What is the Sport of Squash?

L. S. Wynn
L. S. Wynn

Squash is a racket sport played in an enclosed room, known as a court, by either two or four people. It is a recreational game that’s played all over the world, though it is widely believed to have originated in private prep schools in England in the 1800s. It is similar to tennis and an older sport known simply as “rackets,” but has its own unique sets of rules and equipment. The game is typically played with a hollow rubber ball and players take turns hitting it off of any of the “playable” walls in the room. There are usually a number of painted or otherwise understood boundaries, and also a “tin” beneath the main front wall that balls can fall into. A ball that falls into the tin is usually out of play, much like a ball that hits the net in tennis. There are some variations between countries and organizations, both in terms of scoring and in terms of things like court specifications and measurements. The game is highly competitive in many places, but is still largely emerging as a serious sport at the professional level. In most regions its primary popularity is amongst student athletes and casual players.

Squash, which usually involves singles or doubles games, is played in an indoor court surrounded by four walls.
Squash, which usually involves singles or doubles games, is played in an indoor court surrounded by four walls.

Basics of Play

This game can be played either as “singles,” which is one on one, or as “doubles,” which involves dueling teams of two. Players gather in the center of the court, which is usually a small enclosed room with four walls of uniform height. In most cases there are lines painted on the walls to indicate height parameters and on the floor to mark boundaries, but in less formal matches players can also mutually agree to these things before beginning play. The courts are usually of fixed dimension, particularly in competitive tournaments.

A squash ball is made out of rubber and is typically 4 cm in diameter.
A squash ball is made out of rubber and is typically 4 cm in diameter.

One team or person will start play by serving the ball, typically bouncing it once, then hitting it off of any of the four walls. Then it is the opponent’s turn to return the ball. Under most rules of play the ball can bounce once before being struck by the racket, but not after. A player who fails to return the ball — usually by hitting it into the ground, hitting it into the tin, or hitting it above the “out” lines — usually either surrenders his turn to serve and thus control the ball or loses a point; sometimes both.

Scoring Principles

Scoring can take slightly different forms in different places, and sometimes there are different rules for play in school leagues versus more casual settings. In general, though, players only earn points when they are serving. For example, player A serves the ball to player B. If player B hits the ball out, then one point goes to player A. If player A hits the ball out, however, B doesn’t earn a point; rather, service switches to B. Now B has a chance to earn a point by serving the ball in such a way that A will hit it out or otherwise play a problematic shot. Volleying under a single player’s serve can go on for a long time, and points can be scored at any time — they aren’t limited to the initial serving hit.

In most situations, the game ends once one player earns nine points. Many league rules require that winners lead by at least two points, though, which means that a game tied 8-8 will usually extend to 10 points; if there is another tie there, things will usually go to 12. A lot of this depends on the locality and, in more casual games, the players themselves.

Setting Up the Court

There are various court dimensions for different circumstances, namely singles or doubles games; there are also some differences based on geographic region and local custom. In nearly all cases, though, the official court size for singles matches is 32 feet (9.75 m) long, 21 feet (6.4 m) wide, and 15 feet (4.57 m) tall at the front wall. The tin is located at the base of the front wall and typically reaches 19 inches (48 cm) high.

Essential Equipment

Aside from the court, there are typically two essential tools needed for play. First is the rackets; second is the ball. Rackets tend to be slightly rounded and with a handle that is often a bit longer than it would be in tennis. Different manufacturers make different dimensions and most leagues have general rules when it comes to specific sizing, but a lot of the decision comes down to player comfort. The most essential attributes are usually control and precision. Players want rackets that have a wide enough surface area to maximize contact with the ball, but also are small enough to allow a lot of control when it comes to giving direction and precision to hits. Most are made of fiberglass and other synthetic materials, though some are made in a more traditional way with malleable wood.

An official squash ball is about 1.5 inches (4 cm) in diameter and is made of rubber. It’s typically hollow and may feel somewhat “squashy,” which is where the sport likely gets its name. The traditional English sport of rackets was played much like modern day squash but with a firm, hard ball, and some of the first accounts of the variation were called “squash rackets.”

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Discussion Comments


If you are interested in getting into squash there are lots of online forums that discuss the sport and can help you with your technique. Often these sites offer places where locals can meet up if you want to play a game with someone and are missing a squash partner.

Your local gym that has a squash court may also have events where players can meet and pair up for matches, or make a commitment to playing on a regular schedule together.

It is a good idea to ask around, as you may be surprised at the number of people that you know that already play this fun sport.


Squash is a great exercise for those who want a good cardio workout while having fun. The constant feet shuffling of squash and diving motions to go after the ball keep your body active and help develop your muscle responsiveness.

For someone of average weight playing squash for an hour can burn around 800 calories and is one of the best ways to get your heart working. Using an online calorie-burned calculator can you give you a more exact idea of what you can burn for your height and weight, based on how long you play.

Another good thing about squash is that it requires very little equipment, and most gyms supply rackets and the ball.


"how do you serve and does it have to bounce before the opponent can hit it back?"

Reply: you start off by spinning the racket to decide which players starts to serve, when decide you start off in the right box and you have to hit it above the out line and the middle line on the front wall, the ball then has go come back over halfway, but your opponent does not have to choose; they can let it bounce or hit it without it hitting the ground.


how do you serve and does it have to bounce before the opponent can hit it back?


this was so helpful!


Why is it called squash?


what skills are needed in Squash


You can create and manage squash ranking lists and tournaments online

you can also create and view other players profiles, search for clubs, view statistics and much more!

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