Rules of Play

Abbreviated Rules  |  Full Rules

Like with all sports, the full rules are detailed and comprehensive, so to make it as easy as possible for you we have summarised the rules below.

If you do need to access the full rules, we’ve made them available to download in PDF format on this page.

To help you understand the rules you might want to read through some of the common terms below.

  • Serve- Starting a rally by hitting the ball (underarm or overarm) against the front wall
  • Service line- Line on the front wall in between the tin and out lines
  • Let- If your swing is impeded by your opponent, a let is called and neither player wins a point.
  • Out Line- Line running around the top of the court
  • Stroke- If your swing is prevented by your opponent, a stroke is called and you win the point.
  • Tin- Area below the lowest line on the front wall

Abbreviated Rules

The basic rules of squash are outlined below – if you would like the full rules they can be downloaded on this page too.

Squash equipment

Squash is game generally played with 2 players (max of 4 players) on a squash court. Dimensions should be 6.4m wide, 9.75m long and 4.57m high at the highest point. Both players need to have the correct standard squash racket, 1 ball and correct non marking footwear. (Eyewear only mandatory for juniors and doubles players).



The match is the best of 3 or 5 games.

Each game is played to 11 or 15 points. The player who scores 11 / 15 points first wins the game except that if the score reaches 10-all, or 14-all the game continues until one player leads by two points.

Either player may score points (PAR – point–a–rally). The server, on winning a rally, scores a point and retains the service; the receiver, on winning a rally, scores a point and becomes the server.

THE WARM-UP (Rule 3)

Before the start of a match, the two players are allowed up to 5 minutes (2½ minutes on each side) to “warm-up themselves and the ball” on the court.

When a ball has been changed during a match, or if the match has been resumed after some delay, the players warm-up the ball to playing condition.

The ball may be warmed up by either player during any interval in the match.


Play commences with a service. The player to serve first is decided by the spin of a racket. Thereafter, the server continues serving until losing a rally, when the opponent becomes the server and the server becomes “hand out”.

The player who wins the preceding game serves first in the next game.

At the beginning of each game and when the service changes from one player to the other, the server can serve from either service box. After winning a rally the server then continues serving from the alternate box.

To serve a player stands with at least part of one foot on the floor within the service box. For a service to be good, it is served directly onto the front wall above the service line and below the outline so that on its return, unless volleyed, it reaches the floor within the back quarter of the court opposite to the server’s box.


A return is good if the ball, before it has bounced twice on the floor, is returned correctly by the striker onto the front wall above the tin and below the outline, without first touching the floor. The ball may hit the side walls and/or the back wall before reaching the front wall.

A return is not good if it is “NOT UP” (ball struck after bouncing more than once on the floor, or not struck correctly, or a double hit); “DOWN” (the ball after being struck, hits the floor before the front wall or hits the tin) or “OUT” (the ball hits a wall on or above the outline).

RALLIES (Rule 8)

After a good service has been delivered the players hit the ball in turn until one fails to make a good return.

A rally consists of a service and a number of good returns. A player wins a rally if the opponent fails to make a good service or return of the ball or if, before the player has attempted to hit the ball, it touches the opponent (including racket or clothing) when the opponent is the non-striker. LETS (Rule 13)

A let is an undecided rally. The rally does not count and the server serves again from the same box.

In addition to lets allowed as indicated in the paragraphs above, lets can be allowed in other circumstances.

For example, a let may be allowed if the ball in play touches any article lying on the floor, or if the striker
refrains from hitting the ball owing to a reasonable fear of injuring the opponent.

A let must be allowed if the receiver is not ready and does not attempt to return the service, or if the ball breaks during play.


Play is expected to be continuous in each game once a player has started serving. There should be no delay between the end of one rally and the start of the next one.

In between all games an interval of 90 seconds is permitted.

Players are permitted to change items of clothing or equipment if necessary.


If an injury occurs which involves bleeding, the bleeding must be stopped before the player can continue. A player is allowed a reasonable time to attend to a bleeding wound.

If the bleeding was caused solely by the opponent’s action, the injured player wins the match.

If the bleeding recurs no further delay is allowed, except that the player can concede a game, using the 90 second period between games to attend to the wound and stop the bleeding. If unable to stop it, the player must concede the match.

For an injury not involving bleeding, it must be decided whether the injury was either caused by the opponent or self inflicted or contributed to by both players.

  • If caused by the opponent, the injured player wins the match if any recovery time is needed.
  • If self-inflicted, the injured player is allowed 3 minutes to recover and must then play on, or concede a game using the 90 second rest period between games to recover.
  • If contributed by both players, the injured player is allowed an hour to recover.

A player who is ill must play on or can take a rest period by conceding a game and using the 90 second
interval to recover. Cramps, feeling sick and breathlessness (including asthma) are considered illnesses. If a player vomits on court, the opponent wins the match.


Rule 15 provides guidelines for players. For example 15.6 states that deliberate distraction is not allowed. Players should read this rule in full.

Some of the 8 sub-sections deal with situations related to matches under the control of officials (Referee/Marker). The use of officials is not covered in this abbreviated version.


Offensive, disruptive or intimidating behaviour in squash is not acceptable.

Included in this category are: audible and visible obscenities, verbal and physical abuse, dissent, abuse of racket, court or ball, unnecessary physical contact, excessive racket swing, unfair warm-up, time-wasting, late back on court, deliberate or dangerous play or action and coaching (except between games).

Full Rules

Singles Rules (PDF – 187KB)
Double rules (PDF – 253KB)