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Knock up etiquette

Published: 12 Apr 2008 - 06:59 by jimbob1965

Updated: 17 Apr 2011 - 09:42

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Just recently, I have encountered a bit of an issue around opponents' expectations about how to behave during the knock up.  I like to quite often hit around 3-4 shots back to myself, rather than exchange shots constantly with the opponent.  I find that doing this prepares you for the match much better, particuarly hitting consecutive lengths down the wall or hitting to length followed by a drop or two to the front.  I then hit the ball to my opponent and am more than willing wait for my turn again whilst they do the same. 

However, over the past couple of weeks, I have encountered a couple of instances of negativity to this approach, varying from a sarcastic comment like 'I'm on court as well you know' to one player who actually said before the knock up had even begun that we should hit no more than two consecutive shots back to ourselves before switching (my approach had obviously rankled him in the past!)

How do the rest of you prepare during your knock ups?  Am I being unreasonable adopting my type of approach and should I defend it if I enounter any future negativity?  I did not push it with the second player and just accepted his way, rather than make an issue out of it, even though I feel my way is better for both players!



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From ROBSTER42 - 16 Apr 2011 - 16:30   -   Updated: 17 Apr 2011 - 09:42


Hi sloejp,
I personally would not complain if someone played 3-4 shots then passed across but all I can say is I have played in about 5 clubs over 22 years and played so many people and only ever come across a tiny, tiny minority who play 3 shots then pass it with the 4th consistently, sure some do it now & again but then mix in cross courts.  I just not see it in our clubs internal leagues-thats why its a bit odd to me :). I play in the United Kingdom,
I kindly ask ripparit with his wealth of knowledge, whether it is possible for an everyday club in Australia /USA to have most of the players knock up as sloeip says playing 3 then passing across on the 4th, because unless its very different from UK clubs where people play in internal leagues, it is honestly so rare!
As I have only played limited team squash I don’t know if it becomes much more widespread the better the standard of players?I really would appreciate a reply on this on ripparit and you are the one that will know :) Thank you so much.
Anyway what’s important is that we all enjoy our squash. All the best to all!

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From sloejp - 14 Apr 2011 - 10:11

at my club most people hit three to themselves and then hit back to the other player. i don't see how you could complain about that. if the complainers are people that you don't have to play with then perhaps it's not worth it.

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From ROBSTER42 - 13 Apr 2011 - 22:14


Lol, Honestly the best way, is just to say something in a friendly/joking really is that easy!

It breaks any ice and should work a treat, no need to overcomplicate things. if they get a bit funny then some of the techniques suggested by rippa rit should sort it...

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From rippa rit - 10 Apr 2011 - 08:44

Guys I guess it goes back to people knowing the rules, and the offenders usually do not want to read them anyway!  Also without a Ref it is difficult to police the rules. Once the rule was that you could either elect to hit 2.5 mins by yourself or use the 5 mins between you though in the WSF Rule I just referred to I could not see reference to this any more. It is not a new complaint and you can use your own tactics to counter it, providing those tactics do not upset your game and rhythm to your disadvantage. What would I do:

  • If the opponent hits 3 to himself I would then do likewise.
  • Since the warm up is also to get the feel of the court and the ball as well as sus out the opponent  I would also:
    • throw in a lob (you can then sus the volley), boast  (then you can see how they move to the front of the court and whether they are capable of hitting straight from that position) and drop (to see if the opponent has an open racket face to lift it or tins the ball) .

Nobody said you have to drive the ball in the warm-up

Try it and tell me what this opponent thinks now!!.

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From hamburglar - 10 Apr 2011 - 05:23   -   Updated: 10 Apr 2011 - 05:46

I guess it's never bothered me THAT much. It's not like I used to play competitively or play anything more than town level pick up games. Maybe if I did it would bother me more if I had.

Mainly I guess it fuels me and provides motivation. It also gives me a chance to read their straight shots. I can usually read them well enough during the knockup to know when they're going to hit crosscourt.

