Squash is a racquet and ball sport played by two players (or four players for doubles) in a four-walled court with a small, hollow rubber ball. The players alternate in striking the ball with their rackets onto the playable surfaces of the four walls of the court. The objective of the game is to hit the ball in such a way that the opponent is not able to play a valid return.
Players decide who will serve first by spinning one of their racquets.
At the beginning of each game and after each change of server, the server chooses from which service-box to serve. While retaining the serve, the server must serve from alternate serving boxes.
Once the ball is served, 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 and above the tin. The ball may only bounce once on the floor, and players may move anywhere around the court.
Each game is played to 11 points, except that if the score reaches 10-all, the game continues until one player leads by 2 points. A match is normally the best of 5 games, but may be the best of 3 games. When you win a rally you win a point and also serve to begin the next rally.
The game of squash was invented more than a century and a half ago in England, in Harrow school, an all-boys school located just outside of London. The pupils brought tennis and ‘fives’ together, hitting a ball with racquets in a partially-closed off area of the school that had two side walls and a front wall. Hitting the ball off of all three walls, this new game proved to offer more variety and more challenging, requiring players to be energetic and quick. The pupils started playing with a punctured racket ball, which “squashed” on impact with the wall. This is reportedly where the name for the sport came about.
Over the years, squash developed quite a bit with the modern rules and regulations formalised in 1923.
The World Squash Federation (WSF) is the governing body of Squash. It is officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Although, the sport is not a part of the Olympic Games.
Squash has been part of the World Transplant Games (WTG) since the very first Games in 1978.
“Forbes Magazine USA voted squash the world’s No. 1 sport. Squash is a challenging sport that combines speed, muscular strength, aerobic fitness, endurance, agility, increases concentration, improves hand-eye coordination, and develops incredible racquet skills.
However, none of this really mattered to me as a 10-year-old when I attended a summer camp near my home and was introduced to squash. I am now 52 years of age and have played squash on and off for most of my life. When I get on a squash court, I feel at ‘home’. I love the speed of the game, the power of the shot, the rush of the endorphins you get after playing, for me it is a way to completely distress. It’s a true mindfulness session before mindfulness was a thing.
The ability to hit that small ball on a squash court has introduced me to new friends and one of the things that led me to believe I could participate as a transplant athlete.”
Deirdre Faul – 2020 Transplant Team Ireland
Squash is a high stress sport so make sure you are fit and healthy enough to play. If unsure, check with your medical professional first.
To get started in squash, you will need to find other players. Check for squash clubs in your community. Use the internet to locate opportunities near you. Once you find a club, get started!
Join in any club coaching sessions offered and if none are available after a few months arrange a few one-on-one coaching sessions for yourself to better understand the game, how it is played and movement around the court.
The best way to become a better player is to practice and play. Basic level learning includes the grip, court movement, forehand, backhand, serve and return, boast, drop and lob.
Squash training can be carried out with 1, 2, 3 or more players on the court. Solo practice is perfect for practising shots – straight drives, short hits to targets, volleys to name a few, as well as movement (ghosting drills) around the court. Two person practice allows you more variety as you can incorporate any number of combinations of shots – straight drives, boast/drive, boast/drive/drop, boast/drive/drive, the list is endless.