Monday, September 25, 2023

Join the One Dot Revolution in squash

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 For quite some time now I have been playing in my mind […]

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  1. 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.

    Joe McManus

  2. 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. 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.

  4. 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.


  5. 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,


  6. 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. 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. 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


  9. 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. 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.

  11. 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. 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. 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. 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).

    • 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,

  15. 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. If you haven’t already seen this, check it out! Very interesting!

    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.

  17. 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. 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.


    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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

    • 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.

  21. 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.

    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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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!!!!!

  25. 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!

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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!

  29. 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!

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. Hello,

    I was playing seriously a lot in Austria, then stopped for 20 years. When I came back for some recreational games I was shocked to see the game and the standard of play in such a sorry state.

    I had taken up the game in Lagos Nigeria in the 80s. Players with no real backhand technique could still take the ball comfortably from the back wall which lead to contests which were equal in intensity and duration to pro matches – Squash was the only racquet Sport where this was possible.

    So even the 1-dot ball is too slow actually, we should go back to the recipe of 1982 ideally. Or probably the ball was thicker then, harder to warm up but then kept the temperature much longer.

    So I am all for the 1-dot-revolution. Double-dot Play amongst amateurs is like playing tennis in a squash court – once the ball is past you, you’re in trouble. While the soul of the game of squash should be that you can’t really kill a ball, you have to out-manoever your opponent physically and mentally. This tradition had lasted hundreds of years and came to an abrupt end somewhere around yr. 2000.

  34. I’m all for single dot play, but if league and tournaments use the double dot then it won’t catch on. So the organizing bodies need to lead the way.

    Also, don’t fool yourself. The switch will drive away older players. It hurts their shooting style of play and their bodies aren’t up for longer rallies.

  35. Great discussion! I’ve advocated single spot for many years. The combination of double spot ball and par scoring is a perfect storm on the cold(er) courts of the UK North West Counties this year In the lower divisions a 3 shot slashathon is very common. I’m a fit 61 year old, the physical problems are NOT brought about by longer warmed up rallies it’s caused by the desperate lunging which wrecks knees. The powers must remember the vast majority of players are not pros playing on hot courts.

  36. I always carry “starter squash ball’s” – when I see new players I give them a faster ball, and tell them to put the double-yellow-pebble away until they can warm it up properly, and play with. I would have been playing from 16, not 26 if someone had done the same for me… still playing aged 51?

  37. I like using the 1 dot at one club I play at as the courts are cold, on a hot court the 2 dot is ok for an above average player.

    When training with 2 juniors I insisted on a 1 dot for 6 months so that it would reflect more what they would experience when the y enter adult top level squash.

    I teach new players with the orange ball as it is more fun

    I would prefer the 1 dot for all masters games, with PAR scoring 🙂

  38. We play recreational squash and use the ball according to the weather here in India.
    If its chilly out there we prefer single dot, else double.

    But there are times when single dots become irritating as the rally becomes very long and even the unpickable shots are returned easily.

    Hence we keep shifting between the balls as per the weather.

  39. Hi everyone
    I am absolutely delighted that this conversation is still going and that people are ‘teeing it forward’ on the Squash court and having more Fun – which is after all what our sport is about.

    I also think it would be valuable to experiment with 21 inch, 24 inch and even 30 inch tins for the very young and very old recreational players. The full range of shots would still be available but the rallies would be longer and the joint damage ( to older folks) less.

    If you care to give higher tins a try please let know about it and let us hear your thoughts.

    Best wishes and Happy Squashing!

    Richard Millman

  40. Quite correct – as a local leisure centre coach I insist on one dots except in the summer for my juniors. Having read this, I’m putting a notice up to say only league one seniors are allowed a double dot if the sun isn’t shining. PS That graphic of hang time has always seemed totally meaningless to me !

  41. As are many of his articles, Richard Millman’s article makes many points that are well taken. The point made by Richard about using various dots for Coaching reveals one of the reasons for his well respected abilities as a Coach.

    However, some of Richard’s points require qualification. Particularly since neither the ball nor the racket nor the shoes nor the players contributing to the game do so in isolation – they are all interdependent. For example how much would a fast Squash ball (the Hardball, HB) and the original heavy wooden Rackets balance the disadvantage of the slow (Dunlop SD -Double Dot) Squash ball and the current light high force/high power generating composite rackets? The ball and the racket are a combined entity in learning the game
    ​ and since beginners had adapted before there is no reason they could not do so now. Although any encouragement to do so is a positive point​!

    The colored dots represent higher bounce (see reasons in COR or Coefficient of Restitution in the link below). As Richard points out, the higher bounce/COR of colored balls makes it easier for beginners to become familiar with the game and so avoid loosing interest. However, the trick for the Coach is to know when and how to wean them off the colored ball so it does not become the debilitating handicap that e.g. the fast/high COR Hardball or Racketball is to HB Squash Players and Racketball Players transitioning to SB Squash. This decision which will vary with all kinds of personality and athletic traits of the Players being coached, is among those that reveal a good Coach !


    ​However, the balls used today (including the Dunlop DD) are known to have a much higher bounce/COR than the single dots (Dunlop SD) of the 1970s and 1980s and certainly far higher than the (Silvertown Squash Balls) of the 1940s and 1950s. So historically the bounce/COR of the Squash ball has not remained immobile and so should not be considered as such as well as in isolation.Again Players adapted before so there is no reaon to blieve that they could not adapt no. Although all encouragement to do so is a positive point!

