Info for Your Squashgame

Rule 12 Interference & reasonable swing

Published: 10 Nov 2008 - 06:22 by 42dev

Updated: 12 Nov 2008 - 16:06

Subscribers: Log in to subscribe to this post.


I runs the leagues at a local club and have seen a "Referees line of thinking" flowchart which was a really good explanation of the let/stroke/nolet rules.

I dug around the web looking for an electronic version that I could publish to my players and found the following one at

The trouble is, it has an extra step, which I don't understand.


The problem for me is I can't think of a situation where my reasonable swing was not affected and I would still call for a let/stroke, unless I would have hit my opponent going directly to the front wall.  But that part is checked further down.

I think I need some examples!





squash game squash extras How to add images to Members' Forum posts and replies here...


Please Note: The most recent replies are now at the top!

From rippa rit - 12 Nov 2008 - 07:40   -   Updated: 12 Nov 2008 - 11:05

Adz - you should have been a lawyer.  I bet you never lose an argument at home!!!

About the Excessive Backswing question? Freedom to play the ball

Definition Excessive backswing "An excessive backswing is one in which the player's racket arm is extended towards a straight arm position and/or the racket is extended with the shaft approximately horizontal."

What/when are we looking at?  So the ball has not yet been hit, and the striker is getting into the "ready"  position?  No top player gets around with their racket sticking out like a broom stick when preparing to hit the ball, hey!

John White's downswing and many others do use a vertical downswing and I do not see this the same as the excessive backswing question. Yes, these top players do hold their opponent's at bay as long as possible with their swing/body position at times, mostly off a lousy shot hit by the opponent anyway.  If you hit a shot that lands in the middle the player must clear the ball and give the opponent a clear strike at the ball, then run like mad; not cause interference by coming in so close as to cause a let, and then cop the penalty.

The one mistake refs do make is to read into the rules something that is not in the rules and put their own interpretation on the rule - wrong.  Yes, sometimes refs get it right, but for the wrong rule reasons.  The best medicine about knowing the rules is to do an official ref paper and, as I  found out, and failed the paper twice, you must make the decision based on the rules; the operative word is, what rule.  In one situation there may be three rules involved in coming up with the correct answer requiring the ref to be very experienced (the better the player the better the chance of them understanding the sequence of events), very quick to think, and be very decisive in making the call. Hey, the more pompus you are the more convincing you are, even if you are not right -  "Play on, Conduct Warning".

Graham, I'm a bit worried, after reading all this has your question been answered?

PS - I have added a pic showing a player in the front shaping to play the ball; the opponent sort of trapped behind and waiting; now the player behind has some choices, ie

  • Move to the right or left of the striker to position themselves better to view the ball, as well as position themselves better to recover the shot.
  • The position the opponent takes up will be dependent on their anticipation of the return, eg short or long, backhand/forehand side, so as to waste no time taking off

When behind a player like this, I recommend never just standing static waiting for the ball to be hit, but move around to this side and that side, which then in turn puts pressure on the striker (they will probably sense your movement) as they cannot trust exactly which way you will be coming, and this in turn can cause an error, or a change of mind. Hey, if in doubt, there are only two sides, and sometimes it is a good idea to take a calculated guess.  Give that a try, be innovative.




Back to top

From Adz - 11 Nov 2008 - 23:38

Ha ha........ you've got a long way to go before you get near to my essays!!


Unfortunately one person's interpretation of this rule is different to anothers. Using professional players as examples (as everyone can relate then), take a look at John White's full forehand swing. He has a high racquet position (in some instances), which matches what I would class as a vertical swing. Check the site for discussions on that one. The difficulty is that a vertical swing could quite easily be classed as excessive given the nature of the high racquet position descending onto the ball. When dealing with a tall player they are much more naturally inclined to use a vertical swing and this can cause problems in the interpretation.


They way I call these decisions always comes down to the types of players on court. When refereeing a match it is my duty as a referee to understand what capabilities the players have with regard to movement, retrieval, swing style and playing style. Do they naturally move into the corners in the warm up or do they stand clear of them when playing the ball. All of these factors come into play during a match.

For example.......


