If you are new to squash here is some information to assist you.

Membership tag

Congratulations on getting yourself a pay-as-you-go (‘casual’) or full membership.  You or your caregivers if you are a junior will be given a key tag from the club manager.  Your tag is used to gain entry to the building and to activate the court lights.  There is a controller for the lights outside each court and full operating instructions are next to it.  Key things to remember are that:

  • The lights are programmed not to allow visitors or practice sessions during peak hours
  • A session between a member and a visitor is recorded against the member (so remember to ensure a visitor’s fee is paid!)
  • A fee for a visitor playing a casual member will be deducted from the credit on the casual member’s key tag (i.e. two court fees will be deducted for the session)
  • Booking in advance is always recommended (as is cancelling a booking if it is not going ahead)

Starting and scoring games

There’s nothing to stop you from scoring games how you like, but if you’re going to play new people from time to time, you may as well adopt the common squash scoring system.  Luckily it’s very straightforward.  It’s referred to as ‘point a rally’ and games are usually ‘best of five’.  Bear with us! 

Unless you’re feeling generous and offer your opponent the chance to start serving, one of you should first stand a racquet up, spin it by its handle and the opponent make a call as to how a logo on the end of the handle will present itself after the racquet has clattered to the ground.  If the call is correct, the caller will generally choose to serve and if the call is incorrect the spinner will generally choose to serve.

The server will choose the serving box (left or right) from which to start serving.  So long as the server wins the rallies, the server must switch serving boxes for each rally.  Once the server loses the point, the opponent serves the next rally (‘handout’ is called in competition games) and chooses the serving box to start from, but again must rotate the serving box every time until he or she loses the rally.

Point a rally simply means that a point is awarded to whoever wins the rally.  The player doesn’t have to have served the rally to score a point if the rally is won.

By convention the server’s score is called first.  The first call in the match will be ‘1-0’ (one-love) if the server wins or ‘handout one-love’ if the receiver wins. 

The first player to 15 wins, but if the scores get to 14-14 (called as ‘fourteen all’) the winner is the first to win by two points, so in this situation the first winning score possible would be 16-14.  (Tennis players, this is exactly the same as winning from deuce).  There is no tie break in squash so in theory the game could go on indefinitely.

Players typically have a wee breather and some rehydration between games; a water fountain is provided in the corridor.

In squash, unlike tennis, lines are OUT.  Ask any squash member around to explain the significance of the various lines if you don’t know.  They’ll be happy to advise. 

An important rule to be aware of is that if playing your preferred shot would entail you hitting your opponent with your body, your racquet or the ball, you should pull out of the shot, shout ‘let’ and replay the point.  In competitive situations you would often be given the point itself (called a ‘stroke’; usually where your opponent should not have got in your way) but that’s getting pretty advanced and is best picked up by watching a referreed game in action from the gallery. 

To win a competition match, a player needs to win 3 games.  Therefore a person can either win 3 games to nil, 3 games to 1 game or 3 games to 2 games.  Traditionally the winner then buys the first drink in the bar afterwards!

A shower afterwards is optional but there is always a good supply of hot water so help yourself.

Keeping track of club activities

As a member, if you have an email address you’ll be sent the club newsletter from time to time.  The squash captain may also email you information about particular squash activities.  Also look out for the squash notice boards.  There is one at the entrance to the squash corridor downstairs and a larger one upstairs at the top of the stairs.  Another way to keep in touch is to sign up to the club Facebook group and club tweets, both accessible through the contact us page

Squash Grading List

Squash is unique compared to other sports as Squash New Zealand operates a 'grading system' for players.  This system has recently been adopted by Tennis New Zealand for its players as well.

Depending on your level of ability you will be initially be allocated a grade which indicates this.  For adults (over 19) the grading system starts at F grade and goes up to A1 which is the highest grade possible (usually these are the best players in the country.)  For junior players (under 19) the grading list starts at J5 and goes up to J1 before integrating into the adult grades from F upwards.

A certain range of 'points' gained through play is allocated to each grade and the number of points you win or lose in competitive games depends on the difference in points at the start of the match between you and your opponent.  The greater the points difference, the greater the points at stake.

Being graded allows you to play in competitive tournaments and events like open club tournaments, Wellington Interclub and District Superchamps.  You increase your points, and subsequently your grade, by beating your opponents in these competitions, while conversely, if you are beaten you will lose points (but not as many as you stand to gain by winning, so players rise quicker on winning streaks than they descend if on losing streaks).  Squash New Zealand publishes an updated grading list on the 1st of the month available to downloads here.  However, it is updated in real time (or as fast as interclub captains and tournament controllers can enter results) and is fully searchable for your own and any other graded player’s history.  Any graded player has access to the searchable grading list by logging on here.

