Squash or Squash Racquets (its little used official title) is an indoor court game played in a rectangular room (the court) by two adjacent opponents, each using a racquet to propel a small black rubber ball against a common front wall. The game was first devised and played around 1850 in England. Basically, a point is scored when your opponent fails to return your shot properly before the ball's second bounce off the floor.
Squash is similar to Racquetball, another indoor court game, except that in Squash the ceiling is out of bounds and the ball must strike the front wall at least 19 inches above the floor.
The floor of a Squash court is 32 feet long by 21 feet wide. The front wall is 15 feet high and the two side walls slope downwards to meet the usually clear glass back wall, which is 7 feet high. The red lines drawn on the floor or walls either mark the playing boundaries or come into play only during the Serve (the initial start of each point's play).
The game is played to a score of 9 points and the first player to win 3 games wins a match. A player must serve the ball in order to record a point. Therefore, a game can remain scoreless for some time while the players exchange serves back and forth without tallying a point for either one.
Squash bears very little resemblance to Tennis because in Tennis, the two opponents face each other across a net and there are no side walls. The close proximity of players to each other in Squash demands a keen understanding of the rules of the game in order to ensure safe competition. Eye protection is required. Rule Number 1: Never attempt to strike the ball if any part of that action may cause injury to your opponent.
The length of a Squash racquet is similar to the length of a Tennis racquet, but a Squash racquet's smaller sized head, shaft and grip mean that it weighs about half as much as a Tennis racquet (though it is larger and heavier than a Badminton racquet). A Racquetball racquet is about half the length of a Squash racquet. Note: Flailing Squash racquets can be lethal weapons.
The Squash ball is the same size as a Golf ball. Because the ball is hollow, it tends to squash (or flatten) against the front wall when struck--hence the name of the game. The Squash racquet can propel this ball to speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour, making for an extremely fast-paced and exhaustive exercise. The quickness and dexterity required to play Squash at the higher levels can be mind-boggling. The game may be accurately described as high-speed physical Chess. Note: A struck Squash ball can turn into a lethal flying projectile.
Squash is a game of strategy and tactics with an emphasis on attrition. The outcome of a single point, not to mention an individual game or match, relies heavily on aerobic conditioning as the players attempt to retrieve the ball from all four corners of the court. Other than a 90 second rest period between games, Squash play is continuous, with almost no time to catch one's breath between serves. A Squash match usually takes an hour to complete.
The intense cardiovascular workout from Squash easily places it among the most rigorous of athletic activities. However, the game is enjoyable and healthful at all levels of play and is easy to learn, owing much to the lightness of the racquet and the softness of the ball. Unlike Tennis, there is no chasing after balls that regularly fly off onto adjoining courts. Extended rallies (long points) are also evident at all levels of play.
Fortunately, there is no hidden mystery to understanding the game, nor is there a genetic requirement in order to excel. Like just about anything else, if you do it long enough, you get good at it! I figure a Squash workout is as good an excuse as any to take a shower. It also serves as a good excuse to get into shape and clean up the rest of your life.