Squash - All you need to know

Squash Racket v Tennis Racket

 

Squash is the only racket sport where players share the same space.

 

Squash provides an excellent cardiovascular workout. Players can expend approximately 600 to 1,000 food calories (3,000 to 4,000 kJ) every hour playing squash. The sport also provides a good upper and lower body workout by exercising both the legs in running around the court and the arms and torso in swinging the racket.

 

According to the World Squash Federation, there are about 50,000 squash courts in the world, with 188 countries and territories having at least one court. England had the greatest number at 8,500.

There are an estimated 20 million squash players worldwide.

As of November 2019, there were players from eighteen countries in the top fifty of the men's world rankings, with Egypt dominating with fifteen players, six of whom were in the top ten, including ranks one through four. Similarly, the women's world rankings featured players from sixteen countries, again led by Egypt taking thirteen spots of the top fifty, whilst holding spots one through four in the world. 

Scotland has Greg Lobban currently ranked 21 in the world, Alan Clyne at 38, and Lisa Aitken at 40. (As of Jan 2021).

 

ASRC have rackets and balls available if you would like to try out the sport. We also have a merry band of coaches / players who would be willing to show you the basics. Contact the club if you wish to know more.

Manner of play:


Service:

The players spin a racket to decide who serves first. This player starts the first rally by electing to serve from either the left or right service box. For a legal serve, one of the server's feet must be in the service box, not touching any part of the service box lines, as the player strikes the ball. After being struck by the racket, the ball must strike the front wall above the service line and below the out line and land in the opposite back quarter court. The receiving player can choose to volley a serve after it has hit the front wall. If the server wins the point, the two players switch sides for the following point. If the server loses the point, the opponent then serves, and can serve from either box.

After the serve, the players take turns hitting the ball against the front wall, above the tin and below the out line. The ball may strike the side or back walls at any time, as long as it hits below the out line. It must not hit the floor after hitting the racket and before hitting the front wall. A ball landing on either the out line or the line along the top of the tin is considered to be out. After the ball hits the front wall, it is allowed to bounce once on the floor (and any number of times against the side or back walls) before a player must return it. Players may move anywhere around the court but accidental or deliberate obstruction of the other player's movements is forbidden and could result in a let or a stroke. Players typically return to the centre of the court after making a shot.

Strategy and tactics:

A key strategy in squash is known as "dominating the T" (the intersection of the red lines near the centre of the court, shaped like the letter "T", where the player is in the best position to retrieve the opponent's next shot). Skilled players will return a shot, and then move back toward the "T" before playing the next shot. From this position, the player can quickly access any part of the court to retrieve the opponent's next shot with a minimum of movement and possibly maximising the movement required by the opponent to answer the returned shot.

A common tactic is to hit the ball straight up the side walls to the back corners; this is the basic squash shot, referred to as a  straight drive, wall, or "length". After hitting this shot, the player will then move to the centre of the court near the "T" to be well placed to retrieve the opponent's return. Attacking with soft or "short" shots to the front corners (referred to as "drop shots") causes the opponent to cover more of the court and may result in an outright winner. Boasts or angle shots are deliberately struck off one of the side walls before the ball reaches the front. They are used for deception and again to cause the opponent to cover more of the court. Rear wall shots float to the front either straight or diagonally drawing the opponent to the front. Advantageous tactical shots are available in response to a weak return by the opponent if stretched, the majority of the court being free to the striker.

Rallies between experienced players may involve 30 or more shots and therefore a very high premium is placed on fitness, both aerobic and anaerobic. As players become more skilled and, in particular, better able to retrieve shots, points often become a war of attrition. At higher levels of the game, the fitter player has a major advantage.

The ability to change the direction of the ball at the last instant is also a tactic used to unbalance the opponent. Expert players can anticipate the opponent's shot a few tenths of a second before the average player, giving them a chance to react sooner.