Squash Mad – Squash reporting and analysis from the front line

Join the One Dot Revolution

Alan Thatcher November 14, 2013 42 Comments
Richard Millman gets ready to launch the One Dot Revolution

Richard Millman gets ready to launch the One Dot Revolution

Recreational squash players, just like beginners, often struggle to cope with a double-dot ball.

Why do clubs, and especially teaching pros, fail to offer an alternative to help people enjoy their game more?

RICHARD MILLMAN offers a simple solution in his latest column

The One Dot Revolution is coming!

By RICHARD MILLMAN

For quite some time now I have been playing in my mind with a conundrum.

Perhaps more than any other transition in our sport, with the possible exclusion of the occasion when the then USSRA forced the International Ball on the Hardball community of the USA (which led to the loss of many wonderful supporters of the game because no-one showed them how to adapt their technique for the ‘softball’ – but I digress), the transition from HiHo scoring to PARS has become a fractious and damaging debate that has done nothing but hold our sport back.

(Hi-Ho is the shorthand for the traditional hand-in, hand-out system where you only score a point while you are serving (hand-in). PARS stands for Point A Rally Scoring, which is self-explanatory).

The reason that the debate has been so contentious is that there are clear advantages on both sides for different reasons and different groups.

For professional players, match durations between players of similar level have continued to be comparable.

For masters, juniors and skill level/graded players, match times have arguably decreased, although I am a great believer that, over time, the durations will gradually extend as people become more familiar with the tactics of the PARS system.

I concede however that, just as there were many American hardball players who loved their game and had no desire to switch, there are even more masters and recreational players who love HiHo and would rather go to war than switch.

However, a recent conversation with a respected colleague of mine here in the USA, has given me a new and slightly different slant on the whole discussion.

Jeff Mulligan is the Head Professional at the Commodore Squash Club in Minnesota. A highly respected teacher and player, Jeff is a man after my own heart who spends a good deal of time thinking for the good of the game.

Our email conversation is self-explanatory and I think will be of interest to anyone who cares about the future of our game.

For that reason I have printed it here with some small editing for the sake of clarity:

+++

Jeff says:

I hate Deadball Squash!

Jeff Mulligan

Jeff Mulligan

Anyway, I have been on a bit of a mission at the last two clubs I’ve been at, the PDC in Atlanta and now the Commodore Squash Club in St. Paul, Minnesota. At the PDC I started making the lower-level players play with the one dot. Everyone loved it.

At the Commodore, after watching some pro matches, I realized that these guys are playing the game I fell in love with. A ball that bounces! Last week I held a PSA 25k stop alongside a SDA invitational. It was a huge success.

I also made the official amateur ball the one dot!

Most non-members that came in thought it was crazy. You see, I felt that with all of the pro matches that they would be watching, they would realize that other than skill, their games would be relatable. I think this experiment worked, people, even the A-level players (top amateurs) loved it!

Long and short Richard, I want to (have already in MN) start a One Dot Revolution!

I also realize that novice, Ds, and C-level players even need to play with bouncier balls (like the Big Ball UK Racketball).

What are kids and beginners doing with two dots anyway? The teachers are to blame!

I think the PSA and Dunlop need to launch a campaign to the squash world that really pushes home what the Dunlop material already says, A 2 dot is a PRO BALL! They play with lower tins and even changed the scoring method. (I’ve also got my club playing traditional (English) scoring, too. So much more fun for the average Joe.)

Golf is in the middle of a campaign called Tee it Forward. If you are a higher handicap, you should play from more forward tee boxes. Makes sense.

Thanks Richard. I’d love to hear your thoughts and if there is anything we can do, please let me know.

Jeff

+++

Hi Jeff

Thanks so much for your message and for your kind words.

But most particularly I want to congratulate you on your initiative with the single dot ball. I have been playing around in my head with the concept of raising the tin in proportion to the adeptness/athletic capacity of the participants – hence where PSA use a 17-inch tin over 70 players might use 24 or even 36 inch tins.

But what you make me realize is that the solution to arguments about PARS scoring ruining the game for older/less skilled players may lie in the ball.

We need everyone to use the same scoring system If the IOC are going to take us seriously ( in my opinion) and in your experiment you have shown that PARS to 11 needn’t be deadball short rally squash but can last similar times to old HiHo matches.

What do you think of this argument?

Could I use your name and portions of your message if I write an article about this?

Thanks again

Best

Richard

+++

4ballsHi Richard

I really appreciate your feedback.

