Why your club should build a double court
1) It will help you keep older players as members.
As Canadian demographer David K. Foot observed a couple of decades ago : “A nation of young people is a nation of hockey and tennis players. A nation of older people is a society of gardeners and walkers.” (1) While he doesn’t deal specifically with squash players, his comments on tennis are useful to our understanding of the dilemma squash faces. “In the mid 1970s, 30 million Americans were playing tennis. By the mid-1990s, only 16 million Americans were playing tennis.” (2) The reason is evident to any demographer: “average age is increasing, and… older people don’t play tennis as much as younger ones do.” (3) The same is true for squash.
Demographics is a subject we’ve all heard of, and we know a little about it – but we usually don’t think through its consequences. In Canada the Baby Boom lasted from 1947 to 1966, followed by the Baby Bust from 1967 to 1979 and the Echo Boom from 1980 to 1995. Since everybody ages one year at a time the Boomers are now forty to fifty-nine, the Bust generation from twenty-seven to thirty-nine and the Echo generation from eleven to twenty-six.
Singles squash is a very physically demanding sport, more so then tennis, so it’s not at all surprising that the singles courts built for the Baby Boomers when they were younger are gradually emptying. As their (our) bodies can no longer stand the strains, club members, like old soldiers, gradually fade away. As the years go on they play less and less until, no
longer getting value for money, they resign and head to golf, bird watching and gardening. The Bust group, much less numerous (and less prosperous) than the Boomers, are starting to move out of their prime squash singles-playing years as the Echo cohort move in. This may provide a lift but only a temporary one since following them is a very, very small cohort.
The demographic consequences for squash in all this is that we’re in a trough followed by a brief rise followed by an abyss. Clearly we need to try and grow the market by promoting squash at the junior level, (and at university level where a lot of players begin – or take it up again) But we also need to pay more attention to the older cohort, the Boomers who have faded from the scene. They’re clearly not going to play singles – but
doubles is a very different story.
Doubles can be played far longer. There are national championships up to 75+, and many, many others play at the club level; one only has to observe who is on the doubles court to find lots of sixty year olds, a fair number of seventy’s and a few up to eighty.
2) Doubles is a more social game.
Since potential interactions increase geometrically as the number of people involved increases arithmetically, and since fewer players are out of breath it is evident that there is more kibitzing on court in doubles than in singles. Moreover since doubles players are generally older, they are more likely to have the time to hang around for a beer (or two) or for dinner.
3) Older players have higher disposable incomes.
The older demographic generally have higher disposable incomes and are more likely to sponsor events, both singles and doubles, or at least donate and become patrons. Virtually all doubles events invite players and members to become Patrons (At $50 – $100) and normally attract several dozen. At this year’s Smitty, there were over forty at $75 – which raised $3000. The Frank MacKay tournament in Burlington has a silent auction; this year they raised over $20,000!
‘ Foot, David K, Boom. Bust and Echo 2000. Page 151.
2 Ibid.. Page 158.
How to propote doubles in your club.
These are all ideas which work in different clubs; not all will fit an particular one. Beyond the three here, there are others.
This involves reserving the court at a set day and time for anybody who wants to come and play. If there are four they play a normal match, if five players appear one sits out a game in rotation, if six players come two rotate out at the end of each game. It usually requires a bit of organizing to get rolling; after that it runs itself. The advantage is that anybody can come any week and get a game. If too many players start showing up you can extend the booking time for subsequent weeks. Beyond this problems will correct themselves; if there are not enough players and no game, that cut-in time will die; if there are too many players some will drop out. If better players find themselves playing with beginners too often they generally move to regular set games. It is, however an excellent format to start with since it introduces new players to others.
2) Regular fixed games
Players who want to be assured of a game with others of the same level arrange a foursome to play at a set time each week. One player books the court and E-mails the others who Reply All to confirm. If somebody’s away he replaces himself and advises the others. Pay as you play clubs should consider allowing a foursome to pre-book the court for the year and pay for it in advance. It’s guaranteed revenue.
One night in the week is designated for league play. Players are paired and organized into teams, each of which has an A team, a B team and a C team. For players who don’t wish to commit to play every week there is a sub list. A schedule of matches over the season is drawn up and things unfold from there.
2011 North American Doubles Rules Symposium
Introduction to the Rules of Doubles Squash (OSDL) from SportZtime on Vimeo.
OSDL - Doubles Squash - Scoring a Match from SportZtime on Vimeo.
NORTH AMERICAN HARDBALL DOUBLES RULES CORRECTION Re INJURIES
The existing Hardball Doubles rules (dated January 2014), do not cover the situation where a player’s partner causes the injury or nose bleed. This rewrite now covers that situation and will become effective January 1, 2015.
Revised Rule 9(c)
If play is suspended by the Referee because of an injury to any of the players, the Referee must decide how the injury was caused. If it is a self inflicted injury, such as cramp, a pulled muscle, being hit by his partner or bleeding, play may be suspended by the Referee once during a match for each individual player for a period not to exceed five minutes, after which time the player must resume play or his side shall default the game and if he is still unable to continue after a further two minutes, the match. If the injury, or bleeding, is caused accidentally by an opponent, including bleeding, then the injured player must resume play within one hour from the point and game score existing at the time play was suspended or forfeit the match. If the injury, or bleeding, is caused deliberately or by dangerous play by an opponent, resulting in the injured player being unable to continue the match due to the injury then the Referee shall award the match to the injured player. The Referee shall award the match to the injured player if, in the Referee’s discretion such a sanction is warranted under Rule 15. “Unsportsmanlike Conduct and Dangerous Play” even where the injured player could continue play.
