Update WSO1 – August 2023 Directives for the PSA Tour

*Update WSO1

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.


Injury

Rule 14.2.2 states, ‘if satisfied that the injury is genuine, [the referee] must advise both players of the category of the injury and of the time permitted for recovery. Recovery time is permitted only at the time the injury takes place.

WSO Clarification of Injury on the PSA Tour: A player who sustains a genuine injury during a game may request recovery time when the injury occurs. A player cannot request recovery time during the interval between games.

If an injury occurs in the final rally of the game, a player may request injury recovery time immediately and the referee will determine if the injury is genuine, the category of injury and the permitted recovery time accordingly.

Q1: If a referee confirms a genuine self-inflicted injury sustained in the final rally of the game, how long is the recovery time?

A player will be permitted a 3-minute recovery time, which includes the duration of the interval. The 3-minute recovery period is not in addition to the game interval.

Q2: If a player sustains a contributed injury, for example, at 5-5 in game 1, can the player request recovery time for the injury at 8-8?

No. A player may only request recovery time when the injury occurs. A request for recovery at 8-8 would be categorised as an injury reoccurrence in accordance with Rule 14.2.3. ‘The player must decide whether to resume play immediately or concede the game in progress and take the interval between games for recovery or concede the match’.

Rule 14.2.3 states, ‘If satisfied that this is a recurrence of an injury sustained earlier in the match, [the referee] must advise the player to decide whether to resume play immediately or concede the game in progress and take the 2-minute interval between games or concede the match. Only 1 game may be conceded’.

Interference

Rule 8.1 states, ‘After completing a reasonable follow through, a player must make every effort to clear, so that when the ball rebounds from the front wall, the opponent has:

  • a fair view of the ball on its rebound from the front wall,
  • unobstructed direct access to the ball,
  • the space to make a reasonable swing at the ball,
  • and the freedom to strike the ball to any part of the front wall’.

WSO Clarification of Reasonable Follow-Through on the PSA Tour: A reasonable follow-through on the PSA Tour refers to maintaining the player’s usual technique without altering or exaggerating it. If contact occurs with the opponent as they move to take their shot, a reasonable swing should aim to soften once completed and should not be delayed or resisted during contact and must attempt to allow the opponent to pass through smoothly.

Furthermore, the non-playing arm, which often acts as a counterbalance during the swing, is also considered part of the end of the swing/shot. In the event of contact with the non-playing arm, it should also soften without delay after the shot has been played to facilitate the opponent’s passage.

In summary, a reasonable follow-through on the PSA Tour requires the player to maintain their usual technique, minimising forceful contact with the opponent during or after the swing and ensuring that both the playing and non-playing arms soften promptly after completing the shot to reduce the impact of contact.

WSO Clarification of Unobstructed Direct Access to the Ball on the PSA Tour: To understand unobstructed direct access (Rule 8.1.2) on the PSA Tour, we can refer to Rule 8, which outlines the factors involved in defining this concept.

Firstly, we consider the starting position of the non-striker, the incoming player, while the striker is hitting the ball. Additionally, the position of the striker when playing their shot must be considered.

Next, we analyse the quality of the shot and the probable striking zone, where the incoming player will make contact with the ball during their next shot, having become the striker.

From there, we need to consider both players’ movement to and from the ball. To achieve unobstructed direct access, it is essential for the outgoing player to be making every effort to avoid interference as per Rule 8.6.6. Equally, the incoming player must be making every effort to get to and play the ball in accordance with Rule 8.8.1.

A lack of unobstructed direct access can occur through the actions of the incoming player, the outgoing player, or both players.

Examples of movements by an incoming player that can lead to a lack of unobstructed direct access can involve a variety of actions. These include but are not limited to, situations where the incoming player has access to the ball but instead moves towards the opponent, the non-striker alters their starting position as the striker is playing their shot to create the interference, the incoming player does not make a genuine effort to get to and play the ball, the non-striker moves into the opponent too early without knowing where the ball is going to be, or the incoming player exaggerates their swing or their position to create the interference.

Examples of movements by an outgoing player that leads to a lack of unobstructed direct access for the incoming player include a variety of actions. These include, but are not restricted to, situations where the outgoing player’s movement becomes bigger after the shot rather than smaller, the outgoing player holds position unnecessarily, the outgoing player alters their movement direction and causes interference, the outgoing player changes their speed of movement which causes the interference, or the outgoing player exaggerates their movement from their usual movement technique.

At times, the absence of unobstructed direct access can stem from both players engaging in one or more of the aforementioned actions. The referee will always be looking to identify movements that alter from a player’s usual movement and/or look unnecessary or unnatural without any mitigating circumstances, which cause a lack of unobstructed direct access. Mitigating circumstances can include situations where a player must adapt quickly for a shot or situation.

