Squash is a game where two competitive people get into a small room and do battle in close physical proximity. That situation can really tell you a lot about a person. Since you want to be known as a fair competitor and a good sport, here are ten bad behaviors in squash that you should always avoid:
- Hogging the ball during the warmup - You really should hit the ball back to yourself only once or twice, and then hit it cross-court to your opponent using an easy feed. Since there is only a five minute warmup period, it is essential that your opponent get his or her fair share of the time to warmup. Hitting ten balls to yourself in a row, while your opponent waits on the other side of the court, is not very polite or sporting.
- Playing the ball after its second bounce - There will be times in your squash match when you are running full speed to reach a ball before its second bounce, and you may get there just a bit too late. If you aren't sure your racquet hit the ball before its second bounce, stop play and let your opponent know that the point is over and that you lost the point. It's best to give the point to your opponent if you are uncertain whether you reached the ball before its second bounce.
- Calling the wrong score, or asking for ludicrous lets - When your match is not refereed, you are responsible for calling the correct score whenever you are the server. Make sure that you pay attention, so that you can call the correct score, and not one that is artificially inflated in your favor. That's certainly a bad habit. Also, don't request lets from your opponent when there was really no realistic way that you could ever have reached the ball. You are not superhuman, so don't request lets based on an assumption of superhuman speed on your part.
- Hitting your opponent with the ball to earn a stroke - Although you can earn a point, according to the rules, by hitting your opponent with the ball when he/she is between you and front wall, it is certainly best not to hit them. Simply stop play and ask for a let point. If your opponent does not want to give you the let point, calmly explain your reasoning and insist on the let point. If they insist otherwise, then try explaining the situation again, clarifying that you are trying not to have to hit them to earn the point. Use all your powers of persuasion, and use physical contact with the ball only as a very last resort. In most cases where this situation would occur, you can easily win the point outright by hitting the ball somewhere else than into your opponent's body.
- Not picking up the ball for your opponent - after each point, the player who is closest to the ball (as it rolls on the floor of the court) should pick up the ball. If that player is not the next server, then he/she should gently toss the ball to the server, making sure before the toss that the server is ready to catch the ball. Eye contact is essential. Refusing to pick up a nearby ball is unsportsmanlike behavior, and unfriendly.
- Stalling for time because you're tired - Squash is such a physically demanding game that there will surely be a time when you are exhausted. The rules, however, are clear that play is to be continuous. Stalling between points by wiping your hand repeatedly on the wall, or by kicking the ball to the front of the court, or by constantly wiping your eyewear with your shirt, or by fiddling with your shoelaces is simply stalling. It's against the rules. Similarly, taking more than the allotted ninety seconds between games is stalling. A good competitor plays through tiredness, realizing that his/her opponent may also be exhausted.
- Making obnoxious comments during play - This bad behavior usually takes the form of expressing incredulity at an opponent's good shots or your own bad shots. These statements can be said out loud, shouted to the heavens, or muttered quietly. In any case, saying things like, "I can't believe I missed that shot" or "wake up, would you?" or "I've never played this badly" is not sportsmanlike. It is much better to be completely silent than to say things that imply your opponent is no good, and is just being lucky.
- Crowding your opponent just enough to annoy - Unfortunately, this bad behavior is more common in experienced squash players who understand the rules and know how far they can push a referee's judgment. It is only fair to give your opponent room to prepare and execute his swing. Crowding in against a less-experienced opponent is unsportsmanlike behavior, because your opponent probably won't know the rules well enough to ask for lets due to a restricted swing. He will just play worse, and hit his shots poorly if he is worried about hitting you with his racquet during the followthrough of his swing. But you will be cheating if your crowding is making that happen.
- Quick-serving your opponent - This is the opposite of stalling for time, but just as bad. Even when your opponent is tired, you should not serve until he is in the service box and is clearly ready to receive a serve. Quick-serving is serving before the receiver is ready, and it is bad behavior. Each time before you serve, look over at your opponent to be sure she/he is ready to receive serve.
- Playing pre-game mind games - Discussions even before the match can be the start of bad behavior and gamesmanship. Some players like to imply they're too good for their opponents to even have a chance. Others like to make themselves out to be extreme underdogs, or to be severely injured for the match (wearing unnecessary but very visible athletic braces). The common denominator is that they are all behaving badly by trying to distract their opponents from the match itself, and get them thinking about something other than how to play good squash. It's best to let your play do the talking.
DISHONORABLE MENTION: Employing offensive body odors to help you dominate the court - Whether it is wearing extremely dirty sweat clothes, or something worse, using olfactory weapons is a sure sign of a bad sport. Keep it clean in that small room.