To go onto the grading list you should indicate your wish to do so when you complete your membership form on joining or email the Club Statistician at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


At Island Bay, we run squash leagues throughout the year which are essentially mini-ladders with the incentive of (small!) prizes for the winner of each league.   Any club member can enter. The leagues work by every player being placed in a division of players of similar availability (typically about 5-7 players) and having 2 months to play as many other players in the same league as possible.  Players play when it suits them and are responsible for contacting opponents and making their own court bookings.  Matches are scored in the usual way (best of five) and the result is reported to the league coordinator or written on the upstairs squash notice board.  Even just turning up scores a point! 

Club Champs

Towards the end of each season (September/October), the Club runs an internal tournament to determine the male and female club champion.  If there are lots of entries the championships are divided into divisions to cater for players of different grades.  Even if you don’t tend to play interclub or tournaments, playing in the club champs is a great way to round off the competitive squash season in a light-hearted way.  It’s your opportunity to get your hands on some coveted club silverware and your name on the prestigious honours board.


Interclub is a squash competition between squash clubs in the same Squash New Zealand district, in our case, the Wellington district.  Juniors play on Sunday mornings, men on Tuesday evenings starting at 7pm and women and masters on Wednesday evenings starting at 7pm. Each interclub match consists of four home v away matches (i.e. only 4 players of each team are rostered to play).  The team captain will organise a playing roster at the start of the season unless your team only comprises 4 players in which case you’ll be playing every week! 

The season length depends on the number of teams in your division.  For a division of 7 teams, you will play 6 home games and 6 away games.  Some seasons Squash Wellington will call for a final to be played between the top two teams of each division in addition. The squash captain will appoint (after discussion!) a captain for each interclub team.  Besides organising the roster, the captain has a few administrative duties to get home matches underway; these will be explained by the squash captain. The winner on the night is the team that has won the most matches; if the result is 2-2, the winner is the team that won the most games; if an equal number of games are won, the winner of the team is the team that won most points.  If, as can happen, the teams have won the same number of points, squash isn’t the winner but the winner of a coin toss. If you play interclub, you will be expected to referee/score a match with your opponent.

Most importantly, teams eat supper (provided by the home team) and have a drink (the first bought by each winner) after the matches have finished.  Every home team player is expected to bring a plate of something that is preferably homemade.  If you host a team that has left before tea time to travel a long way, such as from Waikanae or the Wairarapa, it is good hospitality to make a special effort. If you team wins, the captain will enter the results on line.  You can check out how other teams in your division got on by viewing the results on the interclub section of the Squash New Zealand iSquash site.  The draw and team members for each division are also accessible there.

You can wear any apparel you like to play interclub for Island Bay, but you are welcome to sport a stylish club t-shirt (available in a variety of styles, colours and sizes available to order here


Most squash clubs in New Zealand, including Island Bay, run squash tournaments.  Most tournaments cater for players of all standards, although some rule out some of the higher grades.  Typically each club runs an ‘Open’ tournament (which caters for players of all grades) and a ‘B and Below’ which caters for players of all grades except A grade.  Island Bay is no different, except it also runs an annual doubles tournament, an annual Masters’ tournament and sometimes a junior tournament too. To find out when and where tournaments are scheduled, click to see Squash New Zealand’s event schedule.  Members will also be notified of Island Bay tournaments through the club newsletter, email, the notice boards and our Squash Tournaments page.

Players are usually charged an entry fee, but there are excellent odds of winning the fee back as prize money is almost always on offer!  The entry fee often covers afternoon tea or supper on the final day which is a great opportunity to socialise with opponents (or continue socialising!).  Players are placed in a division of players of a similar standard and usually play 3 matches if placed in a division of 4 or 8 players or 3 or 4 matches if placed in a division of 16 matches. The first match is usually played on a Thursday or Friday night, the second match on a Friday night or Saturday morning, the third match some time on Saturday and the fourth match on the Saturday or occasionally the Sunday.  Most tournaments wrap up on Saturdays and you would generally need to keep the whole day free in case you’re scheduled to play twice.  You will always be told when your first match is, but the day and time of your second match will always depend on whether you won or lost.  Make sure you tell the tournament controller (‘TC’) in advance if there are scheduling difficulties.  They will do what they can to accommodate you if you give plenty of notice.

To play a tournament, you don’t need to be any good at squash (playing them is a great way to get good) but you do need to be a full member of the club, be registered on Squash New Zealand’s ‘grading list’ and know how to call and record the score and referee, as you and your opponent will referee the match following your own.  Don’t worry if the following match involves players far above your grading; the TC will be more than happy to get you to referee a different match.  As all tournaments games are counted for grading purposes, they are a great way to win a heap of grading points in a very short space of time.  The reverse isn’t true; fewer points are at stake in losing than are available when winning.

To learn how to score and referee, come to Club Night and ask any experienced member and attend a refereeing session that Squash Wellington runs at the club most seasons.  Look out for notice of this refereeing session.