Squash is a fast-paced and dynamic racket sport that requires agility, precision, and strategic thinking. One of the key concepts in squash is the “stroke,” which refers to the decision made by the referee when a player is impeded or hindered during play. In this beginner’s guide, we will delve into the fundamentals of the stroke in squash, helping you navigate the game with confidence.
What is a Stroke?
In squash, a stroke is a ruling made by the referee when a player is obstructed or prevented from playing a shot due to interference caused by their opponent. It determines whether the player requesting a “Let” will be awarded a replay of the rally or if they will be awarded the point.
How to Appeal:
The impeded player may appeal for a Stroke by saying “Let Please”, as the request for a Let also includes requesting a Stroke.
Understanding Stroke Decisions:
Interference: The primary factor considered in stroke decisions is considering the intent and level of interference that occurred during the rally. Interference can manifest as physical contact, preventing the opponent’s access to the ball, or hindering their ability to hit a shot.
Access: A stroke may be awarded to the opponent if a player would have been able to make a good or winning return, but the opponent did not clear their shot, or they were not making every effort to provide access and avoid the interference. For example, if Player A hits a straight drop shot that is not a winner and stands still, preventing access to the ball and Player B stops and asks for a let because they are not able to get to the ball due to Player A’s position, this would be a stroke to Player B.
Safety: The safety of the players is paramount in squash. If a dangerous shot or excessive closeness between the players poses a risk of injury, the referee may award a stroke to ensure the well-being of the players. If an opponent is directly in the way of and preventing a player’s swing, whether a backswing or a follow through, the point is awarded to the player who is unable to swing.
Front wall interference: A stroke is also awarded to the opponent if a player is directly in the way of the ball reaching the front wall and isn’t giving their opponent any part of the front wall to hit. It’s important to note that ‘any part of the front wall’ refers specifically to the space required for executing either a straight or a cross-court shot with safety.
A controversial rule that results in a stroke is if the ball strikes a player on its way to the front wall, the ball striker is awarded the point.
It’s worth noting that the ball striker should be warned about dangerous play and asked to stop in future circumstances. To help reduce the chances of this happening, if the exact same situation occurs and the ball striker immediately stops and appeals, they should be awarded with a stroke. Players who have been hit by the ball should also be made aware of the need to make every effort to clear their shot in future instances.
Accepting Stroke Decisions:
As a beginner, it’s important to understand that stroke decisions are subjective and can vary based on the interpretation of the referee. It is crucial to accept their decision gracefully, maintaining good sportsmanship, and focusing on the next point. Learning to adapt and adjust your game strategy accordingly is a key aspect of squash.
Developing Good Court Etiquette:
To reduce the likelihood of stroke situations, it is essential to practice good court etiquette. Avoid unnecessary interference by giving your opponent enough space to play their shots. Make a concerted effort to position yourself appropriately and avoid obstructing your opponent’s access to the ball.
Understanding the stroke in squash is vital for beginners to grasp the nuances of the game. By comprehending the factors influencing stroke decisions, accepting the rulings made by the referee or marker, and practicing good court etiquette, you will be well on your way to becoming a skilled squash player. Embrace the challenges, enjoy the sport, and relish the opportunity to improve your skills with each stroke.