considerable success. In particular Sue Lawrence won the women’s 50+ and Dominic Hughes had an incredible run to reach the final of the Men’s 50+ after beating the number one seed.
The World Masters Games to be held in Turin, Italy in August of 2013 has just announced that, after initially not including Squash, it will in fact be included – so get ready!
Additionally if you wish to play in a high level Masters tournament and like to travel – the English Regional masters events are all open events and you are welcome and encouraged to play in them. You will find their details on the website mentioned above also.)
I am personally disappointed with the lack of drive behind Masters representative Squash. It seems to me that Masters players are often the people whose check books open to support the US Squash association and that, such financial support could only be increase were there an official organization of national Master’s team qualification events and international test matches against Canada, Mexico, The Caribbean and even European, Antipodean, Asian and African teams.
Enthusiasm drives participation and participation increases support – for the game as a whole.
If we are to see US squash thrive in the way that I believe it to be capable of – the Masters constituency must be driven to interact with both the Junior and College constituency and one sure way to do that is to increase numbers, teams and cross-constituency competition.
The US under 19 team should be playing annually against the US over 40 team, the U16 against the 45+ team., Colleges should have a US College team playing against the US 35+ team or the National team and so on and so forth. This is the way to increase interest and support – by interaction.
We are after all playing the same sport and we should all be a part of the same team. Go US Squash!
The adult Squash players and particularly the masters constituency of US Squash are a powerful constituency. They have the capacity to seriously support US Squash and its programs. However they need powerful reasons to stay involved. Otherwise, with aches and pains and injuries, the draw of the golf course and general apathy due to a lack of interesting and new goals, they will drift away and be lost to the game.
Adult squash players need motivation. National team representation would be a powerful motivator.
US Adult squash players tend to play in small circles within their own constituency.
So enough of the doom and gloom. Remember we do have some of the best raw materials of any nation in world squash today.
Our issue is that in large part* ( see bottom of page) our individual constituencies of players don’t mix.
We need to get all of our players playing with and against each other.
We need to be a team.
We need a catalyst.
And – while it isn’t yet affecting everyone – we’ve got one.
Greg Zaff gave it to us.
Squash Busters, Street Squash, CitySquash, Squash Smarts, Squash Haven, Metro Squash, Chucktown Squash to name but a few.
These are the bright lights of the future of US squash. Veritable beacons!
Why? Because like no other program, these programs bring us together.
Where else can you find, Juniors, College Students, recent Alums, Parents, powerful business people and old farts like me, all working together in Squash?
Only at these programs.
Perhaps Greg Zaff saw all this when he had his light bulb moment and conceived the idea for Squash Busters. I don’t know. I am sure that everyone involved is primarily there for the benefit of the ‘at-risk’ children that they are helping. But the benefit to US squash in breaking down the barriers between the isolated constituencies that have hitherto had practically nothing to do with each other, is immense.
Every one of these programs ought to be holding an annual fundraising tournament and every Junior player, College player, Downtown and Country club player, adult and masters level player should be playing in it – against each other.
We should have team leagues that follow that example and the schools and colleges need to come out of their ivory towers and play against everyone in the melting pot.
Where possible players should play in their skill level against opposition of all ages and genders. Learn from people of worldly experience, be delighted by the willingness of youth, be amazed by the development of new skills, surprised by the wiliness of age.
Of course periodically each constituency should play and be tested within their own group. But not all the time!
Let US Squash use the example of Squash Busters and its peer programs. Mix up the melting pot! Motivate all players to play!
We have a wonderful Pluribus.
Now we need to move toward becoming a wonderful Unum.
Richard Millman 3/5/11
* Programs on the West Coast and some other small playing populations do integrate more than the norm for mainstream ( and particularly East Coast) programs. Although originally this may have been due to lack of numbers, it has resulted in some first class play and players. I dearly hope that as playing numbers increase, these West Coast programs and others don’t lose their fully integrated playing programs and end up as segregated as their East Coast counterparts. Owing to geography Canada has positively influenced these programs. Additionally international coaches have found it easier to grow playing systems that they grew up with in their home countries in these locations, than perhaps they would have, had they had settled on the East Coast.
Note: I originally wrote this piece in 2011. I have added a couple of comments today and I am generally optimistic about Masters Squash if we can overcome the apathy that daily life sometimes imparts.
I have just returned from the US Open where I saw two particularly relevant events that relate to this blog.
1. The brilliant college player Todd Harrity played the Scottish journeyman squash player Alan Clyne. As I expected Harrity exploded into the first game at a pace that no human being could maintain – as is the wont of college squash players. After the initial shock Clyne settled down to absorb Harrity’s attacks. Harrity won the first – demonstrating the talent and ability of America’s best and then having over-committed, faded as I expected him to – hardly able to keep the ball in play over the last game and a half.
2. I watched the America’s journeyman Squash player Chris Gordon – who has spent 6 or 7 years on the PSA tour learning his trade, play in the main draw against the brilliant Egyptian Hisham Ashour. Far from exploding into the first game, Gordon focused on patient, extremely tight, absorbing limiting play while countering Ashour’s mercurial brilliance. The result was that Ashour was frustrated and Gordon combined both the street knowledge and the deep mental and physical stamina that he has learned during his time studying at the University of Squash – the PSA. Gordon won – his greatest ever victory in Squash.
I remember Chris when he was 12 years old. A decent junior, but no genius. No-one would have accused him of being brilliant. But from that less than stellar junior beginning he has achieved results that few Americans in history have achieved.
