Squash Guidelines



The over-riding principle governing the Rules of Squash and their interpretation is to allow a fair result to each match. This requires that the Referee implement the rules fairly for both players throughout the match.

The Guidelines should be read in conjunction with the Rules and have been approved by the World Squash Federation.


In order to prevent one player from gaining an unfair rest interval through a change of equipment, the Referee, before allowing a player to leave the court to make the change, shall be satisfied that there has indeed been a material deterioration of the equipment.

The preference for another racquet, or a different pair of shoes where no physical deterioration is evident, is not sufficient reason for the player to change that equipment. The player may leave the court to effect the change as quickly as possible and must do so within 90 seconds.

If a player's glasses break or a player loses a contact lens, that player is permitted 90 seconds, after which the player must resume play.

If a player is unable to resume play because of lack of alternative equipment, the Referee shall award the match to the opponent.


Time-wasting is an attempt by one player to gain an unfair advantage over the opponent. Prolonged discussion with the Referee and slow preparation to serve or receive service are examples. The Referee shall apply Rule 17 when this occurs.

While excessive ball-bouncing prior to service is time-wasting, it does not constitute serving the hand out.

Players should be aware that during the 90 second intervals, the Referee's call of "Fifteen seconds" is advice for them to return to court. A player who is not ready to resume play on the call of "Time" is gaining an unfair advantage and the Referee shall apply Rule 17.


Rule 7.7 makes it clear that, if any object falls (or is thrown) to the floor of the court, play must cease. Since an injury may occur if a player treads on any object of significant size or texture, the Referee or Marker shall halt play with the word "Stop", or the player(s) may stop and appeal. If the fallen object is unnoticed by players and Officials until the end of the rally and the Referee judges there has been no effect on the outcome of the rally, the result of the rally shall stand (Rule 7.7.6).

Players are responsible for retaining their equipment. As a general rule, a player who drops or throws a piece of equipment will lose a stroke. Exceptions are equipment falling as a result of a collision when the Referee may allow a let or award a stroke depending on whether the player has hit a winning return. If the collision results in an appeal for interference, Rule 12 will take precedence.

If a player drops a racquet without colliding with the opponent, the Referee shall allow the rally to continue under most circumstances. It is considered that the player is already at a significant disadvantage, as the player must pick up the racquet to remain in the rally.

The Referee shall deal with a player’s deliberate dropping or throwing of an object to the floor of the court under Rule 17.


If the ball hits the non-striker the Referee shall make a decision in all cases and the Marker's call is not required until after the Referee has made this decision.

If the ball, coming from the front wall, hits the non-striker without interference occurring, the non-striker loses a stroke unless further attempt applies (Rule 10). The definition of "Attempt" makes it clear that even a fake swing of the racquet or feint at the ball is an attempt, but racquet preparation comprising only backswing with no racquet movement towards the ball is not an attempt.

Rules 9 and 10 cover the various situations in which the ball going to the front wall hits the non-striker.

If the ball hits the striker (without interference) the striker loses the rally and the Marker shall call "Not up", because the striker has not struck the ball correctly. The Referee need not make a decision unless the Marker fails to make a call.

When the ball strikes either player and interference occurred, the Referee shall apply Rule 12.

In deciding to play the ball on turning, a player must ensure that the return will not hit the opponent. If the player does hit the opponent with the ball after turning, the Referee shall award a stroke to the opponent, unless the opponent made a deliberate movement to prevent a good return reaching the front wall, in which case the Referee shall award a stroke to the striker.


When a player turns or makes a further attempt to play the ball, the opponent still has an obligation to make every effort to provide the player with freedom to sight the ball and to get to and play the ball as provided for in Rule 12. However, the act of turning or of recovering for a further attempt is often so quick that the opponent does not have a reasonable opportunity to clear before the interference occurs. In such cases, the Referee shall allow a let. Conversely, if the opponent had ample time to clear but made no effort to do so, or deliberately moved thereby creating the interference, the Referee shall award a stroke to the player.

When a player shapes to play the ball on one side and then brings the racquet across the body to take the ball on the other side, it is neither turning nor making a further attempt and, if interference occurs, Rule 12 applies. This position frequently occurs after the ball has hit the side wall and the front wall simultaneously and then rebounds into the middle of the court.


