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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Squash ball boxes should carry a warning … because the double dot is killing the game

Andy Whipphttp://www.awsomesports.co.uk
Ex-professional player, top level coach for 17 years and owner of AWsome Sports squash clothing. Andy was the regular on-court coach to world champion and world No.1 Laura Massaro, day-to day coach to world No.4 Stewart Boswell and Commonwealth bronze medallist Nafiizwan Adnan.

More from the author

‘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.

Related articles:

Nick Taylor on choosing the right ball

Paul Selby backs the double dot but demands extra quality

Richard Millman: Join the One Dot Revolution

AWsome Sports FREE squash consultancy offer

AWsome Sports creator Andy Whipp is now offering squash consultancy / sports club consultancy. Given his many years’ experience of all things squash at every level of the sport, and after countless people asking for his advice on a range of squash and club matters, he has decided to use his expertise to offer a FREE squash consultancy service.
AWsome Sports are happy to help with league and club committee ideas and decisions, as well as squash advice to parents and professionals.
So if you need some general advice, inspiration, fresh ideas, or a mediator for your club or league committee debates – please contact Andy at [email protected] for more information.

www.awsomesports.co.uk  

Picture courtesy of Nick Taylor, World Squash Day and Squash Mad archive  

 

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15 Comments

  1. I had no idea there was a problem with balls in the game. Club players have been using double yellows for years with no problems. Need more warming up on cold days etc. Club players are not elite players so I am not sure where that comes from. The points about beginners old and young have always been true. They need one of the other colours with more bounce. Any coach who is giving double yellows to beginners is having a bad day basically. Certainly I have never seen one of our club coaches using the wrong ball for the type of squash student they are helping. The colour system has been around for donkeys so there is no excuse really.

  2. 100% in agreement with everything in this article. I took advice from Nick Taylor a few years ago, when I was trying to find an answer for players who were struggling with different levels of coordination and hand-eye contact. The effect of using a red dot for instance, was transformational for a beginner – a young lad on the autistic spectrum – and his confidence grew to such an extent that he went from being disinterested to having an appetite for more and more.

  3. Thanks for your article. Totally agree.

    I like the Decathlon green ball for beginners – and myself when it’s cooler on court or when I am mainly doing soft hitting. It is the right size and bounces like the Dunlop double dot but more lively.

  4. This is exactly right. The issue is bounce height for older players. Asking someone over, even 35, to repeatedly perform an aggressive low lunge and then pop out of it is a big ask.

    Rallies eventually end up with a drop, so for a less mobile player, this means winner, tin or counter drop that cannot be returned due to lack of bounce. It makes the game far too limiting.

    There is some ego at play here, for former A/B players who have lost a step and can’t admit that they need to switch balls.

    Maybe:
    Double Yellow: Pro ball available for pro events
    Single dot: advanced ball for A/B grade
    Progressive ball: C/D

    C/D players could “play up” and use the single dot if desired.

    Perhaps a rebrand of the correct ball to create some momentum.

    Ads:
    Are you using the right ball?
    The new Dunlop red ball. Enjoy longer and more interesting rallies. Improve your fitness. Play smart, play right! Play red.

  5. I would add that squash balls should also be marketed by age group. I see folks 60 years and older playing with double dots, and that is bad both for their game and their knees! I think non-pro tournaments should switch to the single dot over age 50, and perhaps the no-dot over age 65. That will keep people in the game and lessen the need for artificial knee replacements!

  6. 100%. Most club players are nowhere near the skill level to utilize the Double yellow for a ‘proper’ game of squash. I was met with major resistance in my own club when I started recommending to all our players (a small group have you) to use a single dot or even blue dot. Everyone complained that it was too bouncy, however, when switched back to double yellow – they would be lucky to have a rally with more than 4 hits.

  7. I agree 1000%. I’m former A and 40 year player as well as league administrator and have watched the adult game slowly dwindle. We need the pros, associations, equipment companies, club managers promote alternatives. We tried to get our leagues to shift to the single dot and got the hardest pushback from the lowest skill levels. It’s all perception. Junior squash is what is keeping the squash industry going in the USA, too bad they all quit after college. My solution is Squash57 which is what I’ve been playing and what is growing well in the UK and now other countries. With the help of World Squash, Squash57 has been growing in Canada, Australia, South Africa and other countries based on “Easy to Learn and Lifetime Sport”. Check out our Facebook page at http://www.squash57usa.com to follow activity in the USA.

  8. Absolutely agree most club players would have better games with a single dot but when I suggest it they seem to feel it is an insult. I would use Karakal bigball for beginners then progress to red dot white dot yellow dot. More players more play more squash more fun

  9. Another great article regarding the ball… education is the most important topic here…I have a player in the US who I introduced to squash age 6 and he is the number 1 player in the US for his age! He has used blue, red, single and double throughout his 3 years playing and he has great technique which allows great ball control…it works!!!

  10. One thing I don’t completely agree with you about is calling the double yellow dot “FOR ELITES ONLY”. In many ways we already do that because the Dunlop box carries the word “pro”, which is saying the same thing as “elites”. This naming actually causes the wrong people (club players) to aspire to using the ball. Who doesn’t want to be considered a pro, right?

    As you mention you your article, we have this same discussion every year but what we lack is ACTION. You rightly call on the governing bodies to actively promote the single yellow dot and I support that, but we also need to do our part too.

    Forgive the blatant self-promotion, but I created posters for people to put up on club notice boards to draw attention to the issue. I did this because I truly believe that most people who do play with a double yellow don’t even know that they are doing anything wrong. I also created some self-tests for people to use to give them something practical to see. The tests are not perfect, but they are a start.

