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All About SQUASH

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Serving Close contact rules
Service faults Officials
Points Equipment
Types of stroke Glossary

The squash court

The squash court


History of the game

Objective: Two players (or two pairs of players in doubles matches) hit the ball to each other by bouncing it off the wall. Points are scored when the opponent(s) cannot or do not return the ball.

A game is won when one player reaches 9 points. Matches consist of the best of five games. There is usually a warm-up period of five minutes allowed at the start of the game.



The players spin a racket to decide who serves first. The player who serves first keeps serving until the opposing player wins a strike.

Points can only be scored by the serving player. If the serving player wins a strike, they get a point. If the non-serving player wins a strike, they get the serve, and become the serving player.

A volley or rally may take place, with the ball being bounced repeatedly between the two players.

At the serve, the serving player can choose which service box to serve from, but then all serves must be made from alternate boxes.

The player who wins each game gets the right to serve in the next game. They can also serve from the same service box.

Squash court markings

The markings of a squash court

The court is 6.4 metres (21 feet) wide, by 9.75 metres (32 feet) long. The short line is 4.26 metres (14 feet) from the back wall. The service boxes are 1.6 metres (5 feet 3 inches) square.

When the service changes (hand out) so the receiving player becomes the serving player, the new server has the choice of whichever service box they wish to serve from. Again, after the first serve, the serves are made from alternate service boxes.

Service faults

The ball is tossed in the air and hit towards the front wall. The ball has to hit the wall between the service line and the out line.

It must rebound so that it bounces in the back corner of the court, unless the receiving player volleys it (hits it before it bounces), or the ball can bounce once before the receiving player hits it.

Play then continues with the players hitting the ball onto the front wall, either directly or from the side or back walls. The ball must always hit the front wall between the board (just above the tin) and the out line.

If the ball hits either the board or the tin, the rally ends, and the player who hit the ball loses the rally.

If the player throws the ball up, they do not have to hit it. They can let it drop to the floor and restart the serve. The service itself can be over or underarm.

The receiving player does not have to wait for the serve to hit the ground before returning it.

There is no second serve in squash. If the serve is not made correctly the first time, the opponents takes the serve. A service mistake is called a fault.

There are nine faults for serving.

- If a ball does not go from the hand to the racket

- a foot fault (during serving, at least one foot must be on the ground in the service box)

- trying to serve but missing the ball

- not hitting the ball properly
(for example, a double hit, the ball must be hit once, cleanly)

- if the ball hits another wall before it hits the front wall

- if the ball is hit out of court from any wall

- if the ball hits the front wall on or beneath the service line

- if the ball bounces on any part of the court other than the opposite back half of the court. Landing on the short line or the half court line is a fault

- if the ball hits the server before it has bounced back more than once

The squash court wall

The front wall of a squash court

The tin is 48 centimetres (19 inches) high. The service line is 1.84 metres (6 feet) above the court floor.


The first player to score 9 points is the winner.

If however, the score reaches 8-all, the receiving player will choose whether to play the game to either 9 points (set one), where the first player to 9 points wins, or to 10 points (set two), where the first player to 10 points wins. This option is called setting.

If the game is played to set one, the marker will call '8-all, set one, game ball'.

If the game is played to set two, the marker will call '8-all, set two'.

The servers score is always written or said first. If the server won the first point of a game, the score would be 1-love (love means none).

If the receiver won the first point, the marker would declare 'hand out, love-1'. Hand out means that the serve changes to the other player.

Types of stroke

Angle / boast - when a stroke is played towards the front wall after being bounced off a side wall, or the back wall.

Drive - a hard-hit shot played in a straight line or across court.

Drop - a gently-hit shot played to drop into the nick, (the area where the walls joins the floor) so it is difficult to retrieve.

Lob - a shot that is hit upwards onto the front wall so that it bounces off the front wall, onto the ceiling, and down to the back of the court.

Close contact rules


There are several rules governing the movement of players on the court, as they are both playing in a fairly confined space.

This is to ensure that after playing the ball, that player moves away from the area of play to give the opponent a fair chance of returning the shot.

The outgoing striker (the player who made the last shot) must make every effort to get out of the way so that the incoming striker (the player who receives the ball) can have space to see and hit the ball without any obstructions.

The outgoing player can be penalised with a penalty stroke if a potential winning stroke was obstructed, even if that player tried to get out of the way.

The incoming striker has to make every effort to get to and to play the ball.

A player will not get a let if they are obstructed and it is their own fault.
For example, if they run behind the other player.

If the ball makes contact with a player (as it goes to the wall)

If the ball would have gone straight to the front wall while being returned, and it hits the opposing player, then the player who played the ball wins the rally.

If the ball would have been a good return but hit one of the other three walls before going towards the front wall and hitting the other player, it is a let.

If the referee decides that the ball would not have made it to the front wall anyway, the opposing player (the player who was hit) wins the rally.

There are three instances where these rules do not apply.

1) When there is a second attempt hit the ball.

