Beginners Guide to Squash

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Most people I have come across do not really understand the game of squash or how it is played. However, for those who play indoor badminton, they’ve no doubt watched people use the same courts to play. Squash has a long and illustrative history, and it pre-dates racket ball by hundreds of years. It’s played globally and has been for 100s and 100s of years. Long ago, it was played using the palm, later rackets were used, and today – hoorah! – those rackets are made of some of the most high-tech stuff money can buy.

The sport is now played at breakneck speeds. Thus, it takes the skill, talent, agility, and an active mind just to properly track the ball, much less get to it on time, predict it’s next position, or block it from hitting you – damn. It’s a fast-moving game, no-doubt, and played to nine-points. Using the side walls is part of the game, but some rules must be followed to do this.

Basic Rules

Two players take shifts to hit the ball onto the headwall. A point is granted each time a contestant wins a rally. 

How to serve

  • Calmly stand with one foot in one of the two service box
  • Hit the ball to the headwall landing it over the service line, below the outer line.
  • The ball then must move from the front wall to the opposing back corner.
  • The ball can be hit on the full (called a volley) or bounce off other walls

During the rally

  • The ball should hit the front wall each shot but can hit other walls after or before
  • The player must hit the ball before it bounces for the second time.
  • Players can tap the ball before it bounces on the floor (called a volley)
  • Players can use all of the courts after the serve is hit; there are no limitations on where to run.

When is a ball out?

  • When it hits the out line or tin.
  • When it hits over the out of court-line.
  • When it bounces on the ground more than once before being hit
  • When a serve lands in the false area (called a fault)

General Rules of Play

  • You can hit the ball only once before your opponent takes a hit. The contact must also be single; you cannot randomly ‘carry’ the ball.
  • The ball can bounce just once on the floor.
  • You must make every attempt to clear your shot and ensure your contestant has room to play their turn. 

Scoring

  • There are a couple of ways of scoring. In PAR (Point-A-Rally or American scoring), played by professionals and junior, players play to 11 points and can score points regardless of who serves. In ‘Serve-In’ or ‘English’ scoring, players have to win a rally while serving to cut a point. ‘Serve-In’ games are played to 9 points.
  • In a match, players play the best of five games.
  • In PAR scoring, if the game is tied at ten each, players have to win by two clear points, e.g., 14-12, 12-10, 13-11, etc. In English/’Serve-In’ scoring, if the score equals 8-8, the player who is holding serve decides whether to continue playing 9 or 10 by saying either ‘1’ or ‘2’. There is no obligation to win by two clear points in this scoring system.

It’s not a sport for snowflakes, and injuries are prevalent amongst serious players. For those who love to compete and are in great shape, it’s a fun play. For those who are older and maybe far from their prime, well, they should not be playing with anyone skilled in the sport.

If you’d like to observe squash played full-tilt and the greatest rocket speed, it is an Olympic Approved sport, and the players are lethal accurate and fly across the field at incredible angles to return the ball to the headboard. This is one sport that is not dominated by the United States Olympic team. Although I must say in the last few years, they have very much been able to hold their own pretty impressively.

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