Richard Millman in association with Meadow Mill Athletic Club
A weekend with The Squash Doctor
Friday to Sunday July 12, 13 and 14 at the Meadow Mill Athletic Club, Clipper Mill Rd, Baltimore, Maryland.
Come and have a fun, informative, competitive and challenging weekend with Richard
Experience the unique, thoughtful and focused approach to Squash that has helped
Richard to successfully train players at every level from beginners to international
champions and that he uses himself in his approach to his own game,
In a twelve hour weekend of intensive coaching, The Squash Doctor will give you a
prescription for your own unique development and send you away with a multitude of
ideas and options to improve your game.
To sign up contact Richard at: email@example.com or phone him on 843 323
7340 and fill in and return the form below before Wed July 3rd 12noon.
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Cost of Program – $395 Schedule: Friday 5-8, Saturday 9-12 & 1.30-4.30, Sunday 10-1.
Accommodation: Radisson Cross Keys – mention the Meadow Mill rate.
More musings and ramblings from The Squash Doctor.
I apologize that it has been a while since my last written rant on the subject of Squash, my up and down competitive journey and things that are current in my thinking and/or interest.
Some of you may be grateful for this lapse since several of my previous pieces have lured you in on the promise of interesting content only to morph into epistles only slight shorter than War and Peace.
Be warned! I make no guarantee that this will not happen again here.
However, in hopes of not losing you at the outset, here briefly is what I hope that this piece is going to be about:
The US National Championships in Stamford Connecticut, USA
The Canadian Nationals in Markham Ontario, Canada.
The Rules of Squash.
Big Ball Squash.
There you have it.
I know that in the past I have teased you and dragged you screaming and kicking through the stories of my exploits, never revealing the outcome until I have tried your patience to the limit, leading you to question the value of life itself and why you ever started reading the blasted piece in the first place. For that I apologize and I thank you for your loyalty in seeing the task through. If by some strange chance you went through that laborious process and you are here with me now ( possibly hardly able to believe that you have allowed yourself to be gulled once again) – let me relieve you right now. I won. Both the US 50+ and the Canadian 50+.
No drawn out melodrama – not yet anyway.
However I will tell you my stories in both events and my recollection of my thoughts -hopes and fears – and my observations, which I hope you will find both helpful to the sport and to yourselves and your friends.
Now, if you find yourself presently in a predicament where you have an appointment or some other pressing concern impending upon you immediately or in the very near future, I suggest you take a break here and return at some point later when you can steel yourself manfully, or womanfully as the case may be, for the mammoth task at hand.
Should you choose to proceed now – Bon chance mon brave! I will be with you all the way.
Since last we communed after the Canadian National Championships in May of 2013 at the incomparable White Oaks Country club venue at Niagara-on-the-lake, a lot of water has flowed under the proverbial Ponte.
You will remember that I had somewhat sceptically agreed to try drinking Cheribundi on a daily basis on the advice of my friend Kirk Sigel, an investor in the manufacturing company.
You will also remember ( and if you do not you can quickly remedy the lack by reading the tale on my blog – Millmansquash.wordpress.com) my account of that memorable match where I and my great friend and rival Dominic Hughes battled practically to a standstill before, having fortunately saved several match balls in the fourth, I won an epic fifth game 14-12 to win the match and my first Canadian title.
Throughout the tournament I had been struggling with my right knee which had never properly recovered from surgery and a much to rapid return to competitive Squash in the UK the previous year. However the combination of wonderful treatment from the resident Chiropracter Dr Joe Pelino, known as ACT or Active Release Therapy and the extraordinary anti-inflammatory and restorative affects of Cheribundi, saw me progress from little more that a limping invalid in my first match to a veritable terrier or perhaps more aptly a Golden retriever in the final against Dominic.
Since then I have continued drinking Cheribundi as near to daily as I am able and have recommended its use, welcoming all skepticism to many clients and friends.
Both I and my fellow Cheribundi drinking acquaintance and friends have reported nothing but positive results in the interim. In addition to the anti-inflammatory affects, recent research has revealed that Tart Cherry juice, of which Cheribundi is composed (with nothing else but a little apple juice for sweetness and preservative) has also been found to have valuable anti-aging properties and also to be one of the premier anti-oxidants available.
I strongly recommend that you research this product and, should you find the information interesting, order your Cheribundi from http://www.cheribundi.com.
You will not be disappointed.
( This may be a suitable juncture, my fellow traveller, at which to search out some refreshment or to otherwise prepare yourself for the next stage of the battle.)
Let us return to my friend Dominic Hughes.
Not only is Dominic a fierce, but fair, magical and merciless competitor – he is also an avid student of the game and all things Squash related. During and after the Canadian nationals I and one of our fellow competitors, Chris Sadler from Barrie, Ontario, waxed lyrical to Dominic on the subject of diet and in particular a wonderful program lately gathering much attention known as the Paleo Diet.
Both Chris and I and my wife Pat had been following this eating system and had both lost a good deal of weight and found ourselves with more energy.
Dominic was interested and proceeded to take the time and trouble to research the thing. Finding that he liked what he saw, he plunged in and drank of the proverbial KoolAid.
Now, if , as I am sure most you are and have been, you are a serious competitor in this sport, you will know that, unpleasant as it is at the time, there is nothing better for one’s competitive juices than a good swift kick up the backside to get you back on the right track.
This, is turns out, is precisely what my encounter at the Canadian Nationals 2012 proved to be.
Dominic went home with less of a bee in his bonnet and more of a wasp up his backside. Oh don’t worry – he was extremely magnanimous in defeat after our match.
But he wasn’t happy.
So he went home, started the Paleo, and got mean.
And brother did he get mean!
( By all means take a breath at this point dear reader. Go ahead. Inhale with gusto! It’s free.)
The next major event on the calendar in 2012 was the World Masters in Birmingham, England.
Following our 6 month sojourn in the UK, in consideration of my pre-Canadian nationals knee worries and my distinct lack of funds after attempting to make some sort of a living in the UK, Pat and I decided that I would not enter the World Masters. I really didn’t think I would be fit quite honestly and as much as it grieved me ( since winning a World title is one of my fondest personal dreams) I decided that going home to Charleston and building a new business so we could pay our bills, was the better form of valor.
As luck would have it, things fell into place very nicely as I first went and did a summer camp for Dominic at his wonderful club Berwyn ( where my son Joe is happily building his and Berwyn’s reputation for being a first class teaching academy and welcoming Squash and Fitness club), then visited my great friend Damon Bourne at the lovely Madison Squash Workshop and spent a great week working with him and his members and finally landed at the stellar Meadow Mill Athletic club at the invitation of the charismatic ‘Squash Mom’ Deborah Gore-Dean and club owner Nancy Cushman, where I enjoyed working with nationally ranked children for the first time in the USA in years – in any meaningful sort of way.
This proved to be providential as there was room indeed a need for an addition coach to run one of Mrs Gore-Dean’s academies and happily I was able to fill the spot. An easy direct flight from Charleston to Baltimore facilitated my weekly visits for the foreseeable future.
So my financial stability was less uncertain and professionally I was on the kind of track that I love to ride – helping talented people on the amazing life-journey that is Squash
( Should you have a glass of water or orange juice to hand – or perchance a beverage of a more adult nature – now would be an excellent moment the wet or indeed whet (should you wish it to achieve sharpness) the whistle.)