For example, after the hitting player missed it first time but then managed to recover and hit it the second time.

If the ball hits the opponent, this is only a let, because the opponent would have been clear at the first attempt, and could not have known that the first attempt would be missed.

2) If the hitting player 'turns' on the ball. This is when a player lets the ball pass them and then hits it with any shot just to return it.

For example, a player (for whatever reason) lets the ball bounce off the back wall and then takes a wild strike at it as they cannot do anything else.

As the return shot is uncontrolled, the opponent will not know where it is going to go, and so they will not know where to stand on court. If a player keeps playing these kind of shots, they may be warned for dangerous play.

3) If the opponent is hit when the player hits an angle shot (when the ball is bounced off a side wall on its way to the front wall).

This usually counts as a let, but if the referee decides that a player has deliberately waited in a corner to stop the opponent from playing an angle shot, a stroke may be given to the non-offending player.

If the ball makes contact with a player (as it comes back from the wall)

In most cases, if the ball rebounds off the wall and hits either player, it is the player who got hit who loses the rally. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule.

1) If a player hits a ball against the wall back to themselves and then moves at the last moment so that the opponent is hit, then the player who was hit would receive a let or perhaps even a stroke, depending on the referee's decision.

2) If a player tries to move out of the way of the ball but is prevented from moving away by the other player, then it would not be that players fault and they would not lose the rally by being hit.

There are other incidents such as the two outlined above which the referee would make the decision on.

The close contact rules are in place mainly for two reasons, to ensure greater safety and also to allow each player to play as unhindered as possible.

Some national sets of rules also stipulate that eye protection in the form of goggles or a visor must be worn for safety.


There will be one or more commonly, two officials present at serious matches. They are the marker and the referee.

Both officials will record the scores.


The marker is there to make the calls regarding play and scoring, and uses an internationally verified set of calls, as agreed by the World Federation.

These are the standard calls.

Down - when the player has hit the ball too low on the front wall.

Fault - when the service goes wrong for any reason

Foot fault - when the server does not have at least one foot on the ground in the relevant service box.

Game ball, match ball - when the serving player needs to win only the next rally to win the game or match.

Hand out - spoken before the score when the serve changes to the next player

New game - the servers score is spoken first,
For example, two games to one, or one game to two.
They may also say the name of the server before the actual score.

Not up - any type of incorrect stroke.

Out - called when the ball is out of court.

Score - the score is always called between every rally, as well as any other calls. Equal scores are called as 'all'. A score of nothing is called as 'love'.

Set one, set two - if the score reaches 8-all, the receiving player will choose whether to play the game to either 9 points (set one), where the first player to 9 points wins, or to 10 points (set two), where the first player to 10 points wins.

If the game is played to set one, the marker will call '8-all, set one, game ball'. If the game is played to set two, the marker will call '8-all, set two'

Yes let, no let, stroke to (player) - spoken before the resulting score

Regarding 'down', 'not up' and 'out' calls, if the marker is not sure whether there should be a call or not, play will continue, and if the player who was possibly at fault wins it, the referee will make the decision.

The calls are made in a certain order. The first part of the call is anything which could affect the score, like a 'hand out', or 'not up'.

The second part is the number of the score itself. The third part is the status of the game, like 'game ball', 'match ball' and so on.

There may only be, of course, just the score called, or one comment, depending on what has happened in the previous point.


The referee is there to decide on whether a shot has been played correctly, the court is safe, the players' clothing is appropriate, and also to sort out any disagreement between the players.

The referee will also have a supply of balls and a watch for timekeeping. The referee will call 'halftime' and 'time' during the warm-up period, and 'fifteen seconds' when there are only fifteen seconds left in a rest period. The penalty strokes will also be called by the referee. All other calls are made by the marker.


There are no strict regulations on what type of racket to use. As for the balls, they are small, rubber and come in four different speeds.

There is a coloured dot on the ball, blue, red, white, or yellow, which marks how fast the ball is likely to travel during play. There is also an XX version of the slowest ball which is used for competition.

Mostly, matches are played with yellow dot balls. The balls will travel faster in cold courts than in hot courts, and goes faster the harder it is hit.

The colour of the ball itself will be black or green, although for some televised matches, a white ball is used for visibility. Some clubs prefer green balls in case black balls mark the walls.

Players usually wear white top and shorts, or clothing in a light colour. Shoes must have non-marking soles so as not to mark the surface of the court.

As for competitive matches, the glass back wall allows more spectators to watch. This has developed into the all around transparent walled court, the 'goldfish bowl', which allowed many more spectators to watch the matches.


Hand - a period of play where the serving player retains the right to serve.
Player A scored three points in his/her first hand.

Let - an undecided rally when it is fair to both players to start it again.

Penalty stroke - awarded when a player has infringed upon the rules and it would be unfair on the opponent to restart the rally.

Setting - when the score reaches 8-all the first player to reach 8 has the choice of playing to nine or ten points.

The nick - where the wall joins the floor.

Turning - is when a player lets the ball pass them and then hits it with any shot just to return it.


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