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Squash Racquet

Updated on August 17, 2010

Squash is a game in which a small hard hollow rubber ball is hit against a concrete wall with a racket. The game is usually played indoors by two contestants (singles) or by two teams of two players each (doubles). It originated in about 1850 at the Harrow school in England. It was introduced in the United States in the late 19th century. A version of the game called squash tennis is also played. Squash tennis uses an inflated ball similar to a lawn tennis ball.

Photo by Matthew Green
Photo by Matthew Green

Squash Court

Court dimensions vary slightly from country to country. The American squash racquets court for singles games is 18Vz feet (5.6 meters) wide and 32 feet (9.7 meters) long. The front wall is 16 feet (4.9 meters) high, the back wall QVz feet (2 meters) high, and the side walls 16 feet (4.9 meters) from the front wall to the service line and 12 feet (3.7 meters) from there to the back wall. The service line, marked on the court floor, is 18 feet (5.5 meters) from the front wall. The floor behind the service line is divided into two service courts, with two service boxes at the wall ends of the service line. A strip of resonant metal, called the telltale, covers the front wall to 17 inches (43 cm) above the floor; that area is out-of-bounds for any shot. A cut, or front-service, line crosses the front wall feet (2 meters) from the floor; the area below it is out-of-bounds for serves.

The court for doubles games is larger than that for singles. The doubles court is 45 feet (13.7 meters) long and 25 feet (7.6 meters) wide, with walls ranging from 20 feet (6.1 meters) to 7 feet (2.15 meters) high. The service line is at 30 feet (9.15 meters). The cut line is at 8 feet, 2 inches (2.5 meters).

Ball and Racket

The U.S. ball is a hollow black rubber sphere about 1.6 inches (4 cm) in diameter, weighing 0.62 to 0.79 ounces (19.3-24.6 grams). The racket has a roundish head, no more than 9 inches (22.9 cm) in diameter, strung with nylon or catgut. The racket can not be more than 27 inches (68 cm) long.

Game

In a singles competition the players spin a racket to determine who has first serve. The winner then chooses his service area and, with one foot in the service box, serves the ball. To qualify as a completed service, the ball must hit the front wall above the service line and then rebound into the receiver's service area. The server is allowed two tries, and if the second serve is not successful, service passes to the opponent.

If the service is successful, a rally may begin, during which the two players alternately try to return the ball successfully. First the receiver tries to hit the ball, before it has bounced twice on the floor, so that it strikes the front wall above the telltale. Then the server does the same. The ball may be volleyed, that is, returned before it hits the floor, or it may be returned after having bounced. It may carom, or rebound, off the side or back walls after striking the front wall. Except during the service, it may bounce anywhere on the court floor. A rally continues until a player fails to return the ball, lets it bounce on the floor more than once, or hits it against the telltale or outside the court.

When the receiver fails to return a ball successfully, the server scores a point. In North America, the receiver also scores points if the server is unsuccessful or fails to make a good return. In North America, a player must usually win 15 points to win a game and two games out of three to win a match.

A doubles competition follows the same general rules as singles, except for the serve. Both players on a team serve before service passes to the opposing team. Once the order of service has been established, it may not be changed during the game.

Techniques

Squash racquets is a very fast game because there can be little time between shots and because the ball has a rather dead bounce. Because the object of the game is to keep the other player from returning the ball, the skillful player perfects various shots that make it difficult for the ball to be reached in time by the opponent. Among these are the drop shot, which falls dead immediately after hitting the front wall, and the corner shot.

The strokes used in squash racquets are similar to those used in lawn tennis. They include the forehand, backhand, volley, and half volley.

The governing body in the United States is the U.S. Squash Racquets Association. The association sponsors national championship matches each year in both singles and doubles. *W. Stewart Brauns, Jr.

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