The Ultimate Guide To Squash

two men playing squash at bluecoat sports

Welcome to the Ultimate Guide to Squash! Here you’ll discover everything you need to know to become a squash superstar, whether you’re just starting out with a racket for the first time or you’re a seasoned player looking to step up your game.

This squash blog is designed to be your one-stop shop for all things squash. We’ll be sharing practical tips and tricks for improving all areas of your game and your overall confidence on the court. We’ll also break down advanced strategies and systems used by professionals so that you can incorporate them into your own play.

Read our full guide to squash below and if you’re based in Horsham or the surrounding areas, book a squash court at Bluecoat Sports today and watch your game improve.

Introduction to squash

Brief history of squash

two men playing squash

Squash, a fast-paced racket sport, originated in the 19th century within the confines of London’s prisons from the game of rackets. Prisoners constructed indoor courts and improvised using a rubber ball.

Here’s a snapshot of its evolution:

  1. In 1830 the first squash court was built at Harrow School. Squash was originally called “squasher’s tennis.” The name may have come from spectators having to “squash” up against walls to see the action.
  2. The first codified rules were established by cricketers at London’s Racquet and Tennis Club around 1820-1840. These were known as the “double rules” since the court was still enclosed on all sides.
  3. In 1864, the first singles squash match using a “soft” rubber ball was played between two professional rackets players. This format opened up more space and speed.
  4. In 1907, the Tennis, Rackets & Fives Association established standards for British squash which continue to today across most Commonwealth countries.
  5. In 1967, the International Squash Rackets Federation (World Squash) was formed to control professional squash and its major championships.
  6. Through the mid-late 20th century, squash grew rapidly with courts built across Europe, North America and Asia, as both an elite and everyman sport.

Current popularity and status of squash

Although it may not be as televised as some major sports, squash enjoys a dedicated following and has seen a steady increase in popularity, ensuring that you’ll find both enthusiastic amateurs and professional players on courts around the globe. You might be surprised to learn that millions are picking up a racket and discovering squash’s dynamic appeal.

It’s a social game that’s easy to learn but challenging to master, offering a great workout and strategic depth. In many cities, squash clubs are bustling hubs of activity, with leagues, tournaments, and coaching sessions catering to all levels. Schools and universities are incorporating it into their athletic programs, further cementing its status.

Understanding the game

You’ll need to win rallies to earn points, and the first player to reach 11 points wins the game, provided they’re at least two points ahead. If you’re tied at 10-10, play continues until one player gains a two-point lead.

Basic rules of squash

man hitting a squash ball

To get you started on the court, it’s essential to grasp the basic rules governing serves, scoring, and rallies in squash. Here’s a quick rundown to help you understand the game:

  1. Serve: You must serve from within the service box, hitting the front wall above the service line and below the out line. The ball should land in the opposite back quarter of the court.
  2. Scoring: Squash typically uses ‘point-a-rally’ scoring to 11 points, where every rally won earns a point, regardless of who served.
  3. Rallies: After the serve, players alternate hitting the ball against the front wall above the tin and below the out line without letting it bounce twice.
  4. Interference: If a player obstructs their opponent’s reasonable swing or access to the ball, a ‘let’ or ‘stroke’ may be awarded.

Court dimensions and layout

Understanding the court’s dimensions and layout is your next step in mastering squash, as it affects everything from your serve to your strategy. A standard squash court measures 32 feet long and 21 feet wide, with a front wall that’s 15 feet high. The service boxes are located in both back corners, and the ‘T’ at the centre of the court is the prime position to take control of the game.

Variations of squash

Explore the different forms of squash, including hardball and doubles, to find the style that best suits your play. Squash isn’t a one-size-fits-all game; it offers variations that cater to diverse preferences and skill sets. Here’s a quick look at what’s out there:

  1. Hardball Squash: Traditionally played in North America, this game uses a harder, faster ball and often a narrower court.
  2. Doubles Squash: Grab a partner and hit a larger court with a standard ball. Teamwork is key in this fast-paced version.
  3. Squash 57: Previously known as racketball, it features a larger ball and shorter racket, perfect for beginners or those looking for a less intense game.
  4. Junior Squash: Tailored for younger players with appropriate equipment and court sizes to develop skills early on.