I do agree about the PARS scoring( for tournament play). I just wish it was to 15. Even for the pros. But for everyday play – players, teaching pros, coordinators, whoever, need to take ownership of the fact that most people need guidance (i.e. who cares what score you play to?) All sports do this. Tennis can be played to 10 games with no sets played, 21 in basketball, whatever.

The point is teaching pros are responsible and should do whatever they can to keep the game fun! The fact is that English scoring (HiHo) is so much better for club-level players. But, I get the need for standardization. But for God’s sake, the leaders and teachers of the sport should tell people what ball they should play with.

So many more people could get hooked!

Do you remember the Racquetball boom in the 1980s? The sport was so popular because it is so easy to learn. Do you know why it died here?

It’s because there were no teaching pros and for the most part, no program coordinators either. Squash comes from the world of tennis and thus understands the need for teaching pros. The pros can save this game.

Bring on the One Dot Revolution!

Isn’t it true that squash in the UK, for instance, with respect to the ball, that players decide on which ball to play with according to the court conditions?

My theory is that here in the States squash is more “upper crust” and pros are less apt to tell a member that they are playing with the wrong ball? I think we got here because squash players are like golfers who have to have what Adam Scott has in his bag! And we all know that that won’t make a bit of a difference. I think the same goes for the equipment in squash, including the ball.

I had a good conversation with Alex Gough, the PSA supremo, about this. He thinks it might be an interesting campaign for the PSA to do. Like Tee It Forward, tell everyone which ball to play with. I somehow think that what they have to say would carry a lot of weight! Maybe give him a call as well.

Thanks again.

+++

Hi Jeff

Completely with you – especially if we can get the top PSA and WSA stars like Nick, Ramy, Nicol, Laura etc to back it like the top Golf Pros have done with Tee it Forward!

+++

Hi Richard

I was in NY last week and had a discussion with a leading coach about the one dot idea. He completely agrees that all recreational players should play with the one dot ball. He said that ego from the members was the only thing keeping them away from making the change.

This got me thinking again: ego? Well, if ego is keeping people away from playing with the proper ball, then they should want to play with the ball that makes them hit better length, width, and short. And not play with a ball that lets them get away with bad length, bad width, and bad drop shots.

He also said he has parents demanding that their eight-year-old child plays with the two-dot ball. You wouldn’t ask your juniors and club players alike to play with the lower tin. This is absurd.

Please write something on this topic!

Thanks again for listening.

Jeff

+++

Dunlop offer a range of squash balls

Dunlop offer a range of squash balls

ANALYSIS:

An additional advantage of using livelier balls such as the One Dot or Single Yellow Dot ball is the decrease in physical impact on bodies.

With less desperate lunging and more time for setting up your shot, recreational players will not only get the value of fitness from increased rally duration without the degree of damage caused by lunging for the Double or Two-Dot ball, but they will be able to more easily control the width and length that is so necessary for more advanced play.

I am still playing International level Masters Squash and frankly, I don’t feel that day to day squash keeps me fit any more. And I can still keep the Double Dot going.

When I play UK Racketball, the rally durations are sufficient to maintain and improve fitness. I suspect that a similar case would be true for me with the Single Dot ball – more healthy, longer lasting games.

Jeff Mulligan has already proven his point by running successful One Dot competitions. I think that the message is clear.

Those of us that spend our time thinking about the sport of squash and who wish to help the game continue to grow and to become a mainstream sport, feel that the Double Dot ball is a Pro ball and is ruining the sport for recreational players.

My friend and multi-time England Masters international Martin Pearse always chooses a ball to suit the court – a wise decision that has increased not only his enjoyment but the quality of his training over the years.

The national federations, the Teaching Pros, the World Tour players and the leading commentators on the game have the capacity to bring a positive change that will benefit everyone and the sport as a whole.

The ‘Tee it Forward’ campaign in golf is exemplary.

So I ask you: Will you join The One Dot Revolution? Will you help us ‘Tee it forward’ for squash? Let us hear from you.

And let us hear from Laura and Nicol, from James and Nick, from Greg and Daryl, from Jenny and Natalie (Grinham and Grainger) and Ramy.

With your help we can change the world and get everyone enjoying our game to the full.

Richard Millman (with huge thanks to Jeff Mulligan)

FEEDBACK: Please post your comments below.

 

Like this Article? Share it!

About The Author

Alan Thatcher

Lifelong sports journalist and squash lover. Event promoter, coach, author, voice artist. Founder of World Squash Day.