    However, the point that Richard is making is only reasonable given that even the bounce/COR of the balls used by the Pros is much higher today than in the 1070s and 198os. So beginners certainly should not be confined to a more rigorous standard and excluded from the use of colored dots of bouncier/higher COR balls! Cameron Pilley drove the fastest ball (highest velocity of 177 mph measured with a radar gun) with the current Pro ball. It simply would not be physically possible for him to attain this velocity with the much lower bounce/COR of the Dunlop SD balls of the 1970s and 1980s. Those SD balls fell/slid straight down along the front wall when they were over driven e.g. by Hiddy Jahan (reference: multiple Coaches and Players). This is explained by the action-reaction (Newton’s Law) equation we learned in High School Physics. So the SD ball could never attain the velocity documented for the current Pro ball. However, and correspondingly the power delivered by Player’s from the 1970s and 1980s with their old wooden/fibreglass rackets was almost certainly much higher than that delivered by any in the game today and that all the current Rackets magnify that lower power several fold!

    ​However, ​Rich​a​rd’s point about HiHo versus PARs ​may not be simple and clear cut! Almost everybody who appreciates the distinguishing features of Squash as a Racket Sport will tell you that PARs has divested it of its hallmarks as a game. There are such things as momentum, flow, grind, earning an opening before making the finish and mental toughness that existed and were Hallmarks of Squash but not in any other Racket Sport. They have dissipated with PARs. They are very different in a game of constant attack and Hail Mary connections of Racket and Ball than they are when attack is dependent on being anchored in combination with retrieval and spatial orientation! Much like comparing a Hot Rod to Formula 1 racing! However, although Squash is flourishing as a Participant Sport it already has enough trouble as a Spectator Sport and would not survive without some movement in Scores such as that brought by PARs. At the very least, if PARs is retained, the points made by the legendary Player Champion/Coach Jonah Barrington on the 11 point game should be heeded and the 15 point game restored!

    Richard’s point that the transition from the Hardball (HD, US) to the Softball (SB, International) Game could have been better handled is again well taken. But it may be the generally contentious nature of some in the sport that made this unavoidable​ ​
    (see ​the ​link​ below​)​​. ​

    The transition from the HB game to the SB game in the US was unavoidable. Because of the above outlined physical constraints of all high bounce/COR balls, ​(​in its extreme the HB among other ​contributing ​
    examples​)​, the Men’s version of US Squash is still mired at mid levels of the PSA rankings. This despite the highest funding and possibly highest qualified coaching staff per capita! Mark Talbott is the only HB/SB ​conversion Player ​
    from the US who remains the notable exception. There are other factors contributing to this limitation! These include the predominant emphasis and development of the SB game as a Collegiate Sport with the divided responsibilities required of Players and Coaches. The SB version of the game, simply put, ​is ​the more nuanced​ game​
    , with a greater tapestry of power, pace, skill, racketwork, footwork, spatial sense and a myriad ​of ​other traits ​that make​
    ​the best Racket Athletes! It is borne out by about 100 years of HB/SB match results, at least starting with the US/British Open Champion Margot Lumb. Margot Lumb was Joint Holder of the British Open and US Open in 1935 and BO Champion from 1935-1939, and was ranked World #10 in Tennis! Because the difference in the levels of Racket Athleticism were so great between the highest levels of HB and SB Players the reasons for this difference were not as discernible in these matches! However at the retired SB Pro versus top HB Players these differences were vividly illustrated and so became evident! I personally saw this difference when it was driven home by Phil Yarrow (SB)/Hector Barragan (HB) and Raheil Qureshi (SB)/Jon Foster (HB) at the US National Championships in the 35+ (?) division in 1992 (Houston, TX) and in 1994 (Baltimore, MD). Both HB Players powered their way to a 2-0 lead while paying a huge price in conditioning to the holds, flicks, turns, boasts, lobs drops, etc.. of the 2 SB Players who went onto 3-2 wins! For US Squash to have remained Globally relevant it was time to change from HB to SB Squash! Ironically, the current Pro and DD balls are much more similar in their bounce/COR to the 70+ ball of HB Squash than they are to either the SD or Silvertown Balls of yester-decade!


    The game has changed – and not always for the better! Much of the​ ​current ​phase in the cyclical dominance in the sport maybe mis-attibuted. It may have nothing to do with a renaissance in Coaching, Training or Technology but simply reflects ​the ​altered physical equations of rackets, balls and scoring systems!

  42. Hi Richard,

    I thoroughly enjoyed your initiative and support it 100%. I was young in the 1980’s when I learnt my squash at amateur level and I found out that Squash is the (only) one Amateur sport, where rallies develop the same felt intensity as the Pro Game. In those times even the match time was the same as with Pros today: 1 h for one best-of-five match including warm up and short breaks between games. Actually I believe your case should be pushed even further: Not only one-dot, but back to the 1980 ball altogether. It was harder to warm up (even good Players took 2 minutes), but then it stayed warm. Why should amateurs change the ball just because the Pros got better? The amateurs aren’t training more, and the racket revolution simply gave many guys a chance to create more pressure on the backhand side – the move towards the new ball technology completely wiped that out. The Pro game is galactic nowadays thanks to all the changes there, and the Amateur game is dead – the ball is rarely played over the back wall. I think THAT is the reason we did not make it to the Olympics so far. We now need a Revolution of the Amateur game.

    Cheers & good luck

    • Hi Gottfried
      I think you make great points.
      I think it is an issue of perception.
      At the World Masters in Johannesburg the older age groups all used the double yellow dot ( which was the equivalent of a single yellow at altitude) and the younger age groups used the Green for ( equivalent to the double yellow at altitude).
      Everyone was happy – except when some of the older players played with a Green Dot by accident and the ball was too dead.
      If amateurs and older players started playing with the single yellow I am sure that we would see longer rallies and increased levels of fitness and an up-spiral in standards of play.
      We just need World Squash to mandate it and it would become de facto and – after the usual grumbling period – would become standard practice.

      Thanks for writing


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