You have a player who can do the splits and stretch very far and low when retrieving the ball. This type of player is far more capable of making a good return out of position than someone with less movement abilities. When interference occurs and you believe that this type of player could genuinely reach the short and play a good return, they are more likely to warrant a let decision than someone who would not have reached the ball. But be careful as this can lead down the path of bias decision making toward better ball retrievers, which is of course unfair. Indeed I myself can stretch a very long way to retrieve a shot, and in my last match I was given a No Let decision early on which forced me to play through the future interference to get the ball just to prove I could! This had a very negative effect on my opponent who felt I should have stopped and not stretched around them to play the ball. Not that at NO time did this action put my opponent in any danger, but it did cause them to be more vary of my position and indeed they began to drift out of my path into weaker positions as the match went on. If the referee had made the decision early on that interference was occuring the game would have progressed "smoother" without my opponent taking offence to my retrieving. A very strange match indeed but it does lend itself to the argument of what constitutes "a reasonable return" in the interference rule.


So while watching two players warm up I mentioned their position relative to the corners. You see a player step out of the corners in the warm up and play the ball WITHOUT turning. In the match the same player appears to step into the corner and turn...... Deliberate turning or accidental? Is turning the natural movement for the player or did they do it deliberately as they were in a weak position? Was the movement thought about or did they just over-run in the heat of the moment. Once again a subjective decision that a referee must make based on the EVIDENCE witnessed throughout the match.


My point is that the rules are open to interpretation in lots of areas, and the abilities of the players on the court can alter the way in which the rules are applied. Unfair? Technically yes, but technical rules are always applied to the technical abilities of the players. Turning, interference, reasonable swing, intentions, abilties, skills etc.


No wonder referees have such a hard time getting to grips with this, ESPECIALLY ONES WHO HAVEN'T PLAYED AT THE SAME LEVELS THEY ARE REFEREEING AT!


So GRAHAM...........


With leagues at the local club....... Firstly if someone is in the arc of your normal swing then stop the swing, tap them on the shoulder with the racquet, apologise that they're in your swing and that's a stroke to you. If they don't like it and it's a league match then tough for them. If it's a friendly match then play the let and be done with it.

So some definitions for you....... a normal swing is not wrapping your arm around your opponents head when you think you can reach them. And it's not catching you opponent with the racquet on the way to the ball. It's when you're in position, ready to play the ball and they are in the arc of the swing that you would normally use. If this is the case then it's a stroke every time, and anyone refereeing a match and not giving you a stroke in this position is an idiot and is asking for someone to get injured. If you find yourself on court and a referee is not giving you the right calls (e.g. no LET for excessive swing!) then there's NOTHING you can do. Either you just live with it and lose every decision, walk off court (as the big guy did in my first post!), or hit the opponent. Be warned that hitting the opponent can get the match given against you for intimidation, but the ref would have to be extremely biased or incompetant to award this one!


Hope that sheds some light on it, but remember that if this is a fun local league then no-one will want to play someone who "nit-picks" every rule. If they're in the way and there's going to be an argument about the swing try to play a let. If they do it on purpose give them a clip with the racquet and that should warn them to stay clear in future!


I found out last night that one guy from my old club who continually encroached his opponents on their swing got his head split open by one of the ladies players. He's a big guy so none of the other men would dare argue with him, and usually pull out of their shots trying to negotiate a let, but the ladies player didn't and just hit him....... there was blood everywhere so I'm told...... wonder if he's learned his lesson now?






p.s. Rita....... another essay for you to beat!!!

Back to top

From rippa rit - 11 Nov 2008 - 08:04   -   Updated: 11 Nov 2008 - 08:17

Well, Adz has pointed out problems with Rule 12, ie crowding, interpretation of what is causing the problem, the competence of the ref to know the difference and be confident to warn the players to get their act together.  It also points out the need for clubs to support referee education.

