A day trip to Aosta.
After a wonderful party with seventy or more of the World Masters Games Squash players that featured a seemingly endless Turinese dinner so typical of Italy – more of a fiesta than a meal – Pat and I walked the fifteen minutes or so through the classically porticoed – ‘though eerily quiet- late night streets of Torino and caught the penultimate metro train home to our little apartment on the Corso Brunelleschi.
Following an all-too-brief, six-and-a-bit hours in bed, we awakened to honor our previously arranged rendezvous with some of our US Squash team mates.
Neither Pat nor I were particularly bright or breezy as we dragged our bodies back to the Massaua metro stop at 7.30am to ensure that we met our assignation at the Porto Nuova at 8.10 or so.
After a painless train trip, a deliciously hot cup of Cafe’ Machiato and a few tasty morsels from the pastry shop at the station, we wandered over to platform 14 to meet our friends.
Despite an overwhelming desire to shut our eyes, the intriguing prospect of the Piedmonte region’s landscape kept us glued to the windows.
We were not disappointed.
As the distant Alps drew steadily closer, we were rewarded with a variety of hillside ‘pensione’ that seemingly clung to the rock defying gravity; terraced vineyards beautifully ordered with almost geometric precision and distant alpine meadows where one could imagine mountain sheep and grizzled ancient shepherds plying their age-old trade undisturbed by the hue and cry of the modern world below.
We changed at Ivrea and immediately became aware of the impending proximity of the French border as the voices on the Aosta train took on a distinctly gallic tone.
The view from the window became yet more spectacular as the milky waters of mountain streams cascaded powerfully into the valley almost threatening to carry the ancient stone bridges away as they burst out from beneath them.
The increasingly French influence on the area became further enforced as we arrived in the little city of Aosta and noticed that the signs at the train station were in both Italian and French. After some momentary uncertainty we ascertained the whereabouts of the city-center and on completing a two or three minute walk, we found ourselves in a beautiful large piazza, dominated by the impressive Hotel de Ville. The street signs themselves were written in French and everywhere French and Italian flags wafted symbiotically in the cheery breeze.
We immediately availed ourselves of the variety of coffee offerings from one of the piazza’s several boulevard cafe’s and I plumpted for a Nuttichino – an interesting mixture of chocolate Nutella, cafe mocha and hot milk foam.
Suitably replenished we made our way to the Ponte Pretorian which did indeed prove to be a remarkably well preserved Roman gate and beneath its arches we found the city’s tourist information office. In the process we were met with the most picturesque view of the Via Ponte Pretorian – a lovely street given over to a combination of delicatessens, souvenir shops, cafe’s, artisan’s workshops and local linen stores. Making a mental note to return later, we crowded into the tourist information bureau.
Prior to our trip I had done my utmost via the world-wide-web to discover the sights to be seen in Aosta. I had found evidence of a cable car to the ski resort of Pila, but every page I scrutinized seemed to suggest that it was closed in the off or non-ski season.
For this reason I was pleased and amazed when the pleasant English speaking young lady behind the counter assured me that it was very much open and available to take us up to Pila.
Having discovered that there was a 12.45-2.15 lunch break when the cable car shut down, we scurried along and – despite a detour born of self-imposed mistaken directions – arrived with five minutes to spare.
The seventeen minute trip from Aosta to Pila costs five euros and is worth every cent. Within moments of departing, the spectacular panorama of the Alps around the little city enveloped our tiny world – suspended on an impossibly thin wire – and like an insignificant asteroid in the massive void of the universe, we floated ever upward toward our ultimate goal : Pila -one of the most famous ski and mountain bike resorts in this part of the world.
Having passed several way stations, we gently bumped into the Pila arrival station and as the doors opened we stepped out into crisp air, seven and half thousand feet above the spot from which we had embarked but a few minutes before.
In the final moments of the ascent we had noted the location of at least two very inviting ‘ristorante’ – one crowded and busy with children, bikers, table-tennis and the other that featured a family sitting around a picnic table that supported two large, impossibly refreshing looking beers.
