Basic Rules


The squash court is a playing surface surrounded by four walls. The court surface contains a front line separating the front and back of the court and a half court line, separating the left and right hand sides of the back portion of the court, creating three 'boxes' - the front half, the back left quarter and the back right quarter. Both the back two boxes contain smaller service boxes. All of the floor-markings on a squash court are only relevant during serves.
There are four walls to a squash court. The front wall, on which three parallel lines are marked, has the largest playing surface, whilst the back wall, which typically contains the entrance to the court, has the smallest. The out line runs along the top of the front wall, descending along the side walls to the back wall. There are no other markings on the side or back walls. Shots struck above or on the out line, on any wall, are out. The bottom line of the front wall marks the top of the 'tin', a half metre-high metal area which if struck means that the ball is out. The middle line of the front wall is the service line and is only relevant during serves.


Just before the match, the players spin a racket (usually up or down of logo.) to decide who serves first. This player starts the first rally by electing to serve from either the left or right service box. For a legal serve, one of the server's feet must be touching the service box, not touching any part of the service box lines, as he strikes the ball. After being struck by the racket, the ball must strike the front wall above the service line and below the out line and land in the opposite quarter court. The receiving player can choose to volley a serve after it has hit the front wall. If the server wins the point, the two players switch sides for the following point.


After the serve, the players take turns hitting the ball against the front wall, above the tin and below the out line. The ball may strike the side or back walls at any time, as long as it hits below the out line. It must not hit the floor after hitting the racket and before hitting the front wall. A ball landing on either the out line or the line along the top of the tin is considered to be out. After the ball hits the front wall, it is allowed to bounce once on the floor (and any number of times against the side or back walls) before a player must return it. Players may move anywhere around the court but accidental or deliberate obstruction of the other player's movements is forbidden. Players typically return to the center of the court after making a shot.


This scoring system is based on a “serving” system, in which one must gain the serve to obtain a point. Having the serve is sometimes considered to be on “offense”. The opponent (who does not have the serve) is considered to be on the defensive and must score to win the serve and then score again to gain a point.
Points are awarded if, during the course of play:
The receiver fails to strike the ball before it has bounced twice
The receiver hits the ball out (either on or above the out line, or on the tin)
The receiver fails to hit the front wall with the ball before the ball has bounced
Stroke: where the receiver obstructs the server during the point (see “Interference and Obstruction”)
Where the server does any of these things, or fails to hit the serve in, then the players change roles and the receiver will serve the next point, but no points are awarded.
Games are played to 9 points (with the exception that the receiver may opt to call "set two" and play to 10 when the score first reaches 8-8). Competition matches are usually played to "best-of-five" (i.e., the player to win the most out of 5 games). At one time this scoring system was preferred in Britain, but also among countries with traditional British ties, e.g. Australia, Canada, Pakistan, South Africa, India, but now at competitive levels, only PARS to 11 is used (see below).


Alternatively, in the point-a-rally scoring system (PARS), points are scored by the person who wins each rally, whether or not he or she served. The winner of the previous point will serve at the start of the next point. Traditionally, PARS scoring was up to 15 points (or the receiver calls 15 or 17 when the game reaches 14-14). However, in 2004, the PARS scoring was reduced to 11 for the professional game (if the game reaches 10-10, a player must win by two points). PARS is now used on the men's Professional Tour, and the tin height has been lowered by two inches for the men's professional tournaments (these changes have been made in a hope to shorten the length of the rallies and therefore the match). The women's Professional Tour uses the original tin height, but started using the PARS to 11 scoring system as of July 2008. In the International game, club, doubles and recreational matches are usually played using the traditional British scoring system, but the European Squash Federation (ESF), World Squash Federation (WSF) and several national federations are now using PARS to 11 on a trial or permanent basis. Scoring systems and rules can be adapted subtly to accommodate shorter game time or multiple players. As of April 1, 2009, WSF has declared that PARS to 11 will be the only official scoring system allowed for all levels of competitive squash