Equipment and gear

Essential equipment

four squash rackets against a wall

While you gear up to hit the court, it’s crucial you’re equipped with the right rackets, balls, and shoes to enhance your squash game. Here’s a breakdown of the essentials:

  1. Rackets: Select a racket that feels comfortable in your grip and balances power with control. Lightweight rackets are usually preferred for quicker manoeuvrability.
  2. Balls: Squash balls come in different levels of bounce. Beginners should start with a ball that has a higher bounce, making it easier to hit during rallies.
  3. Shoes: Invest in non-marking, indoor court shoes that provide good grip, support, and stability to move swiftly and safely.
  4. Eyewear: Protective eyewear is often overlooked but it’s vital for safety, especially during fast-paced games.

Guide to choosing the right equipment for beginners and advanced players

As a beginner, you’ll want a durable and forgiving racket with a larger head size. This gives you a bigger sweet spot, making it easier to hit the ball consistently. Look for a medium-weight racket, which offers a balance between power and control.

For advanced players, a lighter racket with a smaller head size can provide better manoeuvrability and precision. Consider a racket with a stiffer frame for more power on your shots.

Always select a comfortable grip size and get quality squash shoes with good ankle support and non-marking soles for swift, safe movement on the court.

Playing Squash: Skills and Techniques

Now that you’re geared up, it’s time to sharpen your game. You’ll need to master basic skills before you can execute advanced techniques with finesse.

Let’s explore how strategy and tactics come into play and the training exercises that’ll get you there.

Basic skills

two men playing squash and smiling

Mastering four fundamental skills—serving, returning, rallying and movement—is crucial to your success on the squash court. Here’s how you can sharpen these essential techniques:

  1. Serving: Start with a consistent and strategic serve. Stand with one foot in the service box, and aim for the service line on the front wall. Mix up high lobs and low, hard drives to keep your opponent guessing.
  2. Returning: Be ready to pivot and respond to your opponent’s serve. Keep your racket up and your eyes on the ball at all times.
  3. Rallying: Maintain a good position on the ‘T’, the central point of the court. This allows you to reach all corners quickly.
  4. Movement: Practice sidestepping and lunging rather than turning your back to the ball; this helps in maintaining balance and readiness for the next shot.

Advanced techniques

As you hone your squash skills, incorporating advanced techniques like deceptive drop shots, tight boasts, and strategic lobs will elevate your game. Mastering these moves requires not only physical prowess but also a sharp mental edge.

  • Deceptive drop shots keep your opponent guessing, using a flick of the wrist at the last moment to change the ball’s direction.
  • Tight boasts force your rival to scramble from the back of the court, as the ball hugs the sidewall after a tricky angle.
  • Strategic lobs, on the other hand, are your best bet when under pressure, sending the ball high and to the back, buying you time and resetting the rally.

These skills, when executed well, can give you a formidable advantage on the court.

Strategy and tactics for competitive play

To elevate your competitive squash play, you’ll need to develop a keen understanding of in-game strategies and tactics. This isn’t just about hitting the ball hard; it’s about outsmarting your opponent. Here are four essential strategies to keep in mind:

  1. Vary your shots: Keep your opponent guessing by mixing up drives, boasts, drops, and lobs.
  2. Control the ‘T’: Dominate the central area to dictate the pace and direction of the game.
  3. Apply pressure: Use deep, tight shots to force errors or weak returns.
  4. Watch and adapt: Pay attention to your opponent’s weaknesses and adjust your game plan accordingly.

Master these tactics, and you’ll find yourself one step ahead in your squash matches.

Fitness and conditioning

You’ve mastered the basics of squash, but to really excel, you need to focus on your fitness and conditioning. Tailoring your workout routine with exercises that mirror the physical demands of squash will give you the edge you need on the court.

