International standard glass squash show court
Players in a glass-backed squash court
International squash singles court, as specified by the World
is a racquet
played by two players (or four players for doubles) in a
four-walled court with a small, hollow rubber ball.Squash is recognized
by the IOC and remains in contention for incorporation in a
future Olympic program.
The game was formerly called squash racquets
reference to the "squashable" soft ball used in the game (compared
with the harder ball used in its parent game Racquets
(or rackets; see below)).
Squash developed from at least five other sports involving
racquets, gloves, and balls having roots in the early 1500s in
France. It's stated that “Squash, with its element of hitting balls
against walls, was for entertainment. For example, boys and girls
slapped balls in narrow alleys and streets”.Religious institutions
in France, such as monasteries, developed a similar game. Monks
used gloves that were webbed to hit balls against a fishing net
strung across the middle of the courtyards of the monasteries. This
developed the early “racquets” used in tennis and squash. Then in
late fifteenth century, tennis was developed and spread to other
European nations. The next major development of squash took
place in England where the game of "racquets" was developed in
Prison, a debtor’s
Similar to tennis, it involved racquets and
balls, but instead of hitting over a net as in tennis, players hit
a non-squeezable ball against walls. A variation of rackets that
also lead to the formation of squash was called fives
, similar to handball
. Fives was essentially the game
of racquets, without racquets. (The ball was hit with the hand.) It
is played against a wall or walls.
games gained popularity and were further developed in schools,
School in England.
The first courts built at this
school were rather dangerous because they were near water pipes,
buttresses, chimneys, and ledges. The school soon built four
outside courts. Natural rubber
material of choice for the ball. Students modified their racquets
to have a smaller reach to play in these cramped conditions.
In the 1900s the game increased in popularity with various schools,
clubs and even private citizens building squash courts, but with no
set dimensions. In April 1907 the Tennis, Rackets & Fives
Association set up a sub committee to set standards for squash.
Then the sport soon formed, combining the three sports together
called “Squash”. It was not until 1923 that the Royal Automobile
Club hosted a meeting to further discuss the rules and
regulations and another five years elapsed before the Squash
Rackets Association was formed to set standards for squash in Great
The sport spread to America and Canada, and eventually around the
globe. Players such as F.D. Amr Bey of Egypt dominated the courts
in the 1930s, Geoff Hunt
dominated the game during the 1960s and 1970s winning a record
eight British Opens at the time and during the 1980s and 1990s
of Pakistan won the
British Open a record of ten times and Jansher Khan
of Pakistan won the World Open a
record of eight times.
The 'softball' or 'international' court size was codified in
London, England in the late 1920s, at 32 ft (9.75 m) long and
21 feet (6.4 m) wide. The front wall was provided with an "out
line" 15 feet (4.57 m) above the floor, connected by a raking "out"
line meeting the "out" line on the back wall at 7 feet (2.13 m)
above the floor. The front wall also has a "service line"
(originally called the "cut line") 6 feet (1.83 m) above the floor
with a 19 inch high (48 cm) "tin" acting as a 'net'
(originally sheeted with metal in order to make a distinctive sound
when hit by the ball). The floor is marked with a transverse
"half-court" line and further divided into two rear "quarter
courts" and two "service boxes", as shown in the diagram
The traditional "American" court for the U.S. game, (now referred
to as "hardball squash
") is a
similar size, but narrower at 18 feet 6 inches (5.64 m). The
floor and wall markings differ slightly from the "International"
court and the tin is lower, at 15 inches (38 cm) high.
However, hardball squash was replaced by softball in America as the
standard version of squash and has since almost completely died
A "Converted Court" is the result of converting racquetball courts
to squash. Racquetball courts are 20 feet (6.1 m) wide and 40 feet
(12.2 m) in length, so it is relatively easy to install a back
wall, producing a squash court of 20 feet (6.1 m) wide by 32 feet
(9.75 m) long.
Standard rackets are governed by the rules of the game.