I guess the knockup is mainly to get the ball warm, so hey it's getting warm.


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From ROBSTER42 - 10 Apr 2011 - 00:50

thanks for response guys,

Just a note of interest, I have played two matches this week, last night and this morning, and I asked both of the guys if their opponent was playing 3 shots back to themselves every time in the warm up, would they say anything..... they both said they definatley would, probably  in a friendly or sarcastic way.

Based on those coments from the last 2 guys i played,and how I feel too..these excessive players should be getting coments from people on a regular basis, so why do they keep doing it.just plain ignorant? thats what I cant work out.. lol

Question for Hamburglar, this new chap who plays a lot of shots to himself, you say you have joked with some other players, surely someone has broached the conversation with this guy. is he just ignoring anything said to him, like he seems to be ignoring your subtle gestures? :)

If you ask me, its quite rude behaviour from these people and takes a bit of the enjoyment away from the game.

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From rippa rit - 09 Apr 2011 - 16:33

Rule 3.2

"In the warm-up both players must have equal opportunities of striking the ball. A player
retaining the strike for an unreasonable time is warming up unfairly. The Referee shall decide
when the warm-up is unfair and apply Rule 17."

Ok what is Rule 17?  It is the "Conduct 0n Court" Rule and 17.3 states:

"The Referee shall apply one of the following penalties for these and any other offences.
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)."

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From mike - 08 Apr 2011 - 23:01

10 would be very annoying! I get a bit annoyed with some juniors lately who'll do 3-5 every time they get the ball. I roughly alternate between one drive on my current turn, and a cross court on my next go with the ball.

I guess there are two ways you could drop a hint; if they hit 10 drives, you hit 20, then after the warm up suggest maybe we should keep it to two drives at a time. Or when they do cross it, just catch it on your racquet and pass it back to them.

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From hamburglar - 08 Apr 2011 - 21:19   -   Updated: 08 Apr 2011 - 21:20

LOL, the person I mentioned was a young Korean guy who since moved away, but now there's another fellow now who does the same thing! There aren't many decent players around, so maybe I don't want to piss off anyone who's near my level. I'm fairly conflict averse too.

I can joke about that fellow with some other players, but I usually try to do subtle things that make me feel better, like

1) when he's hitting rails, I'll stretch on my side then act surprised when the ball comes to me, or

2) once the ball comes to me, I'll hit it right back. I figure he's got to tire his arm out soon

3) or once I get on court suggest that we go straight to drills.

4) just beat him in the game and point out that his rails sucked, maybe he hit too many in the knock up

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From ROBSTER42 - 08 Apr 2011 - 18:10

I know this is an old post, but I read it with great interest, I have been playing squash about 22 years, including some team squash over the years, I now play in 2 small leagues in the top division.

Firstly I would like to say in all this time I have only ever come across at my level of course,maybe 3-4 players who would hit the ball to themselfs more than 2-3 times and i think it is generally regarded good ettiquete that players dont play to themselfs for more than 2-3 shots, as it can get very frustating.

A question for Hamburglar. Whoever it was that was hitting it to themselfs for 10-15 times, I am sure would receive many  negative comments from other players as not many people would put up with that!! its outrageous behaviour, unless of course you are the only one who was prepared to play them, I bet the issue was resolved quite quickly. :)

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From rippa rit - 16 Apr 2008 - 10:54   -   Updated: 16 Apr 2008 - 10:55

In the Appendix to the Rules 3.1 it says:

"Warm-up - The time allowed, immediately preceding the start of play, for the players to prepare themselves on the match court and to warm the ball to playing condition".

I looked for the reference as I remember where players had an option to warm up together or individually but I could not put my hands on it  Basically it meant, the referee would time the first player who would hit the ball for 2.5 mins and the second player for 2 mins before "Time" was called.

So what is wrong with this request to the Referee if a player is renowned for hogging the hit-up? Or, it might just be a preferred choice for a player.

