Update WSO2 – February 2024 Directives for the PSA Tour

*Update WSO2

PSA Tour: WSO Directives will clarify the Rules of Squash (referred to in this Directive as “Rule” or “Rules”) and the interpretation applicable to the professional game. These directives will be published regularly as and when required.


Referee Decision Explanations and Player Dissent

Rule of Squash 15 states, if a player’s conduct is unacceptable, the Referee must penalise the player, stopping play if necessary’. Unacceptable behaviour includes, but is not limited to:

15.6.5 dissent to an Official.

15.6.1 audible or visible obscenity.

15.6.2 verbal, physical or any other form of abuse.

WSO Clarification of player dissent on the PSA Tour: Player dissent is different from requesting an explanation for a decision. Dissent involves a player expressing disagreement or objection to a referee’s decision, displaying dissenting behaviour such as repeated questioning, using an aggressive tone, arguing, shouting, or making disrespectful comments. This behaviour is unacceptable (Rule 15.6.5) and will lead to code of conduct consequences based on the severity. Players must accept decisions respectfully and maintain constructive communication with the referee throughout.

Rule 3.7 of squash states, “The Referee, whose decision is final: may give an explanation for a decision,” as outlined in Rule 3.7.11.

WSO Clarification regarding Referee Decision Explanations: Moving forward, it is important to note a stricter approach regarding the provision of explanations for decisions by the Referee. It is at the discretion of the Referee to determine whether an explanation for a decision is necessary or not. Players may request but are NOT entitled to explanations from the Referee and MUST accept decisions and explanations made by the Referee without question.

Any inappropriate comments made by a player before or after a decision or explanation will be handled following the Code of Conduct. Players must accept the decisions and explanations given by the Referee without engaging in further discussion. Referees will be stricter in addressing negative interactions and may give a Conduct Stroke for the first offense if comments or dissent are considered too much. If the misconduct continues, the Referee will award a Conduct Game.

Important: It’s crucial to highlight that this directive is an amendment to WSO1 Directive 1, Section 6, specifically addressing Player Dissent. As per this amendment, players DO NOT have the right to request explanations for decisions made by the Referee.

Q1: Does a player have the right to ask for an explanation?

A player may request an explanation, but players do not have the right to an explanation. The rules clearly state that it is up to the referee’s discretion to provide an explanation (Rule of squash 3.7.11). Referees are being instructed to clamp down on this area due to an increase in continued and extended discussions during matches. Despite efforts (see directive WSO1)  to reduce such behaviour, there have been instances of extreme examples during recent events. Additionally, feedback indicates that the current length and manner of player-referee interactions make it unlikely for squash to be televised in America. This feedback is crucial as we aim to build upon the inclusion of squash in major events like the Olympics. Although this decision may seem strict, it’s necessary for the future success and appeal of the sport.

Q2: When will the referee offer an explanation?

Referees will offer explanations in various scenarios. Firstly, they may provide explanations to clarify the reasoning behind their decisions. Additionally, if there are recurring situations during the match, referees may offer directives to address them and provide a rationale to the players. Furthermore, if the Video Referee overrules the Match Referee, the Match Referee will provide a reason for the decision. Explanations will typically be offered after announcing decisions or completing a review, and players are expected to accept them.

Interference

WSO Clarification of what is not considered poor player movement on the PSA Tour: In directive WSO1 we clarified what is considered poor player movement on the PSA Tour, as a counterbalance, it is important to understand examples of what won’t be penalised as poor movement on the PSA Tour.

Natural Movement within Shot Technique: Movements that are natural to a player’s technique and are consistent with their usual shot execution are not deemed poor movement. These movements are considered as part of the player’s flow within the shot. For example, a player might move their weight from the back leg to the front leg within a shot as part of their usual flow.

Movement to Create Momentum: When a player is in a static position and moves to create momentum or to position themselves optimally for the next shot, this is not seen as poor movement. For example, a player who is static on both feet might make a jump in the direction they are moving as they hit the ball, usually at the back of the court, this is to create momentum in the shot from a static position.

Movement to Create Space: Players may move during a shot to create space between themselves and the ball, enabling them to execute the shot effectively. This movement is not categorised as poor movement. For example, a player may have to step back to create space, if the ball is travelling at an angle towards them.

Moving into Position to Hit the Ball: It is acceptable for players to move into position to be best placed to hit the ball. This includes movements such as adjusting foot positioning or shifting body weight to execute a shot accurately. For instance, if a player quickly adjusts their feet to get into position for a forehand drive, this would be considered acceptable movement.

Player Simulation – Addition to directive WSO1

Rule 8.8.1 of squash states,If there was interference but the striker did not make every effort to get to and play the ball, no let is allowed’.

WSO Clarification on Players Creating Interference and Influencing the Referee after a Loose Shot: If a player is out of position as the non-striker after hitting a loose shot, they need to make every effort to get to and play the ball. Especially if their position is close to the opponent and they have played the ball into the middle of the court. In this instance, players cannot run straight into the opponent, blame the opponent for the interference, and insinuate that the opponent has made an incorrect or unfair movement. Rule 8.8.1 states, ‘if there was interference but the striker did not make every effort to get to and play the ball’. This will be seen as a player attempting to influence the referee’s decision. Referees will apply conduct where necessary using Rule 15.5, which states, ‘players must not behave in a manner that is unfair, dangerous, abusive, offensive, or in any way detrimental to the sport’.

Q1: I hit a loose shot out of the front corners, landing or travelling through the middle of the court; what do I need to do?

Rule of squash 8.8.1 states, if there was interference but the striker did not make every effort to get to and play the ball, no let is allowed’ additionally, every effort to get to and play the ball should not include contact with the opponent. If any contact that could have been avoided is made, the Referee must apply Rule 15 (Conduct)’.

For example, if you hit a loose shot from a front corner position, then it is your responsibility to make every effort to get to and play the ball, as Rule 8.8.1 states. This does not include causing unnecessary physical contact with your opponent who has played their shot from the middle of the court hitting the ball into the space furthest away from themselves therefore providing space for you to get to the ball without interference.

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