42 Comments

  1. Joe McManus November 12, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    I very much enjoyed reading this article and want to echo the sentiments that amateur use of the one dot ball should be the standard.

    I differ slightly with Richard on the scoring and believe amateurs would be well served by a PAR 15 game.

    Great article.

    Best,
    Joe McManus

  2. Jo Braddock November 12, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    ESR have recently begun insisting on using a single dot ball for all under 11 sanctioned competitions. After the initial disbelief that the more able players in that category were going to required to go backwards in their development, and the frustration accompanying it, I’m not ashamed to say I’ve changed my tune somewhat.

    At a recent competition the reasons cited for the change were underlined by the performances and results – good technique, movement and racket skills suddenly became as important as size, strength and speed and it was quite a revelation.

    I’m a convert.

  3. Ted Gross November 12, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    In the 80′s in the States it was difficult to get the good Dunlop ball, so the club players used faster versions and were happy.

    This was also on the narrow, hardball courts.

    No one wants to hear this, but the faster ball on the narrow courts was a better game for club players than what we have now.

    • Alan Thatcher November 12, 2013 at 8:39 pm

      Ted
      Would you care to explain that last remark in more detail please?
      Cheers,
      Alan.

  4. Monroe Townsend November 12, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    Implementing a 15 point, HiHo, single dot alternative to the current singles game would convince to get back into singles. I’ve been missing from it for over 20 years! Thanks for posting the give and take. It was encouraging.

    MT

    • Josh McHugh November 13, 2013 at 1:46 am

      Agreed, Mike – let’s order up some one-dots!

  5. Mark Andrew Burke November 12, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    Hey Richard, Great discussion once again. As the club where I coach is not heated a great deal in winter, we switch to one-dot balls in a few weeks, until the weather warms up. It’s the only way to continue to work on technique, especially from the back corners. I am continually frustrated though at VSF (Vlaamse Squash Federatie) events, that Under-11 players are forced to play with a 2-dot ball, even though in training some of them are still using the Blue Ball (Dunlop). The matches are difficult for them and quite demotivating. Not to mention the effect on the coach!
    I’m a bit hog-tied in sanctioned events, as people don’t listen well to the ‘foreigner’, but in training I realise the benefit of a bouncier ball to development and of course enjoyment.

    Keep up the great discussions,

    Mark.

  6. Guy Cipriano November 13, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    The doubles game has been the beneficiary of the defections from the double dot softball game.
    Three walls, skid boasts, Philadelphia boasts, reverse corners are all percentage shots in the right circumstances in the doubles game, providing tremendous variety and excitement .
    Mr. Millman is right- which would you rather watch- a tape of Mike Desaulniers vs Sharif Khan 1980, or any professional match from today?

  7. Jeff Mulligan November 13, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    I think one more point that should be made is:
    To understand the need for pros to use a 2 dot is because of the extreme temperatures that they get the ball to. ( take a rubber band and put a wrench at the end of it, blow hot air from a hair dryer on the rubber band and see what happens. The rubber pulls the wrench up!) Most amateurs are not capable of getting a ball this warm.
    So, using a one dot for most and for lower level players, a progress ball is necessary to achieve the same bounce. I also think a misconception is that bouncier balls mean that they are faster. This is not true. The balls simply have different air times once they have hit the floor.
    Thanks to all for the comments! Let’s keep the discussion going and hopefully we can get the governing bodies to endorse the revolution!

  8. James Boileau November 14, 2013 at 12:47 am

    I played in Jeff’s tournament with the one dot. I have to admit I didn’t think he would get much support but it was fantastic and made a believer out of me. The rallies were longer and they looked better because of the improved technique. Great job Jeff.

    I look forward to your future one dot tournies

    James

  9. Steve S November 14, 2013 at 9:39 am

    When one gives this “one-dot ball revolution” some thought, it becomes an absolute ‘no-brainer’!! I have often wondered how much enjoyment older people, in particular, get out of having 3 shot rallies!? But it – using the one dot ball – should become standard practice for juniors and Masters DEFINITELY (and something I shall be lobbying for here in my Province), and at most, arguable for all amateur levels. But let’s get the discussion flowing because it’ll only be when many countries adopt the policy that it”ll be taken seriously by all.