After stopping for a few snaps for the album and having established that the noisy pub held much less attraction for us than the quiet, refreshing beer-prominent one, we marched down the hill to stake our claim.
I was in the mood for a walk and our team mate Julie Kessler was also up for the challenge. Pat, on the other hand, had spotted the invitingly comfortable lounge chairs at the ristorante and nobly volunteered to forego the walk and to bravely defend our backpacks whilst we were away.
The others seeing the logic of Pat’s thought pattern did the same.
So it was left to Julie and me to brave the heights – which we duly did for a good 30 minutes. Within the first five I was struggling for breath and after 20 I had to take a break, realizing as I did that the thin air was liable to make me ill if I didn’t take care. Having had the rest, Julie and I walked back down the hill and regrouped with the team.
The views were heavenly and the world in which we dwelt for those couple of hour was truly other-worldly, quickly vanquishing the memories of that nether land from whence we had recently arrived.
Time however waits for no man( or woman come to that) and we knew that our sojourn to Nirvana must come to an end.
We gathered ourselves after a quick lunch and headed for the descent which, while equally spectacular, was over far too quickly.
Back then to the beautiful pocket city of Aosta.
Pat was on a mission to buy gifts for our grandchildren and for the first time this trip, her personal compass was on fire as she headed gangbusters for the previously mentioned Via Ponte Pretorian and shopaholism!
I am not always – perhaps I should more accurately say – I am seldom – a good shopping companion. It is remarkable to me that I have managed to achieve a level of fitness on the Squash court that has won me multiple national titles and yet when it comes to the grueling physical challenge of shopping I am like a novice contestant on the first day of the TV program ‘The Biggest Loser’.
Even short bouts are liable to floor me.
On this occasion however Pat was on world class sprinting form and found every item she was looking for in short order.
Having won the competition and perhaps even threatened the previous world shopping record, we were rewarded with a post match respite and collapsed into the shaded chairs of a lovely cafe’ at the end of the Via Porte Pretorian.
One cup of English Breakfast combined with the Prince of Wales’s own blend for me and a Coke light to the good for Pat and, with a zephyr breeze around my ears, I gratefully slipped into an afternoon doze.
Awakening to discover that I had not realized that I had dropped off, I felt comfortably refreshed and ready to reconnect with the team at our previously agreed meeting point back beside the Hotel de Ville.
With the rendezvous complete, we agreed to return to Torino a little early, filled with the satisfaction of a truly memorable day in a never-to-be-forgotten city in a romantic land of cafe’s and piazzas, vineyards and mountains.
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
18.104.22.168 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
22.214.171.124 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:
126.96.36.199 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;
188.8.131.52 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;
184.108.40.206 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.
220.127.116.11 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.
18.104.22.168 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:
22.214.171.124 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.
126.96.36.199 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;
188.8.131.52 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.
In the game of Squash world-wide, we are indeed fortunate to have an enormously broad and deep human asset pool.
We have innovators who are developing the way the game is broadcast. Innovators who are developing the way the game is marketed. Innovators who are constantly striving to evolve the equipment we use.
But how many players, coaches, referees, administrators and promoters accept the game as it is and how many ask deep and searching questions about the status quo? In my own writing I try and promote deep questioning thought and of course, when I come across those who seem to have a similar bent, I am delighted.
In my book ‘Angles’ I tried to pique the curiosity of readers by challenging accepted wisdom and asking contributors to reveal their own thoughts on the subjects that my poems considered.
At 52 years old, having been in Squash almost all my life, I am gradually becoming a little more tolerant and considerate of ideas that oppose my own – and perhaps a little more effective at outlining the reasons for my differing.
How refreshing it is then when an individual comes to the fore who is young, considerate and importantly a deep thinking individual who profoundly investigates ideas to the point of continually challenging and evolving their own previously held values.
Such an individual, it seems to me, is James Willstrop.