Traditionally they were made of laminated timber (typically Ash),
with a small strung area using natural gut strings. After a rule
change in the mid-1980s, they are now almost always made of
composite materials or metals (graphite, kevlar, titanium, boron)
with synthetic strings. Modern rackets have maximum dimensions of
686 mm (27.0 in.) long and 215 mm (8.5 in.) wide, with a
maximum strung area of 500 square centimetres (approx. 90 sq. in.),
the permitted maximum mass is 255 grams (approx. 9 oz.), but most
have a mass between 110 and 200 grams (4-7 oz.).
Squash balls are 39.5 mm and 40.5 mm in diameter, and
have a mass of 23 to 25 grams. They are made with two pieces of
rubber compound, glued together to form a hollow sphere and buffed
to a matte finish. Different balls are provided for varying
temperature and atmospheric conditions and standards of play: more
experienced players use slow balls that are smaller and have less
bounce than those used by less experienced players (slower balls
tend to 'die' in court corners, rather than 'standing up' to allow
easier shots). Depending on its specific rubber composition, a
squash ball has the property that it bounces more at higher
temperatures.Small coloured dots on the ball indicate its dynamic
level (bounciness), and thus the standard of play for which it is
suited. The recognised speed colours indicating the degree of
A double yellow squash ball.
||Extra Super Slow
|Green or White
Balls are manufactured to these standards by Prince
, Black Knight and others.
The "double-yellow dot" ball, introduced in 2000, is currently the
competition standard, replacing the earlier "yellow-dot" ball.
also an "orange dot" ball, which is even less bouncy than the
"double-yellow dot" ball, intended for use in areas of high
altitude such as Mexico
City, Calgary, Denver, and
The lower atmospheric pressure at these
high altitude regions means that the ball bounces slightly higher,
resulting in the need for such a ball.
Other balls available are:
- Dunlop "Max Blue" (aimed at beginners), which is 12% larger and
has 40% longer "hang time" than a "double-yellow dot ball" and has
- Dunlop "Max Progress" (red) (for players wishing to improve
their technique), which is 6% larger with a 20% longer hang-time
than a "double-yellow dot ball" and has instant bounce
For the purpose of saving money, a faster (bouncier) ball should be
bought. This is because the ball will lose its bouncing abilities
over time and if you start off with something like a double-yellow
ball, it will be barely playable with age. For competitive players
this is not recommended.
Given the game's vigorousness, players wear comfortable sports
clothing and robust indoor (non-marking) sports shoes. In
competition, men usually wear shorts and a t-shirt or a polo shirt.
Women normally wear a skirt and a t-shirt or a tank top, or a
sports dress. Towelling wrist and head bands may also be required
in humid climates. Polycarbonate lens goggles are recommended, as
players might be struck with a fast-swinging racket or the ball,
that typically reaches speeds exceeding 200 km/h
(125 mph). In the 2004 Canary Wharf Squash Classic, John White
was recorded driving
balls at speeds over 270 km/h (170 mph). Many squash
venues mandate the use of eye protection and some association rules
require that all juniors and doubles players must wear eye
Basic rules and gameplay
The squash court is a playing surface surrounded by four walls. The
court surface contains a front line separating the front and back
of the court and a half court line, separating the left and right
hand sides of the back portion of the court, creating three 'boxes'
- the front half, the back left quarter and the back right quarter.
Both the back two boxes contain smaller service boxes. All of the
floor-markings on a squash court are only relevant during
There are four walls to a squash court. The front wall, on which
three parallel lines are marked, has the largest playing surface,
whilst the back wall, which typically contains the entrance to the
court, has the smallest. The out line runs along the top of the
front wall, descending along the side walls to the back wall. There
are no other markings on the side or back walls. Shots struck above
the out line, on any wall, are out. The bottom line of the front
wall marks the top of the 'tin', a half meter-high metal area which
if struck means that the ball is out. The middle line of the front
wall is the service line and is only relevant during serves.
The players flip a racket to decide who commences serving at the
start of the match. This player starts the first rally by electing
to serve from either the left or right service box. For a legal
serve, part of one of the server's feet must be in contact with the
floor within the service box while not touching any part of the
service box lines (the rest of that foot can reside over the line
so long as it is not touching the ground) while striking 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 quarter court. The receiving player can choose to volley
a serve after it has hit the front wall. If a
server wins a point, the two players switch sides for the following
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 above 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. Players typically return to the center of
the court after making a shot.