  10. Rich S. November 14, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Richard,
    Thanks for sharing this great idea. I am 100% in favor of the one dot for almost all amateur levels. The forced uniformity for the scoring system and balls across all levels and ages of play is drastically hurting the sport. How can we begin to initiate changes with the squash governing bodies? It pains me to think of junior tournaments or master tournaments where players are de-motivated by short rallies and short matches. In Europe, tennis has very successfully adopted graduated tennis balls for junior play. Squash should look at this model and make some changes to increase fun and fitness for its participants. You have my vote for the one dot revolution.
    Rich

  11. Jeff Mulligan November 14, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    I have had many positive responses from fellow pros with private messages. Fellow pros, please say something publicly. Plus, I have seen nothing but positive feedback from everyone else!
    If everyone likes the idea, then why can’t we make the switch for all amateur and junior play? We need to demand US Squash and all other governing bodies to step up and do the right thing! Tournament directors also need to step up! And, if their are any folks out there that can tell us why juniors and Ams should play with the 2 dot, please say something. I’d love to hear from the other side.

  12. Don Mills November 14, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Ball – Any ball that will make the game more enjoyable for more players will benefit the game. Players want to rally and experience the chess-like nature of the game.

    Scoring – Par scoring to 15 with one serve for all squash – singles and doubles would make it simple.

  13. Chris Smith November 14, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    I agree with everything written here Richard and support different balls for different levels. However, in order for there to be a true revolution the US Squash tournaments and leagues would need to officially change their ball for the different levels. If they don’t, players need to train with the ball that is going to be used in play and figure out that ball. U11 players should certainly be using a different ball (and U11 players shouldn’t be ranked–but that’s for another article)

  14. Chris Walker November 14, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Happy to weigh in on such an important subject.
    Personally, I use the single dot ball for most of my lessons with the younger kids and in group/clinic sessions (even with mid-level kids involved) – in particular when a pro is not on court feeding the ball. I also almost always use a single dot ball when the lesson is focused on drop shots anyway.
    I could see the junior events at U.11 and U.13 being more valuable to the kids if a one dot ball was used.
    There should be more of a guideline set out for when to move from the single to the double dot ball. In that choice it’s relevant to consider the standard of the players and the temperature of the court (which may be dependent on the time of year)… I remember personally using the old white dot (probably the equivalent back in those days) on colder courts in the UK for my training and match play!!
    Interestingly, I spent two weeks working with Malcolm Wilstrop (arguably the most successful coach of all time; producing some 60 National Champions over 50 years of coaching) this summer at his club in Pontefract and he is a die hard believer of bringing the kids up playing with the full length racket from the start and using the double dot ball for all levels.
    (They have got heaters at the club these days).

    • Alan Thatcher November 14, 2013 at 9:07 pm

      Hi Chris
      Welcome to Squash Mad! Thanks for a really useful and informative post.
      I too remember playing league games on cold courts in the winter with the white dot ball.
      We all took it for granted.
      Hope to see you soon.
      All the best,
      Alan

  15. Chris Walker November 14, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    I’d like to add that I think it would be a great idea for mid and lower skill level amateurs to use the single dot ball as well. They would get so much more out of the session.
    As a side note, I still, to this day use a single dot ball to practice drops as it’s far more realistic to have the bouncy ball (as it is in match play) to groove with!!

  16. Jeff Mulligan November 14, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    If you haven’t already seen this, check it out! Very interesting!
    http://www.ithacasquash.com/ball/ball.html

    I also think it interesting that with the pros being probably some of the strongest, fastest, and fittest people on the planet! These same athletes who also get the ball so bouncy. That we also ask average everyday players to play with the same ball as them!
    Its counter-intuitive.

    • Dave Baker November 15, 2013 at 6:02 pm

      Single dot ok if everyone changes. No sense in playing with one dot at a club and double dot everywhere else.

  17. Simon Crowther November 15, 2013 at 12:53 am

    There is definitely a case for using the right ball for the temperature you are playing at, or for lower level players. In the UK, we don’t really select a ball for the playing conditions at all. Everyone here uses a double yellow dot, except beginners. I think they pretty much move straight from blue to double yellow though, because that’s what is available – I could be wrong.

    I think there is a danger in saying that amateur players should use a single yellow dot. If you gave a C grade player here a single yellow for a match, they would quietly bin it. And a red dot – even in our climate, I don’t think so! Also, I think PAR 15 may be appropriate for beginners, but I’m not convinced it is appropriate for anyone above that. It certainly isn’t the case that PAR 11 and double yellow dot balls are only for pros and I think that would be a step backwards, losing much of the subtlety and skill of the game.