Meanwhile my friend Dominic, had entered the World Masters in Birmingham.
Having done so and having lost to me in Canada and having started on the Paleo diet, he was becoming leaner and meaner by the day.
It is perhaps an understandable trait of my countrymen in dear old England, that – when they are unfamiliar with a chap from over here, and that none of the chaps over there can immediately vouch for him, a chap from over here may not seem worthy to the eminent chaps over there. And when a chap does not appear worthy, then a chap doesn’t get seeded.
Now lest it be said that I am tarring the whole of the wonderful English Squash family with one brush, let me say that the work that England Squash Masters have done in developing Masters squash is ( in my humble opinion and based solely on my experience) foremost in the world and we ( not just the English ‘we’ as in ‘me’ – but the whole masters world ) should be grateful because Masters squash would not have progressed anywhere near to its current healthy and strongly evolving state without that august body.
However I did personally write to advise the seeding committee that Dominic was at least as strong if not stronger than myself. That may of course, have ultimately been to the detriment of Dominic as the honorable Chairman of the England Squash Master, the ebullient and evergreen Martin Pearse ( the Chairman) has always thought of me as, and I quote, ‘Millman, that little fat bloke who can’t move.’ Now in fairness he has revised that assessment in recent years and has been most generous to me, but one can’t help thinking that the image may have remained with others who disdained my estimation of Dominic. Or perhaps my missive miscarried and failed to reach the target.
Whatever the case, Dominic Hughes,revved up his computer and opened the draw of the 2012 50+ World Masters Championships to find himself unseeded, directly in the path of one Geoff Davenport of Australia, number one seed, a player who had never lost a match in his entire World Master’s career.
Other’s would have complained, muttered, moaned. Appealed for reason or some such.
He was already mean. I’d seen to that.
Now -he got meaner.
I can’t personally describe the events as they unfolded as I wasn’t there ( I am sure you are grateful for that particular absence.)
This, however, is my understanding of how events unfolded:
In the first round I believe that Dominic prevailed unencumbered. In the next round he was due to meet a seeded player – as it happens a school chum of mine by the name of John Cordeaux – one of the bravest players I ever met on a Squash court – lately making a wonderful comeback after an enforced medical absence from the game of many years.
Dominic emailed me for the inside scoop on John to which I had to apologetically say nay as I felt I couldn’t help Dominic against John anymore than I could help John against Dominic.
As it happened the issue was moot as John pulled out with an injury.
This left Dominic up against Geoff Davenport – possibly one of the most dominant number one seeds in the whole of Masters Squash.
My good friend Mark Talbott was taught the meaning of the words ‘Overconfidence can be disastrous’ by his wonderful and equally legendary father Doc Talbott.
It’s a good story that I won’t tell here that ends with Mark wearing women’s underwear and sitting on a plate of ice-cream.,
Anyway I don’t say that he was overconfident but, the esteemed and acclaimed Davenport never really knew what hit him. Eyewitnesses to the crime tell me that Dominic abused the former champion in four games. Sorry Geoff….. hope you enjoyed your flight back to Oz. Ouch!
Dominic then had to play my old nemesis the extraordinary evergreen Scot Alan Thomson. If you regularly subject yourself to my scribbling, you will know that I have had epic tussles with this grizzly Caledonian who is rightly well celebrated by the poets.
Sadly for Alan, Dominic hadn’t heard the poets and the gritty Scot was summarily dismissed in three.
Next was the semi final. Dominic’s opponent for this may not be a familiar name to regular sufferers of my prose but to any international Squash person he is a legend. Zainal Abijdin has been the terror of Singapore for many-a-year. His deception is mythical.
A battle royal ensued where Dominic had his backbone and his intestines rearranged on a constant basis. According to Dominic, in the fifth game Abijdin exclaimed the words ‘there’s hope!’
The sudden realization that the Singaporian had actually been feeling hope-less, immediately re-invigorated Dominic and he dug deep to eke out the win of a lifetime.
It was an extraordinary performance. Unseeded he had decimated the draw and the tougher half at that. Meanwhile our Canadian/Irish friend Willy Hosey had ripped through the bottom half unscathed.
Dominic appeared in the final against Willy but his battle had been fought in the semi. Lean, mean and a champion in all but name he returned to the USA.
I watched with interest. And fear.
( Should you find yourself at this point in the throes of a titanic struggle to keep your fluttering eyelids open – give it up! Release yourself to sleep’s warm embrace – even if it should be 11.15am. Otherwise: Gird yourself traveller! We go on!)
The summer came and went. Fall season was upon us and with it the intensity that is the US Junior Squash scene. Rankings, tournaments, infinite lessons and of course in Baltimore the academies.
For me it was a refreshing and interesting re-entry into the junior world. Having had relatively little to do with it for the preceding 6 years in Charleston I found myself incognito, literally unknown to the fast majority of the parents and children of the US Junior scene despite my long and without wishing to be immodest rather successful track record.
As a result the students that came to me were initially the second tier kids – those that were the bronze and silver students other than one or two higher level players who knew what I was all about.
So I set to to do the job that I love – build people -through the medium of Squash – from the ground up. And what fun I had ( and am having at the time of writing).
People that had never been exposed to the concepts and systems that I used were alternately fascinated and amazed and my business flourished, bolstered by my wonderful three days a week in my beloved Charleston – finally back in my beautiful home with my back porch facing the natural wetland and the man made lake behind our house.
Even one day of sun and the polite and friendly company of Charlestonians – particularly those in my neighborhood – and I can easily face the grey winter days of that country close to or north of the Mason-Dixon line. Without that day or two however…. call the therapist and make me an appointment!
The weeks turned into months and as Thanksgiving and the holidays approached, thoughts of the US Nationals and 2013 approached.
Time to plan. Time to train. Time to think about Dominic Hughes.
What did he have in store for me.
What could I offer to him?
Of course imagination is a powerful and sometimes powerful thing. What was Dominic up to? Having lost to me in Canada and then performed so startlingly well in the Worlds, I could only think that, in the words of the vernacular, at the US Nationals he would ‘bring it.’
Of course forewarned is forearmed and with that in mind I started to prepare.
Hope for the best. Expect the worst.
I started doing more sprint work on the bike. Typically 4 to 6 one minute on, one minute rest. I started upping my morning work out. First 20 push-ups, 20 leg raises, 20 lateral leg lifts each side, repeating the sequence twice if I could manage it.
Eventually I got doing just one set of 50 of each of them – although I seemed to fatigue out on the push-ups and could only do 50 some of the time.
I started arranging games with the other pros at Meadow Mill. Trying to keep up with guys of 10 or 20 years younger than me. Hard work – but I did OK and all the time I was feeling fitter.
By the time we got into early January I was planning a preparatory tournament – the South Eastern’s at Tom Rumpler’s club in Atlanta – Mid Town.
Now I don’t want to offend anyone, but Tom does run a superb tournament. If you haven’t been to one of his events – go. Perhaps the best is the Grand Masters in the first week in December – whether you are from the US, Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean or even if you fancy a trip from the UK – you won’t be disappointed. The draws are excellent and the hospitality first class.
By the way at this point it was almost a year since we heard the terrible news of Michael Rothenberg’s passing. I miss him and I know a whole host of you in the Squash community do. He was one of ‘the ones’ you know – they don’t come around too often. Too soon gone.
