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The short version of the squash rules should help all players to understand the basics of the game. All players should know the basic rules (see also: Squash Rules, long). This short version was created by the Austrian Squash Rackets Association (ÖSRV) and can be downloaded under Downloads. The rule numbers in brackets in the headings refer to the complete rules.
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The counting method
A game consists of three winning sets. Each set goes up to eleven points, except when the score is 10:10. When both are 10, the difference must be two points (“overtime”). Points can be made by both players, every mistake counts (“running score”). If the rebounder wins the rally, he or she becomes the serve.
Before the game begins, the two players are given 5 minutes (2 ½ minutes on each page) to warm up themselves and the ball on the court to be played. After a ball exchange or interruption, the players play the ball warm again. The ball can be played warm by any of the players during interruptions.
The game begins with a serve. The player who serves first is determined by turning the bat. The serve then serves until it loses a rally, then the opponent becomes the serve (known as the service). The player who wins the previous set serves first in the next set. At the beginning of each set and after each service change, the serve can be served from either of the two service squares. After a winning change, the serve is served from the other service square. When serving, the player must stand on the ground with at least part of his foot within the service square without touching the boundary line of the service square with the same foot. For a service to be valid, it must hit directly against the end wall above the service line and below the outline in such a way that the ball bounces on the ground in the opposing quarter of the court during rebound, unless it is accepted as a volley.
A rebound is valid if the ball, before bouncing on the ground a second time, is correctly hit by the player to the end wall over the tin and below the outline without first touching the ground. The ball may touch the side walls and/or the back wall before it reaches the end wall. A kickback is void if it is “DOUBLE” (if it is hit after bouncing on the floor more than once, or if it is hit incorrectly, or if it is a double shot), “DEPTH” (if, after being hit, the ball first bounces on the floor before hitting the headboard or going into the tin) or “OFF” (if the ball hits a wall on or above the outline).
After a valid serve, the ball is served alternately by both players until one player does not make a valid return. A rally consists of a serve and a series of valid rebounds. A player wins a rally if his opponent is unable to serve or recoil a valid serve or if the ball hits his opponent (including racket or clothing) before the player has attempted to hit the ball if his opponent is the non-racket.
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If a player hits the ball and the ball hits the opponent or his racket or clothing before he reaches the end wall, play is stopped.
- If it was a valid rebound and the ball would have reached the end wall without first touching another wall, the rebounder wins the rally, provided he had not rotated.
- If it was a valid rebound and the ball had reached the end wall without first touching another wall, the rebounder wins the rally.
- If the ball either touched or would have touched a wall and it would have been a valid recoil, a Letball is played.
- If the recoil was not valid, the recoil loses the rally.
If the player with the ball has either turned or allowed the ball to pass around the body, he has “turned” in both cases if he has played the ball to the right of the body after letting it pass on the left side (or vice versa). If the opponent is hit by the ball after the player has spun, the rally is awarded to the opponent. If the player interrupts the rally while spinning because he is afraid of hitting his opponent, a let-ball is played. This is the recommended procedure in situations where a player wants to spin but is not sure where the opponent stands.
If a player has missed the ball while trying to play, he may make another attempt to hit it.
- If another hit attempt would have led to a valid recoil, but the ball hits the opponent, a Letball is played.
- If the recoil would not have been valid, the player loses the rally.
When it is a player’s turn to play the ball, he/she has the right to sufficient space without hindrance from the opponent. In order to avoid obstruction, the opponent must try to give the player unhindered access to the ball, provide a good view of the ball and make space, make a reasonable stroke movement and play the ball directly to any part of the end wall. A player who feels handicapped may accept the handicap and continue to play or interrupt the rally. It is preferable to interrupt the rally if there is a possibility of colliding with the opponent or hitting him/her with the bat or ball.
If the rally is interrupted due to a disability, the following general rules apply:
- The player has the right to a let-ball if he or she could have hit the ball back and the opponent has made every effort to avoid the obstruction.
- The player has no right to a Letball (loses the rally) if he or she could not have hit the ball back, or if he or she accepted the handicap, or if the handicap was so minor that the player’s access to the ball and the shot were not impaired.
- The player has the right to a “point” (wins the rally) if the opponent has not made every effort to avoid the obstruction, or if the player could have made a profitable kickback, or if the player would have hit the opponent with the ball on the direct path to the end wall.
Let Ball Grant
A letball is a drawn rally. The rally does not count and the serve serves again from the same service square. In addition to the letting balls listed in the above sections, letting balls may be allowed on other occasions. For example, a let-ball may be awarded if the ball touches any object on the court floor, or if the player pauses in the shot because he has a well-founded fear of injuring his opponent. A let-ball must be awarded if the rebounder is not yet ready to hit and makes no attempt to accept the serve, or if the ball breaks during play.
Play without delay (Law 7) The game shall be restarted in each set without interruption as soon as a player has served. There shall be no delay between the end of a change of ball and the beginning of the next. A break of 90 seconds is allowed between sets. Players may change clothing or equipment if necessary. If an injury with bleeding occurs, the bleeding must be stopped before the player may continue playing.
A player shall be allowed a reasonable period of time to treat the bleeding. If the bleeding was caused solely by the opponent, the injured player wins the game. If the bleeding reoccurs, no further recovery break is allowed except that the player may surrender the set using the 90 second pause between sets to treat the wound and stop the bleeding. If he fails to do so, the player must give up the game. In the case of an injury without bleeding, a decision must be made as to whether the injury was caused by the opponent, by the player himself or by both players.
- If caused by the opponent, the injured player wins the game, if a recovery time is needed.
- If the injured player is at fault, he will be allowed 3 minutes rest, then he must continue playing or give up the set and use the 90 seconds rest to recover.
- If caused by both players, the injured player will be granted a recovery break of one hour.
A player who is unwell must continue to play or may take a break by surrendering the set and using the 90 second break for recovery. Cramps, nausea and breathlessness (including asthma) are regarded as malaise. If a player vomits in court, the opponent wins the game.
Rule 15 provides guidelines for players. For example, 15.6 states that intentional distraction is not allowed. Players should read this rule completely. Some of the 8 sub-items deal with situations relating to match control by point/referees. The use of officials is not considered in this abridged version.
Behaviour on the Court
Insulting, aggressive or intimidating behaviour is not acceptable in squash. This includes audible and visible obscenities, verbal and physical abuse, disagreement, abuse of the racket, court or ball, unnecessary physical contact, excessive punching motion, unsportsmanlike warm play, time delay, late return to the court, intentional or dangerous play or action, and coaching (except in the breaks).