The opponent must make every effort to clear the ball after playing a return. The opponent’s route should allow the player unobstructed direct access to the ball, provided the player has not moved in to play the ball so quickly as to block the opponent’s exit. In the latter case the Referee shall allow a let, unless the player could not have made a good return, in which case the Referee shall not allow a let.

However, it is equally important for the player to make every effort to get to and play the ball. If the player does not make every effort to get to and play the ball, that is a significant factor in the Referee's assessment of whether or not that player could have reached the ball and made a good return.

The Referee shall decide the degree of effort that the player should make to demonstrate "making every effort". This does not give the player the right to abuse the opponent physically and the Referee shall penalise significant or deliberate physical contact under Rule 12 or Rule 17.

When a player appeals for a let, having encountered some interference, the Referee, when deciding that the interference had no effect on that player’s sighting of the ball and freedom to get to and play the ball, shall not allow a let. This is minimal interference and includes situations in which: the opponent crossed the flight of the ball very early in its trajectory from the front wall but still allowed the player time to sight the ball; the player brushed past the opponent on the way to the ball without affecting the player’s direct access; and the racquet swing brushed the opponent, the opponent’s clothing or racquet without affecting the racquet’s swing.

However, when interference has occurred, the Referee shall not refuse a let in situations in which the player was clearly making every effort (albeit short of physical contact with the opponent) to get to and play the ball and had demonstrated to the Referee the ability to reach the ball.


Rule 12.2.3 allows the striker "freedom to hit the ball with a reasonable swing". If the striker stops play because of the opponent not granting this freedom and appeals, the Referee shall consider following options:

  • If the opponent is too close and has prevented the striker’s reasonable swing and is hit or would have been hit with the racquet, the Referee shall award a stroke to the striker
  • If the striker stops play as a result of slight racquet contact with the opponent, who is making every effort to clear, the Referee shall allow a let. This is different from the minimal interference described in G6. The amount of contact must be sufficient to affect the player’s swing, but insufficient to prevent it.
  • If the striker stops play for fear of hitting the opponent and the opponent, though close to, does not prevent the striker’s reasonable swing, the Referee shall allow a let under rule 13.1.2 - reasonable fear of injury. As long as the opponent does not prevent a reasonable swing, a let is the appropriate decision.
  • If the striker stops play for fear of hitting the opponent and the opponent is well clear of the reasonable swing, the Referee shall not allow a let, as the striker has judged the opponent’s position incorrectly.


The correct method of appeal when interference or Rule 13 instances have occurred is to say "Let please" and for other occurrences under Rule 11 is to say "Appeal please".

Players sometimes use other forms of appeal including a raised hand or racquet, especially when communication between players and Referee is difficult. A Referee accepting any form of appeal other than the standard "Let please" or "Appeal please" must be satisfied that the player is actually making an appeal.


The timing of an appeal on interference is important.

In the case of an appeal concerning fair view and freedom to hit the ball directly to the front wall (commonly known as "crossing the flight"), the Referee shall consider the situation at the time the player could have hit the ball.

In the case of interference on backswing, the appeal must be immediate and before the player makes any attempt to play the ball. Any attempt to hit the ball after backswing interference has occurred indicates that the striker has accepted the interference and thus forfeits the right of appeal.

If there is interference in the act of playing the ball, which includes a reasonable backswing, hit and reasonable follow-through, an appeal is justified. The Referee shall consider whether the opponent was crowding and not allowing freedom to play the ball in deciding whether to allow a let or to award a stroke.

If a player appeals for not being ready to receive service, the Referee shall allow a let, unless deciding the player delayed play unnecessarily. In the latter case the Referee could apply Rule 17.


If a player makes an appeal for interference before the result of the opponent’s return is known, this is regarded as an early appeal. If a player makes an early appeal and the opponent’s return subsequently goes down or out, the Referee shall allow the result of the rally to stand, the player winning the rally.

When the opponent appeals for a let for interference before the player has completed a reasonable follow through, this is also regarded as an early appeal. In this case the opponent has no right of appeal and the Referee shall not award a let.


