‘It’s like playing tennis with a rock’
By ANDY WHIPP – Squash Mad Columnist
The slavish choice of using a double dot ball for every standard of play has gone on for far too long.
This is a topic which has been written about several times here on Squash Mad in the last decade, with readers weighing in with a flurry of condemnatory comments. But the double dot ball is really beginning to annoy people now!
Coaches like myself, Nick Taylor and Paul Selby get frustrated seeing the majority of players using the wrong ball – therefore struggling to have decent rallies, which in turn puts them off playing squash again.
New people come to squash because they constantly hear that it’s the best and most enjoyable workout they can get, yet when they actually step on court with their mate, they can’t get a proper workout because the ball doesn’t bounce!
Imagine playing tennis with a rock… I don’t think people would come back to try a second time!
Juniors will certainly improve considerably quicker if they use an appropriate ball.
The major problem is that people don’t know there’s an option. And this isn’t just people new to squash, but also people who have been playing for years. The single dot receives (more-or-less) no advertising so people don’t even know it’s available to buy.
I agree with Paul Selby that changing the old system of yellow dot, white dot, red dot and blue dot balls was a terrible idea. They worked well, and people understood the system. I started off with red and white dot balls.
Even now, as a coach, I still don’t know the progression ball system. Nick Taylor explains that the larger, progression balls are too heavy for the juniors. The old system of everyone using the same sized ball but with different speeds was much more realistic and appropriate.
I actually think “different speeds” is the wrong phrase. It can be off-putting. Different levels of bounce and “hang time” is a better way to describe the different coloured dotted balls. But this is what we have, and while it would be good to change this back to the old system, the initial focus should be to get the single dot out there to the masses.
OK, so we’re in a situation now where I believe 90 per cent of people who play squash in the UK actually should be using a single dot ball. Most players don’t even know the single dot exists. This single dot ball needs to be marketed as the main ball for squash.
England Squash, Squash Wales, Scottish Squash, Irish Squash, with every county on board as well, need to contact all clubs and shops selling squash balls (online and high street) and have them almost exclusively advertise the single dot. The double dot ball would have to be specifically requested. If no request is given, the single dot ball would be the default ball to be handed out.
I also believe to help this situation, the double dot ball boxes should carry a warning — similar to cigarette packets. The double dot squash ball won’t kill you like cigarettes can, but they are possibly killing the sport. If the box carried an obvious warning, for example: “FOR ELITE PLAYERS ONLY’ I’m sure we can quickly increase enjoyment for the majority of squash players.
I don’t feel I need to say much more, but the ideas above I feel are decent ones and also plausible. Ideas which could come into play pretty quickly.
Obviously, ball manufacturers need to be contacted and directed, so I’m guessing the PSA and WSF would also need to be on board to play their role. I don’t know why any governing body wouldn’t be on-board.
The double dot most definitely has its place and needs to be readily available, but our sales pitch needs to be refocussed… and refocussed quickly.
I’d love to hear your opinions. Please comment below.
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Picture courtesy of Nick Taylor, World Squash Day and Squash Mad archive