Personally, I enjoy playing racket sports regularly. However, some time ago, I wanted to diversify and try a new racket sport, and I found one!
If you’re like me and you love playing badminton and tennis, but you’re looking for a more challenging and intense racquet sport, then why not try squash?
This racket sport will offer you a new completely level of experience compared with badminton or tennis by putting your skills to work and leaving you feeling energized.
Squash may seem intimidating at first with its quick movements, intense rallies, and the speed of the small rubber ball. However, there’s nothing to worry about, especially when it comes to learning how to play squash.
I have no doubt that you will love it!
With clear and concise instructions from this guide, you’ll quickly find out how to play squash and enjoy it.
All it’s left now is to shake things up with squash!
What is squash?
Squash is a racquet sport played on a four-wall court using a hollow rubber ball and can be played individually or in doubles, with two and four players respectively.
To play squash, players need to possess skills such as speed and agility.
Although it is a unique sport with its own strategies and techniques, players can incorporate elements from other racket sports, such as badminton or tennis.
How to play squash – Singles and Doubles
When it comes to the basic steps of the game, squash singles and doubles are played almost the same way.
The key difference between the two formats is the way the players serve.
Other differences between singles and doubles include court size and scoring system, which do not directly impact the gameplay. However, these aspects are still important to consider in understanding how to play squash.
Keep in mind that squash singles and doubles are played on different court sizes. A doubles court measures 29 feet and 6 inches in length and 19 feet and 6 inches in width, while a singles court measures 32 feet by 21 feet.
To warm up, you and your friends can start by playing a relaxed game for 4 minutes without any rules, just to bounce the ball around on the court.
Are you a complete beginner?
If so, it’s important to choose the right squash ball. There are different types of balls you should know about, including:
- Double yellow ball
- Single yellow dot ball
- Blue dot ball
For beginners, it is recommended to use either the single yellow dot ball or the blue dot ball. These balls have a lower level of bounce and are easier to control.
You can do this by spinning the racket, tossing a coin, or playing rock-paper-scissors with your opponent or the other team if you’re playing doubles.
In squash doubles: Before the start of a rally, both teams must declare their order of serving, which cannot be changed throughout the match.
When serving in squash, you must have at least one foot in your service box. Hit the ball directly with the racket onto the front wall.
The serve must hit the front wall first between the service line and the top line, and then pass the short line of the opposite part of the court.
You have the option to either allow the ball to bounce once before hitting it or to hit it directly without letting it bounce.
Remember, you are not allowed to hit the ball twice or carry the ball.
Every time you win points consecutively, you have to alternate serving between the right and left sides of the service boxes.
If you serve and lose the rally, your opponent earns a point and gains the right to serve next.
In squash doubles: If the first server from the serving team wins the rally, then the server must continue to serve and alternate sides of the court until their team loses a rally.
If the first server of the serving team loses the rally, then the second player of the serving team serves. This continues until the serving team loses a point, at which point the serve switches to the other team and the first server on that team begins serving.
If a player reaches 11 points but the other player has 10 points, the game continues until one player gets ahead by two points.
The squash match is won by the first player who wins the best of 3 or 5 games.
How to play Squash – Alone
Squashing alone is not actually a squash game, but more like a session of practicing your squash skills and shots.
Why isn’t considered a squash game when playing alone? Simply because this is a game where you need to use your skills to beat your opponent.
This type of practice is great for any level of player, even beginners who want to learn how to play squash alone.
Let’s see what you can practice and how you can do it!
1. Straight drives
A straight drive is one of the most common shots when playing squash, making it vital to practice it as often as possible.
As a beginner, it is one of the first shots you need to learn when starting to play squash.
To succeed in a straight drive shot, you have to hit the ball straight onto the front wall and parallel to the side wall.
After hitting the ball straight onto the front wall, you should let it bounce once before hitting it again for the second time. To hit the ball for a straight drive, you just have to have a foot forward and swing the racket.
