So you’ve decided to take up the game of squash. Let me be the first to congratulate you on making a great decision. Squash, the sport, is a very interesting game that I know you’ll fall in love with and never fall out. But before you head off to the squash court for your first game, let me help you make sure you’re properly geared up for the court. Let’s get to it, shall we? Here’s a list of the squash equipment you will need for your new found love.
Squash rackets (also spelled squash racquets, so don’t get confused) are the basic essential piece of equipment every squash player needs. The shape of rackets and the material from which they are made has evolved over the centuries since the game was first played in the 18th century. Earlier rackets were made of wood and the head took on a more rounded shape. Today, rackets are made of aluminum and graphite composites, which make them lighter and more indestructible. Though a squash racket may look like a tennis racket from a distance, don’t be fooled, they are nothing alike. And don’t try using a tennis racquet for squash because they don’t perform the same either. So how do you choose a squash racket?
1. Get the Right Shape
Squash rackets are not made from the same mold. They come in a few different shapes and sizes to fit different skill levels and style of play. For example, if you are a beginner, you should get a ‘teardrop’ shaped squash racket. These tend to be more forgiving, easier to use, and offer more power than the ‘classic’ head-shaped rackets.
One of these classic head-shaped rackets is a closed shape or bridge racket, which features shorter strings and a smaller sweet spot, but provides greater control for increased accuracy. This racket does not have the power of a teardrop racket, but it’s favored by stronger and more skilled players.
Beam (handle) size is also important to note here. Squash rackets have different beam widths that tend to be between 16 and 21mm. A thin beamed racket will give you more maneuverability and control, while a thicker beamed racket tends to be better for generating power.
2. Weigh Your Options
Squash rackets come in different weight classes (from 110 – 190 grams) and you need to make sure you check the weight of the racket you’re buying to make sure you will be able to handle it. A lighter weight racket will suit you well if you have a slower swing. The lighter the racket, the faster you can swing it, and the more power you will generate. If you have a fast swing, then you will want to go for a heavier racket as it will give you more control. Seasoned players prefer heavier squash rackets as they have already developed their speed and would rather have more control as it gives them an edge to control not only the ball but the game as well.
Aluminum rackets are heavier and difficult to damage, but produce vibrations when hitting the ball. Graphite composite rackets, on the other hand, are lighter and preferred by most players. However, they can break if not used properly. So, if you are a beginner or have a temper you can’t control yet, aluminum may be best as the star of your squash equipment.
In the same vein, a bigger head will also give you more power but less control and vice-versa. So you might want to consider this also as you hunt for your next squash racket.
The best way to find the racket weight that works for you is to experiment with different rackets. Once you settle on a weight that fits your style of play and experience level, you can start developing as a player and acquire a heavier racket as you climb the skill ladder.
3. It’s a Balancing Act
Getting the right racket is a balancing act. No, you don’t have to walk a tightrope. You have to strike a balance between head and weight of the squash racket. Striking a balance here will give you a racket will give you the perfect balance between power and control. This will result in you playing a very good game.
4. Racket Throat – Open or Closed
You will find that squash rackets have 2 types of racket throat, “open” and “closed”. Squash rackets with open throats have a larger stringbed that creates a larger sweet spot. This makes them more forgiving on off-center shots if you’re a less skilled player. On the other hand, closed throat squash rackets have a smaller stringbed that provides a smaller, better quality sweet spot if you’re a more advanced player. Speaking of strings, a denser pattern improves control while an open pattern improves power. A traditional string pattern gives you the best of both worlds. You can also find fan-shaped main strings.
Squash Gear (Clothes)
After your squash racket, the clothes you wear when playing a game of squash are another crucial part of your equipment. The trick to dressing properly is to avoid cotton as it retains moisture, causing your clothes to stick to your body. Remember that squash is an intense game and you’re bound to sweat a lot on the court. Fortunately, most sporting apparel today is made from synthetic materials that dissipate moisture quickly. These keep you feeling fresh and comfortable as your sweat won’t stick to you as much as it will with cotton apparel. The bottom line, when it comes to choosing clothes to don on the squash court, is comfort.
Squash balls come in different sizes for different levels. Here’s a quick guide to help you out:
- Intro (blue dot) – beginners and young juniors
- Progress (red dot) – a step above beginner also for recreational players
- Competition (single yellow dot) – intermediate players or for use on very cool courts
- Pro (double yellow dot) – advanced or professional level
Gear Up and Play
Now that you are equipped for the court, let’s go and give the game of squash a try, shall we? See you on the court. If you don’t find me, don’t worry. After all, squash is a popular sport, so you’re bound to find other people to play with.