The State of Refereeing – Genever’s 2p worth

Peter Genever offers the PSA’s new Director of Refereeing some advice which “after scant deliberation he will refuse to entertain” …


In light of the recent appointment of Lee Drew as PSA’s Referee and Refereeing Director, I would like to take this opportunity to throw my tuppence worth firmly in on the state of refereeing at an elite level and offer him some thoughts which I am sure after scant deliberation he will refuse to entertain.

In fact, all of my revelatory proposals are already widely known as the ‘Rules of Squash‘.

Author: Peter Genever

Former PSA Tour Player - Coached for a few years in London at Dolphin Square a few young and talented players - Currently Men's / Women's Head National Coach at SRAM - Malaysia. View Peter's full profile

10 thoughts on “The State of Refereeing – Genever’s 2p worth”

  1. It’s hard to see how this suggestion differs all that much from the PSL way of thinking. It seems to boil down to the following claims: If you put yourself in your opponents way (and there are places on the court where this is more likely to happen), you are at fault, and a stroke will be awarded; if you put your opponent in your way, whether by having hit a poor shot forcing you out of position or by taking the wrong line to the ball, you are at fault, and you must retrieve the ball or receive a no let. Despite Genever’s professed distaste for the idea of ‘free flowing squash’ that’s what his rules, and the PSL’s, aim to promote – whether the player feels like barking the occasional objection is up to her, as long as she’s respectful.

      1. Woops, apologies. I meant the American PST with their (mostly) no-let rules. One can (and people have) object to its suitability for the very highest level of the game, but it does cut out a lot of decisions, and it does take away players’ comfort asking for a cheap let just to get out from under a rally they’ve fallen behind in, as well as punish players who don’t choose shots that keep them out of their opponents’ way, which eliminates a lot of the silly lets with players jumping on eachother’s backs at the front of the court.

  2. To be brutally honest here, the most distasteful elements of squash are:

    1. Timewasting between points – and I am talking about the exaggerated delays with excessive hand-wiping, etc.

    2. Player-referee interactions. 99% of the time, they are confrontational, and just embarrassing that a professional sport could allow such interactions to occur. In my opinion, the referee should be the one to dictate decision-making. If he calls let/stroke/no let, done. End of story. Players should not be entitled to ask for an explanation. No opening of the door to ask questions. The referee may ask for clarification if he/she deems it necessary.

    I am totally against the Robbie Temple school of thought. I leave it to the reader to determine what percentage of player-referee interactions are positive and beneficial to the sport – but, in my 20 years of playing, I have seen this to be a glaring exception to the general rule of these interactions being negative. Once players realize that berating and arguing with the referee is futile (and perhaps should be penalized), hopefully this curbs that tendency.

    This is also true for most sports – look at football/soccer. The moment a player fouls another player, the victim’s team crowds the referee trying to influence the decision. Leave the referee alone to make the decision. I am surprised that ‘professionals’ cannot accept the difficulty of the referee’s job. All we should be wanting is a referee who makes the call consistently. The refereeing association should do like what the NBA is doing: post-match, acknowledges missed calls. If there is a continuous improvement system in place, the quality will improve.

    Lastly, players who block – the refereeing body should review matches and identify such players. I agree that penalizing players who do not make an effort to clear is a must. Not sure I advocate profiling in general, but in this case, I think it may be warranted.

    For years squash has been trying to be included in the Olympics. Personally, I strongly believe squash deserves to be there – Squashplayers though? Not so much.

  3. Blocking ! My pet topic ! It’s not difficult to identify the offenders among the professional players. Firstly, they are consistently involved in high let-count matches, secondly, their movement immediately after playing a shot indicates whether or not their intention is to clear, or to impede DIRECT access to the ball . Whether or not the opponent ASKS for a let, I feel that referees should be looking for this tactic and CAUTIONING the player to illustrate their awareness. Should the tactic continue, the player should be penalised at the earliest opportunity. To ignore this tactic is gifting unfair advantage, undeserved points, match results, prize money, ranking position, etc. The over-keen use of the “Must make every effort to play the ball” rule by referees in these circumstances creates friction on court, and with the referees as they are, effectively, endorsing blocking. Having watched the Swedish Open match between Ramy Ashour and Simon Rosner, I can only say it was a referee’s dream, few decisions to make, no blocking, and a great example of fair play from both players. It should NEVER be left to plaintive, and repeated, let requests from a player that, so often in matches go unrewarded until the latter stages, when it is usually too late to bring about a fair result.

  4. There are so many points to discuss in relation to refereeing, and on the whole, I think any discussion is good as it brings about change, eventually.
    Something that crossed my mind recently was the idea of a pre-match brief as with Rugby. Not that I know allot about Rugby but as an occasional spectator it seems to have very low levels of descent, something which squash strongly suffers with.
    I think the referee should spend 1-2 minutes with both players together, outlining their expectations for the game and clarify what decisions players can expect in certain situations. Although these would not be hugely variable between matches it may allow the referee to communicate their understanding and how it relates to the players.

    1. Totally agree with this. If the referee makes it clear the players have to get to the ball from the start, at least it makes it easier to accept no let decisions during the match itself.

      Also, I’ve seen the 3-person referee system used to better success. Having said that, I’ve also seen instances where a decision is made using a 3-ref system, and the player asks each ref what his/her decision was…I mean, what’s the point of that? It’s not going to change the decision….

  5. I believe that all events have a “Tournament Referee”, and that a meeting is held before an event begins. Among topics discussed will be the allocation of referees for each match, crucially important for matches in which ‘problems’ are expected. A history of overturned decisions would make this choice that much easier ! “No easy lets” has been a popular topic, judging by the manner in which referees handle congestion, blocking, delayed clearance and excessive swing. So, the very rule that was introduced to “ensure continuous play” is the very rule that is causing friction, delays, video reviews, lengthy review decisions, and a bad atmosphere on court when, despite slo-mo evidence, a decision may be clearly wrong. It should not be forgotten that a Pro player who is at peak fitness, has spent twenty years of his life perfecting his game, and has climbed the world rankings to compete at the highest level, should, at the very least, expect a fair and understandable application of the rules, and this includes explanation of decisions. It should also not be forgotten that referees are regularly being assessed for consideration for a higher level, ultimately to International Referee status, creating a potential ‘discomfort zone’ with decision-making. A tough enough role without that pressure ! Despite the available technology, double bounces, tinned shots,and serves out are not covered by the review system. Why not ?!! How can points be correctly awarded, and match outcomes decided fairly according to the rules if every means at the referees disposal are not used ?

  6. Let’s get radical. Abolish ‘lets’ completely.

    Let’s face it , we’ve all done it, asked for a cheap let because we can’t play the perfect shot or the rally is going on and the legs are fading or there’s a little bit of interference and a weak referee might give a stroke. Encourage players to hit the ball – that will happen if lets are abolished. Encourage players to clear the ball …. ditto !

    How many times have you refereed and thought – ok I’ll give a let this time but come on hit the ball !

    Haha – I can hear the roars of disapproval already :/)

  7. In my opinion the ‘LET’ should be abolished in the game of squash in the present context. It might have made sense about 10-20 years ago when court flooring were different, squash racquets were heavy, scoring pattern was different and tournaments were less frequent. Nowadays it is easier to move on court and hit the ball and ‘LET’ decisions are ‘manufactured’ and misused by the players to get out of difficult situations

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