BLEEDING (See Definitions)
A player, who is bleeding and whose bleeding has been self inflicted, or has been caused by the player’s partner, must stem the bleeding within five minutes or continue play. Should a player be unable to stem the bleeding, or cover the wound if necessary to prevent transference to another player, or should the bleeding cause safety issues on the court (i.e., bleeding onto the court surface), failure to stem the bleeding, will result in the game being awarded to the opponents and after a further two minutes, if still unable to continue, the match. . If the bleeding is caused by an accidental collision with an opponent, the player has up to an hour before he must resume play. If the bleeding is caused deliberately or by dangerous play by one of the opponents, the bleeding player shall be awarded the match.
GUIDELINE G7 THE TURNING INTERPRETATION Revisions to the 2010 Guideline
A player who turns on the ball (or comes around) must make every effort to play the ball. The changes in this Rule are designed to eliminate the abuse of the safety “Let” provision, often invoked by a player to recover from a defensive position, while continuing to provide safety for all players on court. In doing so the following A player who “turns” on the ball (or comes around) must make every provisions apply:
(1) The turning player should warn his opponents as early as possible that he is turning by declaring his intent to turn (“turning”, “coming around” or some other clear verbal warning). Failure to do so will result in a warning initially; however failure subsequently to announce a “turn” or to announce the “turn” late could result in a “Point” to the opponents.
(2) If the turning player fails to declare his intention to turn and then hits either opponent with the ball a “Point” will be awarded to the opponents.
(3) If the turning player fails to declare his intention to turn and then requests a Let due to his opponent’s positions on the court, No Let will be granted
(4) However if the turning player fails to call turning or calls late but plays the ball safely, then the Referee should allow play to continue and after the point has concluded, warn the turning player that future failure to declare a turn could, at the referees discretion, result in the awarding of a point to the opponents due to unsafe or dangerous play.
(5) The turning player’s opponents must make every effort to clear to give the turning player the full front wall and the side walls in the front third of the court, as well as provide freedom to the striker to play the ball.
(6) Where possible, the turning player should play the ball to the front wall or to the sidewalls in the front third of the court. If the turning player does not play the ball he will not be granted a “Let” if he is considered to be unreasonably trying to get out of an unfavourable position, especially when the opponents have cleared properly.
(7) If the ball hits an opponent who has cleared to the side walls, the turning player will lose the “Point”. Also to ensure the safety of the players on the court in enforcing the Turning rule, if the turning player plays a shot which is considered reckless or dangerous (not safe) the striker will be penalized and a “Point” will be awarded to the opponents.
The exceptions are as follows:
(A) Where the striker, while planning to play his normal shot, is forced to turn to play the ball due to the ball “squirting” off the back or side wall, forcing the striker to turn unexpectedly; in this case a “Let” will be allowed, provided the striker could have played the ball.
(B) When the opponents do not make every effort to clear, then the striker need not play the ball and a “Let” will be allowed and the Referee should warn the opponents that future failure to clear will result in a “Point” to the striker.
Footnote to Referees:
The overriding principle for all Referees is that the game should be played safely and fairly, and Referees calls should be made to promote safety while preserving the integrity of the Rules, and the flow of the game. The Referee should include, when making his judgement, whether or not the turning player could have reached the ball and played it to the front wall and would it have resulted in a safe return.
Ultimately it is the responsibility of the player turning to play the ball in a safe manner. Failure to do so, may at the discretion of the Referee, result in a warning, or, if the Referee deems the conduct offensive, a Point.
An initial warning applies to both players of the team warned.
THE THREE JUDGE SYSTEM
By Tony Swift
The best system for officiating singles and doubles squash matches is the three judge system.
Whilst taking nothing away from the overall authority and control from the central (Head) Referee, this system enhances his decision making. Without the ongoing confrontation between a single Referee and players, the Referee can give a more relaxed, and often better decision, knowing that he has back up in the form of line judges.
The process of handling the appeal from a player should be completed in a matter of seconds thereby avoiding any delay in the flow of the game.
The central Referee is responsible for all initial decisions on whether a ball is up or down, in or out as well as decisions on Lets, No Lets and Points (Strokes in the International softball game).
A player may appeal directly to the central Referee on any of his decisions; through the Referee and NOT to either Line Judge! So the only communication should be between the players and the Referee or the Referee and the Line Judges!
On appeal by a player, the Referee should then go to the Line Judge who has the best view, for his decision. If the Line Judge agrees with the Referee, then the Referee’s decision is upheld. If, however, the first Line Judge disagrees with the Referee then the other Line Judge is asked for his decision. For the Referee to be overruled both Line Judges must agree.
The positioning of the Line Judges is important so that they have direct vision and can communicate with the Referee.
The Referee must always have the overall authority and he controls the match.
The only time there would be no appeal on a Referee’s decision is when his decision is given under the Code of Conduct Rule, such as warnings or the award of points, games or even the match, in which case the Referee’s decision is final!