At all times an opponent must allow the player unobstructed direct access to play the ball.

However, sometimes the situation arises in which the opponent has caused no interference (i.e. the opponent has clearly provided the required direct access) but the player takes an indirect route to the ball which takes the player towards, or very close to, the opponent's position. The player then appeals for a let because of being "obstructed" in access to the ball.

If there is no genuine reason for this indirect route, the player has created the interference where none otherwise existed and, if the player appeals, the Referee shall not allow a let. Whether the player could make a good return is not a consideration - in order to remain in the rally the player must get to and play the ball.

This is different from two situations in which a player, in attempting to recover from a position of disadvantage, does not have direct access to the ball. In the first situation the player is "wrong-footed" and anticipates the opponent hitting the ball one way, starts moving that way, but having guessed wrongly, changes direction to find the opponent in the way. In this situation the Referee shall allow the player a let on appeal if the recovery is sufficient to demonstrate the player would have made a good return. In fact, if the opponent prevents the incoming player from playing a winning return, the Referee shall award a stroke to that player.

Secondly, if a player plays a poor return that gives the opponent a position of advantage, the Referee shall allow the player a let only if, in taking the direct line to the ball for the next return, the Referee determines that, but for the interference, that player would have been able to get to and play the ball.


Significant or deliberate physical contact is both detrimental to the game and potentially dangerous. In blatant cases the Referee shall stop the rally and award the appropriate penalty. Where the player "pushes off" the opponent and this has no significant effect on the opponent, the Referee shall allow the rally to continue and give a warning to that player at the end of the rally. Where there is a significant effect, the Referee shall stop play and apply Rule 17.


When the receiver, without attempting to return the service, appeals that the ball is broken, the Referee will normally allow a let for that rally. However, if the Referee considers that the ball broke in the previous rally, the Referee shall allow a let for the previous rally. This also applies if the service is not good.


1. If a player has visible bleeding, the Referee shall require the player to leave the court immediately. The Referee shall not permit play to resume while the bleeding is visible. The Referee shall permit recovery time for bleeding according to Rule 16.1. A player, unable to stop bleeding within the total time the Referee permits, shall either concede one game to gain a further 90 seconds and then continue play without bleeding, or concede the match.

If a player's clothing has become blood-stained as a result of the injury, the player shall change that clothing before resuming play.

If the bleeding recurs after recovery time has been allowed, the Referee shall allow no further recovery time, except that the player may concede the game in progress and use the interval between games to recover.

2. A player suffering illness or disability on court has the option, except where blood is visible, of completing the game in progress or of conceding that game or the match.

A player who does not wish to concede the match, but who requires recovery time or who needs to leave the court, shall concede the game. After informing the Referee, the player shall take the 90 second interval between games for recovery, then be ready to play; or concede the match. The player may concede only one game.

If a player vomits or otherwise makes the court unplayable, the Referee shall award the match to the opponent, irrespective of whether the sick player is able to resume play (Rule 17.). The Referee's decision with regard to court conditions is final.

In the case of symptoms of tiredness, alleged injuries not reasonably evident to the Referee or pre-existing ailments, the Referee shall not permit recovery time (except that the Referee shall allow the player concerned the option of conceding one game to take the 90 second interval between games and then resume play). Included in this category are cramps, whether abdominal pains or muscle cramps, actual or impending nausea and breathlessness including asthmatic conditions.

3. If a player is injured the Referee, after confirming that the injury is genuine, shall advise the players of the requirements of the Rules, inform the players of the category of the injury and shall ascertain the player's intentions regarding a resumption of play.

When a player suffers a self-inflicted injury, i.e. an injury which clearly does not involve the opponent as described in Rule, the Referee shall allow the recovery time permitted in Rule Such an injury could be the result of a blow, especially to the face or head, as a result of the player colliding with the walls or floor, or a possible muscle tear or sprained joint causing the player to stop suddenly.

It is the responsibility of the injured player to be back at the court when the Referee calls "Time", either to resume play, or to request an extension of recovery time, if required, in the case of an injury which is still bleeding. If the player is not present when "Time" is called the Referee shall award the match to the opponent.