Note – the Rules define Striker as follows:

STRIKER – a player is a striker from the moment the opponent’s return rebounds from the front wall until the player’s return hits the front wall.

For the incoming player to have unobstructed direct access, sufficient space must be available, enabling them to get to the ball and position themselves without being limited by the outgoing player’s movement or position. This ensures the incoming player has enough room to complete a reasonable swing, as stated in Rule 8.1.3.

Rule 8.1.2 and Rule 8.1.3 state, ‘a player must make every effort to clear, so that when the ball rebounds from the front wall the opponent has’:

  • ‘Unobstructed direct access to the ball’
  • ‘The space to make a reasonable swing at the ball’.

Rule 8.6.6 states, ‘if there was interference that the opponent was making every effort to avoid’.

Rule 8.8.1 states, ‘if there was interference but the striker did not make every effort to get to and play the ball’

WSO Clarification of poor player movement on the PSA Tour: Poor movement will be defined as movements made by a player to prevent the opponent from having unobstructed, direct access to the ball (sometimes referred to as “blocking”). This is different compared to a situation where the player was not making every effort to avoid interference (Rule 8.6.5). The deciding factor to differentiate between the two situations is a movement that prevents the opponent versus a movement that isn’t making every effort to avoid interference.

Without any mitigating circumstances, movements that are made to prevent the opponent from direct unobstructed access will be ruled as unnecessary physical contact (Rule 15.6.3) and/or dangerous play (Rule 15.6.4). Consequently, these actions will be dealt with via a code of conduct at the time and/or addressed post-event using retrospective evidence. Mitigating circumstances include situations where interference occurs while the player makes every effort to avoid interference (Rule 8.6.6).

Dangerous play will be defined as:

  • Excessive physical movements impede or restrict the opposition player’s free movement around the court and ability to continue to play.
  • Recklessly striking or hitting the opposition player with a racket or piece of equipment.
  • Exaggerated or prolonged physical contact, including pushing or otherwise manhandling the opposition player.

Unnecessary physical contact, which includes pushing off the opponent (Rule 15.6.3), will be defined as:

  • Subtle movements which impede or restrict the opposition player’s free movement around the court and ability to continue to play.
  • Subtle physical contact.

Q1: What is considered dangerous play?

Rule 15.6.4 refers to ‘dangerous play, including an excessive racket swing’ as unacceptable behaviour.

Examples of Dangerous play include but are not limited to:

Excessive Physical Movements – These are aggressive movements that make contact with the opponent, accelerate into the opponent’s line or extend a leg to make the lunge bigger.

Recklessly Striking or Hitting the Opponent – Using an excessive racket swing that hits the
opponent (Rule 15.6.4) or hitting your opponent with the ball on purpose.

Exaggerated or prolonged physical contact includes swinging the racket or arm wildly to make contact with the opponent, grabbing the opponent, or aggressively pushing the opponent.

Q2: What is considered unnecessary physical contact?

Examples of unnecessary physical contact include but are not limited to:

Subtle movements – These are more precise movements that include using the hip to nudge the opponent out of the way, stepping into the opponent’s line without changing the speed of movement, or hitting a shot and holding the position or lunge to prevent access to the ball.

Subtle physical contact – Includes leaving the follow-through for longer than needed, leaving the non playing hand in the way, remaining solid on contact, or continually nudging or pushing the opponent off balance on the way to the ball.

Q3: What happens if a player “blocks” during a game?

If the referee decides that the movement was deemed unnecessary physical contact as described above, in the first instance, the offending player will lose the rally through a Strokeawarded to their opponent, and themselves receiving a Conduct Warning. Reoffending will result in a Stroke to determine the outcome of the rally and an additional Conduct Stroke being awarded.

If the referee decides the movement was deemed dangerous play, they will award a Conduct Stroke in the first instance. The level of the Code of Conduct depends on how dangerous an action is deemed. It is at the referee’s discretion to decide how severe and dangerous the movement was and whether a more severe Code of Conduct penalty is awarded, including the first instance (Rule 15.7).

Rule 15.7 states, ‘a player guilty of an offence may be given a Conduct Warning or penalised with a Conduct Stroke, a Conduct Game, or a Conduct Match, depending on the severity of the offence’.

Rule 15.8 states, ‘the referee may impose more than one warning, stroke, or game to a player for a subsequent similar offence, providing any such penalty may not be less severe than the previous penalty for the same offence’.

Q5: What if a player stands close to the opponent, and as soon as the opponent has hit the ball, the player moves into them, puts their hand on the back, and does not give the opponent time to clear?