It is of course wonderful that he has become the number one player in the world. And wonderful that he is such an extraordinary exponent of our game.
But if you have read any of his writing either in his regular newspaper columns or his new book: ‘A Shot and a Ghost,’ or elsewhere, you will appreciate that his playing of the game is actually a physical realization of a very complex and deep mind.
James Willstrop is the world number one, but I suspect that his contribution to the sport will go far beyond that accolade – rare as it is.
Hip Problems, resultant Knee problems and why (in my opinion) you should act sooner rather than later.
As many of my followers and acquaintances will know, in 1996 I was diagnosed with a severely arthritic left hip. At the time I was the Cornell University Men’s and Women’s Squash team Head Coach.
In 1995 I had trained with the teams and had been running very decent cross-country, mile and 400 meter times. Just a year later, I was having trouble running at all. Over the following ten years the situation became worse and worse. Although I continued to play Squash, the physical incapacity progressively made it a miserable experience. I could not find a comfortable position to sleep in. I couldn’t put my socks on. My wife had to do my shoe laces up in public. You get the picture. My limp was so pronounced that I had to swing my left leg around and through in order to be able to walk.
In 1998, my wife and I had moved to Mamaroneck NY, where in partnership with our now dear friends Eric and Patty Fast we started Westchester Squash, which as the historical record shows, became a wonderfully successful club and launch pad for many junior, collegiate and professional Squash players.
However, that year, I sat miserably at home while all of my fellow Squash competitors went to Los Angeles to compete in the US Championships. The pain of not competing was far worse than the hip.
I decided to play whatever the cost, and in fact, developed some pretty good strategies and control. I even managed to get to the semi-finals of the US National Masters Championships in 2006 having won a very close quarter final with my friend, the former world number 28 Gamal El Amir.
However, because my hip didn’t work properly and because I was not using my body as it ought to have been used, I was putting tremendous pressure on my right knee which was compensating for the incapacity of my left hip.
I had been to see various surgeons in the US. The advice I received was that I was in need of a total hip replacement. Sadly (at that moment in the history of total hip replacement) this would mean an end to serious competitive Squash, as the prostheses then in use would simply not bear the pressure of an impactful game like Squash.
Coincidentally one of my valued friends and clients had recently (Sept. 4th 2005) watched a CBS 60 minutes program about Medical Tourism in India and a surgeon by the name of Vijay Bose, who was offering Birmingham Hip Resurfacing(BHR).
I started to investigate.
The evidence was very inspiring. BHR was developed in the early nineties by two surgeons in Birmingham, England – Mr. Derek McMinn and Mr. Ronan Treacy. Their success rate was phenomenal, and serious sports men and women were having the surgery and returning to compete in their favorite sports. Dr. Bose had trained with McMinn and Treacy in England before returning to his native India where he had by this stage performed many BHRs.
At this point BHR was still not FDA approved. My read of the situation was that the American medical community were severely jaundiced by the memory of the metal on metal type Wagner Hip Resurfacing procedure of some thirty or forty years previous. I also had the feeling that surgeons who had trained to do total hip replacement were motivated to encourage total hip replacement and discourage anything that didn’t fit in with their training. It’s possible that I was wrong on this – but that’s the impression I got and the impression a lot of my friends who went to total hip surgeons got.
Anyway, in the end, I got in touch with Dr. Bose – sent him my x-rays and decided to go to India. The FDA had approved clinical trials for BHR here, but the quotes were astronomical – $40K-$60K US – quite beyond the capacity of a self employed Squash pro without medical insurance to finance.
The full story of my trip, with my somewhat disgruntled attitude toward the US hip surgeons of 2006 can be found in the link below.
