A Complete Guide To Squash
It’s exciting, enthralling and absorbing. There’s something going on at all times. You hit here, then you hit there! The adrenaline rushes!
That’s what Squash is. It is a popular racket sport that’s played by two to four people. It tests your agility, talent and strategy with mental and physical strength. The game is like turbocharged chess, where you have to take a decision or find-implement a strategy within nanoseconds.
Arguably, the healthiest sport in the world, Squash can be played all around the year.
And while it does require physical strength, the best part of the game is that it can be played by people of all age groups!
The game is governed by World Squash Federation (WSF), which is currently administered by Narayana Ramachandran, an Indian. Indian governing body is called Squash Rackets Federation of India (SRFi), which is affiliated to Asian Squash Federation. The game has its own niche following in the country, with several squash players like Cyrus Poncha, Ritwik Bhattacharya, Siddharth Suchde and Dipika Pallikal. Leading international players- all time, include Jahangir Khan (Pakistan), Geoff Hunt (Australia), Lee Beachill (England) and David Palmer (Australia).
School Yourself on Squash
Imagine this- The ball reaches speeds of up to 350 km an hour. It’s coming towards you. You have to take the decision. The only way you can hit is right in front of you. But if you do that your opponent will get to hit the ball as well. So, you hit diagonally. Your opponent tries but can’t respond. You keep up and win!
Sounds enthralling, isn’t? Well, that’s how fast the game is. Squash is a game where players can burn off a 1000 calories in less than an hour and use their skills, speed and strategy to win the match. It’s a win-win for all (even if you lose the game). It’s fast-paced, extraordinarily exciting game.
Squash has just one principle- you have to keep hitting the ball against the wall till your opponent can’t get it back.
Formerly known as Squash rackets, the game owes its reference to ‘squashable’ balls which were quite soft, squishy balls rather than the harder balls used in playing racquetball.
Players have to focus on hitting it above the tin and below out-line. The simplest rule behind the game suggests that the ball may hit the front ball or even strike the side or back walls on a condition that it fits below the out-line.
The game is essentially played in a four walled court, which allows players to enjoy it throughout the year. The players take alternate turns in striking the ball and hitting it into designated or marked playable surfaces on any of the walls.
Because of the nature of the game, players can move anywhere around the court, unlike other racket and ball games. However, deliberate and accidental obstruction is forbidden and may even lead to penalties. That’s why, players use the strategy of returning to the centre once they have taken a shot.
One of the most common strategies is dominating the ‘T’, where they move back towards a ‘T’ marked zone before playing the shot. This allows them to quickly assess any part of the court. The player who scores these points first is the winner. In case players score 10-all, the game is continued till one player leads by 2 extra points.
The game uses rackets somewhat similar, if not the same as tennis. It is played to 11 points. A hollow rubber ball is used to play the game. Once the ball is served, players take their turn to strike the ball. With the players moving throughout the court, the ball can be hit at the front, the back wall and above the tin.
Squash is recognized by the International Olympic Committee, but till the year 2015 it has not been recognized as an Olympic sport. However, millions of people and over 30 million registered players have urged for the game to be included in international championships, and chances are that squash could be incorporated in the future Olympic Program.
Squashing Squash’s History
Explore the history of one of the finest games in the world.
- The idea of Squash and Tennis is considered to have originated in the late 16th
- Squash is a direct descendent of ‘Rackets’, a game from England. Therefore, the game follows the idea of hitting the ball on the wall instead of hitting over the net. That also indicates the use of soft, squash-able balls rather than hard tennis balls.
- Harrow School is credited with the invention of the game in early 19th In 1830, the now traditional version of the game was introduced before it went on to become an international sport.
- However, the first courts were dangerous, located near water pipes and chimneys. So, newer game courts were constructed and natural rubber balls were used to play the game. In cramped conditions, students from the school could modify their rackets.
- A revolution in the game began when the rackets in tennis underwent a major change. The changes in tennis rackets paved the way for transformed Squash rackets. Earlier, the rackets were made from laminated timber, but since the 1980s, the rackets have been made from aluminium and graphite among other lighter materials with components like Boron, Titanium and Kevlar added to it for sustenance.
- Synthetic strings on the racket have now been replaced with natural ‘gut’ strings.
- It took about 50 years for the game to reach North America. But the popularity soared extensively when the game court was introduced in the G-Deck of RMS Titanic. It was then that the game was associated with the upper, middle classes. In 1928, the Squash Rackets Association was then formed to set the rules for the game in Great Britain.
- With the widespread popularity of the game, major countries around the world got together and formed the World Squash Federation. This association that was formed in 1967 has over 145 national associations, and it is also a member of Association of the IOC Recognized International Sports Federations (ARISF).
- Squash is a popular recreational sport in the country and has been played on a competitive level for a few decades. In India, Squash Rackets Federation of India was set up to govern the rules and take the game forward.
- The federation holds national level championships and has leading players and coaches, including Cyrus Poncha and Major S. Maniam. India has several players in top 100 worldwide rankings for Squash.
Exploring the rules
The game is played in confined spaces, often at high speed. To ensure orderly play, players and the referee should focus on safety on the field as well as fair play. While the rules of the game vary from one region to the other, the general idea remains the same.
- In either singles of doubles’ game, all players can hold a racket to strike the ball. These rackets and balls must meet WSF specifications.
- Rally begins with the serve and players return or strike the ball alternately. Play can continue as far as it’s deemed practical.
- Winner of any rally can score a point. This player also serves the next rally.
- Players must achieve 11 points to win the game. If the game is 10-all, it shall be continued till one of the players leads by 2 points.