It is important that players are making every effort to get to and play the ball (Rule 8.8.1). If a player is standing too close to the opponent, holding them in, pushing them to the ball, or moving towards the opponent and not the ball, this will be ruled as Rule 8.8.1 and a No Let will be awarded. It is important that the outgoing striker can complete a reasonable follow-through (Rule 8.1) before making every effort to clear.

Q6: Repeated attempts to impair an opponent’s movement or actually cause unnecessary physical contact during a rally can result in a player getting further out of position and/or playing the shot off-balance, but still managing to make a good return; this is often referred to as a player accepting or continuing to play beyond interference. Can the referee go back and give a decision because of the continual contact?

A fair outcome of each rally is paramount. If the outgoing player (non-striker) is not allowing unobstructed direct access (Rule 8.1.2) for the opponent due to repeated contact, this will be deemed unacceptable behaviour. Unacceptable behaviour includes but is not limited to, unnecessary physical contact (Rule 15.6.3). The Rules state that making every effort to get to and play the ball should not include contact with the opponent (note after Rule 8.8.1). If any contact that could have been avoided is made, Rule 15 (Conduct) must be applied. (Rule 8.6.6) and (Rule 8.1.2)

Rule 15.6 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:

15.6.3 ‘Unnecessary physical contact, which includes pushing off the opponent’

Player Simulation

WSO Clarification of player simulation on the PSA Tour: It is important to understand that players trying to influence referee decisions by creating or exaggerating improper movement(s) and/or interference, thus causing too many interruptions and stoppages in the game, will not be tolerated. 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’.

Time-wasting

The average time between points is between 10-12 seconds, and it is noticeable when players take longer than this between points. To prevent time-wasting, players must refrain from walking around the court or past the service box once they have the ball. It is important that once you are by the ball, you pick it up and move directly to the service box to serve or move directly to the appropriate back quarter to return serve after a rally has ended.

Referees are being asked to keep a watchful eye on excessive use of the towel or time wasted between rallies. Examples of time-wasting include but are not limited to walking around the court unnecessarily, hitting the ball to themselves between rallies, excessive tying of a shoelace and addressing the referee after every rally.

Rule 5.6 states, ‘after the Marker has called the score, both players must resume play without unnecessary delay. However, the server must not serve before the receiver is ready. Not being ready to serve or receive at this time without mitigating circumstances will be considered an unnecessary delay’.

Additionally, once a video review has finished and the score is announced, the players must be ready to serve and receive.

Q: What is considered time-wasting?

Expanding on the examples above, a player hitting a ball to themselves in between rallies will be considered time-wasting. If the referee deems that a player is time-wasting in between rallies, it will result in a Conduct Warning, and if it happens again, it will be a Conduct Stroke. A player can use the time during a Video Review to keep the ball warm as required, but this should not interfere with the referee announcing the review outcome and score or further delay the start of the next rally.

Towel Usage

PSA Tour Rule Book 3.2.2.6 states, ‘Players are permitted to use their towel at the discretion of the match referee.’

WSO Clarification of towel usage on the PSA Tour: A player must ask the match referee and receive clear confirmation that they are permitted to use their towel. If a request is declined, a player must be ready to continue play immediately. If the towel is required, a player must go to the towel every time the court cleaners are asked to clean the court and every time a player review or video referee decision takes place.

Q1: Is there an occasion where a player does not need to request confirmation from the match referee to use their towel?

A player does not need match referee confirmation to use their towel during video reviews or when the floor is being wiped. A player must be ready to continue playing once a video review or court maintenance ends. If the player is not ready to continue play, the match referee may deem the player to be delaying play, and impose a Conduct Warning or Conduct Stroke, depending on the frequency or severity of the offence.

Q2: What is the penalty if a player uses the towel without the match referee giving confirmation?

If the player uses the towel without requesting permission from the match referee, this is considered as time-wasting and/or dissent, and a Conduct Warning on the first occasion and a Conduct Stroke, if repeated, will be awarded.

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. 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, arguing, shouting, or making disrespectful comments. This behaviour is unacceptable (Rule 15.6.5) and can lead to code of conduct consequences based on the severity. Players should accept decisions respectfully and maintain constructive communication with the referee throughout.

Addressing Referees. It is essential to address referees politely and respectfully while interacting with them. Shouting aggressively, confrontational body language and aggressive demeanour are unacceptable and will result in the referee using the Code of Conduct. There must be acceptance when a referee gives a decision, explanation, or directive. Even if you disagree with the referee, they are in control of the match, and they are providing their directive that will steer their decisions during the match.

Important – players should not be shouting decisions or making comments to influence the referee prior to them awarding a decision or during a Video Review. Note: Referees have been instructed to use the Code of Conduct for this type of influencing behaviour. This will be a Conduct Warning for the first time and Conduct Stroke for the second time.