The straight drive shot helps you to:
- Keep the opponent at the back of the court
- Learn to hit the ball consistently off the back wall
You should practice the straight drive shot with both forehand and backhand sides.
When practicing on the forehand side, bring your left foot forward. When you practice on the backhand size, bring your right foot forward.
2. Straight volleys
The straight volley is another important squash shot that you should practice.
To execute this shot, you need to hit the ball directly out of the air without letting it bounce on the ground. You have to catch the ball in the air and keep hitting it.
Ideally, you want to position yourself high up on the court on the T-position and keep your chest forward and ready to hit.
There are several reasons why you should practice straight volleys:
- Speed up the game and reduce your opponent’s reaction time, making it harder for them to return the ball.
- Improve your hand-eye coordination and reflexes.
- Improve racket control.
Tip for beginners: As a beginner, you may find it difficult to hit straight volleys from the back of the court. It’s best to start by learning and practicing straight volleys while standing a bit closer to the front wall. These are called small volleys and they are easier than the ones hit from all the way back of the court.
3. Straight drops
In squash, a straight drop is a shot where the ball is hit straight and parallel to the side wall, ideally hitting the front wall before bouncing for the second time.
It is a fundamental shot and often used to keep the opponent at the back of the court. The straight drop is played with a forward swing of the racket and is one of the basic shots that beginners learn when starting to play squash.
Want to impress your opponent? Then practice straight drop shots. These are some of the most aggressive and dangerous types of squash shots that can transform you into an unbeatable player.
A straight drop is a soft shot that makes the ball lose its bounce before it reaches the front wall again. In an intense squash game, one such shot can catch your opponent off guard, especially if they are expecting a hard hit.
To practice this type of shot, you should stand close to the front wall and hit the ball softly from a short distance away.
Also, remember to position yourself correctly by transferring your weight onto the front leg and staying low on both feet. As you practice, you can gradually increase the distance between yourself and the front wall.
Tip for beginners: practice this shot on both the forehand and backhand sides, but for less time than the other shots, as it puts a lot of pressure on your thighs.
4. Drives to the service box
This shot is also known as a service box return, and it is a type of shot that you use in squash to return the serve received from your opponent.
That’s why you have to practice this shot by standing on the service box and hitting the ball continuously. You also have to move a lot when practicing this shot because the ball will not bounce in the same place.
Keep in mind that during a squash game, you do not want the ball to keep bouncing on your part of the service box, so try to hit it back parallel to the side wall and land it in the opponent’s service box.
This shot is perfect for practicing, especially for those who want to improve their footwork.
5. Figure 8’s or Butterflies
The figure 8’s are a type of drill shot that is commonly used by squash players when practicing alone.
To practice this move, you should:
- Position yourself in the center of the court.
- Swing the racket and hit the ball to the left and right sides of the court.
- Step forward and transfer your weight onto the front leg.
You can hit the ball off the air or by letting it bounce once. Practicing figure 8’s shots will help improve your racket and ball control.
Tips and Strategy on How to play better squash
1. Watch professional squash players
If you want to improve your squash game, it is always good to watch professional squash players.
By observing them, you can see their movements, tactics, and strategies that can help you learn more about this sport. After that, you can try to incorporate certain elements into your own game by playing with partners or alone.
When watching professional players for the first time, don’t try to analyze everything. Keep in mind that those players may have different levels of physicality, speed, and other skills, which can be overwhelming for a beginner.
So, watch them, but at the same time, take it easy.
2. Make sure your wrist is firm
When playing squash, it’s important to use a firm and locked wrist when hitting the ball.
By keeping your wrist firm, leaning your chest forward, and placing your weight on your right foot, you’ll be able to execute a powerful shot.
If you use too much wrist movement when hitting the ball, you’ll struggle to hit accurately and your opponent may gain an advantage over you.
3. Practice your serve
Each squash game starts with a serve, so knowing the types of serves that exist gives you a great advantage.
Practicing as many types of serves as possible brings diversity to your game, which can confuse your opponent and prevent them from anticipating your game.
