The ins and outs of squash

Bouncing in at number 67 on the ParticipACTION Play List, the sport of squash has been described as “turbocharged chess.” It’s a fast-paced game of strategy and coordination that offers a physical and mental challenge.

Squash is an intense workout – in one hour, a player can expend between 600 to 1000 calories. In addition to being an excellent cardiovascular workout, it helps build muscular strength and endurance.

Played by two players (or four in doubles), squash is a racquet sport played on an indoor four-walled court that is 9.75 metres by 6.4 metres. The court surface is divided into three “boxes” by lines drawn on the court floor. It’s not necessary to have a court if you’re open to thinking creatively – a school hallway or playground wall can also do the trick.

The racquet and ball used in squash are both smaller and lighter than the ones seen in tennis. A squash ball is hollow, made of rubber and measures approximately 40 mm in diameter. Protective eyewear is recommended.

During a game, players take turns hitting the ball against the front wall, above “the tin” (the lower area of the front wall, extending 43 cm up from the floor) and below the “out line” (near the top edge). The ball may strike the side or back walls at any time, as long as it hits below the out line.

After the ball hits the front wall, it is allowed to bounce once on the floor (and any number of times against the side or back walls) before a player must return it. Players may move anywhere around the court, although accidental or deliberate obstruction of the other player’s movements is forbidden. Players typically return to the centre of the court after making a shot.

Points are awarded if, during the course of play:

  • The receiver fails to strike the ball before it has bounced twice
  • The receiver hits the ball out (either on or above the out line, or on the tin)
  • A player’s shot misses the front wall
  • A player interferes with or obstructs his or her opponent

Each game is played to 11 points. The player who scores 11 points first wins the game unless the score is tied at 10, at which point the game continues until one player is ahead by two points. A point is awarded on each rally, meaning that either player may score, regardless of who served. The server, upon winning a rally, scores a point and retains the serve; if the receiver wins the rally, he or she scores a point and becomes the server.

Visit the Squash Canada website to view the nationwide list of clubs taking part in Squash Day in Canada on September 30th.