Frequently asked questions on squash - general squash tips
e-Lessons Shots Drills

+ Share page with friends!
Your Name:
Friend Emails:
Your Email - optional:

Frequently asked questions on squash and general squash tips

  • How many different size courts are there?
  • 9pt, 15pt or 11pt?
  • What's the difference between Hardball and Softball squash?
  • Are eyeguards neccessary?
  • Choose set 1 or set 2 when its 8-8 ?
  • How to minimize feet/knee injuries in squash?
  • Can one serve overhead like tennis?
  • The rules on excessive swings

    How many different size courts are there?

    The official international squash court is 32 ft. long and 21 ft wide. In North America you will find many converted Hardball singles courts (18.5 ft wide) and racquetball courts (20 ft wide). Otherwise they should all be of correct length. See FAQ #5 for the differences between Hardball singles squash and Softball squash.

    9pt, 15pt or 11pt?

    In all scoring systems (British (upto 9) and American (upto 15)), you get to choose the side to serve from when you win a hand-out. You alternate serve sides thereafter, upon winning points.

    The 15 Pt scoring also refered to as PAR, point a rally, was first adopted by the pro men's tour in order to manage their tournament time more efficiently. It was in an era when the game of attrition was popularised. The combination of the long rallies, with points only going to the server, made for some extremely long matches. The ball would get so lively that players with super fitness just got to almost any ball until one of them finally broke down and could no longer keep up the pace. Squash had become as much a fitness contest as it was a racket skills match. Although it was a masterful strategy to win in this way it also almost ruined the game as the matches slogged on and on and were often quite boring to watch.

    11 pt scoring is the same as 15 pt PAR scorring, except games only go to 11. This is the scoring currently in use by the Men's and Women's proffesional squash associations.

    In the original regulation game to 9, players would typically play most defensively when receiving and more aggresively when they had the ball in hand and could get a point. Playing PAR scoring altered that strategy and was observed to reward more agressive play and make the game more interesting for the spectators. Sounds good, but more changes that ensued over the years in racket technology, other support equipment and physical training raised new questions about which scoring method is best. The technological advancements in rackets most certainly balanced the field for players' styles and returned most advantages to the shotmakers. A perfect example of the two styles clashing just happened yesterday when Jon Power shot the feet out from under Peter Nicol and his traditional, more conservative, play style. And in games with traditional 9 Pt scoring.

    The consensus on scoring is that in a PAR game once a player is down by about half the point-spread he has a poor chance of making a come-back for a win. The leading scorer only has to win half as many rallies to win and has momentum on his side, which is believed to take the guts away from the underdog. Most people agree it is good sport and most exciting to see someone come from behind and win, which is what the 9 point game allows and why it is so highly regarded as the best method.

    Because of the added power and manuverability of the newer rackets and support gear, many people believe the PSA should go back to the 9 point game which will now enhance the best of both styles. By the way, it is mostly only the PSA that embraces the 15 point game. WISPA plays to 9 and so do all of the major national tournaments around the world. It is also played in 99.99% of recreational games. Do you play PAR there in your Illinois club?? If so, you might want to reconsider and play the traditional way now that you are more aware of its effects, pro/con

    What's the difference between Hardball and Softball squash?

    Several differences (used to be a nice website around explaining this, but can't remember it offhand). Not many folks play hardball anymore, not even in the old hotbeds like New England and Philadelphia areas. Obviously, the biggest difference is that, unlike the smushy hollow ball in softball, the ball in hardball is rather like a rock hard ping pong (table tennis) ball, very lively and extremely responsive to spin. Rallies were bloodcurdling. The court in hardball is narrower by about about 2.5 feet, tin lower by about 2 inches. The sidewalls are also marked differently, coming down in a stepwise fashion, compared to the straight angled line in softball. The hardball game is a very different game, probably closer to racquets than softball squash.

