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:
I hate Deadball Squash!
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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)
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