- Matches can be best of 5 or best of 3.
- The matches should have a marker and a referee for facilitation and officiation.
- The player who wins spin of rackets serves first. The server can also choose the service-box they would use to serve.
- In case a rally ends in a let, the server must serve again from the same box.
- A serve is considered good if- the ball is struck correctly on the first attempt before it touches anything else, if one of the server’s foot is in contact with the floor on service box, if the ball is directly struck at front wall, if the ball is not served out and if the ball bounces for the first time in opposite.
- Let can be allowed if the receiver is not ready to return the serve or doesn’t make an attempt to return.
- Players must make attempts and efforts to be clear and avoid interference. Interference should be prevented so that the opponent has fair view of the ball when it’s on rebound, has unobstructed direct access to the ball, has space to take the swing and has the freedom to strike. If another player is causing excessive swing with the racket, it would be considered as interference.
- The players must comply with tournament regulations with the rules. They must conduct themselves with grace and shouldn’t leave the court without the permission of the referee.
You should know this before playing Squash
Squash is a simple, but absorbing game where the players take turns hitting the ball on the front wall. Once the ball is hit on the front wall, it can bounce once on the floor and any number of times if it hits the back walls before the player should return it.
Any inability to return a ball would lead to a point for the opponent. The only thing that players should keep in mind is the types of shots played during Squash. These include (but aren’t limited to),
- Straight Drive– A good length shot where ball is hit parallel and close to side wall.
- Boast- Ball played at a side wall angle or the back ball, before it hits the front wall.
- Drop Shot– Hit gently against front wall.
- Cross Court– Ball hits the front wall from right or left side.
- Kill- Ball is hit hard and low on front so that it doesn’t travel farther than half court.
- Philadelphia- Shot played diagonally so that the ball hits front and then side wall, which is a rather difficult shot.
- Back wall boast- Ball is hit moderately hard and high so that it goes to the back of the room (low).
- Reverse Angle– Sidewall is hit first.
One thing that the players should keep in mind is the strategy. One of the key strategies, as mentioned before includes ‘dominating the T.’
This T is an intersection of red lines near the centre of the court. Players usually hit the ball and reach this T section as it helps in ensuring least interference for the opponent while giving them access to major areas for the shot.
Another common strategy is to hit the ball straight up the sides or towards the back corners. Players may also decide to adopt certain techniques, which can be referred to as a specific type of play.
For instance, there’s power play when players take powerful shots against the opponents or shot plays where accurate shots are taken. Then, there are players like retrievers, who have excellent counter power and accuracy or attritional players who have consistently high-paced game.
What’s used for the game?
The game requires specific items to ensure that the norms are followed. Check out these specifications.
- Strings and string ends of the rackets must be recessed. The logos or markings on strings should leave marks on the squash ball.
- Strings shall be gut or nylon or a substitute material.
- Bumper strip should be unpigmented, white or colourless.
- The total racket construction should be symmetrical.
- A competition ball should have a weight of 24 grams and a diameter of 40 mm with seam strength of 6 minimum.
- The balls in competition must meet above specifications to be determined of their suitability for the game.
Squash’s Governing Bodies
These governing bodies are helping Squash become an ace sport.
World Squash Federation
WSF, formed in 1967 is headquartered in Hastings, East Sussex England and governs the game of Squash internationally. The federation is bidding for Squash to be a part of the Summer Olympics in 2020. The governing body has 145 managers, is managed by the board, takes on registered players and organizes championships around the world.
Squash Rackets Federation of India
SRFi is the Indian extension of Asian Squash Federation. Headquartered in Chennai, the federation is responsible for governing game of Squash in the country. It also conducts National Squash Championship and has different state level bodies for preparing players for international events.
The federation provides training facilities, coaching camps, conducts tournaments, and offers daily training and level 1, 2, 3 diploma courses for budding players.
If you love playing Squash, then focus on preparing for these championships.
World Championship is the individual event organized by Professional Squash Association. It includes men and women championship. It also a prestigious title, along with British Open. The championship, organized since 1971 has produced leading figures like Geoff Hunt and Cam Nancarrow. Prize money for the game is $325,000. Recent champion is Gregory Gaultier from France.
WSF World Team Squash Championships
Organized since 1967, this championship is played between a maximum of 32 teams representing different nations. Teams can enter up to four players. The contests are held twice a year. India is one of the popular teams in the championship.
National Squash Championship
SRFi conducts National championships where winning players from different state championships play for a spot in international committee. Selection trials are also conducted separately for Asian and World tournaments. The federation is also responsible for conducting junior and adult Squash games in these championships.
Get Inspired By These Players
These inspirational Indian players have broken several records in Squash.
The current coach of SRFi and one of the leading players of Squash, Cyrus Poncha was born in 1976 and has played for several championships. He is a Dronacharya Awardee and has previously served as a junior coach for Asian Squash Federation.
Considered flagbearer of the Indian Squash in Professional Squash Association, Ritwik has trained in England for over 5 years and was once India’s highest ranked squash player. He has had 9 titles till date and won Indian National Squash Championship over 5 times.
The young player turned professional in 2006 and since then, she has worked to bring India on the forefront at Squash tournaments. She is the first Indian to stand in top 10 of WSA rankings. She was in semi-finals of Australian Open in 2012 and won gold in 2014 Commonwealth Games in women’s doubles event.
If your child has the gift when it comes to playing Squash, then you must encourage this further with the help of our experts and coaches at YoGems! Leave a comment below, and get in touch with us so that we can help your child achieve his or her dream!