By Barry Faguy
HEY REF! I’m now pretty confused hearing different refs calling all kinds of things like “Down”, “Carry”, “Not up”, “Scoop”, “Double, etc—for all kinds of different things, and sometimes for the same things. What’s up with all that?
Unfortunately we hear all kinds of things blurted out. Let’s clarify some squash lingo, because using the wrong language can cause unnecessary headaches. For example, I witnessed a prolonged and heated exchange some time ago between a referee and a player when the ref mistakenly called ‘Down’. She should have said “Not up’—and the player (who knew the right terminology, and figured the ref did too), being convinced that his ball did not hit the tin, started ranting, even enlisting testimony from the opponent and spectators to try to confirm his view. So let’s clear things up.
There are only four legal terms for invalid returns:
- Fault—is used to describe any invalid shot during the serve.
- Out—is used when the ball hits a line, or hits anywhere out of court—and this at any time other than the serve.
- Down—is used anytime the ball hits the tin, or the floor before reaching the front wall—and this at any time other than the serve.
- Not up—is used if the ball bounces twice before being hit, or stays on the racquet other than for a single impact, or touches the striker—and this at any time other than the serve.
So it’s time to get rid of any slang you might be using…and stick with the rules.
HEY REF! I saw a situation where one player had just hit a boast from up front in one of the corners—and then fell, unable to recover. The other player came in and hit the ball right back into himself, but said it didn’t matter and he deserved the point anyway because the other guy was totally out of the play. Is that right?
Nope! The same would apply if he had hit the tin. The rules make no such exceptions—and whatever happens, happens.
It’s worth including here a note about what happens with a similar case (actually very common), where one player has made a boast from up front and then has fallen and is totally out of the play, has lost a shoe, broken a racquet, fractured a leg, and is bleeding profusely—upon which the opponent runs in and drives the ball crosscourt for a winner…only to then discover that the ball is broken. Ya still gotta play a let, based on the principle that it is impossible to know exactly when the ball broke.
HEY REF! Is it always a let if I hit my opponent with the ball going to the side wall?
Pretty much. An exception exists to award a stroke when the referee determines that such an interrupted boast would have been a winner, but that’s rarely invoked. That’s because it’s generally a tough conclusion to arrive at, since it necessarily assumes a shot directly to the front wall was not possible and the boast is the only option. It’s mostly unheard of at the professional level, but a case can be made for lower-level play.