    I played with a single yellow dot ball for the first time in 20 odd years in France this summer at a club where they play with a single yellow dot as standard and found it weird to say the least. We went on to play with a double yellow for comparison and my French opponent who is a good C grade standard, found it interesting. What he remarked on was the higher skill level required. The danger in pushing a bouncier ball at the wrong (ie. too high a level) would be that it would push the standard of the game down.

    I do think that different balls should be used for different temperatures more. Since we have different coloured balls with different bounce times, we should use them. I have often wondered why single dot balls are not used in the winter in England on courts with little or no heating. (Some of the courts in Kent could really do with a new heating system!) If the ball really can’t be warmed up without dislocating a shoulder, why not use a bouncier one?

    The same goes for the summer. I like to play squash all year round and often find the rallies in the summer lasting far too long. The game is pretty much a different game. So why not use a green high altitude ball during hotter weather? Not a widely available ball, but it could be and it might help to broaden the appeal of the sport in the summer months.

    I also agree with Chris’s use of a bouncier ball for drop shot coaching/training. I learned to use a red dot for drops from Graham Stevenson and find a cold red dot keeps about the same bounce height as a warm double yellow for practising drop shots. And I do also think that older players should switch to a bouncier ball and continue playing the wonderful game that is squash, instead of moving to the far inferior (IMHO) UK racketball.

    Anyway, I must go to bed as SquashMad is becoming too compelling. Adios amigos

  18. Richard Millman November 15, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    terrific commentary and support from a wide ranging group. This seems to be an idea that merits serious consideration.

  19. Mark Dougherty November 15, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    It matters little to me how fit the pros are…or how good their experience is. I think I’ve told this to Jeffrey Sen (i.e. Mulligan) to his face. An average player with a lot of grey hair–I was adverse to the change–I recall asking Jeffrey if he was creating a class system amongst players. At one point the word ‘Elitist’ was spoken. Then, when I began to play with the single dot — I was mortified to realize how poor my racquet skills were. In other words, playing at an average level with a double dot ….my game would never surpass a certain level given the ball characteristics and limited racquet skills. The single dot emulated the faster ball play of more skilled players and affords me the opportunity to examine and reinvent my racquet skills (e.g. back hand grip; forehand racquet placement; returning a blistering forehand with a delicate drop shot; etc. — all have changed for the better). In the end, I would wager that in a ’round robin’ the ‘single dot players’ would emerge ‘top’ in the order. So, perhaps single dot in cold climates and practice play…and, double in the tourney regardless of temp? That way no change in tourney rules required.

    MPD

    P.S. Apologies for the length, but I want Jeffrey to have to read a long message with he word “Elitist’ echoing in his head.

    • Jeff Mulligan November 15, 2013 at 8:00 pm

      Good stuff Mark! Thanks for the feedback!!

  20. Thom Miller November 15, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    On converted racquetball courts with some type of masonite as walls, I believe the one-dot is the only ball to use. Otherwise, the games go to those who simply dink the shots into front corner with little to no opportunity for a rally. It’s a completely different game than playing on real courts with a two dot where the ball bounces off the walls appropriately.

  21. Ken Weir November 15, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    People get confused and turned away from squash when we change the scoring and change the ball in general use.
    Take a few minutes and get the ball (double-dot) warmed up.
    Stick with PARS 11 now that we have it. We will never make it to the Olympics if we have different balls and different scoring.

    • Jeff Mulligan November 15, 2013 at 7:58 pm

      What if you can’t warm a ball up? Suck it up and play a version of the game that is less fun? You have a choice. That is why Dunlop makes different balls. If 2 guys want to play dead ball squash, go for it! It’s just a game. I just hope its fun. As for the Olympics: Tennis now has different balls for juniors and adults, Basketball has different balls for women and men, and they are in the Olympics.I’d say lets focus more on building this sport and hopefully it becomes a mainstream sport, which it is not right now.

  22. Charlie Beckey November 15, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    I’d like to make a few comments on this issue as well:

    1. On ball bounce vs. speed, I don’t completely agree with Jeff Mulligan’s comments above. For a standard size squash ball, speed and bounce are not independent. When a ball becomes hot and bouncier during play, it will retain more energy/speed when bouncing off the walls. On the other hand, LARGER sized balls (max progress, english racketballs) can maintain high bounce, yet have less speed due to the added wind resistance.

    2. I also agree with Simon Crowther’s comment that double dot balls should not be reserved exclusively for pros. Even though top amateurs do not get the ball quite as hot as pros, the loss is negligible compared with what they would gain from switching to a single dot.