English scoring system
The scoring system is based on a “serving” system, in which one
must gain the serve to obtain a point. Having the serve is
sometimes considered to be on “offense”. The opponent (who does not
have the serve) is considered to be on the defensive and must score
to win the serve and then score again to gain a point.
Points are awarded if, during the course of play:
- The receiver fails to strike the ball before it has bounced
- The receiver hits the ball out (either on or above the out
line, or on the tin)
- The receiver fails to hit the front wall with the ball before
the ball has bounced
- Stroke: where the receiver obstructs the server during the
point (see “Interference and Obstruction”)
Where the server does any of these things, or fails to hit the
serve in, then the players change roles and the receiver will serve
the next point, but no points are awarded.
Games are usually played to 9 points (alternatively, the receiver
may opt to call "set two" and play to 10 when the score first
reaches 8-8). Competition matches are usually played to
"best-of-five" (i.e., the player to win the most out of 5 games).
As the title suggests, this scoring system is preferred in Britain,
but also among countries with traditional British ties, e.g.
Australia, Canada, Pakistan, South Africa, India.
American scoring system
Alternatively, in the point-a-rally scoring system (PARS), points
are scored by the person who wins each rally, whether or not he or
she served. Traditionally, PARS scoring was up to 15 points (or the
receiver calls 15 or 17 when the game reaches 14-14). However, in
2004, the PARS scoring was reduced to 11 for the professional game
(if the game reaches 10-10, a player must win by two clear points).
PARS is now used on the men's Professional Tour, and the tin height
has been lowered by two inches for the men's professional
tournaments (these changes have been made in a hope to shorten the
length of the rallies and therefore the match). The women's
Professional Tour uses the original tin height, but started using
the PARS to 11 scoring system as of July 2008.In the International
game, club, doubles and recreational matches are usually played
using the traditional British scoring system, but the European
Squash Federation (ESF), World Squash Federation (WSF) and several
national federations are now using PARS to 11 on a trial or
permanent basis. Scoring systems and rules can be adapted subtly to
accommodate shorter game time or multiple players.
The referee is usually a certified position issued by the club or assigned squash league. The referee has dominant power over the squash players. Any conflict or interference is dealt with by the referee. The referee may also issue to take away points or games due to improper etiquette regarding conduct or rules. Refer to “Interference and Obstruction” for more detail.
Types of shots played
There are many types of shots played that lead to interesting games
1. Straight drive or 'rail': The ball is hit parallel and close to
a side wall to travel deep to the back of the court (the 'basic'
squash shot). Often referred to as a 'good length' shot.
2. Boast (or angle): The ball is played off a side wall at an
angle, or the back wall, before hitting the front wall.
3. Volley: The ball is hit 'on the full' (before it touches the
floor), usually directly to the front wall
4. Drop Shot: The ball is hit gently against the front wall, to
fall softly to the floor in the front corner.
5. Lob: The ball is hit softly and high on the front wall and with
a high arc, so that it falls in a back corner of the court.
6. Cross Court: The ball is hit to the front wall from the right
side to the left (or vice versa).
7. Kill: The ball is hit hard and low on the front wall so that it
travels no farther than half court.
8. Trickle Boast: A 'short' boast where the ball is hit to the side
wall at the front of the court (often disguised as a drive or drop
9. Squeeze Boast: A more difficult shot which is hit from the front
of the court when the ball is very close to the side wall. Has the
same effect as the trickle boast but is more deceptive because of
10. Skid Boast: The ball is hit high to the side wall near the
front wall so that it travels cross court and falls in the opposite
11. Nick Shot: the ball is 'volleyed' or hit off a bounce, cross
court and with power to strike the front wall then the junction of
the side wall and floor (the 'nick'). When hit well, the ball will
have little or no bounce or roll along the floor (this is a more
advanced shot that is a variation of the kill shot).
Strategy and tactics
A common strategy is to hit the ball straight up the side walls to
the back corners referred to as a "rail," straight drive, wall, or
"length", 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. "Angle" shots are used for deception and again to
cause the opponent to cover more of the court.
A key strategy in squash is known as "dominating the T" (the
intersection of the red lines near the centre of the court 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.
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.
Ability to change the direction of ball at the last instant is also
important to off-balance 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.
