Letter to the Editor
from Jeffrey Lo

September 15, 2020


I have been reading a lot of great discussion on the Squash Mad about growing the game. I think we all have had enough time away from squash to examine it from afar since the courts have been shut down. It is clear that the sport is in trouble. Perhaps it’s always been in trouble but it’s now becoming more obvious with the pandemic.

A few thoughts I had that weren’t raised in those articles. Apologies in advance for the length, and feel free to call me crazy.


This has not been raised as an issue/barrier to increased play. However, I think that we need to look at scoring and seriously consider other alternatives. I remember you’ve written about the scoring on DSR and Rob wrote a great article about the RAM scoring.

The more I think about it, the more I think that playing to 11 is the worst possible scoring. It’s both too long and not enough. It lacks drama and tension. As you’ve written, once you’re down 7-4, most games tend to just be over unless you really dig deep and expend energy to come back. What I mean by being too long is that you have to slog through those type of points to officially get the game over with before recharging for the next game. It’s also not enough, because if you’re down 7-4 for example when the game used the old American scoring to 15, you were never really out of it because your opponent still had to win 8 more points to win the match. If you got hot and could hit yourself back into the match, you could hang in there. The old hi-ho scoring to 9 was also full of drama because if you could win your returns and then hold serve, you could make comebacks. Every point was important in both scoring systems. It doesn’t feel as if every point really is important in 11.

I think the only people who enjoy 11 are the tournament directors because 11 point scoring seems to produce unusually fast matches at tournaments and they can keep the tournament on schedule. It rarely seems to produce a match that goes for an hour at the amateur level. It doesn’t feel like you get your money’s worth.

I will try to give the DSR proposed scoring a try the next time I get on the court. It seems like it would produce shorter yet more intense higher-stake points and games.

Participation in US singles Nationals

This has been abysmal for years. A lot of draws are down to single digits with round robins. There are also entire draws for the women where there are not even enough players to have a round robin.

I have seen a similar thing too with the Skill Levels.

I remember that in the late 1990s (when I learned how to play squash) to the early 2000s, it didn’t seem like it was this bad. We would have at least a 5-10 members from my club in Oklahoma travel to Nationals/Skill Levels and it was packed.

Now with these draws, it doesn’t seem like it means anything to win a “National” title.

What happened here? This is clearly not good for the game long term and isn’t sustainable. What’s the point of even holding the tournament? I used to think that it was people didn’t want to travel and pay to play in a tournament and lose to a teaching pro or former world ranked player in the first round. But by that logic, the Skill Levels should have more people, and they don’t.

The ball itself.

I wonder if the squash ball itself is a barrier to entry to learning. I have watched lessons where the pro is trying to teach the beginner with the double yellow dot ball and it’s painful to watch. It doesn’t bounce high enough and it’s small, so difficult to make contact with. It’s clearly frustrating for the person taking the lesson. Lower rated players also play with the same ball and have matches where they can barely rally.

I don’t think beginners and lower rated players should be using the double yellow dot ball. When I was learning, I remember learning with a really bouncy large pink ball. It was fun to develop proper technique and confidence before advancing to the “real” ball.

Tennis has a similar problem. People are not going to play racquet sports if it’s difficult to rally. It’s no fun. I think changing to the color coded progression of balls has helped. I also think both Spec Tennis and POP tennis to help bridge players to tennis.

Perhaps squash needs more staged use of balls. Even events analogous to this fun event for tennis could drum up interest.


I definitely appreciate perspective and feedback.


Jeff Lo