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

Players can ask for explanations from referees to understand actions better, but explanations should not be required for every decision. Providing an explanation, after giving their decision, is at the discretion of the referee, and that must be accepted without further discussion. Referees will be stricter in addressing negative interactions, starting with a Conduct Warning in the first instance and followed by a Conduct Stroke if the dissent is aggressive or persists. If the action continues to persist, the referee will have little choice but to award a Conduct Game.

Q2: When will the referee offer an explanation?

Referees may provide explanations after announcing their decisions or after a review is completed, offering a rationale that players must accept. Directives may also be given to address recurring situations. However, it’s crucial to note that providing explanations is at the referee’s discretion, as they have the authority to decide when and how to clarify decisions.

Q3: What is the acceptable way to address referees if audio from the court to the match referee is impeded or a player cannot hear the match referee?

In a calm and respectful manner, inform the match referee that you are unable to hear their explanation or instruction. Likewise, if the referee faces difficulty hearing what the player is saying, they can express it. Subsequently, the referee will assess the need for communication and provide appropriate instructions. Problem-solving approaches may involve asking the player to step back from the glass, towards the short line, to allow their voice to carry over the glass. Alternatively, the referee can open the door and communicate from there.

Q4: Can a player open the door to address the referee?

PSA article D. Leaving Court states that a player shall not open the court door or leave the court during a match without the permission of the referee. Rule 15.3 states, ‘Players may not leave the court during a game without the permission of the Referee. If a player does leave the court or opens the door without the referee’s permission, this will result in a Conduct Stroke’.

Code of Conduct

WSO Clarification of code of conduct on the PSA Tour: The referee holds complete control over the Code of Conduct, which they can enforce when players behave in a manner that is considered unfair, dangerous, abusive, offensive, or in any way detrimental to the sport (Rule 15.5). If a player’s conduct is deemed unacceptable, the Referee must penalise the player, even if it requires stopping play (Rule 15.6).

The severity of the offence will determine the appropriate penalty for a player found guilty of misconduct. Possible penalties include a Conduct Warning, a Conduct Stroke, a Conduct Game, or a Conduct Match (Rule 15.7). The Referee may impose more than one warning, stroke, or game on a player for subsequent similar offences, ensuring that any such penalty is not less severe than the previous penalty for the same offence (Rule 15.8).

Q1: A player shouts the decision they want to be awarded instead of asking ‘Let please’, or they speak before the referee has had time to award their decision; what will a referee do?

Rule 15.5 states, ‘players must not behave in a manner that is unfair, dangerous, abusive, offensive or in any way detrimental to the sport’

The referee has the right to have time to consider a situation and make a decision. If you speak before a decision has been given, it will be deemed an attempt to influence the referee, which is considered unfair and detrimental to the sport, and you will receive a Conduct Warning; if you repeat this, it will be a Conduct Stroke.

Q2: Can a referee award a Code of Conduct during the warm-up or after the match has finished?

Yes, Rule 15.9 states, a warning or a penalty may be imposed by the Referee at any time, including during the warm-up and following the conclusion of the match.

Q3: Can a referee award two points, for example, a stroke and a Conduct Stroke?

Yes. Rule 15.10.3 states, ‘if the referee awards a Conduct Stroke after a rally has finished, the result of the rally stands, and the Conduct Stroke is added to the score with no change of service box’.

Here is an example of two points being awarded, the outgoing player hits a shot and moves into the line of the opponent, preventing the incoming player from having unobstructed direct access to the ball (Rule 8.1.2), this results in a stroke to the incoming player (Rule 8.6.5), in addition to the outcome of the rally, the referee deems the movement to have been unnecessary physical contact (Rule 15.6) and awards a Conduct Stroke against the outgoing player, resulting in a further point awarded to the incoming player.

Important – when applying a Conduct Warning or Penalty, referees will clearly articulate the reason for the warning/penalty and the level of sanction applied, using the relevant language prescribed in the Rules wherever possible – see section 15, Appendix 2, Officials’ Calls, 2.2 Referee

CONDUCT WARNING To advise that a Conduct Warning is being issued,
e.g.: “Conduct Warning Smith for delaying play.

CONDUCT STROKE To advise that a Conduct Stroke is being awarded,
e.g.: “Conduct Smith, Stroke to (other player or team) for delay of game.”

CONDUCT GAME To advise that a Conduct Game is being awarded,
e.g.: “Conduct Jones, Game to (other player or team) for abuse of opponent.”

CONDUCT MATCH To advise that a Conduct Match is being awarded,
e.g.: “Conduct Jones, Match to (other player or team) for dissent to Referee.

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