The success of the surgery is beyond question. Although I did my best to screw things up, because on my return I was overly anxious to get back to full fitness and didn’t rehab thoroughly or professionally. Don’t make that mistake if you do the BHR or other hip resurfacing. When I did focus properly on Rehab, I did 12 weeks with a wonderful Physical Therapist down in Charleston, SC (where I moved in 2006) and by the end of the time in therapy, felt like I was an Olympic athlete preparing for the next games. I knew that full recovery was going to be a long haul. After all I had allowed 10 years to go by from 96 to 06 and the atrophy on my left side was complete. Additionally the imbalance effects on my right knee were considerable, although (I thought) manageable.
Briefly, my competitive record after surgery was as follows:
US National Skills 6.0: lost in semi
US Masters 45+: 2nd
US National Skills 5.5: 2nd
US Masters 45+: 3rd
US National Skills 5.5: Winner
US Masters 45+: 2nd
British National 45+: lost in semi
British Open 50+: 2nd ( lost to the legend Ross Norman – what can you expect!?)
Represented England in Home Internationals (first ever appearance for my country of birth).
US Masters 50+: Winner
British National 50+: Winner
Represented England in Home Internationals and played number 1 (Won all matches).
World Masters ( 50+) in Koln Germany: lost in semi (played OK but having a few knee problems and did catch a cold. No excuses – I was fairly beaten by the Scots no 1 Alan Thomson – who I had beaten earlier in the year in the Home Internationals.)
So you can see that by 2009/2010 my recovery from the BHR was pretty much complete. By late 2010 however, my right knee was giving me quite a few issues and had to be managed on a day to day basis.
Next the Knee
In 2011 I really wanted to retain my British National 50+ title and so I trained mercilessly. In the lead up to the event in the middle of February, I planned to play a tournament for peaking purposes. This I did, and played quite well – although again the knee was giving me trouble. Of course, when we are focused on a target event, it is amazing how able we are to ignore symptoms that should be attended to.
I won the peaking event (The North of England Masters 50+) and went back to my parents house in Yorkshire for the three days before the British Nationals started.
On the Monday before my Thursday match, I decided to go out for a run. I had intended to run for just twenty minutes, but as it was such a beautiful day (and we don’t get many of those in Yorkshire in February) I lost track of time. Before I knew where I was I had run twenty minutes out and now had to run twenty back. On asphalt. With a cranky knee. Which was in real pain by the time I got home.
So now I had two days to get ready. I tried anti-inflammatories (I wish I had known about Cheribundi, a tart cherry juice with high anti-inflammatory qualities, in those days). I drank gallons of water. I tried a leg brace. Which of course was useless.
When the tournament started on Thursday I was in real trouble. However, England Squash and Racketball have some great Physical Therapists on site at the National Center in Manchester and so I was able to get some treatment. But it was traditional Physical Therapy and I had done some real internal damage.
I was seeded third and made it through the first round – just and iced severely afterwards. In the next match I had to face former PSA pro Simon Rollington – a really tough customer.
I moved really well during the game and didn’t notice my knee. In the semi I had to face my nemesis of the 2010 World masters, number two seed, Alan Thomson.
The knee was sore and unstable, but with some additional physical therapy, I prepared myself.
It was a fabulous match with rallies that wrenched both of us into every possible corner, miss-direction, lunge, sprint, jump and impact that two 50-year-olds could possibly experience.
I won it in four games. In the very last rally, in the act of driving Alan into the backhand back corner that I knew he hated – something bad happened to the knee.
I shook hands and hobbled off the court to go and ice and hopefully prepare for the final against the robust Mark Woodliffe.
As it happened I could have saved my effort. No matter what I did I couldn’t get my knee to the point where I could even put my weight on it.
The next day I did my utmost to warm up, but it was useless. Even in the warm up, I couldn’t return Mark’s shots. Out of courtesy I tried to play the first game. I lost 0-9 in two minutes, walked over to Mark, apologized and shook his hand.
I went to see a consultant who had a good look at my knee. Shot – was his view. The meniscus was tattered and catching and the tracking of the knee was all over the place.
I arranged to have the Meniscus repaired. While the surgeon was in there, he took photos of the arthritis. In his opinion if I continued playing, I would need a full knee replacement in less than five years.