Now not all American squash players want to be world class Squash players. But if a few of the brilliant players such as Harrity put in some steady work for four or five years on the PSA – while studying at the same time – as so many of the other PSA youngsters do, maybe our players might learn to play mature squash – in stead of the whack and back, over testosteronosed version that so often is the result of Inter-collegiate play.
Which will be the first college team to have the vision to encourage its players to play at least 8 professional events per season? Whoever they are – they will do more to advance American squash collectively, than anyone has ever done before.
This is, in my opinion, potentially the finest nation for the development of Squash. But without stars to reach for, will we strive for averageness or try to persuade ourselves that our top players are better than they actually are?
In the game of Squash world-wide, we are indeed fortunate to have an enormously broad and deep human asset pool.
We have innovators who are developing the way the game is broadcast. Innovators who are developing the way the game is marketed. Innovators who are constantly striving to evolve the equipment we use.
But how many players, coaches, referees, administrators and promoters accept the game as it is and how many ask deep and searching questions about the status quo? In my own writing I try and promote deep questioning thought and of course, when I come across those who seem to have a similar bent, I am delighted.
In my book ‘Angles’ I tried to pique the curiosity of readers by challenging accepted wisdom and asking contributors to reveal their own thoughts on the subjects that my poems considered.
At 52 years old, having been in Squash almost all my life, I am gradually becoming a little more tolerant and considerate of ideas that oppose my own – and perhaps a little more effective at outlining the reasons for my differing.
How refreshing it is then when an individual comes to the fore who is young, considerate and importantly a deep thinking individual who profoundly investigates ideas to the point of continually challenging and evolving their own previously held values.
Such an individual, it seems to me, is James Willstrop.
It is of course wonderful that he has become the number one player in the world. And wonderful that he is such an extraordinary exponent of our game.
But if you have read any of his writing either in his regular newspaper columns or his new book: ‘A Shot and a Ghost,’ or elsewhere, you will appreciate that his playing of the game is actually a physical realization of a very complex and deep mind.
James Willstrop is the world number one, but I suspect that his contribution to the sport will go far beyond that accolade – rare as it is.
Since I have suffered both hip and knee injuries and impact has become a serious concern for me, I have looked for alternative training methods to both prepare and maintain myself for intensive Squash competition.
The “discovery” of Medicine Ball training has been a lifesaver.
I have used the Medicine Ball in one way or another since I was a kid at school, but more recently I have incorporated it in my coaching and training. If I am honest ‘though, I had mainly subjected my students to the Medicine Ball routines and hadn’t done a great deal myself.
When I still owned a Squash club, I invited famed Sports Specific trainer Damon Leedale Brown to come and offer some Functional Training sessions to my members. I also participated and the experience proved to be something of a light bulb for me.
Damon had worked extensively with James Willstrop and Vanessa Atkinson – both world number one Squash players at various times – and had studied extensively how the movement patterns of Squash players both function and breakdown.
When we fatigue our musculatures naturally default to less efficient movement patterns and Damon was able to explore Sports Specific exercises to counter the loss of efficiency.
Much of this work was developed using the Medicine Ball.
After my sessions with Damon, I began to develop exercises based on my own knowledge of Squash and specific to the types of movement that I needed to be able to reproduce.
The net result is that I now have a simple training program that I try to use once or twice per week.
I am delighted with the results.
Not only are my joints protected, but my movement efficiency on the court is noticeably improved when I do the Medicine Ball sessions consistently.
With my existing hip and knee injuries, my form when reproducing these exercises is not the best – so rather than trying to emulate me – I strongly advise you to read and watch some of the numerous brochures/ videos that there are available on the net, in order to gain the correct impression of how these exercises are done. See the links below.
www.coreperformance.com is a great site with powerful information that is of great practical value to Squash players – particularly if you interpret your own movement patterns when you are fresh and try to analyze how you are breaking down when you are fatigued. You can also follow them on twitter: @coreperformance
When you purchase a Medicine Ball I would recommend that you buy a ball that is comfortable for you. If you have never done any medicine ball training and you are a slight person or a junior who hasn’t passed puberty yet I would suggest a very light ball – no more than 4 pounds. I myself use a 6 or 8 pound ball and find that more than adequate. If you are in great shape and have used Medicine Balls a lot you might want 8 or 10 pounds – but try the lighter ball first. There is great advice for how to select your Medicine Ball at www.coreperformance.com
I would recommend the rubberized ball that bounces as you can do a broad range of exercises with these balls.You can purchase your this equipment at www.performbetter.com. This is a great site to buy your Medicine Ball.
My typical session includes 4 to 6 different exercises. I typically do 15 reps of the leg and arm focused exercises, and around 30 of the core based exercises.
I try to do a Squash movement such as the one in the picture below (see images below and excuse my form), followed by a core exercise and then a swinging arm exercise and then a Squat and upward driving movement exercise. If I do my 15 reps for each exercise (both sides if the exercise involves lateral movements) and 30 reps for my core exercises and repeat the whole series twice, it typically takes me between 30 minutes to an hour.
Once or twice a week in addition to my stamina and sprint sessions, plus my games and training/practice sessions seems to provide this 52 year old body with a strong foundation for competition.
I strongly recommend you try this program. If you are not sure of your movements you should get some advice from a trainer or experienced Medicine ball user. Certainly watch the available videos carefully.
I would love to hear about your results so please get back to me with your findings!
Meanwhile – Good Training to you!
Top Row Squash Movements – Bottom Row Coordinating Medicine Ball Movements: