Hey Ref! An ‘Official’ Q&A

Foot-faults in squash are unique for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the simple fact that no part of the foot can be touching the line of the service box when serving. That is not true of sports like tennis where stepping on the line (as long as not all the way across it) is considered to be okay. In squash, the requirement is that at least "part" of the foot must be within the area of the service box without touching the service box line. Given that the lines are "out" in squash, this does in fact make sense. The best strategy is to either warn the player the first time or call them early.

Foot-faults in squash are unique for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the simple fact that no part of the foot can be touching the line of the service box when serving. That is not true of sports like tennis where stepping on the line (as long as not all the way across it) is considered to be okay. In squash, the requirement is that at least “part” of the foot must be within the area of the service box without touching the service box line. Given that the lines are “out” in squash, this does in fact make sense. The best strategy is to either warn the player the first time or call them early.

By Barry Faguy

HEY REF! I broke my racquet and after changing it, I wanted to hit the ball a few times to get a feel for itbut my opponenrefused and insisted we play on immediatelyclaiming that the rules state that play must be continuous. Is that true and does it apply to this?
Indeed, that phrase is there—but we cannot take a zero-tolerance, pedantic approach to the application of every provision of the game. For example, the requirement oevery effortis rarely taken to its potentially extreme implication; reasonableness should become the guiding principle. Added to that is the sporting behavioraspect of the game—reflected in the tradition that allows a player a few shots to get a feel for a new racquet. Not every thing can be spelled out; not every provision can be applied robotically. We depend on referees to apply sensible judgment. Of course, abuse of time is possible, so any presiding ref must be satisfied of the reasonableness of it all, keeping in mind the prime directiveto ensure fairness.

HEY REF! When I referee, I call all the footfaults I seebut Ive noticed over time that for most tournament events, I rarelheathcall—though thehappefrequently enough. Am I missing something here?
Unfortunately, in contrast to many other sports, the ‘footfaultcall in squash has, for the most part, been relegated to the boondocks. I suspect that for most people, it’s because they feel that that transgression confers littladvantage to the server. In tennis or soccer for instancethe server is moving towards the receiver, thus making the limit more important—but the reverse is true in squash.

That’s not to say that there isnt an attendant feeling that it would be nice if the server’s foot was at least in the ball park—but it’s pretty clear that few people actually care about it the way they care about other illegalities. Can you remember the last time you commented to your opponent about an improper foot position during the serve—in contrast to an uncalled contact of the ball on a line?

Having said that, we can easily imagine the liberties that could be taken without a footfault rule. To avoid that, and considering the need to respect the rules, Id suggest you continue doing what youre doing and call them when obvious—and do so early in the match. Avoid an excessive zealousness that can easily lead to error—easy because of the many elements in motion during the serve. The ball toracquet contact is the determining moment, typically occurring some distance from the feet. Then, of ten less than a second later is the ballto-wall contact and, missing that, I can assure you, will not easily be forgiven. On the other hand, not calling an obvious footfault has the potential for embarrassing queries from players, spectators, and other officials. If youre uncertain—say nothing. Finally, there’s nothing wrong with warning players wheyou first notice signs of borderline-illegal serves.

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