Interference and obstruction
Interference and obstruction are an inevitable aspect of this
sport, since two players are confined within a shared space.
Generally, the rules entitle players to a clear view of the ball
after it has struck the front wall, reasonable access to the ball,
a reasonable swing and an unobstructed shot to any part of the
front wall. When interference occurs, a player may appeal for a
"let" and the referee (or the players themselves if there is no
official) then interprets the extent of the interference. The
referee may elect to allow a let and the players then replay the
point, or award a "stroke" (either a point or the right to serve)
to the appealing player, depending on the degree of interference,
whether the interfering player made an adequate effort to avoid
interfering, and whether the player interfered with was likely to
have hit a winning shot had the interference not occurred. An
exception to all of this occurs when the interfering player is
directly in the path of the other player's swing, effectively
preventing the swing, in which case a stroke is always
When it is deemed that there has been little or no interference,
the rules provide that no let is to be allowed, in the interests of
continuity of play and the discouraging of spurious appeals for
lets. Because of the subjectivity in interpreting the nature and
magnitude of interference, the awarding (or withholding) of lets
and strokes is often controversial.
When a player's shot hits their opponent prior to hitting the front
wall, interference has occurred. If the ball was travelling towards
the side wall when it hit the opponent, it is usually a let.
However, it is a stroke to the player who hit the ball if the ball
was travelling straight to the front wall when the ball hit the
opponent. Generally after a player has been hit by the ball, both
players stand still, if the struck player is standing directly in
front of the player who hit the ball he loses the stroke, if he is
not straight in front, a let is played. If it is deemed that the
player who is striking the ball is deliberately trying to hit his
opponent, he will lose the stroke. An exception to all of this
occurs when the player hitting the ball has "turned", i.e., let the
ball pass him on one side, but then hit it on the other side as it
came off the back wall. In these cases, the stroke goes to the
player who was hit by the ball.
Cultural, social, and health aspects
There are several variations of squash played across the world. In
the U.S. hardball
doubles are played with a much harder ball and different size
courts (as noted above). Hardball singles has lost much of its
popularity in North America (in favour of the International
version), but the hardball doubles game is still active. There is
also a doubles version of squash played with the standard ball,
sometimes on a wider court, and a more tennis-like variation known
as squash tennis
relatively small court and low-bouncing ball makes scoring points
harder than in its American cousin,
racquetball, as the ball may be played
to all four corners of the court.
Since every ball must
strike the front wall above the tin (unlike racquetball), the ball
cannot be easily "killed". As a result, rallies tend to be longer
than in racquetball.
Squash provides an excellent cardiovascular workout. In one hour of
squash, a player may expend approximately 600 to 1000 calories
(3,000 to 4,000 kJ
), which is significantly more than most other
sports and over 70% more than either general tennis or racquetball.
The sport also provides a good upper and lower body workout by
utilising both the legs to run around the court and the arms and
torso to swing the racquet. In 2003, Forbes rated squash as the
number one healthiest sport to play. However, some studies have
implicated squash as a cause of possible fatal cardiac arrhythmia
and argued that squash
is an inappropriate form of exercise for older men with heart disease
Squash is getting very popular among the casual enthusiasts. Other
than the positive health effect, it is also allows males and
females to play against each other without much advantage for
Squash around the world
According to the World Squash Federation, as of June 2009, there
were 49,908 squash courts in the world, with 188 countries and
territories having at least one court. England had the greatest
number at 8,500. The other countries with more than 1,000 courts,
in descending order by number were Germany, Egypt, the United
States of America, Australia, South Africa, Canada, Malaysia,
France, the Netherlands, and Spain.
As of June 2009, there were players from nineteen countries in the
top fifty of the men's world rankings, with Egypt and England
leading with eleven each. The women's world rankings featured
players from sixteen countries, led by England with eleven.