The player shall make the decision to resume play. The Referee's role is to decide whether an injury exists, to apply and monitor time-intervals and to apply the Rules when the total allocated recovery time has elapsed


Coaching of players is permitted only during the interval between games. Coaching does not include brief comments of encouragement between rallies that clearly have no effect on the continuity of play. The Referee shall decide whether comments are permissible encouragement or improper coaching.

The use of external communication aids is prohibited.

The Referee may penalise coaching in any form during play by applying Rule 17 to the player being coached.


The penalties available to the Referee under Rule 17 are:
  • Warning (called a Conduct Warning).
  • Stroke awarded to opponent (called a Conduct Stroke).
  • Game awarded to opponent (called a Conduct Game).
  • Match awarded to opponent (called a Conduct Match).

The guidelines for applying the penalties are as follows:

When the Referee imposes the first penalty for a particular offence, it should be a warning, stroke, game or match depending on the seriousness of the offence. However, any subsequent penalty for the same type of offence for the same player should not be less severe than the previous penalty for that offence. Thus the Referee may award more than one warning or stroke for the same type of offence if the Referee decides that the offence does not warrant a more severe penalty.

When issuing penalties the Referee shall use the following terminology:
  • Conduct warning (player or team's name) for (Offence).
  • Conduct stroke (player or team's name) for (Offence), stroke to (opponent or opposing team's name).
  • Conduct game (player or team's name) for (Offence), game to (opponent or opposing team's name).
  • Conduct match (player or team's name) for (Offence), match to (opponent or opposing team's name).

The Marker shall repeat only that part of the Referee's decision that affects the score.


If it is not possible to have two Officials for a match, a single Official acts as Marker and Referee. The Official calls the play and the score as Marker and answers appeals as Referee.

When there is a single Official, the decisions which the Referee normally makes directly - such as when the ball strikes a player or answering appeals under Rule 12 - present no problems. However, there are limitations in the appeals process related to the Marker’s decisions. Specifically a Marker making an affirmative call (e.g. "Out") is unlikely, as Referee, to reverse that decision on appeal. On the other hand, in the event of the Marker’s failure to call (e.g. a suspected service fault) an appeal may be worthwhile because the Referee's response shall be either "Good" or "Uncertain". In the latter case the Referee shall allow a let.


The Marker shall call services and returns that are not good as soon as they occur using the appropriate call, thereby stopping the rally.

The correct order of calls is:
1. Anything affecting the score.
2. The score with the server's score always called first.
3. Comments on the score:

Examples are:
  • "Not up, hand-out, 4-3."
  • "Down, 8-all, set one, game ball."
  • "Out, 8-all, set two."
  • "Yes let, 3-4."
  • "No let, hand-out, 5-7."
  • "Stroke to Jones, 8-2, match ball."
  • "Foot fault, hand-out, love-all."
  • "Fault" (appeal by server, Referee uncertain). "Yes let, 8-3, game ball."

Match introduction:
  • "Smith serving, Jones receiving, best of 5 games, love-all."

End of a game:
  • "9-7, game to Smith. Smith leads one game to love."
  • "10-9, game to Smith. Smith leads two games to love."
  • "9-3, game to Jones. Smith leads two games to one."
  • "9-4, game to Jones, two games all."
  • "10-8, match to Smith, 9-7, 10-9, 3-9, 4-9, 10-8."

Start of subsequent game:
  • "Smith leads one game to love, love-all."
  • "Smith leads two games to one, Jones to serve, Love-all"
  • "Two games all, Smith to serve, love-all."

After award of Conduct penalty:
  • "Stroke to Smith, 7-2".
  • "9-7, game to Jones, two games all".


Addressing the players: Officials should use the player’s surname/family name, rather than the given name, when addressing players. This eliminates any appearance of familiarity that players or spectators could interpret as favouritism.

Explanations: Following an appeal by a player, the Referee normally gives the decision and play resumes. However, on some occasions, it may be appropriate to explain the decision to the players. In those cases the Referee may give a concise explanation following the decision. It is helpful to the players if the Referee uses the terminology of the appropriate rule when explaining a decision.

Sourced from www.worldsquash.org

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