Hey, I am short stuff, and kids are short stuff in comparison to tall gents, and, yes this has both advantage and disadvantage.  The short person moves easier, that is if they are agile, and you need to be in a ready position and keep moving as the ball moves, as the opponent tracks to hit the ball.  Keep moving, and adjusting your footwork as the opponent prepares for their stroke.  A "ready" moving position on court means wide stance, lower base of support, and stand in a position to be able to see the ball around the hip area, or through the opponent's legs (well that is my story when playing guys, to keep their legs apart!)  The tall guys do take up more room, and certainly to just play a straight game up and down is not a good tactic.  Every time you hit the ball against a tall guy you must make sure they have to turn.  I helped one of my juniors win a tough tournament match with the instructions "tangle his legs", and I can assure you it worked keeping this tall guy on the move, taking him forward using boasts, and cross courts.  Lobs don't work so well because of their reach. Keeping the opponent on the move and unbalanced does work and eventually makes the opponent  tired.  This tactic may not seem to work in the first couple of games, but the longer the match the more work the opponent has to do.

A few quotes

"Excessive Swing - If a player's swing is excessive and is considered dangerous, the Referee should use the Conduct on Court Rule. The Referee's decision on what constitutes a reasonable, as distinct from excessive swing, is final. The Referee should not award a stroke to a player who causes interference with an excessive swing."

Definition Excessive backswing "An excessive backswing is one in which the player's racket arm is extended towards a straight arm position and/or the racket is extended with the shaft approximately horizontal."

Definition Excessive follow-through "An excessive follow through is one in which the player's racket arm is extended towards a straight arm position with the racket also extended with the shaft horizontal - particularly when the extended position is maintained for other than a moment. A player's excessive swing can contribute to interference for the incoming opponent."

Crowding "Crowding occurs when the opponent stands too close to the player, not allowing room for the player to hit the ball.  If the opponent is injured, it should be considered a self-inflicted injury situation.  The opponent has no right of appeal for a let for interference for fear of being hit or for actually being struck by the player's racket."

Tip:  Hit the ball to a position on court well away from the opponent (so you are in one corner, there are three other corners).  Move around your opponent like a cat chasing a bird, and never take your eye off the ball.  Work on developing a low fast boast.

Adz, I am trying to beat your A4 page record for posts!!!




Back to top

From Adz - 11 Nov 2008 - 06:48

I've seen this rule cause problems in the past. It was a county closed final against one guy who is about 6ft6 and his opponent who is about 5ft6.


Basically when  the big guy raised his arm to swing for the ball he was stopping as he feared he would hit his shorter opponent was was clearing under his arm.


To be honest I felt in the majority of cases he was in a good position to get a stroke as the shorter player was under his arm, at the very worst he should have had a let given as anytime he would have swung he could have hit the shorter guy. However, against the feeling of everyone watching, the referee continually gave a "no Let" decision as he felt the taller player was not taking a reasonable swing at the ball.


It comes down to whether or not the referee judges a swing to be reasonable (textbook) or exagerated (higher elbow position, racket farther away from the body than textbook, arm too out-stretched etc).


The real difficulty is that this is completely down to the judgement of the referee as to what constitutes "textbook", especially when you had a "qualified" referee who had never played squash to any medium or high level.

I know we've gone on about competant referee's in other threads, but I have to say that this is the perfect situation why a high level referee must have played at a high level to understand the subtleties of this kind of decision.


So...... in answer to the earlier question, a reasonable swing would be what you would find in a squash textbook. Elbow within a certain distance to the body. Arm not too outstretched. Shoulder, elbow and wrist in the right placement. Take a brief nose at any textbook to find out what i mean.







Back to top

From rippa rit - 10 Nov 2008 - 07:24   -   Updated: 10 Nov 2008 - 07:30

42dev - Take one question at a time.   In making the decision

Question 1   "The player would have made a good return" Yes/No. 

Question 2  "Did the interference prevent the player's reasonable swing" Yes/No.

Here is squashgame's link to Rule 12.   The WSF link is also on that page which has a Referee forum as well as an "Idiots Guide to the Rules".


Back to top

Sorry, only members can post replies on this and all other Members` Forum items.

Join Here - It`s fast and it`s free!

Check other member benefits here...

Support Squashgame

Support us here at! If you think we helped you, please consider our Squash Shop when purchasing or make a small contribution.

Products Now Available

US Squash Shop



Squash Balls


Squash Rackets

Sport and Leisure

Video Games