Refereeing Singles Squash

How to prepare as a squash referee

Idea by
Clive Pollard

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You may think that becoming a Squash Referee is just a matter of sitting down behind the court and watching the play, then using your instincts to make decisions.
And this may be the way that it looks to you as a player when someone does try to referee your match.

However, to become a good referee requires you to have a detailed knowledge of the Rules, a cool clear head, good eyesight, and a strong voice.

We shall now consider each of these points of the 'art' of refereeing in more detail.

Rules knowledge

The WSF Rules of the game of Singles Squash have just been rewritten (again). These Rules are available on various sites on the WWW - see for example the current WSF site, Squash Player magazine and others.

You may find that all of your matches come to a conclusion without any problems - you have been lucky. Watch out ! The next match could be a nightmare.


Squash is as much a mental game as it is physical. This means that you will see various types of players on the court - those who shout at every mistake they make, glare at their opponent and you, and hate everything about the game - at least, that's how it appears from the outside.

Perhaps it's a great desire to win, to be seen as a winner by their peers. Or perhaps the opposite, a frantic desire not to lose, not to be seen as a failure. Whatever the reason for this type of behaviour, when it comes to accepting a referee's decision, this type of player is a disaster.

As a squash Referee, you definitely need a cool head in this situation. The ability to make clear decisions consistently while under this sort of mental pressure is an important part of the 'art' of refereeing.

The mental aspects of refereeing (in many sports) are described in the excellent book entitled "The Psychology of Refereeing' by Robert S. Weinberg and Peggy A. Richardson, published by Leisure Press, Champaign, IL, U.S.A. in 1990, ISBN 0-88011-400-2. Although now outdated, it contains a mass of detailed information, tests and systems, and there are some very good pointers to success in squash refereeing.

The Art

We believe that Squash Refereeing is definitely an art rather than a science. It is about interpretation, about judging the speed of the ball and the players, assessing the moment of striking, and determining the trajectory of players and ball.

WSF can lay down the Rules. In fact, we do need a set of Rules on which to base our decisions. But these Rules are not fixed in stone. They are there to be interpreted according to the playing situation. And like the very nature of the game itself, these Rules are changing, moving, the 'goalposts' are becoming wider, or sometimes narrower.

Good eyesight

The game of squash is incredibly fast moving, probably one of the fastest games in the world. If your eyes are not up to it, you shouldn't play squash - and you definitely shouldn't be a squash Referee.

Although you run a bit of a risk by wearing glasses (the 'four-eyes' insult is quite common !!), if your eyes are corrected to 20-20 vision with spectacles (or even with contact lenses), then that should be sufficient.

Tiredness also plays a part. When you are tired, your eyes will have difficulty following the ball and watching the movements of the players. Get someone else to take over - you'll hate yourself if you make a big mistake just because your arrogance stopped you handing that match on to someone else.

Using drugs, especially alcohol (such a common affectation of squash Referees), is a definite no-no. If you go to referee a match after consuming any form of drugs, you are putting your reputation at risk.
Just don't do it !!

Your voice

How many times have you shouted out the score only to have one of the players almost immediately ask you to repeat yourself ?

It is a frustrating fact that even at the top level, squash Referees are often not included in the media preparations for a match. OK, you might be given a microphone occasionally for a major final. However, generally, you'll be expected to shout yourself hoarse over a multitude of background noises in a building that would not qualify as safe according to a work inspection for sound levels.

This is when you need a strong voice. It does not have to be authoritarian, in fact quite the opposite. Your voice should be firm and clear, and as loud as necessary considering the circumstances. Bellowing too loud is as bad as being too quiet.

More ideas/advice ?

If you are in a position to make any further recommendations about the above advice, please let us know. We'll be glad to include your points in our revisions of the site.

Now it's time to start with the detail - you can choose to read the Rules one-by-one, from the Rules Index, and then go through the Appendices when indicated by the hyperlinks.

You can also read the Appendices one-by-one from their respective Indexes.

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Read Rules

Read Appendices