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From jimbob1965 - 16 Apr 2008 - 09:36

Hamburglar, I think there is no other option other than to confront this player direct when he next tries this, as 10-15 consecutive shots to himself is taking the proverbial!

I disagree however with your implied assertion that the sole purpose of the knock up is to warm the ball up.  It is also to hone your shots before match play begins, which is why I do feel that a few (but not excessive) consecutive shots back to yourself is not just acceptable but also essential preparation for a match.

On the subject of warming up the ball, has anyone ever invented a simple, compact battery operated ball warming device; something that stores the balls away nicely in your bag and then with a flick of a switch will then bring them up to the optimum playing temperature? 

As court time is precious, it would be nice to not have to waste any time or energy getting the ball up to temperature during the knock up, rendering the first few shots meaningless.  It would also be handy having a ready warmed ball available at any stage in case a ball bursts during a match - again, you then have to waste time warming up a ball and this gap in play can upset your rhythm. 

If such a device has not yet been invented, this would be a good business opportunity if squash was more popular!  One for 'Dragons Den' perhaps? (apologies to non UK members who are probably wondering what Dragons Den is - go look at if you want to find out!)

In the corridor at the back of our courts are some radiators so I tend to place a ball between two of the hot pipes between the rads as soon as I arrive to pre-warm the ball.  Trouble is, this can make the ball too hot to start with, so the ball flies around for the first couple of hits until it cools to the optimum temperature!



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From hamburglar - 15 Apr 2008 - 00:46

i think one or two straight shots to yourself is fine, but i think no more than 3 shots is recommended. Sometimes the third one it tight, so you have to choice but to hit straight. I play with someone who hits 10-15 shots to himself while i just stand there. If anyone knows of a good way to bring this up with him, let me know.

The knock up is to warm up the ball, no to work on your form. if you want to do that, go warm up by yourself.

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From rippa rit - 13 Apr 2008 - 10:18

Of course you can do whatever you want to so long as nobody complains, especially when there is no official Referee.  However, if you enter a tournament the rules of the game will apply, and if it is a recognised official tournament there is usually a Tournament Referee appointed (a qualified person) to settle all disputes, eg behaviour, late arrival for matches, condition of courts/floors/balls, etc.

Rule 14 - The Ball

This is what the "guide to Understanding the Rules of Squash" say:

"The ball may be warmed up by either player during any interval, eg between the end of the 5-minute warmup period and start of play, between games, when the opponent is changing equipment and injury intervals.

When some delay has occurred and when a ball has been substituted, the Referee allows the ball to be warmed up to playing condition.  Play resumes on the direction of the Referee or when both players agree."

My own ten cents worth with regard to this.  If the weather is cold the ball will cool down really quickly, and before "time" is called the one receiving the serve should really hop on the court pick up the ball, give it a couple of wacks, and then pass it to the server. Feel the ball and you will soon realise how it will be by the temperature; lob serves will not usually work so well with a cold/warm ball.  However, after a few hits all the lobs will be really effective. Because of the rules which state the ball must remain on the court and on the floor in between games, often it is a good idea to stay on court, or come back quickly enough, and roll the ball under your shoe to increase the heat. I have seen players go out and run the ball under the hot tap to save the warmup problem, but that is against the rules, so do so at your own risk and don't be cranky if you are asked to leave the ball on court.

My advice is to keep monitoring the ball during play, as that does have a bearing on what you should be doing during play (driving/serving hard, lobbing,drops, etc) to take the best advantage of the court conditions, etc. . I suppose that could be classed gamesmanship, smart, tactics - it is definitely not being a bad sport.



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From mike - 13 Apr 2008 - 09:20

At my club no one ever has a knockup between games. If one player is back on court early they may certainly have a few shots to themself, but once both players are there we start straight away.

It never occured to me to knockup between games until I saw it it happen on TV.

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From jimbob1965 - 13 Apr 2008 - 06:51

Thanks for the replies.  I think 3 shots back to yourself is more than acceptable and I agree that you should not do it every time you get the ball and indeed I don't.  Don't get me wrong, most players I play are reasonable about it and adopt a similar approach to me during the knock up.  In fact, some go further and will sometimes hit 5-6 shots back to themselves.  If this happens, I don't take a 'hissy fit' but just do the same so I get my fair share of the knock up!