    3. As far as choosing a ball for different players, everyone else has pretty much brought up the important factors: player skill and court conditions.

    a. Young kids/beginners should probably use larger sized balls to get both the benefits of slow ball speed and high bounce (easy to learn, time to setup shots and retrieve balls). Skill level would be 2.0 – 3.5.

    b. Intermediate players would actually start playing the “real” game of squash with a single dot ball. This should replicate the same speed/bounce characteristics as the pros playing with a double dot ball. Skill level 3.5-4.5.

    c. Advanced/Elite players would of course play with a double dot, yet the speed/bounce characteristics would be the same as intermediate players. With the increased power and length of rallies, the double dot would bounce appropriately.

    The specific change points for balls would be left up to the local squash pro, who would be responsible for knowing what the “correct” speed/bounciness level should be. They would be able to account for slow/fast court conditions.

  23. Teo Fieldwood November 16, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    THIS MAKES ME SO ANGRY, I WANT TO TYPE IN CAPITALS ALL DAY!
    You will never find me playing with a single dot ball. Never, Ever. I am a rank amateur, but, you know what? I am a Real Man. I do bicep curls, I grunt, I drink beer, and I fart. Why? Because, I am a Real, masculine, male, Man. Not some six year old girl. I might work all day in an office juggling spreadsheets, but, when the evening comes, and I step on that court, I am a PROFESSIONAL. I use the same shoes as Nick Matthews, same racquet as Ramy, and same headband as James Willstrop. So, what makes you think I can’t use the same balls as the professionals, eh? Do you lot have no pride? Single dot, it seems! You all pining for the single dot balls should grow your hair long, wear a ponytail, shave your legs, and call yourselves, Sophie, when you’re playing with your single dot balls. You will have to take away my double dots from my dead hands, you hear me? I’m really upset. I think I’m going to lie down for a bit.

  24. Vegetable Sport November 17, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    I am a B level player. I thought I would not like PAR11 but I love it – my game has improved since switching – I am forced to think more about reducing my soft errors while being more aggressive. I am exhausted at end of 5 games because every game is a sprint.

    If match length is a legit concern, then for beginners play best of 7 instead of best of 5 (Table Tennis uses best of 7) but keep PAR11. Intermediate and advanced should stay with best of 5.

    With regard to the ball bounce, suggestions:

    1) PLEASE USE NEW BALLS. If you can see your REFLECTION in the ball – it is time to switch.

    2) In the US, switching U11/U13 and silver/bronze level junior tournaments to use single-dot makes sense. At the gold level, BU15 kids can hit harder than I can. For adult amateurs 3.5 and lower could use single-dot.

  25. Paul Selby November 19, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    First comment I would like to make is like Malcolm WilllstropI am a big advocate of using the Double Dot for all my junior players in match play.

    Right lets look first at the problems we have first in having am inferior ball made on the cheap by Dunlop switching production to the Far East from the Wakefield factory when the company was purchased by Mike Ashley of Sportsdirect fame. The ball now is not a consistent product and can vary in its speed and behaviour from ball to ball. As an experiment try rolling the ball across a flat surface and see the inconsistent roll. This is because the balls are not even round.

    The biggest marketing error Squash made was to change from the Blue, Red, White, Single Dot Green, Single Dot Black progression to the much less popular Max, Max Progress, Single Dot, Double Dot group. The Max and Max progress for 4/5 year old beginners is an absolute no no. Better to use the old red dot so they feel they are like the big kids playing with a proper ball like they do.

    My job I feel as a coach of junior performers is to progress them as fast as I think is possible onto the Double Dot (Weather and court temperature allowing).

    After watching the Under 11 National Championships in Manchester earlier this year I was embarrassed by the patronising nature of ESR in insisting the kids play with a one dot ball where most of these kids had been training with double dots and were only told as the ball was thrown down to them by the Referee for their first match.

    I am happy for kids to train with a variety of different balls in practise to try different things out and see if they can cope with different situations but for serious competition lets not dumb down the top kids. If the less able kids struggle then we maybe look at running a tournament alongside for the improvers where they can use a single dot.

    As for the majority of Squash players worldwide the ball to be used must depend on climate and altitude (altitude that’s right not attitude). If you are playing in Denver or Johannesburg or Bogata then a single dot might be way too fast. likewise if you are playing in Yellowknife in the middle of winter an old red dot might have a use.

    The body that should be addressing this issue and making some decisions on a:) Improving the quality of the product we are forced to use (96% of all balls sold are Dunlop). b:) Giving clear guidelines on which ball to use based on certain criteria i.e. Age, Country, Level, Gender, Temperature, Time of Year.