The men's professional squash tour and rankings are run by the
(PSA). The equivalent body for women is the
International Squash Players Association
Players and records
The (British) Squash Rackets Association conducted its first
championship for men in December 1930, using a "challenge" system.
designated champion in 1930, but was beaten in home and away
matches by Don Butcher
, who was then
recorded as the champion for 1931. The championship continues to
this day, but has been conducted with a "knockout" format since
Since its inception, the men's British Open has been dominated by
relatively few players: F.D. Amr Bey
(Egypt) in the 1930s; Mahmoud Karim
(Egypt) 1940s; brothers Hashim Khan
and Azam Khan
(Pakistan) 1950s and
1960s; Jonah Barrington
Britain and Ireland) and Geoff Hunt
(Australia) 1960s and 1970s; Jahangir
(Pakistan) 1980s; and Jansher
The women's championship started in 1921, and has similarly been
dominated by relatively few players: Joyce
and Nancy Cave
(England) in the
1920s; Margot Lumb
(USA) 1930s; Janet Morgan
(England) 1950s; Heather McKay
(Australia) 1960s and 1970s;
(New Zealand) 1980s;
and Sarah Fitz-Gerald
1990s and 2000s.
, with her lengthy and
absolute dominance of the game (she remained undefeated for 18
years during the 1960s and 1970s), is undoubtedly the greatest
woman player of all time.
Because of its traditions, the British Open has been considered by
many to be more prestigious than the World
, which began in the mid-1970s. However, some have shown
concern about the ability of the former to sustain its prominence,
citing its failure in 2005 to attract top players, probably due in
part to the disparity in prize money. In 2005 the combined men's
and women's prize money for the British Open came to $71,000,
compared with the 2005 World Open's prize money, estimated to be
Former world number one Peter Nicol
stated that he believed squash had a "very realistic chance" of
being added to the list of Olympic
for the 2016 Olympic Games
it ultimately lost out to golf
and rugby sevens
current number 1 rank is held by Grégory Gaultier of France in the men's
competition and Nicol David of Malaysia in the women's competition.
is no international standard method (other than for professional
players) for evaluating skill levels for players.
Squash players and associations have lobbied for many years for the
sport to be accepted into the Olympic
, with no success to date. Squash narrowly missed being
instated for the 2012 London Games. It was again up for
consideration for the 2016 Summer Games along with baseball,
softball, rugby sevens, karate, golf, and roller sports, but squash
again missed out as the IOC assembly decided to add golf and rugby
sevens to the Olympic programme.
Squash is played throughout the world, and is similar to tennis
in skills and fitness requirements, but the
principal limitation has always been the difficulty in observing
the sport as a spectator, either in person or on television. The
ball travels so quickly that television audiences are hard-pressed
to follow the action, even though some tournaments have attempted
to remedy the problem by using a specially coated ball for
increased visibility. To maximize the viewing audience at
tournaments, promoters often use an all-glass court that is
designed to permit spectators to be seated around all four walls
but is specially tinted so as not to distract the players. Because
of these viewer restrictions, professional squash players earn
vastly less than their counterparts in the tennis world.
The 1980 novel Boast
by Miles Donald revolves around the
game of squash.
David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia a staff officer tells
Lawrence about the new squash court at GHQ in Cairo when
Lawrence asks what has been happening at base while he has been in
the desert leading the Arab
In the TV sitcom "Frasier", squash was a game Frasier and his
brother Niles would play.
In the movie Wall Street
) and Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen
) play a game of squash.
In the television series "Friday Night Lights", Coach Eric Taylor
and "Smash" Williams play a game of squash, which Smash describes
as the "whitest sport ever".
In the television series Green Wing
and Guy Secretan play a game of squash in the episode "Emergency".
Guy is equipped with appropriate squash gear, while Mac is left
playing in his surgical scrubs with a ping-pong paddle.
In the novel Digital Fortress
David Becker's hobby is playing squash.
In the film Shallow Grave 
the main characters play each other at
In the 2005 novel Saturday
, Henry Perowne plays a regular
weekly squash game.
In the 1981 movie Outland
William T. O'Niel (played by Sean
) plays squash alone and against his female ally, Doctor
In the John Irving
novel "A Widow for One Year
" the character
Ruth Cole plays squash and defends herself against an assault on
the squash court.
In 2009, the first and only squash 3D video game, Touch Squash
, was launched on the iPhone
and iPod touch
Squash is a minigame from Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, released
as a launch title on the Wii
A simplified version of squash appears as a bonus minigame in
Adventures: Buster Busts Loose!