There are several types of serves that you can learn, practice, and apply in your games, such as:
- Lob serve
- Drive serve
- Backhand serve
- Body serve
4. Improve your return serve
As we have seen, knowing special techniques to serve is important when you are the server in squash. However, during a game, you will also receive many hits when your opponent serves.
What happens when your opponent also knows how to vary their serves?
In this case, it is essential to practice and apply your knowledge of each type of serve. You can practice with other players and ask them to serve different types of serves. Through practice, you will also begin to notice that each serve behaves similarly each time.
For instance, intermediate squash players know that a lob serve, which is a high serve, will bounce off the side of the court, and the return must be hit very close to the wall from the side.
Simply practice and observe how each type of serve behaves.
5. Learn and Use hitting length tactics
After serving or returning the ball, it’s important to maintain pressure on your opponent.
One effective way to score points is by utilizing various tactics for hitting the length ball.
You have two options:
Hitting the ball straight or cross-court, depending on the situation and the positioning of your opponent.
It’s important to analyze the court carefully and determine the appropriate time to use each tactic.
For example: if your opponent is in the T-zone, hitting cross-court is not recommended. Even if such a hit opens up the court, it also gives your opponent a chance to volley the ball, which is dangerous for you.
A better technique in this situation is to hit the ball straight. This forces your opponent to leave their dominant T-zone position and move to the side to hit the ball. When your opponent is trapped in the back, you can take control and hit the ball cross-court. This technique doesn’t give your opponent time to recover or regain control of the T-zone.
Another case is when you have good focus and awareness of your opponent’s T-position.
In this case, a cross-court hit can benefit you. If you see that your opponent is slightly moving across, trying to place you down on the wall, that’s the time to hit cross-court.
6. Hit high when you’re stuck
If you find yourself cornered by your opponent and placed in the back of the court, you’ll need to find a way to escape.
One effective strategy to get out of such situations is by hitting the ball high on the front wall. This buys you some time to move out of there. In addition to regaining your dominant position, the high ball will be returned deep, sending your opponent to the back of the court.
By using this tactic, you successfully blocked your opponent’s attack, regain control of the game, and reposition yourself in the dominant T-area. From there, you can play better against your opponent and increase your chances of winning the point.
7. Hit the ball to the side walls
If you want to gain an advantage over your opponent, try using shots that will send the ball towards the side walls.
This technique is particularly effective when your opponent is trying to trap you. Even if your opponent responds with a tight ball, you can still respond with a tight ball close to the side wall.
Hitting the ball so close to the side wall will make it difficult for your opponent to hit it from a good angle. The wall will interfere with his/her racket angles, making it more challenging for he/she to execute a successful shot.
8. Vary the power in your shots
If you want to win in squash, try to avoid creating any opportunities for your opponent
One way to do this is to avoid establishing a predictable rhythm while playing. Try to mix up your shots instead of hitting the same way repeatedly. Vary your serves by hitting some low shots, and some high shots, and use different tactics such as hitting straight or cross-court.
By keeping your opponent guessing and not letting them read your moves, you’ll be able to maintain control and keep the pressure on them.
For example, you can hit the ball really hard, which will send your opponent to the back of the court, and then you can follow it up with a quick drop shot. You’ll likely score a point because your opponent won’t have enough time to run from the back of the court to the front to retrieve the shot.
9. Control the T
The player who has a strong position on the T-zone of the court holds all the power in the game of squash. Therefore, it’s crucial that you control that area. If your opponent is in that zone, try to send them to the back or side of the court to regain control.
10. Move, move, move
In squash, you have to move constantly.
You should not stay still and wait to see where the ball will bounce. Having excellent reflexes and footwork makes all the difference in this sport. You need to anticipate where the ball will be and position yourself accordingly, not only moving forward and backward but also side to side.
A helpful tip to improve your footwork is to always stay on your toes instead of having your entire foot on the court. This keeps your body in a more balanced and agile position, allowing you to move quickly and change direction.
Now that you know how to play squash, simply grab some squash equipment and have fun!