Played by as many as 20 million enthusiasts across the world, squash is among the most popular indoor-racket sport. Squash has come a long way since its inception in the jails of London. In fact, it tops the Forbes list of world’s healthiest sports, even ahead of sports like swimming, Pentathlon and Basketball. In India, Squash has been able to gain some popularity, with people from the corporate world adopting the game for both recreational and health purposes. The sport is on its way up at a high pace in the country. Here is all that you would need to know about the squash rules before stepping on the floor.
Squash is played between 2 counterparts as both singles and doubles game. It is played in a closed room with boundaries defined on the walls. The repetitive task for each player is to alternately strike a rubber ball with a racket to score points. Both racket and ball must meet the WSF (World Squash Federation) specifications. The side scoring more points eventually win the game. Let’s begin with step by step rules of every aspect of the game.
Put simply, there are four ways to score a point in a rally
- If a player fails to execute a valid return. (striker’s point)
- The ball hitting the backboard or net (non-striker’s point)
- Invalid service (non-striker’s point)
- Intentional interference by a player to prevent the opponent from attempting a return.
There are 2 scoring methods in squash. The internationally recognised is Point A Rally scoring. In PAR scoring, a game is played to 11 points where a point can be scored by both server and non-server. Whereas in the English or Serve-in scoring system, the game is of 9 points. And a point can only be scored by the server. Nevertheless, the 11 point PAR scoring system is the official scoring system and also in the amateur circuit.
In the case of 10-10 in the PAR scoring, the game is continued till a clear lead by 2 points by one side like other racket sports.
The service is given away by a fair coin toss and it is alternated as the server loses a point. The Server has the freedom of opting the service box and should thereafter alternate till they keep scoring consecutive points. For a legal serve, the ball must hit the front wall directly between the service line and the outline. Also, the first bounce in return must land within the back quarter of the court opposite to the Server’s box. The receiver also has an option of picking it before the bounce.
- No part of a foot of the server is in contact with the floor within the service box, or it is touching the boundaries of the service box (foot-fault)
- If the Server is unable to strike the ball after releasing it and before it reaches to the floor or wall or anything the server wears.
- The ball does not strike directly onto the front wall between the service and the outlines.
- If the first bounce on the floor is not in the quarter court opposite the serves box unless volleyed.
- The ball goes out in the serve.
After a legal serve, the players return the ball alternately until they fail in the same, or if the ball is no longer in the play, in accordance with the rules. The ball is declared out if any part of the ball touches or goes beyond the outline. And if the ball hits the tin or gets a second bounce on the floor, the ball is deemed down. The ball must touch the front wall while remaining in the play before landing on the floor for a successful return. Also, the ball must bot be touching the floor or any part of the striker’s body or clothing.
For those who follow cricket, a let ball is similar to a dead ball in cricket. This means let is an undecided stroke, which if allowed by the referee, the corresponding service or rally shall not count and the point is replayed and the server has to serve from the same box. A let is allowed in these cases:
- If the referee feels that the striker refrained from hitting the ball because of a reasonable fear of injuring the opponent.
- The referee realises that the striker has incurred unintentional interference from the opponent in the path to the ball, making him force a desperate shot which would otherwise have been a better one.
- When the referee is unable to decide on an appeal.
- The receiver does not attempt to take the service, indicating he was not ready for the same.
- If the ball goes out on its first bounce on an otherwise fair return.
- The ball breaks in a rally.
- If the ball touches the receiver or anything carried/worn by the receiver on its way to the sidewall or back wall which would otherwise be a good return.
Freedom to play the ball
A player should make every effort to get out of the opponent’s way after playing a ball. This includes giving the opponent a fair view of the ball to play it adequately. Also, a player must make every effort to allow the opponent to for a full swing in whichever direction he desires by completely getting out of the way.
Some other ways to win a point
- If a player attempts to distract the opponent by calling out, dropping the racket or any other actions. (opponent’s point)