A little more than a year ago, US Squash introduced high level plans for an officiating initiative to develop better educated, more highly trained, confident players and referees. The components of the program under consideration were introductory referee clinics taught in clubs nationally, enhanced online referee training and educational resources, and a mentoring program.
A task force has worked on plans since that time to develop the details of the program. During the process, the Player and Parent, Coach and Attendee Codes of Conduct were revised, and are now being enforced rigorously at US Squash events. In addition, beginning this January, US Squash embarked on a reinvigorated campaign to increase compliance with its Protective Eyewear Policy.
The officiating program will soon offer a multi-pronged approach towards supporting, training and educating players, parents, coaches and officials.
The five major components of the program include online support, event support, structure enhancements, community outreach, and tools.
Online support, components of which will be rolled out this month will include searchable rules, decision trees, basic rule clarifications, “tough call” scenarios, an officiating blog by US Squash referees, an “Ask the Expert” forum, and the ability to upload videos for expert analysis.
Event support has increased this season already, and will continue to increase overtime as the structural enhancements take place. Event support will include the addition of mentors who will monitor court activity at tournaments, as well as the level of sportsmanship and competency of officials.
More referees to officiate and serve mentors will be available as structural enhancements are made to the referee certification levels and unnecessary barriers to higher levels of certification are removed.
Juniors will be required to re-certify at the Club Level each year. Match officials will be trained to oversee team competition at the high school and collegiate level. To scale up the number of officials available and to increase the knowledge of all players, extensive community outreach will begin in the fall and will include clinics free to all US Squash members, training and educating mentors/monitors, match officials, parents, and officiating instructors themselves.
Later this spring, a score keeping and reporting mobile application used to referee matches and submit results for all accredited (sanctioned) tournaments will be available free to members. The application will also have features including access to rules and other event related features such as automated registration using geo-location.
US Squash fully acknowledges and welcomes the responsibility to provide the opportunities and tools for the community to become better educated and prepared to compete fairly by the rules and to serve effectively as referees. The organization believes learning how to officiate and putting this knowledge to use is an important part of being a complete player, one who plays by the rules and holds him or herself accountable.
Ultimately, each player has the responsibility to know the rules and apply them fairly.