Written by Darren Love
Squash (also known as "squash racquets") is arguably the most popular of indoor racquet sports. Unlike racquetball, which is considered a "power" game, squash has longer rallies and uses more finesse than racquetball. Squash provides an excellent way to get an aerobic workout and a moderately skilled player can typically burn an average of 700 calories during a match with a similarly skilled player. In addition to a good aerobic workout squash also builds strength and endurance.
Squash evolved from the sport of "Rackets" which was first played in the early 19th century. It was first played in the Fleet Prison in London, England, an unusual birthplace to say the least. The prisoners would get their exercise by hitting a ball against the walls with rackets, thus the game of "Rackets" was born. Rackets eventually made its way to Harrow school where the students discovered that a punctured Rackets ball, which "squashed" on impact with the wall, was much more challenging to the player. Shortly after this the first four Squash courts were built and it was during this time that squash was officially founded.
Squash can be played singles (two players, against each other), doubles (four players, on two teams) using softball or hardball rules. Unlike racquetball where you can hit off of any wall, the playing area in squash is restricted to the area marked by the Out of Court line and the Tin. The game is played by hitting the ball alternatively off of the front wall directly or off of a side or back wall. After the ball has hit the front wall only one bounce is allowed on the floor but the ball may be hit before it bounces. When the serving side wins a rally (the period while the ball is in play) it scores a point. If the opponent wins a rally, they earn the serve. A match is typically 3 out of 5 games to 9 points.
There are four equipment choices to make when playing squash: a racquet, ball, shoes and eye protection. Squash racquets come in a variety of shapes and sizes and usually range anywhere from $30 - $300. If you are just beginning the sport it is recommended that you choose one of the new oversized racquets. These racquets have a larger "sweet spot," which enhances your ability to control your shots. Another important equipment choice is the squash ball, which is quite a bit smaller than a racquetball. For advanced players the "yellow dot" ball is recommended while beginners use a softer, slower "blue dot" ball. A good pair of court shoes would also be a good investment giving firmer footing and ankle support for this fast-paced game. Most courts usually require that the court shoes are used only indoors and have white soles. Eye protection is usually required by most squash clubs (keep in mind a squash ball is the same size as a human eyeball!).
There are over a dozen clubs and facilities for squash in Calgary & area. Contact Squash Alberta at 403-270-7344, or your local parks & recreation department