I thanked him for his service and went off to rehab (properly this time) fully intending to ignore his advice not to play.
I did rehab well and having had surgery in April of 2011 returned to the US. However, I didn’t feel up to competition. When Pat and I decided to live in the UK for 6 months, I was really looking forward to playing in British team league.
There’s nothing quite like playing league squash in Britain. 5 man teams competing throughout the winter. You play a hard match for your team, referee (absolutely impartially – which is something we learn growing up in Britain) one of the matches and then sit down for a good meal and some beers with the opposition.
One step up from this is to play for your county – kind of like playing for your state in a mainline sport that has state representation.
On my return to the UK in September of 2011, my county – Norfolk – had to play in the Inter County competition against three other counties in October. I thought that my knee was recovered sufficiently.
In my first match I discovered that it was still tender. In my second match I won so quickly that I didn’t realize how much damage I had done. By the time I finished the third match I couldn’t walk properly.
In fact I couldn’t walk properly for about 10 weeks after that. I played for my team in the local league and lost match after match to players that I had never lost to historically – although I do understand that that happens as you get older. But this was something different. I simply couldn’t change direction. I couldn’t push off.
I lost and lost.
In the end I just decided that I couldn’t afford to play anymore. The surgeon’s warning about full knee replacement started to really haunt me.
On the comeback trail.
I continued coaching – although even that was problematic. Some of my students were extremely talented and needed good movement from me even to coach them. Players like Jamie Goodrich (who as I write has just won the British Open 40+!) continued to come and work with me and fortunately felt that I was able to give them value. But it was hard work and very depressing.
I started to play a new game that had gained momentum in the UK. The ill-named UK Racketball. I was a little dubious at first, but as I played more, I discovered what the draw was. This sport has little or no impact on the joints while offering more exercise and rally duration than Squash – especially to masters levels players.
I continued coaching Squash but played the new game almost exclusively. Time passed until one day, toward the end of the season, my captain came to me in desperation and asked me to fill in for the Squash team. I wasn’t keen, particularly when he told me I would be playing against the best number two in the league – my old friend and rival John Cordeaux (at the time of writing John has just lost in the 2012 British Open 50+ semi finals against the self same Mark Woodliffe who was my opponent in 2011 in the final). I didn’t relish this much as I had lost to all the other number twos and John had beaten them. Anyway I agreed to do it for the sake of the team.
The first clue came when I warmed up. The knee pain was much reduced. When we got into the match, I was moving much better than on the previous occasion I played Squash. Thus released from pain, I was able to focus on my game plan and proceeded to penalize John (a lefty) in his backhand back corner. We had a fabulous match – which incredibly I won.
The only thing I can think of with regard to the knee is that by playing the other game I wasn’t subjecting the knee to the kind of impact and stress that regular Squash produces and perhaps was even flushing the knee joint with nutrients because the shorter racket requires a knee bend without a stretch.
Whatever the truth is, something was working, because I continued my regime of playing UK Racketball and only played the league matches of Squash. My Squash improved and so did my results. My knee wasn’t perfect – but it was a lot better.
A signal victory and the way forward.
Pat and I returned to live in Charleston in April. I started training just around the neighborhood on my bicycle – sometimes doing twenty to thirty minutes pushing as hard as I could and sometimes doing one minute wind sprints – usually just four or five.
I was training three days per week and alternating the bicycle sessions with a medicine ball program that I developed using some of the information that Damon Leedale Brown had shared with me and some sports specific medicine ball routines (more on the medicine ball training for squash shortly) that I had developed myself.
Working freelance as a Squash coach, my schedule was quite irregular. I was traveling to do some work for my friend Dominic Hughes at his Berwyn Squash and Fitness club in PA and also working in Charlotte and the Research triangle area. I discovered that I was free on the weekend of the US Skill Level nationals at Meadow Mill Athletic Club in Baltimore and as the US was asking for late entrants – I entered on the spur of the moment.
