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Squash Rules and Squash Scoring Summary

This is a brief summary of squash rules & scoring — just enough detail to get you playing!

If you plan on participating in squash leagues or tournaments, or just find yourself becoming more involved with squash, you should read the complete rulebook.

Jump to: Scoring | Warmup | Serve | Playing a point | Interference

Download the complete rules: Squash Singles Rules [PDF]

Squash Scoring

The squash scoring rules are pretty simple. Usually a match will be in a “best-of-five” games format. So to win a squash match, you must win three games.

Each game is played to 11 points. The first player to 11 wins the game. If the game becomes tied at 10-10, it’s “win by 2”. The first person to go ahead by 2 points wins the game.

Squash is point-a-rally (or PAR), which means you win a point every time you win a rally (unlike, say volleyball where you must be serving to win a point). Squash used to be played to 9 points and you could only win a point on your serve, but at this stage the game has moved entirely to PAR scoring.

Warmup / Before the Match

Before you begin a match, make sure to warm up the ball. The players stand on either side of the court and hit cross-courts to each other. Mix in some drop shots or rails on your side of the court, but don’t hog the ball for more than 2 or 3 shots. After a couple minutes, switch sides with your opponent to warm up on the other wall.

The official squash rules provide up to 5 minutes for the warm-up (2 1/2 minutes on each side), but for casual matches you can take a little extra time. Make sure you warm yourself up properly!

After the warm-up, spin a racquet to decide who will serve first. One person spins the racquet while the other guesses “up” or “down”. Use the logo on the butt of the grip to figure out if it landed up or down!

The Serve

Each point starts with a serve, and then the players alternate hitting the ball until someone wins the point.

If you’re serving, pick one of the service boxes to serve from. Give your opponent time to position herself on the other side of the court, closer to the back wall.

To serve, give the ball a little toss and hit it cross-court to your opponent. For it to be a valid serve you must:

  • Keep one foot in the service box while serving
  • Hit the front wall first
  • Hit the ball above the service line (the ball can’t touch the line; it has to be completely above)
  • Land the ball in the opposite back quarter of the court (unless your opponent volleys the ball first)
  • Keep the ball within the out of bounds lines

You only get one serve attempt, and if you don’t hit a good serve your opponent wins the point. If you are just beginning to play squash, feel free relax some of these rules in order to make it more fun while you are still learning.

Playing a Point

After the serve, the players alternate shots until someone wins the point. Either player can win the point — you don’t have to be serving.

To make a good shot and keep the rally going, you have to hit the ball before it bounces twice, and your shot must reach the front wall. You can hit the ball off the side or back walls first, as long as it eventually touches the front wall. Your shot must always stay in-bounds and above the tin, which is the strip of metal or wood along the bottom of the front wall.

If the server wins the rally, she wins a point and serves from the other service box. She keeps alternating service boxes until her opponent wins a point.

If the returner wins the rally, he wins a point. He now gets to serve, and can choose which service box to start serving from.

Interference

What happens if it’s your shot but your opponent is blocking you from getting to the ball? You can either play through the interference, or you can stop play by calling out “let”. There are three possible outcomes:

  1. If you had no chance to retrieve the ball, you lose the point. This is called a “no let”.
  2. If you had a realistic chance to retrieve the ball, the point is played over. This is called a “let”.
  3. If you were ready to hit the ball but your opponent was blocking the front wall or your swing path, you win the point outright. This is called a “stroke”.

These situations can often be ambiguous. In a tournament match, a referee would determine whether it’s a no let, let, or stroke.

But in a casual match, both players have to agree on the call. If both players don’t agree, you play a let. Sometimes, this can get a bit contentious, so just remember to keep an open mind and do your best to make fair calls!

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{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Martin Blackwell July 11, 2012, 1:15 pm

    I think the section on interference is too concise. Anyone who plays regularly should be encouraged to read Section 12 of the WSF rules. This defines clearly your ‘freedom from interference” – once any of these options apply and you are near enough to play the ball then AT LEAST a let applies. Many players do not move away from a shot, especially close to the front wall, and break the freedom of access straight away – they then argue for a let, not a stroke. My simple view is this:- as soon as the ball hits the front wall you’re stroke is complete and you should ensure that you do not appear within a triangle formed by the ball (wherever it may be) and the front corners of the court. It is then easy to determine if you are in interfering with your opponent. I am always surprised by the number of players who have never read the rules even after years of play.

    • Pierre July 12, 2012, 8:58 am

      Hi Martin thanks for your comment. My goal with this article is to make a very short summary of the rules to encourage new players to get out on court and give the game a try. It’s definitely too concise for regular players – agree with you 100% there. What I think I’ll do is make a longer article for people who are more serious about the game. Cheers

  • jonny August 6, 2012, 4:28 am

    not helpful.
    i know a lot more that the information you gave me.
    this website sucks.

    just wanted to let you now. ;) thanks!

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