As if that wasn’t enough suddenly there was news of one of our most beloved coaches being ill. Bob Callahan is a legend. He is the father of the modern Squash camp. All other camps are based on his superb original design. And the countless young men that have graduated from his Princeton program who have gone on to be leaders in their fields and throughout the world – well his contribution is beyond value and beyond my capacity to adequately describe. Bob, as you may know is stepping down from his post. But we of the Squash world will always be grateful and never forget him. He is a hero in the story of Squash. Thank you Bob.
Anyway back to my preparations for my expected forthcoming confrontation with one my personal Squash heroes – the aforementioned Mr Dominic Hughes.
Off we popped to Atlanta. Taking this opportunity, we visited with our dear friends Lana and Ed Quibell. Lana was off to visit her daughter Michelle in Seattle on the Saturday so our only chance to spend an evening with her was Friday.
This we did with, as it turned out, excessive gusto.
Generally I am religious about not drinking alcohol before competitions. Doc Talbott taught me that 72 hours is the minimum required to get it out of your system -so I just avoid it altogether – usually.
But we were having a great time with Ed and Lana. Ed is a great lover of red wine – and so am I – and Ed is a superb host. Before I knew it four bottles were gone.
And the ladies weren’t drinking.
When I woke up on Saturday – three hours before my first match, I wasn’t sure what State I was in.
State. Province. Country even.
I got to the club and tried to avoid eye contact and certainly conversation with anyone.
I was finding it difficult to put coherent thoughts together – never mind having a cheery chat with an old friend.
I went to warm up on a bike and tried to drink a small lake full of water in hopes of flushing out the guilt and some of the wine.
Eventually my opponent, Brian Warner – the son of the sponsor – arrived; and we played a somewhat brittle, short sharp match that I won. I don’t think any of the rallies were more than 7 shots. I don’t know if Brian had been on the same track as me the previous evening, but fortunately for me he didn’t ask me to do too much.
This took me to the semi finals against one Atlanta’s great players and characters, the Malaysian magician, Chris Tham. Chris played for Malaysia as a junior. His hands are simply ridiculous. Fortunately his usual physical state is less magical and if one can return his crazy shots, he will eventually run out of gas. That’s the theory anyway.
On this occasion the program worked out somewhat differently.
The first two games were neck and neck with me flinging my pickled frame around the court to retrieve the deft flicks and boasts that he spewed carelessly from his mercurial hands. I won them both 11-9. In the third game I was going to do the same again and of course, I knew that Chris would probably give up – as this much work was not normally in his personal game plan. All was going to plan except Chris didn’t seem to understand the formula that I had prescribed and unbelievably – kept trying.
I lost the game 8-11. Irritating, but no harm done I thought. I’ll just hurt him in the next one and he’ll collapse. Sadly the script that I was writing didn’t account for a strangely enthusiastic Chris Tham and the quantity of wine that I had imbibed. It turned out that the ‘collapsee’ was me, as Chris wracked my body with pain asking me to go get myriad boasts and then volleying whatever I managed to get back. My legs absolutely turned to jelly and I lost 11-2 in the fifth.
I limped home to Charleston, much chagrined.
Subtext: Never drink before a tournament. Ever.
But I wasn’t out of the woods.
( This is probably a good time to take a break. Go ahead. I’ll wait. No really…… I promise I won’t go anywhere.)
I now had less than two weeks until the US Nationals at Natalie Grainger’s new club Chelsea Piers in Stamford, Connecticut.
Plenty of recovery time right?
I went up to Charlotte, North Carolina where I coach one or two days per week.
I got on court and … still couldn’t move. Nothing. Nada. Legs not working. Zero spring. Zero take-off.
In this sport if you don’t have a good first step you may as well have no steps at all. Especially against someone like Dominic Hughes. When Dominic intercepts it’s like daylight robbery. You see it happening but you can’t believe that anyone would do that right in front of you.
I went up to Baltimore and played a couple of games against some decent opposition and sort of picked my body up and threw it at the front of the court in desperation. It wasn’t pretty and my confidence didn’t improve.
After that it was off to Stamford.
The new facility at Chelsea Piers in Stamford is very impressive. With multiple Ice Rinks, Swimming Pools, Gymnastics halls, a dozen Tennis courts, 12 beautiful new Squash Courts, fitness and weights galore, pro-shops, cafeterias, waiting rooms, auditoriums, creches………….. well you get the idea. It’s like a veritable Disney for sports.
All the courts are basically the same except the end one that has a glass side-wall. Yuck! Not just ‘ Yuck’ for this court mark you. No…’Yuck’ in general for all single glass sidewall courts and even two glass sidewall courts with grey non-descript backgrounds. Depth perception goes out of the window (literally!) and instead of the game being the focus, the fear of losing the ball becomes the main concern and desperately detracts from the match at hand. You’d think in this day and age architects and Squash professionals would have ironed out all the kinks so that courts like the all glass and three-sided glass at Yale and the amazing fishbowl at Trinity where blue glass is backed by blue walls, would be a thing of the past. In my view Yale’s all glass would be better with dark walls and using a white ball and Trinity would be better either stocking that court with Beluga whales like the Aquarium in Atlanta where we all had such a wonderful time the last time they ran the Nationals, or at least choosing a seriously dark color for the outside walls and using a white ball. The last time I played against Dominic there we both felt like we needed sub-aqua gear and came off the court with a nasty case of the Bends!
At the Chelsea Piers facility all the courts are pretty consistently good with the exception of the glass sidewall court – which probably would be better with a bright white twin vue film applied to it so that the contract with the black ball would be sufficient.
I would also suggest Tennis Umpires chairs behind all the courts to that referee’s could be heard and could get a decent view of the players and vice-verse.
It was however wonderful for everyone to be in the same venue and the camaraderie of the Nationals – which is an essential factor for people coming from all over the country – was first class.
I started my campaign with a match against DC player Ross Campbell. He volleyed everything and gave me conniptions until I realized that he was standing at least a yard behind the short line for the entire match. I played a drop shot from the back of the court which he never moved to. So I played another. And another. And another. You get the picture. Lucky for me he didn’t manage to adjust.
In round two I played Mark Sealy from Barbados. A former Tennis player who was built like a couple of garages stuck together, he gave me a terrific tussle before I finally put in one very long rally that seemed to sap him and I came out as a 3-1 winner. Fortunately my legs did work and I finished this one feeling marginally better than I did against Ross, which in turn was marginally better than I felt the week after the Southeasterns.
I was progressing at the rate of a turbo charged snail. But I was progressing.
Next was the semi final.
I had been warming up religiously, drinking a bottle of Cheribundi everyday and drinking water to the point that I needed to visit the men’s room every five to ten minutes.
In addition I had been using a neoprene roller to stretch with both before and after my matches and was feeling much better with regard to muscle and joint flexibility and mobility.
My opponent in the semi was Mark Reed from New Hampshire who had lost to Dominic in the final the previous year. Mark had a superlative ability to play straight attacking short volleys – many of which resulted in kill shots. It took me a while to adjust to this as I am so used to players ( other than Dominic) struggling with my floats and lobs and so I was unprepared for a player like Mark who positively relished these shots for a while. However I have so often found over the years that this apparent love affair with playing attacking volleys from my floats and lobs can be something of a Trojan horse as what first feels like a successful venture often deteriorates into torture as the the energy with which players first attack gradually ebbs and eventually, reaching up for the float or lob become so physically debilitating that the player becomes fatigued beyond the point at which they can defend themselves. Fortunately for me this seemed to be the situation with Mark, who having played so well to begin, ran out of gas.