    This is a worthwhile debate as we strive to keep players already playing and also entice new people into the game.

    Don’t forget UK Racketball it certainly does have a role in helping to keep players using facilities that may well have struggled and may even have closed.

    I am sure my comments will not be welcomed by some but some others will agree. This is the nature of debate and through it we reach a sensible educated and researched consensus.

    • Jeff Mulligan November 19, 2013 at 2:34 pm

      Paul,
      Thanks for your input! I agree that ball may be flawed. For instance, I have played with 2 dots that have felt like 1 dots while others have felt like hacky sacks! Maybe I feel that the 1 dot is just a better ball?? I agree that consistent manufacturing practices are needed.
      And not for one moment do I question Coach Wilstrop and your success with juniors. I just don’t understand why it is best to have kids use a ball that bounces less for the majority of their shots when they are young, then when they get strong enough to heat a ball up like the pros, the ball will be higher up in the strike zone.
      Plus, arent longer rallies better for development?
      Isn’t it like in tennis, where regulation balls bounce too high(the ball bounces over their heads) for kids too hit proper ground strokes? I believe this is why they have addressed their ball issues for kids.
      Like I said, I am not questioning the success of the many coaches use of the 2 dot. I just have not heard any reasons why. Some may also want to consider that the use of the 2 dot with kids and adults alike may be a “weeding out” of sorts( only the strongest survive).. Might we get more hooked into the fun of the sport with the use of slightly more bouncy balls? Paul, thanks! Please let me know your thoughts.

      • Paul Selby November 19, 2013 at 3:49 pm

        Thanks Jeff for the feedback. I would only add that until someone gives us consistently good quality balls to play with which have a consistent bounce whether it be one do t or two dot then it is not worth getting people to swap because what is good for one person will be a different experience for someone else because we are not letting them have a even playing field.
        Your comment about why I or even indeed Malcolm trains with double dots is purely success and historical and the mindset of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it mentality. I am not saying that it does not need investigating but you posed the question why I used the double dot.
        All the top players play with the old single yellow dot (White ball) on the glass court which is not bouncy at all in fact becomes like a pudding after a couple of games.

        I think it goes back to the original point of play with the most appropriate ball for the court conditions you are playing under and the ability level that you currently are.

        I think if you took a wide range of views from a wide range of ability levels you might get differing views on the appropriate ball.

        Maybe people need to get the rackets strung less tight to ensure a more powerful shot off the racket but hey you lose a bit of control. I think we have such a wide range of things that go in the mix to make a good game of Squash between to players that it might be hard to find the right answer.

        Worth trying though!!!!!

  26. Jeff Lurie November 19, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    I agree with Jeff Mulligan – not just because our names are the same. We want this sport to grow for the reasons we all fell in love with it – long exciting rallies that allow players to think, grind, defend and attack.
    Single-Dot balls are not only perfect for Juniors but are great for adults as well – I admit that as a Teaching Pro I don’t use them enough with some of my adult members.
    I also teach Tennis in the summer – the graduated ball system has changed the game FOR THE BETTER. Since we integrated these balls into the mix, my younger tennis players are actually having real tennis rallies – well before they perfect their swing. It provides them with the zest for the game – not just the technique that allows you to hit, for example, a dying length to the back. Once players start playing the game and thinking (enabled by bouncier balls in squash, and less bouncy balls in tennis) they are able to enjoy it more >play more>get better> graduate to double dots. Thanks for talking about this – it’s important!

  27. James Martenson November 20, 2013 at 12:18 am

    I have never understood why everyone, from beginners to mid-level players virtually always use the ball that was intended for very advanced players and pros. I enjoy playing with the double yellow dot ball, but, as a 3.5 level player, the single dot ball is much better. I almost never get a chance to play with the livlier ball because everyone just assumes that the double yellow dot ball is the official ball of squash (which it isn’t).

    When players at my level use the doulbe dot ball, there is a negative synergistic effect. At my level, rallies are considerably shorter than they are for more advanced players, so the ball does not get as warm. So, for a double yellow dot ball, the net result is that, for mid-level players, the double dot ball is actually less lively than it is for the pros. The net result is less skill development, less exercise and, most importantly, less fun.

    This is not the be-all and end-all issue for me. Having said that, a move to a single yellow dot ball for most players would greatly enhance the game, in my opinion.

