By Richard Millman, Director of Squash, Kiawah Island Club
Don’t think that this is ‘Goody Two Shoes’ laying down the law here. To my shame, I have been a transgressor on many occasions of a number of these points of etiquette—particularly in my younger years. However, as I have played, coached, commentated and generally observed our sport over the past few years, I have come to realize that many players are either not aware of these points…or are ignoring them.
The purpose of ‘etiquette’ is to lead to a greater enjoyment of the game by all parties. As the game of Squash has historically been a game that has taken pride in its well-mannered conduct, and that continues to promote strength of character, I thought perhaps it might be a good idea to run through a guide to help players new and old to enjoy the game more completely. There are many do’s and don’ts and I am not going to include everything here, but here are some of the main areas that I see where there is a lot of room for improvement.
Before you go on
Make sure you are properly dressed: No tank tops or cut-off jeans. Non-marking shoes. A decent round necked or collared shirt and shorts for men or a tennis dress or skirt/shorts for women.
Wear eyewear. You might think you don’t need it, but it only takes once to lose your eye. Maybe it has never happened to you in twenty years—but it only takes once. And if it is a US-Squash sanctioned event and you don’t wear eyewear, you are Cheating! That’s right—you’re a cheat. You’re playing against the rules of the game. Not wearing eyewear in a sanctioned event is no different to picking up double bounces or lying about whether your serve went out or not. If you are going to play the sport, obey the rules. Whether you like them or not, they are the rules.
When you are waiting to play in regularly booked play, if there are players on the court still playing, be courteous enough to wait for them to come off the court before you walk on.
In the warm up
Share the ball: Hit the ball to yourself a maximum of twice before you hit the ball to your opponent. You will never see any self-respecting Pro hit the ball to themselves four, five, six or more times. I see this all the time. It is simply bad manners and ignorant behavior. Sometimes it’s possible that a new player doesn’t understand. if so, quietly show them this article and hopefully they will change their way.
Be courteous even if you are trying to investigate your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses: Hitting the ball twice to yourself and then sticking the ball in the nick is not courtesy. By all means throw up a couple of lobs and try a boast or two, but don’t be aggressive with your attitude. Save that for the match.
When the game begins
General courtesy: If you had warm up pants on—take them off. Don’t play in warm up pants unless you have some particular reason such as an injury. Even then ask the opponent if they mind. Otherwise it looks as though you think you don’t need to bother in taking them off.
Call the score audibly if you are serving and there isn’t an official referee.
When serving: Make sure your opponent is looking—quick serving when they aren’t ready, is poor form. If necessary ask if they are ready.
If you get in the way, if your ball bounces twice or goes out or if your serve is low—call these things against yourself promptly. There should be no debate. Particularly if you have prevented your opponent from hitting their shot. Immediately offer them the point.
When calling a let the correct call is ‘Let, please’, not ‘Let!’ which is offensive, imperious and demanding—and not in the spirit of our game.
Continuous play: Is a rule—not a suggestion. Don’t bend the rule. Make yourself available as soon as possible after a rally.
Next Month: More about etiquette for tournament play. Then we’ll get back to things like “Peaking for Performance.”