Sports psychologists often talk about controlling the controllables which means looking after what you can affect (your preparation, attitude, performance etc.) and not worrying about things you canít control. Why bother? You are only getting yourself wound up and there is nothing you can do or could have done to change things.
Much of what the ref does lies outside of your control, and by following the good advice control the controllables we wonít get annoyed when we are on the wrong end of a shocker by the ref!
There are some things you can do both legally and within the spirit of the game, to help your chances of getting the decision you desire.
First and foremost, be nice to the ref! Not only is this just decent, polite and friendly behaviour, but also it means that you wonít have put his/her nose out of joint before youíve even stepped on court. Perhaps try to make time to say hello, shake his/her hand and have a chat pre-match.
Now you need to carry your respectful behaviour onto court and into the match and to your opponent. If the ref sees that you are a courteous, fair human being, youíve already increased your chance of him believing you when you try to explain to him/her that you hit your opponent on your downswing.
Youíve also now hopefully got the trust of your opponent, and if he picks up a double which the ref doesnít spot, guess what, your opponent is more likely to call his ball down. As a nice upstanding member of the squash community you can follow suit, and a clean, very enjoyable game of squash is on the cards.
Inevitably, there will be occasions where the ref and/or either player are unsure whether a ball is in/out or up/down. In this situation if you think your opponent has hit the ball out, and the ref hasnít called it, play on.
At the conclusion of the rally, if youíve lost it you can now appeal. The ref may now announce that he was not sure on the ball and will then ask let to be played. If you were to stop immediately you thought the ball was out, the same might happen (the ref giving a let) but if it does not you have lost the rally. By finishing the rally off you have a chance to win it first and the possible lifeline of a let. 2 chances to win the rally!
If you win the rally, there is no need to point out to the ref that heís missed the out ball earlier as this has no positive impact on your goal (to win the match) and in fact will only antagonise the ref and make the likelihood of any 50/50 decisions going your way in future, that bit smaller. You will also come across as a bit of an idiot and petulant to the rest of the spectators. Remember, if you need to appeal, do it politely, as this will serve your chance of success well.
Here are a few tips when asking for lets
If after all this, you do get a bad one, (and you will), how about using a bad decision or a piece of bad luck to motivate yourself to redouble your efforts. Donít take it out on the ref; take it out on your opponent. Iím sure youíve played someone, who had had a bad call, as a piece of bad luck and has then chased down everything and played out of their tree Ė what a great response!
Finally, at the end of the match give a sincere thank you to the ref. How many upset juniors do you see mumble and inaudible whisper with head down. The ref will probably be writing the scores at this stage, so be clear with any call of ďThanks Ref!Ē and look to make eye contact to back it up.
Remember that you couldnítí have the match without the ref and he/sheís probably almost certainly doing it for your benefit not his/hers. Treat them with respect, and they will do likewise.