This one I won in three straight – to progress to the final – and the aforementioned worriesome encounter with Dominic.
I never pay much attention to how things are going on the otherside of the draw in my tournament play. I am so consumed with playing each of my matches that I don’t seem to have the time or the inclination to check things out on that score. However, I did bother to find out what happened in Dominic’s semi with my friend Will Carlin.
Now I know Will has been revitalized of late having gotten past injuries and to a point in his life where he feels able to give of his best in training and competition. So I suspected he was on a warlike path. And so it proved as he had apparently given Dominic quite a battle, narrowly missing what would have been an historic win, in the end losing an incredibly tight four setter.
One can’t read too much into these situations but I have to say I was happier with Dominic playing a four set semi than I would have been if it had only been three.
So we came to our final. And for this game I had an interesting and quirky piece of good fortune. As I was warming up I bumped into Eric Raynor from Salt Lake.
We passed the time of day and Eric mentioned that he had watched the final of the Canadian 50+ the previous May where Dominic and I had had a humdinger and I had somehow, miraculously gained the 14-12 in the fifth victory that had been the precursor to Dominic’s stellar World Masters run. In the course of our chat Eric expressed his admiration for how I had, on a number of occasions during that match, held the ball at the front of the court and suddenly and deceptively smacked it straight down the wall past Dominic resulting in an outright winner. When Eric mentioned this I was somewhat dumbfounded as I had completely forgotten about this tactic which I had fallen upon entirely by chance. Pondering on this, I wished Eric a pleasant day and continued my preparations.
The first game with Dominic was a close run affair with nothing much to choose between us. It was a bit frantic as nervy first games sometimes are and I got to game ball first. However Dominic stiffened his resolve and turned things around at the last moment and won the game.
In the second the rallies got longer and became more about testing each other than winning points. I suddenly remembered my conversation with Eric and, waiting for the right opportunity, when Dominic took me to the front of the court, unloaded the passing shot. It worked. I then set to building tough rallies as my fitness felt good and although I couldn’t put my finger on anything specific, I didn’t feel that Dominic was his usual sparky self firing on all cylinders.
I won the second quite strongly and then the real test came in the third. We had some amazing rallies and I must say my court coverage surprised me. I was able to retrieve a lot of Dominic’s wonderful attacking shots and returned them with some interest into the back corners – with occasional passing shots a la Eric Raynor-esque description.
Finally we had a mammoth rally during which we took the ball and each other to the four corners of the world, before I put Dominic in the back forehand corner and he capitulated, hitting a boast whilst leaning against the sidewall. I of course hit his boast exactly back to where he was standing and he duly won the point, but the die was cast – he had leaned against the wall.
After that I won the third and gained a good lead in the fourth. My mind couldn’t quite handle the idea that I was leading and several times I nearly strayed from the game plan to start thinking about the result and even to whether I was going to throw it away – which is of course stupid because one can’t throw away something that one doesn’t yet have – but such are the ludicrous machinations of the mind if one ever stops focusing on performance and game plan in favor of the outcome and winning or losing.
It is a lesson easily explained but it can be a lifetime in the learning.
In the end I prevailed and in spite of my fears of the specter of a vindictive Dominic Hughes coming back to bite me after our match in Canada at the end of the previous season, I played a great match and won my second US Nationals 50+ title. Dominic was particularly complimentary in his comments after the match – which is the mark of the man – magnanimous in defeat. I am pretty sure that he didn’t feel or perform his best – but he never made mention of this to me.
I stepped upstairs to the very pleasant and ambient bar that I am sure is a testament to Natalie Grainger’s professional understanding that Squash and conviviality are essential partners, and ordered a very satisfying glass of Bourbon (the first alcohol that had passed my lips since my debacle in Atlanta.)
(I feel it important at this point to mention nutrition. You simply can’t keep reading without some proper nourishment. What’s in the fridge? A toothsome lettuce leaf? A chunk of relatively unmildewed cheese perhaps. Yesterday’s Chinese? Feel your stomach grinding? Quick. Eat. And then…who knows where we are going to blog off to next…….?)
Earlier on during the tournament I had asked Dominic if he was coming to the Canadian’s again this year in May. He told me that he thought it unlikely as he had plenty to do back at Berwyn. After our final I wondered if his competitive juices would be flowing extra hard and if he would change his mind. But he didn’t and when just under two months later the draw for the Canadian National’s came out, his name was nowhere to be seen.
The other name I was expecting with great trepidation was that of Dominic’s vanquisher in the final of the World Open in Birmingham – the amazing Willie Hosey.
The tournament was being held at the Mayfair Parkway Racquet club in Markham, Toronto – where Willie is the pro.
Imagine then the mixture of feelings I experienced when I discovered that Willie’s name didn’t appear in the 50+ draw but instead was in the 40+ draw.
On the one hand I wouldn’t have to deal with the World number 1 over 50 but on the other hand I wouldn’t get to play the World number 1 over 50.
Then I stopped to think for a moment. There was no guarantee that I would get to that stage of the event anyway even if Willie did enter.
It is a peculiar fact of life that we find it easier to step up against a player ranked just above ourselves in Squash than we do to fend off a player ranked just below us.
I find this a particular enigma since my years of experience as both a player and a coach have made it clear that human beings find it a lot easier to fight for survival than to kill. You will often notice that at the very moment it seems as though an opponent is going to finish off the player he trying to beat, that the player who appears about to be beaten will make a desperate last ditch fight and escape his predicament.
Why then do lower ranked players do well against players just above themselves while stronger players are so susceptible to players just below them?
I believe that the weaker player sees themselves in optimism as the hero in their own story while fear of failure leads the stronger player to visualize losing their position.
Once again we see the mental malaise of worrying about losing something that we don’t possess, for we are only as good as each performance we give and so our minds must always focus on our next performance and not waste time in idle debate about what we should or shouldn’t be capable of.
This being said I looked online to discover my name listed as the number one seed for the Canadian National 50+ championship 2013.
In hopes of saving some dough I got a cheap flight from Charleston to Buffalo and took the Greyhound to Toronto. It turned out to be a dubious economy because by the time I had spent the four hours on the bus and then another hour and a half on the subway and bus to find my hotel, I was pretty much burnt out.
On Thursday morning I made my way, via exorbitant taxi, the five minutes up the road to the Mayfair Parkway club. It is a beautiful facility with Tennis,Swimming, a well appointed Gym, Spa and Wellness centers, Squash and essentially – a wonderful Bar and Grill which is the heart of the club.
The first thing that struck me when I walked into the tournament control area ( on the doubles court) was the swarm of Canadian referees in official T shirts milling around.
Wayne Smith the Kiwi Head Referee does a first class job of keeping a tournament organized and on time and the Canadian Referees are the best in the world in my opinion. They understand how to keep the game flowing but they don’t penalize players with no-lets when an opponent plays a tight shot but doesn’t give access to the ball.
I think the UK referees would benefit from spending some time with their Canadian counterparts. I’m just saying. No offence intended.