    The ball is about the same size but hard and bouncey. The courts are narrower, floor is painted, and the out line is different (I did not know about the tin height ... interesting). It is a very offensive game of shot making not a game of patience and fitness. The strategies of the two games are very different. Hardball singles is hardly played any more, even though half the courts in the US are still hardball.

    Hardball doubles is a very popular sport even though there are only a handfull of courts in the world. The hardball doubles court is a huge court that feels like four squash courts put together. The hardball doubles tour last year had hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money. Probably more than all the North American PSA tournaments.

    Might be interesting to note that hardball is similar to racquetball in that turning is very common, so is hitting your opponent and every player worn goggles. And getting hit with a hardball or racquetball is much more severe than getting hit with a softball. So maybe you can try to understand why many US people wonder what is the big deal with turning and possibly getting hit with a softball. Most of our backgrounds are either racquetball or hardball.

    Are eyeguards neccessary?

    The risk of eye injury in racquet sports such as squash is "high" according to the American Academies of Ophthalmology and Pediatrics, the American Optometric Association, and eye care professionals who have studied sports eye injuries. Fortunately, these injuries are almost totally preventable with appropriate protective equipment.


    What eye injuries could I receive?

    Even a minor eye injury can cause retinal detachment and legal blindness. Bleeding within the eye may cause glaucoma years later. Orbital fractures are possible. A person who lost one eye and faces cataract surgery on the remaining eye has far more reason to be anxious than does a person with two good eyes.

    Am I likely to be injured without eye protection?

    Dr. Tom Pashby reports "racquet sports are the #1 cause of serious ocular injuries worldwide." Dr. Paul Vinger cites a study indicating a "25% probability that an unprotected squash player will suffer a significant eye injury after 25 years of playing three days a week."

    Do only novices receive eye injuries?

    No, but this is a widely held misconception. Ophthalmologist Dr. Michael Easterbrook's experience, among many others, suggests that "the experienced player is actually more at risk. The novice players in squash often watch the front wall and not the ball. The experienced player never takes his or her eye off the ball in order to anticipate the next shots."

    Can you cite top players who have been injured?

    Jonathan Power was in top form and looked like winning his second World Open title in 2002. Up a game in the semifinal with David Palmer, he was hit in the eye with Palmer's racquet. Power did not suffer permanent damage, but he did not open his left eye for some weeks, and had to retire from the match.

    Alex Gough was up a game and beating John White in the 2006 Motor City Open Semifinal when White hit Gough in the eye with his racquet. "Play was suspended for five minutes as Gough was treated...Gough's eye continued to ooze blood for the remainder of the match...The blow, coming late in the second game...cost him the point, and the momentum - as White prodeeded to dominate the next two games to win."

    Julian Wellings hit Nathan Dugan square in the eye with the ball during a freak fit of anger, and Dugan's full vision did not return for three months.

    Will Carlin, former U.S. champion ranked as high as #60 in the world, received a detached and torn retina from a ball strike. He has since endured two long surgeries, $50k+ in medical expenses, extreme pain, nausea, anxiety and a flood of "floaters." He also lost two years from a promising professional squash career. Please read US National Champion, Will Carlin's story.

    So it is clear that top players suffer important match loses as well as permanent visual disfunction as a result of not wearing eyeguards. Players of lesser skill are at far greater risk.

    Since I very nearly lost my left eye in a squash accident, I wear the best eye protector I can find. It is made by Leader, and it is comfortable, solid, light, never fogs up, and fits over my glasses. It is also expensive (about $50), but you don't want to go through what I went through that day. I definitely recommend wearing eye protection at all times.

    The arguments against eye-protection are very weak. My feel is the same people who don't wear eye-protection don't believe in wearing seat belts either.. Eye goggles are there for the UNEXPECTED situation which only needs to happen once in your playing career.

    People are confusing dumb luck with skill by abandoning eye protection and relying on their perception of supernatural angels overhead. Neither are respected by Murphy and his law.