  28. Stan McCormick November 21, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    As a longtime recreational player at the Commodore, my perspective extends back to the hardball era. The one constant through all those years has been the love of the long point. Everyone I know wants to come off the court exhausted and winded almost as much as they want to win the match. Switching to the single dot ball has definitely ramped up the game for me and the people I play with. In talking with others in our club there is certainly a sense of excitement and new possibilities in the game brought on by switching to the single dot ball – even for vintage hackers like myself.

  29. Jeff Mulligan November 22, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    After what I feel has been some great feedback, I think we need to keep moving forward with a proposal of ball use guidelines that can be taken to the WSF. Then the individual governing bodies can take it from there. Rather than the other way around.

    I propose the following:

    Men/Women/Juniors -Everyday play
    (juniors, you should rate the same way as adults so you can determine the correct ball)

    5.0-Pro players : use double yellow
    3.0-5.0 players : use single yellow
    2.0-3.0 players : use Max progress (6% larger, instant bounce)
    And if you are playing a lower level player, use the ball recommended for them. For example if you are a 5.0 and you are playing with a 4.0 player, use the single yellow.

    Men/Women/Juniors- Tournament play
    Same as above. It doesn’t make any sense to practice with a ball that you wont be playing in the Tournament with.

    You see, I have yet to have heard any real reason why a lower level player, adult or junior should play with a 2 dot. I have only heard that “it is the way its been done, so why change”? Please tell me why its better to have shorter rallies, less workout, less fun, less racquet skill development, less of an ability to learn how to grind your way back into a point, which all in turn is slowly killing this great game? My guess is, that you can’t. Thats ok too. Its the reason we are having this important discussion.

    Lets at least start with a guideline that everyone can follow. And the next time you see a member bring a buddy to the courts thats never played before, make sure they have a bouncy ball!
    Best way to get them hooked, I promise!

  30. James January 18, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    I would be very happy to play with a single dot, if everyone decided to do this. I’d also like some clarification as to what level of play should be single dot, and which double dot. I personally think with a 19” tin and a warmish court, club players of a reasonable standard should be using double dots, and only using single dots on a cold court. I think that really the problem with many recreational players if that the 2 dot just isn’t suitably warm, so they should definitely be using a single dot.

    However, why train with a single dot if (almost) every tournament and match will be played with a 2 dot. When you step on court with a double dot, you’ll misjudge it and move even worse!

  31. Pete Johnson February 22, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    I never really even thought of this topic until recently when a converted racquetball player complained about the dead ball. He complained how beginners don’t have a chance to rally and learn the game because it was too dead. He bought some blue and red dots which we have tried ever since with new players. It does make a difference, especially with new players. My friend must have read this post.

    Is there such a thing as a non-marking ball? We are looking for a new squash club in the Palm Springs, CA area and want to make sure that we don’t mark the walls of a nice country club, giving them reason to kick us out.

  32. Richard Vitty February 24, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    Really enjoyed reading all the commentsand would make the following observations:
    1.Scoring system – I love PARS scoring, it is simple for juniors to understand amd therefore not a barrier to young kids. I think every county has a level where PARS to 11 kicks in, below that we use PARS to 15 with sudden death and this works really well.

    2. We have a lot of juniors in our club and like Paul / Malcolm we only use double dot balls for games ( Unsquashable improvers for single shot practice ).
    One thing that has not been mentioned is the safety aspect…with bouncier balls more dangerous situations might arise for juniors. I like it when our kids have to work to get to the ball!

    Our courts are well heated but during squad sessions I keep a ball warm in one hand in case I have to exchange a cooling ball.
    Rightly or wrongly , that’s what we do and it seems to work.

  33. Olly September 10, 2014 at 10:38 am

    I wholeheartedly agree with this article, especially regarding ball choice.
    There are too many club level players who can pull off weird kill shots purely because the ball is not warmed up correctly or is not replaced every 3 hours or so, which would be the case in a pro match. That definitely inspires bad technique and forces you to play the ‘always hit a winner’ mentality which I don’t think reflects the pro game, regardless of how many spots the ball has.
    The problem is that it is taken as a sleight to suggest using anything but 2 dots. I have encountered all sorts of weird responses when I suggest using a single dot in my club level games.
    Perhaps the only compromise is to ensure the ball is newer so at least if playing with a double dot it still has its ‘bouncey-ness’.
    I would be interested to see a study comparing a single dot warmth/airtime/bounce at ‘average’ club level game compared with double dot at ‘pro’ level.
    The only real solution is largely uneconomical in making the rule refer to a ball bouncing a certain height at a certain temperature, then dot choice becomes less of an issue.

Leave A Response