Physical demands of squash

One must be in top physical shape to meet the rigorous demands of squash, as it requires speed, strength, and endurance. Here’s what you’ll need to focus on to excel:

  1. Speed and Agility: You’ve got to be quick on your feet. Drills that enhance your ability to change direction swiftly are crucial.
  2. Strength Training: A strong core and powerful legs help you maintain balance and power through your shots.
  3. Endurance: Long rallies mean you can’t afford to get winded. Cardiovascular training is a must to keep you going through the entire match.
  4. Flexibility: You’ll be reaching and lunging, so stretching is important to prevent injuries and improve your range of motion.

Tailor your fitness regimen to these areas, and you’ll be better equipped to dominate the court.

Fitness routines and exercises specific to squash players

people working out on matrix running machines

While you need to be in peak condition to excel at squash, specific fitness routines and exercises can help you achieve the necessary speed, strength, and endurance. Tailoring your workouts to mimic the demands of the game ensures you’re developing the right muscles and skills. Focus on exercises that enhance your explosive power, agility, and cardiovascular fitness.

Here’s a concise table to guide your training:

Exercise TypeExamples
CardiovascularInterval sprints, Rowing machine
StrengthSquats, Deadlifts
PowerPlyometric jumps, Medicine ball throws
AgilityLadder drills, Cone shuffles
EnduranceLong distance running, Cycling

Integrate these exercises into your routine to see improvements in your squash game. Remember to include rest days for recovery!

Playing squash at Bluecoat Sports

When you’re ready to step up your game, we offer a variety of squash classes and courses tailored to enhance your skills.

Squash classes and courses

Here’s what you can jump into:

  1. Adult Beginners Squash Course: Perfect if you’re just starting out and want to learn the basics in a friendly, supportive environment.
  2. Adult Squash Morning: Grab your racket and start your day with an energising session that fits into your morning routine.
  3. Adult Squash Night: Unwind after work with a game of squash and improve your skills alongside fellow enthusiasts.
  4. Ladies Squash Night: Enjoy a ladies-only evening that combines fitness, fun, and the chance to meet other squash-loving women.

No matter your level or schedule, there’s a class for you!

Junior squash

squash coach teaching a child squash

We also offer a range of junior programs, designed to introduce children as young as five to the exciting world of squash.

  1. Beginners Junior Squash: For little ones aged 5 and above, these sessions are the perfect way to ignite a lifelong passion for the sport.
  2. Improvers Squash classes: As your kids grow and their skills develop, they can move up to the classes tailored for ages 6-8 and then 9-11, ensuring they’re always challenged just the right amount.
  3. Advanced Junior Squash: For those who’ve truly caught the squash bug aged 9 and above, these classes offer a more competitive environment to hone their skills.

Squash league and teams

You’ll find a range of squash leagues and teams at Bluecoat Sports to suit every level of play, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced competitor. Here’s what you can expect:

  1. Competitive Edge: Bluecoats 1st team competes fiercely in the Sussex 1st Division, perfect for those looking to challenge themselves.
  2. Monthly Leagues: Enjoy the thrill of regular competition with the monthly internal squash league.
  3. Open to All: It’s not just for members; non-members are welcome to join the fray and test their skills.
  4. Get in Touch: To dive in, simply contact the club coach, Kit Pearman, at bcskp@christs-hospital.org.uk.

Step onto the court, meet fellow squash enthusiasts, and maybe even rise through the ranks at Bluecoat Sports!

Conclusion

You’re now equipped with the knowledge and inspiration to dive into squash yourself. There’s no better place to take your enthusiasm for squash than by joining our community right here at Bluecoat Sports.

With the Rackets Only membership, you’ll get unlimited court bookings across squash and rackets, giving you the chance to play as much as you want with a terrific group of players at all skill levels. Bluecoats offers convenient online booking, top coaching, and even beginner squash clinics – making it the perfect home base as you practice and refine your game on the road to squash stardom!

Don’t wait another minute to swing your racket – become a Bluecoat Sports member today or contact us to book your first court.

The Gallery Café Opening Hours

From Monday 19th February, The Gallery Café will begin a trial period in which it’s opening hours will be extended to Monday-Friday 09:00-18:30 & Saturday-Sunday 09:00-13:00. We hope you enjoy using the café facilities throughout the day.