My first match was against the father of a junior player who is well known in the states – Gilles Chemtob and his daugher Chloe were up from Orlando for the event.
Gilles played very well and I was a little rusty to begin and he gave me some very nice games, before I won 3-0.
I notice that if I am not playing regular competition I quickly forget the fine details of how to play my brand of competitive Squash. I find myself asking myself ‘ What is it that you do that makes your particular game of Squash unique and successful?’ There is no doubt that the nuances of competitive Squash are not like riding a bike. If you don’t keep your competitive match play polished and current, it will desert you and you will find yourself – no matter your previous successes and reputation – rather like the Emperor in his new clothes – naked and embarrassed as to what to do. Fortunately a few matches will kick you back into your familiar ways – as long as you make it through the first few rounds without getting beaten. I always remember the great tennis commentators when speaking of Borg and Sampras and the likes talking about their vulnerability being greater in the early rounds.
This happened to me in both the US Nationals and the Canadians and warrants more ‘warm-up’ tournament play in future. A good lesson to remember.
In my next match I had to play another Canadian – Steve Wasilenko. Steve was another firm striker of the ball. Fortunately for me I don’t think he had often had to deal with my particular brand of lofted early volley and deception and despite giving a good account of himself to begin with, I was able to wear him down, winning in three straight.
While playing this match I happened to look up into the balcony and saw that an icon of our game – Tony Swift – was watching. As will become clear, this was of particular moment to me.
I started playing Squash at the age of twelve when I gained a scholarship to an English boarding school – Gresham’s school – in the county of Norfolk. I was an awkward kid and never really fitted in well, having moved home so many times and having had to try and establish myself in the pecking order countless times.
A teacher suggested I try Squash as I seemed to have the sort of personality that he thought might be suitable.
I labored at the game for some time and more through hard work than skill fashioned myself into a steady but unremarkable junior player. I was at the same time fortunate and unfortunate to come into a team of brilliant players. Our coach was the well known and infamous Malcolm Willstrop, father of James Willstrop. Willstrop and I were never able to see eye to eye – he seeming to see me as an impostor having come from a state school and me seeing him as a monster who ( I thought) took pleasure in beating me whenever he saw fit.
Nevertheless we both persevered and eventually I made it into the fifth spot on a team of five. There I stayed from the age of twelve until I left the school at eighteen.
I never won a tournament in all that time until, in my final year, I entered the Eastern Area Junior Championships. The others on my team all entered the Yorkshire Area Junior Championships.
Anyway, off I went to the town of Bedford to play in the ‘East.’ I was unseeded I believe, but minus my team mates, for the first time in a tournament ( I was a tough team player in team Squash and rarely lost for the team) I stepped up to the plate. The number one seed was an England ranked junior – Jonathan Cook – a local star. His coach and the then National Coach of England was one Tony Swift. All of us boys at Gresham’s knew who Tony was as he was the first National coach we had ever read about ( as it happens he was the first National Coach – but we didn’t know that) and he was at the pinnacle of the English game.
I don’t remember the details too well, but I remember I played out of my skin and beat Jonathan Cook in the final. My first ever tournament winner’s trophy was handed to me by National Coach Tony Swift.
You can understand therefore, why looking up into the balcony and seeing Tony standing watching my match as a 53 year old was still somewhat emotive.
I won the match and moved on to the semis where I had to play a solid player from Barrie Ontario – Chris Sadler.
Purely incidentally I had seen a few rallies of Chris’s quarter-final against Bill Lam and had noticed how close it was. On checking the draw sheet for my time/court I saw that Chris had won in a very close five. When I finished my warm up before playing Chris I had seen him trying to run down the hallway. It wasn’t pretty.
In the event Chris tried to superheat the ball to pound me off the court. Sadly for him his body was way too tender and he couldn’t generate the movement or the power he was seeking. I won in three straight. Chris was very generous in his comments afterward but I feel that he was just too frazzled to give a proper account of himself.
In the other half Tom Powers from St Catherine’s Ontario was playing number two seed Tom Brown from Manitoba.
I didn’t really know much about these guys other than a little bit of scuttlebutt I had picked up from friends. I knew that Dominic Hughes had beaten Tom Powers the previous year, but I didn’t know any details and I wasn’t going to read anything into that. Dominic has polished me off pretty frequently so I know how that feels!
Their match was pretty competitive in the first two games – Tom Powers winning 12/10 and 11/9. Evidently in the third game Tom Brown faded somewhat.
So we came to the final.
The match was played on one of the two side-by-side glass backed courts that had video feeds and bleachers that could hold at least a couple of hundred people.
I fully expected a partisan crowd as a Brit masquerading as a US Squash player I didn’t expect any favors from an Ontario crowd supporting a popular Ontarian in Toronto in the Canadian Nationals.
I did an extra long warm up as is my wont these days thanks to the spanking that Ross Norman gave me in the final of the British Open 50+ in 2010, where I realised that all Squash matches and in particular international finals, begin long before the referee calls the score at love all in the first game.
I confess I was a little daunted having seen Tom Powers in the locker room. The man doesn’t have an ounce of fat on him and gives a fair impression of Arnold Schwarzenegger when shirtless. I had vague hopes of him being muscle bound and therefore not too mobile, but he put that notion to bed in the first couple of rallies where he also gave a fair impression of Superman in retrieving my best lobs and drops.
Houston, I thought, we have a problem.
The first game was a brutal mix of my attempts at playing slow tight length against Tom’s determined and clear intention of generating enough heat to make the ball glow.
The trouble was he wasn’t a hacker with inaccurate smashing that bounced back harmlessly. No. He had the length and width pretty much down and I was reduced to desperatlely flicking the ball as it barely came off of the back wall.
Not that I was completely dominated at that point. The rallies were competitive, long and physical – and I like that in a first game, because it often tires my opponents out for the second. I worked the ball high to the back and he drove the ball hard and looked for loose ball to agressively volley.
It was tight, but he won the first 11/9.
I would have preferred to win the first of course, but I wasn’t too dismayed. I came off the court and started to go over the lovely card that my wife Pat had left in my bag. ‘Volley the return of serve. Take the ball early. Don’t go short too early.’
I decided the last piece of advice was particularly important in the next game – against a fit opponent who would be looking for weakness and attacking opportunities and would probably pounce on a short ball played too early before he was the least bit physically debilitated.
It was a good strategy. In the second I worked the ball high to the back and trapped Tom with dying ball in the corners, forcing him to boast or play short from the backhand back corner. He didn’t mind this as much as a less fit person would have as he was very confident in his coverage of the front corner. However, mindful of Pat’s advice, time and again when he played short, I got into position early, held the ball and then flicked a float back over his head.
I managed to get a small lead and held it despite determine resistance from Tom who managed to catch me unexpectedly with short winners from the backhand corner several times.
I won that game 11/8.
By now battle was well and truly joined and we both had a fair picture of what was happening.
I can only tell you the story of the match from my perspective of course – and Tom, I’m sure he sees it differently. That said, this is how the rest of the match seemed to unfold in my view:
Tom was now fully aware of my strategy of floating him relentlessly to the back court. I think he realised that this was dependent on my being able to set up both my movement and my ball control by being on balance. So he decided to do his best to pressure me off balance and to thereby limit my precision. I have to say he did a very good job. He wailed on the ball and I found myself stretched to the limit. As each rally progressed – me trying to work the ball high and tight and deep, while he was crushing the ball low and hard and deep, I found myself falling further and further behind. A neck and neck battle developed with me always seeming to be trying to come back rather than being ahead.