As regards getting onto a spare court to have more of a practice hit, in an ideal world I would do this every time, but since we have lost courts, there are rarely spare courts available, especially during peak times when most want to play their games.  I always turn up ready to go on court at least 20 minutes before a match on the off chance a court will be spare, but if not, I will watch the other games for a while and then do some pre-match stretches and ghost swings in the corridor behind the courts. 

This is why I feel it is even more important to hit consecutive shots in the knock up as there is not usually the opportuntity to practice before the game.  As you say Mike, the length shot down the wall is one of the shots you are going to use the most during the actual match.

One final point re knocking up.  Does anyone have a mini knock up between games during a match?  When a game finishes, there is usually a gap of around a minute whilst players get their breath back, mop themselves down and take on some fluid.  I find that this break sometimes upsets your rhythm or momentum, especially if you have just played a good game.  I would prefer to have a mini knock up to 'get your eye back in' ready for the next game and of course to get the ball back warm as it can soon cool down (especially on our cool courts!)  A 5-6 shots exchange between the players would suffice.  However, I rarely suggest this as most players seem to want to get on with the game and I do realise that we only have 40 minute sessions and need to be mindful of time limitations.  If I have won the last game and therefore have control of the ball, I do sometimes hit a couple of shots back to myself just before serving, or if the other player is taking more time than me to prepare for the next game, I will again often take the opportunity to take a few shots rather than stand about waiting.  What do the rest of you do between games?



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From mike - 12 Apr 2008 - 17:38

Yeah, I'd add to my previous comment that I don't think one player should play multiple shots to themself every time they get the ball, before returning it.

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From rippa rit - 12 Apr 2008 - 11:30   -   Updated: 12 Apr 2008 - 12:15

Rule 3 - is about the warm and quoted from "understanding the rules of squash" I quote:

"The warmup is part of the match.  The Referee and the Marker should be in position at the start of the warmup. The two players are allowed together on the court of play 5 minutes to warmup. The Referee calls "half time" after 2.5mins and "Time" after 5 mins.  At half time the players change sides unless they have already done so.  The Referee must ensure both players warm up the ball fairly - that is, they have equal opportunity of striking the ball.  Failure to do so is controlled by the Referee under the Conduct on Court rule. "

From my own experience I have dealt with this to a person who hogs the warmup:

  • Play the same game, and if they hit four hits and then a cross court to me, I do likewise and take my four shots, and this usually fixes up the situation and they get the message. 

Jim, I guess two hits is acceptable but four might be a bit aggravating, so how many sets of 4 hits goes into 2.5 minutes (my maths are no good!)...if you want a hit up before going on court go onto another court before the match starts, especially good if you can do that, and of great benefit if it is a foreign court (opposition club court).

So if you hit, say, two drives, then a boast; two drives, then a cross court lob; one drive and one drop followed by a cross court drive or lob, that is not too bad and OK....yeah?

Here is the link to the Rules

Here is squashgame's Protocol link.

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From mike - 12 Apr 2008 - 09:39

Sounds like your opponents are being oversensitive. I agree that the knockup is far more useful if both players get to warm up their straight drives. You are going to need that shot in the match after all !

I think about 3 consecutive shots is a reasonable limit, but I wouldn't be so anal as to discuss this before getting on court.

One person I sometimes play will do straight drives in the knockup until she get's them right, which could be 7 or more in a row. I think that's excessive, because it's not a practice session.

IMO if you alternate between giving yourself a few in a row, and then doing crosscourts to quickly return the ball to your opponent the knockup should be fair enough.

Jimbob - maybe next time go on court with a shoelace undone. Then you can hit 3-4 to yourself and stop to do up your shoe. Your opponent will then have exclusive use of the ball for a while which may placate them enough that they don't sulk. Sounds like they need babying.


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