The Gresham's Law of Squash
Pros Don't Always Follow the Rules -- But You Should!
|Rod Symington is on the WSF Rules and Referees Committee and is a consultant on Rules and Refereeing to the USA. He has also been the Tournament Referee for, among others, the Women's Worlds, Pan Am Games, and Junior Men's and Women's Worlds. To contact Rod with questions or to enquire about clinics and his Squash Rules for Players, email him at email@example.com|
Gresham's Law states that bad money drives out good. In like manner, bad habits drive out good ones. One of the most prevalent bad habits in squash is the failure to call “Let please” when a let is being requested.
The Rules are very clear on this matter: “A player should request a let by saying “Let please” (Rule 13). So why do so many players simply stop and wave the racquet—or even just catch the ball on the strings expecting the Referee to be telepathic?
This is one of those bad habits that has filtered its way down from the top players to those at lower levels. In this case, however, the “trickle-down effect” has not benefited the game. On the professional circuit the players long ago got into the habit of simply stopping play when they wanted a let, or waved the racquet when they expected to be awarded a stroke. Why waste your precious energy in actually calling “Let please,” when you need it for the next exhausting rally?
The result of this type of behavior, however, is that the Referee is called upon to interpret the player's action (or lack of it), and if the Referee is inexperienced, this can lead to some unfortunate misunderstandings. I have even seen very experienced referees fooled by such a situation: the player stops, the Referee says “Yes, let”—and the player says, “I wasn't asking for a let.” The Referee looks like an idiot, the players feel the Referee can't read the game, and the spectators wonder what on earth is going on. Been there, done that.
All would be well if players would abide by the Rules and make an audible call of “Let please” every time. In fact, under the Rules the only time when a gesture of some kind is permitted, instead of an audible request, is when communication is difficult between the players and the referee (for example, when the court is totally glassed in).
I am often asked, “Why don't the Referees at the top level insist that professional players call “Let please?” The answer is simple: the players would not respect a Referee who could not “read” the game at their level. If a referee wishes to be accepted at the top level, he or she must be able to follow the play and interpret the actions of the players appropriately. It will not do for only one Referee to insist that the players call let—that person would be viewed as an outsider.
So what should we do about this bad practice at lower levels of play? Referees should insist that a player call “Let please”—and not offer a decision until the player does so. If there has been no audible request for a let and you call the score, you can be sure that there will be an audible response from the player pretty quickly!
If the situation is not completely clear—which sometimes happens when there is a collision or noise on court—it is acceptable for the Referee to inquire if a player is asking for a let. In fact, the Rules state that the Referee “must be satisfied that the player is actually making an appeal.” If you are not sure why the player is requesting a let, you must ask the player for an explanation.
But under no circumstances may you offer the player a let by saying, “Would you like a let?” Can you imagine a player saying: “No thanks, I don't deserve one.”
If all players got into the habit of making an audible appeal for a let every time, and if every Referee insisted on that, the game would be much the better for it.