The voices on the balcony were gathering hope and enthusiasm and Tom seemed to feed off of that and to be gaining in confidence.
I lost the third 11/7 or 8 I believe and I think that score flattered me.
Dark clouds were looming.
The interesting thing was that as I came off the court, knowing that I was on the wrong end of the confrontation, I genuinely felt a fascination for the conundrum I found myself in. Rather than feeling fear of failure, I was consumed with trying to solve the strategic problem in front of me. I reviewed Pat’s notes and thought through the previous game. I realised that building a steady and patient rally was actually in Tom’s favor as it gave him time to settle and to use his marvellous power and mobility to gradually and unfailingly, little by little, overwhelm me.
I decided on a strategic change. I would still volley the return of serve. I would still take the ball early. But I would start the rally with an attacking drop volley. Not to win. But purely to stretch him. This would prevent his relentless development of dominance in a gradual build up and force him to retrieve under pressure from the get-go.
It definitely had some downside.
1) I was not only playing short early, I was playing short immediately.
2) If I tinned it I would just encourage my opponent.
However I felt pretty good about it. I wasn’t trying to win the point – only to stretch my opponent.
I set out in the fourth game with a straight drop volley which I followed up the court, looking to intercept whatever Tom did if I possibly could. He was surprised but used his unusual mobility to pick it up. But I was on him instantly and flicked the ball over his head to the back. Again he miraculously got there but again I was on it really early and played a quick short ball while he was still at the back. Incredibly he got it again but he was too far in arrears and my next shot was too much.
I maintained this for the whole fourth game. I got to 7-1 up before he really came up for air. I won the fourth 11-4 – all the rallies short sharp flicks and deception with an out of sorts Tom on the wrong end of them in the main.
I heard a few voices of friends of mine with ‘Come on Richard!’ in amongst the more numerous ‘Come on Tom!’ shouts. I felt better, but I suspected that my opponent wouldn’t be bamboozled for too long. The cat was out of the bag and he had ninety seconds to prepare his own change of tactics.
I started the fifth hoping to continue as I had in the fourth, knowing that I didn’t want a physical battle like the third. However my hopes were somewhat dashed when Tom smashed my serve back across the court to a perfect width and length. My heart sunk as I watched the ball roll out of the backwall nick. Was that smoke coming from the ball?
It immediately became evident that Tom had decided to pound me off the court with his tremendous power and physical prowess. However, where in the second game he had played shot that hurt me, he now tried to play irretrievable shot to completely beat me. This put enormous pressure on him as he took on a huge task. The rallies were very tight, but pretty soon he hit a huge tin and roared in pain. I settled in to try and play as tight as I could and to be patient. Something told me that if I was prepared to give Tom the opportunity to do so, he might be willing to give me the match in his desperation to overwhelm me.
As wonderfully fit as he clearly was, it had been a very hard match and when one plays with a narrow margin of error and one is tired, bad things happen.
Tom had already served four or five service faults in the match.
Now he hit three massive tins at crucial times.
Even so we were still neck and neck. But this time it always seemed to be me that was the one point ahead and him trying to come back.
We exchanged point for point in a series of highly physical, competitive rallies – me desperately trying to float the ball tight to keep him contained and he striving to generate early pace and power to utterly swamp me.
In the end we arrived at 10-9 match ball to me.
Another vital struggle for the upper hand ensued with continual contrasting exchanges of my floats to his power drives, with occasional low hard attacking blasts and attempts at wrong footing flicks. After about fifteen or twenty shots I played a slightly loose cross-court to Tom’s backhand which wasn’t very wide.
He saw an irresistible opportunity.
With full power he attempted a hard, low, reverse corner.
Unfortunately, instead of striking the sidewall he struck the front wall first.
Instead of a reverse corner his shot turned into a kind of low Corkscrew or ‘Philadelphia’ as it is known here in North America.
Now as experienced players know, the corkscrew or ‘Philadelphia’ is the only shot in Squash that visibly moves in the air ( except for some of Qamar Zaman’s shot and he was a super-being after all) and so I was now confronted with a very hot, bouncy ball, banana-ing towards me as I stood smack bang in the middle of the court.
It was a very nervy moment. I wasn’t sure what to do. I wasn’t sure how the ball was going react from the bounce.
I lifted my racket to prepare a shot and……….
Tom ran right through my swing into the ball.
He evidently thought I was going to play a drop and was determined to get there.
The referee didn’t hesitate: ‘Stroke to Millman.’
The marker announced ‘Game and Match.’
Tom was extremely disappointed – as you can understand – he had been so close and had been in charge for much of the match.
I was very happy.
I walked around the corner and sat on a comfortable couch that was in the hall way outside the swimming pool.
For a few moments I just sat and stared into space.
Then I laughed happily in both celebration and relief – and once again looked at the card that Pat had sent me.
Those few words on a piece of card had kept me focused on the task – and not the outcome.
( Congratulations dear reader! You have conquered a challenge almost as great as the match you have just read about! Undoubtedly you deserve a rest. Go, refresh and, if you have the spine for it, return here, undaunted and anew, to the fray!)
It has been my privilege and pleasure over the past several years to become enthralled, engaged and addicted to Master’s squash.
Undoubtedly some of the reason for this is my life-long love of Squash. And some of it is because I lacked the success that better players than me enjoyed in our respective younger years. But perhaps my strongest interest in Masters Squash is the players themselves. That extraodinary group of crusty, determined, sporting, charismatic, funny, intelligent, generous and hospitable human beings that year after year come back to battle each other on the courts and to ( perhaps of equal importance) to share a beer and a story and to contribute in myriad ways to the game we all love.
For me all of this is important and worthy of more than simply maintaining. In my view it is a very underdeveloped world wide resource.
And yet there are some wonderful examples and models that we have before us.
Prince of all these examples in my view are the bi-annual World Masters championships held last in Birmingham, England.
Next comes the Home Internationals between England Scotland Ireland and Wales and the annual competition between Australia and New Zealand ( I wonder if these could be expanded to include Japan and Hong Kong/ China?)
These international team matches fullfil a dream for many folks who, like myself, hold playing for one’s country as the ultimate combined expression of one’s love of the sport and of one’s country.
Next are the great Inter-provincial and team competitions. Here South Africa, the UK, Ireland, Australia and lately Canada are leading the way.
Bare in mind that my reporting here is a reflection of my current knowlegdge and I am very happy to be corrected and updated with any other Master’s Team information.
In an effort to grow Masters Squash and thereby the number of conversations over dinner or a beverage about our Sport in which I firmly believe the development of all aspects of our game are not only rooted but absolutely dependent upon, I have lately written a proposal for an International Masters Team competition between Canada, Mexico, The Caribbean ( West Indies if you like) and the USA. A sort of North American Home Internationals a la Great Britain and Ireland competition already in existence.
It is my hope that this competition, run on almost identical lines to its UK predecessor, will lead to a standardization in format that will eventually make way for bi-annual world Masters Team Championships to be held in the alternate year to the World Masters Individual championships.
