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Delaying Your Shot For A Stroke?

Published: 03 Jan 2007 - 10:43 by adam_pberes

Updated: 06 Jan 2007 - 15:48

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It's A Rather Dirty Way Of Playing, But as a referee I was wondering what would you call it as if they asked for a leT?


The situation is the opponent  is on the T after hitting his shot which hit the side wall and is coming to a spot about 3 foot behind him, but the person who was receiving, had the chance to hit the ball when it was at the side wall, but he decides not to and hovers with the ball until it gets behind his opponent, then calls let. Would it be a stroke as the receiver had a chance to return the ball before there was any obstruction?


I've seen many players win lots of points this way, But it's pretty dirty.


I Know (or adleast I think I do) that if the opponent is behind you and the ball is coming to you and you let it drift straight back into his vicinity its a stroke, but most the time they are crowding and it would have been a stroke even if they didn't let it drift back.


I'm thinking that it is just a let as:

If On a serve, your opponent serves so when it hits the side wall it comes out at such an angle, it comes back into the middle of the court and the receiver calls let, every single time, I've seen that been called a let, but with the same situation Mid- rall(not off a serve) I've seen it been called a stroke many-a-times.



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From SuperSage666 - 06 Jan 2007 - 15:48

As stated by many, this is a very tricky subject for the referee to call on.

My approach has always been.

Shaping as if to play the shot.  If the striker shapes up as if to play the shot early, then decides to take it later and thus causes interference by their change of plan and calls "Let" while he/she still has a chance of playing the ball direct to the front wall.  I would only give them a let, as their shaping up to the ball has given their opponent the need to move to a position to cover the return (close in).  Only if the opponent closes in too much and crowds the striker would I give the striker a stroke.

I apply the same ruling to those who feint (fake a strike at the bal) and thus I apply the ruling for  subsequent attempts to play the ball in both cases.  As I strongly believe that the first swing at the ball would always be their most effective shot, they lose momentum, power and attack when deciding to chase the ball or fake a swing. 

In most cases where the player hasn't shaped up to the ball and has often been caught out by the pace or height of the ball and for similar reasons, has decided to chase after the ball. If they are still able to make a direct shot or winning shot to the front wall and there is interference from their opponent being too close behind and not clearing the path.  I would not hesitate in calling a "Stroke" to the striker. 

  We often don't know the reason for their change of plan, so I would often assume it is due to unforseen events or ball movement.   Occasionally I have come across players that will deliberately delay the shot because the ball is going to travel past their opponent, most often in these cases, they have shaped up as if to play the ball or pick this move too late and the ball has moved too far for them to play it directly to the front wall.  So they only end up with a "Let" result, much to their dissatisfaction, since most other referees in our club award them with strokes.  Some even get "No Let" results if the ball has moved well beyond their reach by the time they  call "Let".   Their opponent might have been in the way of their racquet, but the ball would most likely not make the front wall if struck when the interference occurred.

It is these considerations that lack consistency in most of the clubs I have been in.   There is always latency in a player making the decision to chase instead of strike.  This is often to the strikers own detriment.  For the reasons mentioned above.  I have always coached players to play the ball as early as they can for most of the time (maintain pressure) with delay being used to vary the pace and keep the opponent off guard.   Also I teach them that delaying a shot does not mean changing direction to go after a ball instead of striking it (that is a silly move indeed), but to chose an initial path to the ball that gives them the option of holding the shot a fraction later than they  have normally been playing it.   Mostly, it means chosing a position near where the ball will make the second bounce on the floor.  From this position, the striker can choose to move forward and take it earlier if their opponent is out of position or delay it to almost the second bounce to get their opponent flat footed.   

 Keep on squashing.

Also, If there is anybody wanting to set up a squash business in Australia, the "Shepparton Squash Centre" is up for lease.  It has nine courts (2 glass backs) and 4 existing night pennant competitions running.   I'm not sure what the owner wants to lease them for, it used to be $700 per week, but let me know if you are interested and I will try and find out.



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From rbrowne7 - 05 Jan 2007 - 13:48   -   Updated: 05 Jan 2007 - 13:49

Adz I think we are best to agree to disagree on a few points.
Firstly you state "Delaying your shot is surely creating the interference" I disagree 100%. You need to have a close read of my quote from the Guide for interpreting the rules "Freedom to hit the ball - Reasonable Swing" again I quote "The player is entitled to delay a return  and the opponent must still provide freedom to hit the ball". That means the player can delay his shot for as long as he wants and the opponent always must get out of the way at all times. Sounds tough but the player has the rights and the opponent just has to get on his bike and get out of the way.

Regards to point (4) of your interpretation I think you are just wrong for the reasons I have stated. Anyway being consistent with calls is probably  the way to go. I actually enjoy Refereeing and there is rarely any drama with my calls. Cheers to all Squash Nuts

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From Adz - 05 Jan 2007 - 02:18

Ah! But by definition, delaying your shot is surely creating the interferrance by taking an indirect route to the shot. Since you are already at the ball, any other movement must class as an indirect and unnecessary route to take and therefore should warrant a no let!

Do you see how this can become SO confusing!


There is also a rule that states that you should make every effort to get to and play the ball (12.7.1). By delaying the shot you cannot be making every effort and therefore it cannot be a let or a stoke.