    The last point I want to make is how we have “named” the balls. I believe that the naming has caused a lot of issues for new players. Imagine you are new to a game and you have the choice between a “fast” ball” or a “super slow” ball? Which are you going to choose? The super slow one, right. Who wants to play with a fast ball when you first start.
    I know you mention it in your article, but I am not convinced that “hang time” is the right way to promote it either. We could rename them to “Beginners” (blue), “Improvers” (red), “Club” (yellow) and “Experienced” (double yellow). It might not stop everybody from using the wrong ball, but it may help.

    Another option is to lobby the WSF to introduce different coloured balls – not just dots. That might help with immediate perception of standard.

    Anyway, as always, thanks for another great read.

  11. 100% agree. The Big manufacturers need to get on board here. The formula is so simple: Better Ball Marketing = More people playing (+ staying in squash) = More money for the squash Manufacturers….THEN REPEAT FORMULA

  12. Generally supported but with a modification. To appreciate ‘bounce’ and ‘sponginess’ of the Squash ball you have to have a general feel for the physical property of Coefficient of Restitution (COR). In colloquial terms it is the height from which a ball was dropped and to which it bounces back. This bounce changes with temperature which is affected by weather, climate and geographical locations. Suggestion is to vary the balls of choice with these changes. Additionally the choice of ball could be computed into the ratings of a player – all the way from beginner to PSA Pro.

    https://www.scienceabc.com/pure-sciences/coefficient-of-restitution-definition-explanation-and-formula.html

    https://www.bartleby.com/essay/The-Effect-Of-Temperature-On-A-Squash-P3S6UETZA4FP >’Since it is understood that a warmer ball will bounce higher than a cooler one, then it can be concluded that temperature affects the coefficient of restitution. This is because the gas molecules inside the ball expand as temperature increases, causing an increase in the energy of the molecules bouncing faster inside the ball (Sheehan, 2015).’

    https://sites.google.com/site/fereznsquashdocs/ > (1e) Fear Factor: Missing Brain Enzyme (Monoamine Oxidase) Leads to Abnormal … certainly had different ‘degrees of sponginess’ i.e. (Cofficient of Restitution). Ferez Nallaseth March 12, 2018 At 6:12 pm … power at much lower weights), much ‘faster’ (higher coefficient of restitution, COR) balls …

  13. Unmentioned is the variation among courts. In my town there are two courts: a panel over wood frame (I think) and a plaster over concrete. I haven’t measured but I think the latter seems ~20% faster. Drives that would die in the back on the first court produce a healthy rebound off the back wall on the second. I think that playing with a blue dot ball on the panel court is roughly the same as playing with a double yellow dot on the plaster court. Most of us (and we are mostly older players (40-65) prefer the plaster court (with pro ball) probably because there is a much greater chance of getting to either a drop or drive that gets past one (via the back wall rebound). Watching Masters play at the national/international level it is clear that ball striking exceeds movement by an ever larger margin with each increment of age group and the rallies get correspondingly shorter. The two approaches to compensate are a graded series of balls or a graded series of tin heights.

  14. I live in Nigeria, the climatic conditions in the northern part of the country in most cases is to the extreme. When the weather is very hot, if you used a double yellow dot ball, it bounces as if you are using a blue dot ball. Double yellow dot gives us the normal bounce. So beginners and pros all prefare to use the double yellow dot ball because it gives them that bounce they perceive is the best.

  15. What a great article
    I’m what I would call a very average player
    Started playing with double yellow as I didnt know any better
    Was about 30 when I started so still quickish around the court, reasonaby fit and as rackets improved I managed
    Courts were good, warm so got a reasonable workout.
    Then I moved, courts were cold. In winter very very cold, no heating.
    I was lucky enough to know about different balls so as I got older started playing with different balls, and was lucky enough to play with like minded people.I also bring heated gel packs with me, this allows us to get the ball up and running quicker.
    I’ve watched people try to warm a double yellow on a cold court, it’s almost painful.
    I’ve watched beginners with very low levels of skill and fitness use double yellow
    Whenever chance arose I would assist, I always carry spare single yellow, blue and red dot balls. I give them away free.
    I made posters and put them up explain what different coloured balls were and why they should be used.
    It’s worth it to see the change, and mostly I get smiles and thank yous.
    Sometimes though the odd swear word, this is just ego kicking in.

    I’ve taught quite a few people to play squash, or got them started anyway, young, old, both sexes and varying abilities. Some who had been playing for years and years.
    Dropping down a ball saw massive improvements in their skills improving, fitness and I’d like to think enjoyment.
    1 young girl still at uni started playing, I had the odd game and gave basic instruction when she was home from uni. She paid a club coach at uni to hopefully improve. Everybody used double yellow, even the beginners??????
    He gave no advice about different balls, what different rackets can bring to your game, appropriate footwear, warm up, warm down?????

    I’m now 58, hip replacement, knee replacement, 8 months ago. We play with red dot.
    We now also play varying games with rules that allow longer rallies.
    For me squash has always been about enoyment first, fitness second, improving along the way.
    My local courts have now closed.
    My squash partner and I now drive 20 miles to play I’m sure this is happening a lot.

    These days most modern sports change and evolve to interest more people or just keep the people thay have.

    I have my own mind, know my body, know what I want from my game, so play red dot.

    The Internet is a wonderful source of knowledge and can help a lot if you are open to different ways of thinking.

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