It is my hope that host countries would compete to hold a world championships for one women’s and one men’s age group. Hence the World 50+ Team championships for Men and Women might be in Cape Town the same year as the World 35+ Team Championships might be in Buenos Aries while the 40+ and the 60+ might be in London and Sydney respectively. You get the picture. At the moment it is just a dream. But from lititle acorns………..
Here is the proposal in case those in Australia, Sweden, India, Slovakia, Russia, Nigeria, Brazil, Kuwait, France etc would like to attempt to start their own competitions and thereby strengthen the bonds that tie us; at the same time as giving countless Masters players the chance to compete for the honor of their flag:
North American and Caribbean International Masters TeamsBi-Annual Championships
To initiate a formal annual competition between the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.
The annual competitions between England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland and between Australia and New Zealand have offered masters players in those countries the honor representing their nation in international competition for many years.
When the selection criteria became both standardized and objective in England some years ago, the numbers of masters players competing for a place on national teams led to a great increase in participation in the regional qualifying events and the happy combination of both new players trying out and old players returning to the sport.
Masters players are the ‘lifers’ of Squash and are frequently the most financially able to help the continued growth of the sport at all levels.
Giving Masters players ambition can only help the sport as a whole as increased tournament participation leads to residual increases in sanctioning and membership fees and increased volunteerism -especially in the fields of refereeing, administration, fundraising and sponsorship.
I propose that, beginning in June 2014, US Squash, Squash Canada, Federacion de Squash de Mexico and Caribbean Area Squash Association formalize a bi-annual competition to determine the North American Champions in each age group.
Further I propose that we adopt the very successful existing system used by England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. This would not only make implementation very easy to follow but would also prepare us for Intercontinental play under the same system.
I have already received a challenge from England to send teams to North America for a series of test matches and I feel confident that World Squash would approve of the standardization of Masters teams organization to facilitate increased activity between World Masters nations.
I have set out a possible program below.
Outline of Inaugural North American International Masters Competition 2014
Friday evening June 5th, Saturday June 6th and returning home Sunday June 7th.
This date is after the completion of annual national Championships and far enough before the World Masters in Hong Kong. It is also at the end of the school year which may be helpful logistically.
Obviously it is the right of each participating association to choose an appropriate venue.
Each venue will be hosting up to four teams of five players per age group with a maximum of four age groups at each venue. So as an illustration, hosting associations may hold competitions as follows:
A) Mexico City, Mexico : WO35 will play with MO35, MO55
B) Toronto, Canada:: WO40 will play with MO40, MO60
C) Philadelphia, USA WO45 will play with MO45, MO65
D) Barbados, Caribbean: WO50 will play with MO50, MO70
( The venues – A B C and D would follow a 4 tier rotation – so that , for instance, Wo35 would be in Mexico in the first year of competition, Canada on the second rotation, USA the third and the Caribbean in the 4th.)
There may be as many as 4 teams per age group with the schedule being one match Friday evening, one match Saturday morning and one match Saturday afternoon.
A party and presentation dinner will be held on the Saturday evening with Sunday being the return travel day.
It is suggested that players/teams exchange commemorative mementos and small gift items of a traditional national flavor and that the host country/venue provide individual winners and runner up medals for the first and second place team players.
It is expected that the members of each age group team will work together to either find sponsors or grants or to self-fund. It is not expected that national associations will fund these competitions.
I should mention in closing this section the wonderful work done by many stalwarts of the game around the world on behalf of Masters Squash. Please support these heroes of our lives and thank them whenever you can. This is not intended to be self-serving. I am doing my best but my best would be as dust were it not for the pioneers who have already built the wonderful international masters programs that currently exist. I just hope to help join a few of the dots as it were, to continue the development.
Are Masters players a bunch of older folk getting together to have a good time for their own amusement? Definitely.
Are they perhaps the most underserved and potentially greatest undermined resource of the modern game of Squash? I think so. How about you?
( OK Immediately rush out and start a new masters program. Now! Go on! Don’t wait. What do you mean it’s the middle of the night? What kind of excuse is that? Alright, I suppose you can wait ’til the morning. Meanwhile steel yourself – there’s more to come.)
A House of Sand?
If you are reading this you are highly likely to be a died-in-the-wool, absolute believer in the game of Squash. As such you aren’t in need of convincing that our sport is worthy. Worthy of participation. Worthy of media coverage – perhaps you are less convinced on this. Worthy of inclusion in the Olympic games? With all of the effort made to persuade the powers that be of this – you would certainly hope so. However, we believers in Squash need to take a look in the proverbial mirror from time to time. It’s all very well to assume that the hands on the tiller of our sport are piloting us in the right direction and that our boat is a good boat, but if no-one bothers to check how would we ever no if we are headed for the rocks or ever so slowly sinking in a ship full of holes?
I am not trying to sink us. But I am trying to get everyone to take pride in making sure our ship is truly yare.
In our sport we have many people doing their best. We have promoters, administrators, players, coaches, parents, clubs, manufacturers, writers, publishers, editors, referees, commentators, bloggers, teachers, cameramen, photographers, video editors and others that I am sure I haven’t mentioned.
All of whom are focused on moving the game forward.
But what if the game is broken?
If you are on the inside of the game and convinced of how wonderful it is – how often do you stop to take a long hard look at it?
If someone on the outside takes a look at it and sees problems we would probably rouse up as one to defend our sport.
But wouldn’t it be better if we made sure it was as strong as we believed it to be before we picked a fight.
What am I talking about ? You may well ask.
All of the people that I mentioned earlier are operating under the assumption that the sport we all adore is sound – whole – not faulty.
But what evidence do they have for that assumption?
Hearsay? What their coach told them?
And where did their coach get the information? More hearsay? More previous coaches?
But who is actually checking to make sure?
We all have a responsibility to do so.
We all assume that Squash is wholesome because we love the game.
But all that does is further the generally accepted wisdom.
We need to check.
Very, very carefully and without glossing things over.
Sometimes in life we are so busy trying to execute our tasks that we don’t even ask whether the way we are trying to do the task is the right way or even that the task itself makes sense. Just so with Squash.
Everything that we do is based on the rules. But what if the rules are broken?
That would be a real problem wouldn’t it? If the rules were illogical and in the very way they were written misleading players, coaches, referees, administrators, reporters, manufacturers, sponsors, tv companies, international games committees etc……do you think that would be a problem?
I certainly do.
Of course we could do what most people do when the status quo is threatened. Quietly sweep the problems under the carpet and hope that no-one notices.
You might ask Richard Nixon how that worked out for him.
Of course World Squash hasn’t done that. They have commissioned a group to do a study. And that’s a good thing because :
OUR RULES ARE ILLOGICAL!!! ANY FRESHMAN LOGIC CLASS WOULD RIP THEM APART.
But if that’s true, why has no-one pointed this out before?
Well have you ever questioned whether the Rules made sense? Well they’re the Rules right? They just are.
When did you last read them? And if you have, did you read them with an enquiring mind? Did you ask yourself if they made sense?
Do you know anyone that ever questions whether they make sense?
That doesn’t mean they make sense. They need to be carefully and regularly reviewed by people who play the game at a very high level and who understand the game at all levels.
So if no-one asks these questions, how will we ever move forwards?
Well, I have asked and I have written a whole re-write of the Rules with my comments and suggestions.
I am sure that all my suggestions aren’t perfect. I have done my best to do them justice. Now it’s up to you.