Or how about the rule which states that you must make every effort to clear the ball to allow your opponent to play his/her shot otherwise it is a stroke! (12.8.1)


Ultimately my interpretation of these rules (which in only one way of reading them!) is:

1) The player must make every effort to clear the ball for his opponent to play their shot. Failure to do this or deliberately blocking your opponent results in a stroke against you. This is irrespective of whether or not your opponent has held their shot.

2) The opponent must make and show every effort to get to and play the ball. Failure to do this results in no let or stroke being awarded.

3) If interferrance occurs on the way to the ball but is NOT sufficient to stop the player from playing the ball in a comfortable manner, then that player MUST play the ball. Comfortable means that the interferrance has not effected the players balance or foot position of the shot significantly enough to effect a reasonable swing at the ball.

4) Any player who deliberately plays for a stroke shall be given a no let, with any border-line decsions being given as a let ball. If in doubt, ALWAYS play a let ball. This includes situations where the striking player has held his shot to back into an opponent who has made every effort possible to get out of the way in plenty of time for the striker to play the shot.




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From rbrowne7 - 04 Jan 2007 - 22:29   -   Updated: 04 Jan 2007 - 22:29

Part 2 - (12.2.4) Freedom to play the ball directly to any part of the front wall.I agree with
Adz this is a stroke even if the opponent has made EVERY EFFORT TO CLEAR THE BALL..

In response to the situation where the striker delays their shot (eg follows the ball towards the back wall when he could have hit it earlier), the Guide states under "Freedom to Hit the Ball - Reasonable swing" 'If the opponent's position prevents the player's reasonable swing despite the opponent having made every effort to avoid the interference  the Referee must award a stroke to the player. The player is entitled to delay a return and the opponent must still provide freedom to hit the ball. "

That's the basics, however, it gets complicated from here as the Guide goes on to discuss 'slight racquet contact and whether or not it is sufficient to affect the swing. Minimal Interference. Fear of hitting the opponent Etc.

Hope this helps a bit - The best thing is to get hold of a copy of the Guide- it makes fascinating reading for Squash Nuts only - Cheers Rob

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From rbrowne7 - 04 Jan 2007 - 22:03   -   Updated: 04 Jan 2007 - 22:06

Hi there Adam - I'm not fully convinced with Adz reply to your questions. Firstly my answers come directly from the "Guide to Understanding the Rules of Squash" which have been prepared by Squash Australia for the World Squash Federation and are to be used in conjunction with the World Squash Singles Rules 2001 (Effective 1 May 2001). If these documents are out of date then we're back to square one!!! Anyway here goes-

(12.7) The Referee shall not allow a let and the player shall lose the rally if the Referee decides
(12.7.4) the player created the interference in moving to the ball.
I couldn't find anywhere in the rules or guide Adz interpretation of the meaning of "Created Interference." The Guide states "Sometimes the situation arises where the opponent has caused no interference (ie the required direct access has been clearly provided) but the player has taken an indirect route to the ball which takes the player towards or very close to the opponent's position. If there is no genuine reason for this indirect route' the player has created the interference where none otherwise existed. This is often called 'playing the player' and not playing the ball. If the player appeals for a let one should not be allowed.
Note a player is allowed to delay their shot - See part 2 of my Post

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From Adz - 03 Jan 2007 - 19:58

This really is a tough question to answer as two rules contradict each other in this case.

(12.7) The Referee shall not allow a let and the player shall lose the rally if the Referee decides:

(12.7.4) the player created the interference in moving to the ball.

This seems to suggest that because the player who is about to play the ball has deliberately caused the interferance by NOT playing the ball when they have the chance, they are not even entitled to a LET!

(12.2) To avoid interference the opponent must make every effort to provide the player with:

(12.2.4) freedom to play the ball directly to any part of the front wall.

However it is these rules which suggest that because the striking player cannot play directly onto the front wall, interferance occurs. As this interferance stops the striker from playing the shot directly onto the front wall, a stroke should be awarded. Even if the opponent has made EVERY EFFORT TO CLEAR THE BALL!

This point could seriously be argued both directions for quite some time, and I'm sure that I could argue my case which ever side I found myself on. The way that I've always called it is:

It is the responsibility of each player to make every effort to clear the vacinity to give his/her opponent an interferance free shot. If the opponent fails to do this and impeeds either the swing or the ball tradjectory to the front wall, then a stroke is to be awarded. A striker in turn must make every effort to play the ball when they are given the chance to do so. Interferance is NOT caused by the striking player, but by the opponent, and thus any situation which contains interferance caused by the striking player should NOT be a stroke.

Another good example of this......

Player A hits the ball loosely down the middle of the court and backs off to the back wall. Player B steps backwards with the same path as the ball from the T backwards. They delay playing the ball all the way until the back wall where they come into contact with player A.

Player B had the option to play the ball on the T or anytime form there until they reached player A on the back wall. Player A tried to give his opponent every chance to play the ball by putting themself on the back wall out of the way of the shot.

What decision should be given in this case? Personally I've always given a let if player A really has made an effort to get out of the way. If they've stood just a bit behind the T I've given a stroke to player B (as A didn't make every effort to give B a reasonable swing at the ball).


Like I said earlier, this is a very grey area of refereeing which is why so many arguments can be had from players who play one way or another. The most important thing as a referee is to be consistent and don't be afraid to stick to your guns even is the whole world is against you! Make an unbiased call within the rules and stick to it. That's all any player can ever ask of you.


Good luck!


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