What is Squash?
Squash is an exhilarating, high-paced, competitive racket and ball sport played by two opposing players, one versus one, within a court that is walled off on all four sides. The two players alternate hitting the ball with their racket at playable surfaces of the walls. Squash is also sometimes played with four total players with teams of two.
The goal of the game is to hit the ball at an angle and/or speed that causes the opposing player to fail at making a valid return of the ball. The player who has a valid hit on the ball last receives one point. This repeats until a player reaches 11 points, resulting in a win. There are different scoring systems, but this is the most common.
History of Squash
The sport of squash was invented in the early 1800s, making it one of the oldest sports still played today. It was invented in London, England, and actually originated from an earlier game by the name of “rackets,” which was played in London’s prisons. The origin of the name “squash” comes from the early days of the sport when its inventors decided to use a punctured ball that “squashed” when hitting the wall.
The game of squash is now played by over 20,000,000 people worldwide on many different levels ranging from amateur to professional. Places like Play Squash Academy are great for getting better at squash, no matter your skill level or age. Click here to find out more about registering for a Play Squash Academy intro lesson.
What are the rules of squash?
As previously mentioned, the overarching rule of squash is to make it impossible for your opponent to hit the ball back at a valid surface of the wall, but let’s break all of that down.
The point system that is most commonly used is the point-a-rally system, meaning that you gain one point every time your opponent fails to hit the ball back. The game is played until a player reaches 11 total points, however, if a game is tied at 10-10, a player must win by 2 points (11-10 wouldn’t count as a win, but 12-10 or 13-11 would).
How to Actually Play (Basic Overview)
To start a serve, the player must have at least one foot inside of the service box. The ball must hit the front wall in the area above the service line, but below the out of bounds line.
It must then land on the ground between the “T” line and the front wall on the opposite side of the court from which the ball was initially served.
After the serve, the players take turns hitting the ball against the front wall between the tin and out line. The ball must initially hit the front wall after every hit. The ball can hit the side and back walls, but only after the ball was first hit into the front wall.
A player wins a rally/earns a point when the opposing player:
- Fails to hit the ball before it bounces on the floor twice
- Hits the ball on/above the “out line”
- Hits the ball on/below the “tin,” which is the lowest line on the front wall
- Carries the ball when striking it
What are the benefits of squash?
The sport of squash is unique in that it has a very low barrier of entry for beginners, the rules are relatively simple, and it can vary from casual to competitive. So even if you aren’t looking to constantly improve and advance in competitive leagues, squash is still the perfect casual sport to have fun while getting an amazing workout in.
“Squash is a dynamic sport which can give you fun and exercise at the same time. You can burn up to 500 calories in 30 minutes.”
– Jay Naseem, Owner/Founder of Play Squash Academy
This sport gives players a full-body workout, even if you’re going at a casual speed. You’re constantly moving your feet, engaging your core muscles, as well as utilizing your arms to swing the racket. There aren’t many low-impact, low-barrier sports that offer such a calorie-burning exercise while playing.
Playing squash several times a week will also do wonders for your cardiovascular endurance, as well as overall strength. The continuous movement will increase the efficiency of your heart and lungs, and in a matter of a few weeks, you’ll notice that your body will generally need less and less oxygen to be proficient.
And as we all know, a healthy body also leads to a healthy mind. Consistent exercise, in general, is great, but there’s something about having fun with others while exercising that is so different. With squash, that’s exactly what you’ll get: a great workout in a supportive community.
The Equipment Used in Squash
Rackets used in squash are held by a player and are used to hit the ball against the wall. Squash rackets are shaped differently than tennis or badminton rackets, as they are generally significantly slimmer and longer than tennis rackets.
There are two types of squash rackets: the teardrop throat racket and the classic throat racket. The difference between the two is pretty easy to tell.
- The teardrop racket has an extended string area towards the bottom of the racket. This of course will provide a greater advantage for hitting, as you’ll have more surface area on the racket.
- The classic racket has less stringed surface area in total compared to the teardrop, but it is known to provide enhanced mobility and speed when swung. The classic racket is generally used by more experienced players.
An important aspect of choosing the right racket is what type of balance and weight distribution you want your racket to have. These each can provide major advantages while playing. The three types of rackets are: head-heavy, head-light, and balanced.
- A head-heavy racket has a larger string bed than the others, and it’s good for being able to hit the ball at a greater power. This is because most of the racket’s mass is located in the head.
- Head-light rackets have more mass towards the handle, which makes it easier for you to be able to control the racket and maneuver it more fluidly. However, you will most likely not be able to generate as much power with this type of racket.
- Lastly, a balanced racket is the best of both worlds, giving you slight advantages in each category. For a beginner this could be the best option as you most likely won’t be able to take full advantage of a head-heavy or head-light racket when you are just first starting out.
Another important rule in place is that players must clear the ball after they hit it, allowing their opponent to have a clear path at hitting the ball. This is because unlike other racket sports, both players are on the same side, so it’s easier to get in each other’s way. A squash court is also relatively small compared to other racket sports such as tennis or badminton, so players must give each other space to fairly hit the ball.
The incoming player whose turn it is to hit the ball must also make their best effort to make minimal interference with the opposing player as they aim to hit the ball.