If you really care about our sport, its future both inside the game and out, please spend a little time thinking about whether the Rules are logical.
So that all the hard work done by all those people that are involved in our Sport can base that work on an absolutely solid, unimpeachable foundation.
Not an assumption that it just must be right. And a busy population that would just prefer to sweep uncertainties under the proverbial carpet
You can see the rules and my comments and suggestions here on my blog at http://www.millmansquash.wordpress.com.
I would appreciate your thoughtful comments and suggestions. For the good of the game.
If we can get the rules right, there are a couple of other house keeping issues:
It’s often said that everything starts at the top and then trickles down to the bottom.
If that’s true let me ask these questions:
1. Why is is that the lowliest junior in the US rankings can’t get an end of season Ranking unless they pass a rules test and yet a PSA player can be a member of the world tour without doing so? They are Pros – they must know the rules, mustn’t they? Yeah. Right. Until the PSA makes all members pass a rules test the accepted standard is that you don’t have to know the rules to play at the top of the game. So why should any one else bother. Lift that carpet up, here are some more sweepings.
2. Do Inter-collegiate Coaches have to pass a rules test? How often do you think Inter-collegiate coaches read the updated rules? We don’t know because there is no continuing education – so we have to assume that you don’t need to know the rules to Coach college level Squash. And if the coaches don’t read the rules regularly, what about their players?
They must know the rules, mustn’t they? They are really good players. Yeah. Right. Are you still holding up that carpet?
If we don’t maintain high standards in house, how can we expect major games commissioners, sponsors and media to respect us.
When at the US Open last year, a former top 10 player lectured a referee, telling him that ‘ it can’t be a stroke if the ball comes off of the back wall,’ I winced and hoped that their was no-one from the world press or the IOC who actually knew the rules. What an embarrassment.
Sorry to mix the metaphors, but is our ship safe? Is our house built on rock or sand. And do we want to just hope for the best – or make sure before someone else questions it?
(Has anyone got a happy pill handy? That was a little dour wasn’t it? Hopefully it challenged you. If you wan’t a little change of scene go read my blog on the rules – I’m happy to wait while you do. Better safe than sorry ‘though. OK. We are getting close to the finishing line . Just one little sprint to go. Are you ready? Set?Here we go……………)
Most British or Australian readers will be familiar with the UK game that has enjoyed a recent surge of popularity – unfortunately given the name of UK Racketball.
Indeed regular readers of my epistles will be familiar with the game because I credit it as being the savior of my competitive Squash game after knee surgery and an injudicious early return to the competition court that resulted in further damage.
North American readers may not yet be aware of just what an impact this sport has had in the UK where in some large clubs more than fifty percent of the playing membership has permanently switch to this game.
World Squash Czar Andrew Shelley and legendary World Squash Domo George Mieras are sworn advocates.
Having spent a good deal of time on both sides of the Atlantic I am in a fairly strong position to comment on the flexibility and malleability of the British and North American participants of the game. Stubborn is the word that immediately comes to mind. Not that stubborness is necessarily a poor quality. No indeed inflexibility in the face of adversity is a wonderful quality. However in the face of the relentless march of time it is not an asset.
Having made the parochial error of calling this new sport Racketball – utterly unaware and apparently careless of the massive emotional and political connotations that word has in the United States, England Squash and Racketball and Scottish Squash and Racketball have successfully constructed a completely unneccessary and practically insurmountable barrier to the development of the sport in North America.
This is the point at which we find out if anyone is listening or indeed if anyone who is listening cares enough to actually do something rather than, too busy to take the time to make a positive contribution, the famous carpet will once again be lifted in order to receive the latest sweepings.
US Squash is hard at work promoting Squash and has no interest in promoting Racketball or Racquetball or anything that sounds like either of these two indistinguishable words.
So if this offshoot of our sport – which is terrific and because it results in practically zero joint pressure or damage may well be the savior of Masters Squash players throughout the world ( I choose my words very carefully – this is no exaggeration) is to progress, those that hold sway in the UK, those that hold sway in North America and in particular the overarching governing body – World Squash need to stop procrastinating and start taking an interest in working together to make sure that everyone benefits – in particular Squash.
Insular attitudes are completely understandable. Pressing local issues always seem to be of most concern. But ‘ to see ourselves as others see us’, to paraphrase and mangle Rabbie Burns’s great words, is essential if we are not to become irrelevant globally and through the onslaught of progress.
To facilitate the adoption and consequent advantages of this terrific version of Squash – and make no mistake this game is Squash – the same concept, the same strategies by and large, fantastic cardio-vascular benefits – more cardio actually than the original version of Squash for all except Professional Squash players, almost no joint damage – I have suggested a very simple procedure to World Squash.
Just call it Big Ball Squash.
After all we have Hardball Squash in North America. We have the Max Progress Squash ball all over the World. So why not Big Ball Squash.
The adoption of the name Big Ball Squash would have many huge advantages. It would stop the alienation of practically the entire North American community ( but who cares if you live in the UK – right? Well I hope you do if you live there – because we need a Global approach if Squash is going to be an Olympic and international concern and healthy in the future).
The name Big Ball Squash would bring the sport into the Squash fold – World Squash, England Squash ( not and Racketball), Scottish Squash ( not and Racketball).
The changing of the name of England Squash to England Squash and Racketball was extremely poorly thought through and very little research can have been done before hand.
Of course I am sure that I am ruffling someone’s feathers by saying this – but that someone should have checked out how emotive that additional word is in North America and how far back it would set the sport.
To further the development of our sport, I am asking you all to support this game in two ways:
1. Go and play Big Ball Squash if you haven’t already.
I don’t mean stop playing regular Squash. I just mean go and try this new game a few times. I promise you a great and pain free workout and a fun game. If you want to see it played there is plenty of video on Youtube. You can watch PSA player Darryl Selby and former World Champion Peter Nicol having a rare old time.
2. Advocate to whomsoever you can the adoption of the name Squash ( Big Ball Squash if you like – but Squash all the same) and let’s get rid of this ludicrous regional division so that we can move forward Globally.
Without some sort of move like this, I guarantee you that our sport – and I mean the whole gamut of Squash – will be held back years, because of local insistence on and revulsion for the name Racketball – which is not our Sport.
We are Squash – and proud.
What is it that John Lennon said? ‘Life is what happens while you are busy doing other things.’
If we are always too busy to notice, then we only have ourselves to blame when things don’t work out the way we would have liked them to.
Thanks for listening.
(Now try and keep calm. I don’t want you having a sudden and desperate bout of separation anxiety, but this is it. Yes – it. The end. Fini. No Mas. Eindlich. Eventually there will be more – just not now. Thanks for your company. I hope you enjoyed the read and I hope you will take action that you feel suitable based on what you have learned. Enjoy your Squash if you are a player and if not – my commiserations and although I can’t imagine how you are making it through your life without Squash, I wish you all the best. Au revoir.)
Richard C Millman
May 17th 2013.
For reprint or quotation please seek the author’s permission – firstname.lastname@example.org
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
188.8.131.52 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
184.108.40.206 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:
220.127.116.11 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;
18.104.22.168 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;
22.214.171.124 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.
126.96.36.199 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.
188.8.131.52 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:
184.108.40.206 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.
220.127.116.11 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;
18.104.22.168 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.