It was something of a baptism of fire. Based on my previous rating they seeded me number one (I had won the event a couple of years previously). My first round match was against a talented young man from Atlanta, Danial Saleem, who I discovered was now at the rapidly improving Columbia Uni program headed up by SA coach Jacques Swanepoel. I had last seen Danial when he and his family came to work with me for a long weekend training session in Charleston when he was 16. Naturally expecting the same player as I had worked with then, I received a sharp affront to my senses as I discovered that he had matured considerably. We had a great game, but he managed to retrieve just about everything I played. He won 3-1 (and progressed to the semi finals eventually before losing to the winner of the event). Meanwhile I found myself in the consolations. I wasn’t too bent out of shape about this – after all, I had entered on a whim and didn’t even know if I could compete after the trials and tribulations of the previous few months.
In the consolations I had a quick win and then a hard five-set win to take the consolation trophy – and came away reasonably satisfied and more importantly injury free.
On the strength of this performance (and because it coincided with my sister in law’s return to the UK after visiting with us) I decided to enter the Canadian nationals in May. Having missed both the British and the US Nationals I was excited to get a nationals “fix” especially as I had never played the Canadians before.
I entered the Rothenberg Big Apple Open the weekend before the Canadians as I needed a peaking tournament (although I would have preferred it to be two weeks before – one week doesn’t really give enough recovery) and it also happened to fit with our family travel plans.
I played very well in the Rothenberg – losing in a fine match in the final to another Columbia Uni player (have these boys got a vendetta going?) – their number 2 Tony Zou. I felt fit and the knee didn’t hurt, although I was pretty exhausted.
I spent the next few days doing some light coaching and then visited with some friends. There was no knee pain on the Monday or Tuesday after the Rothenberg, but then mysteriously on the Wednesday it began to ache and give me some trouble.
I have fully recounted the story of my Canadian Nationals win in a previous blog.
With the combination of Cheribundi and Dr. Joe Pelino, my cranky knee was not only managed but came back to competitive form.
I want to say a few words about the technique that Dr. Joe Pelino used to get my knee working. It’s called Active Release Therapy and is available throughout North America from a network of trained therapists.
I had never experienced it before – despite having worked with some first class physical therapists. The way it worked for me was by seemingly changing the pressure on various structures around the knee and allowing the knee to function without pain.
I can’t say that it will work for everyone, but the effect on me was tangible and dramatic. I will definitely continue with it whenever I can.
Dr. Joe also advised me that it is not only possible but necessary to rebuild cartilage in the knee joint by using supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin but by actually consuming plenty of cartilage from meat such as Chicken wings. This I have been doing – and it really seems to work.
So to conclude:
Dr. Vijay Bose transformed my life by giving me the BHR operation in 2006. I wish I had sought him out years before.
If I had, perhaps the over compensation on my right side which led to the breakdown of my right knee might not have occurred.
If I hadn’t gone running on the road when I was already tired and the knee was inflamed perhaps I might have been able to give my defense of my British Closed title 100 percent.
Being that the knee breakdown did occur, I am delighted that I discovered the relatively impact free sport of UK Racketball that I am now developing into a new sport and that I think could well impact (no pun intended) millions of enthusiastic players world wide, offering them both a great cross-training opportunity and a wonderful, diverting game in and of itself.
If my knee hadn’t caused me so much trouble I doubt I would have discovered “Active Release Therapy” (ACT) which I think will be a massive boon and relief to many Squash players.
And finally the advent of Cheribundi has been an additional bonus that I may well have discovered anyway but not to the same extent of relieving my aches and pains.
Overall by either ignorance or over enthusiasm leading to bad decisions, I have made choices that were avoidable and that hopefully you – the reader – can avoid.
Nevertheless as my friend O Wayne Hodges is fond of saying “Every decision you make is the right decision in the end,” and my bad ones have led to discoveries that have benefited me and hopefully will benefit you.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me either here or at Millmansquash@gmail.com
May 22nd, 2012