    Choose set 1 or set 2 when its 8-8 ?

    The complexity comes from the fact that you have to sum an infinite number of probabilities, because in theory you could keep playing all night without scoring another point.

    I programmed a statistical simulation, and (if my algorithm is bug-free) when two players are evenly matched, choosing 1 point causes you to win 33.3% of the time and choosing 2 points causes you to win approximately 39.8% of the time.

    Obviously this ignores questions of which player is more tired, any advantage from either serving or receiving the serve, whether the player is currently serving to the forehand or backhand, etc.

    The better you are than your opponent, the more advantage there is in choosing to play 2 points. But as people have guessed, if you're much worse than your opponent there is indeed a point where it's better to play just 1. That point seems to be when you win between 38% and 39% of all points played.

    So the result is if you are consistently outscored 2-1, for example, then there is a slight 14%-to-12% advantage in choosing to play to 9 instead of 10. And the worse you are, within reason, the greater the advantage.

    But as Faraz says, if your opponent is THAT much better then how did you get to 8-8? Since the advantage is quite small, I'd recommend playing to 10 even if your opponent is much better, on the assumption that they may be tired, hurt, suffering a mental lapse, or simply not as good as you think they are.

    How to minimize feet/knee injuries in squash?

    Squash is certainly a demanding sports on the lower body, so a proper understanding of the injuries are essential to minimizing your risk of injury. Most injuries can be avoided with losing weight, good footwork and playing regularly. Most beginners and intermediate players make the mistake of running to the ball and coming to a quick stop to play their shot. This places excessive shock loads into the knees and you increase the risk of an ankle sprain. Good footwork involves stretching and lunging to the ball. If you watch Jansher Khan you will see that he moves around with very economical movement.

    For beginners and intermediate players, the following two causes are the main factors affecting feet and knee injuries in squash.

    1) Playing squash while being over-weight

    Result: Excessive loads go into your feet/knees as a result of the extra weight that should not be there

    Symptons: Knee pain

    Treatment: Reduce weight to normal level. Load going into knees will lessen and pain should go away.

    2) Not playing frequently enough (less than once a week).

    Result: Muscles do not strengthen to required level to play squash. Callouses can not form in hi-friction areas such as heels and toes.

    Symptons: Painful blisters develop as the outer skin layer seperates from the inner layer due to hi shearing forces. Treatment: Play more frequently. Your skin will grow tougher and thicker in areas where the blisters form. The layers will build up and will form a tough skin to protect against blisters from forming. The tough skin also provides good shock absorption.

    Can one serve overhead like Tennis?

    Yes you can serve overhand, but no good player consistently does that. At the novice level it can be an effective serve as the pace of the ball can make the ball very difficult to return. This is especially true if the player has a weak backhand. At the better levels a good player will just put this ball away for a straight drop or drive.

    The rules on excessive swings

    The short answer is: Warning, followed by a Stroke next time.

    The longer answer is:

    12.10 The Referee shall not award a stroke to a player who causes interference with an excessive swing.

    (G15) 17.2 Offences with which the Referee shall deal under this rule include audible and visible obscenities, verbal and physical abuse, dissent to Marker or Referee, abuse of racket, ball or court and coaching, other than during the interval between games. Other offences include significant or deliberate physical contact (Rule 12.12.1), excessive racket swing (Rule 12.4), unfair warm-up (Rule 3.2), late back on court (Rule 7.4), dangerous play or action (Rule and time-wasting (Rule 7.6).

    (G16) 17.3 The Referee shall apply one of the following penalties for these and any other offences.

    Warning (called a Conduct Warning).

    Stroke awarded to opponent (called a Conduct Stroke).

    Game awarded to opponent (called a Conduct Game).

    Match awarded to opponent (called a Conduct Match).

    Next article -> The ten commandments of squash

  • Questions?
    Web site designed by Online Scheduling Software
    Developers of Event Registration software