Cover: Canadian pro squash player Shawn Delierre
It takes a lot of trust to follow someone through a glass door into a room with one exit, armed with just a racquet, or ummm…racket if you’re playing squash.
That glass (and sometimes tiny) door is one of only a few things racquetball and squash have in common. You can quickly learn this by bringing the wrong racquet (racket) to a game, watching both sports at the Pan Am Games, or reading the rest of this.
Racquet or racket?
The racquetball people call it a ‘racquet’ and it can be up to 55.88 cm long with a tear-drop stringed area. Squash uses a ‘racket’, and not just to be different but because ‘Rackets’ was the name English prisoners gave an earlier version of the game. For real. A squash racket is longer (up to 68.6 cm) but the stringed surface is narrower.
What about the balls?
Racquetball > squash ball (by 42% in diameter) and they’re bouncier. But hey, before the racquetball folk get all smug, both balls are hollow and rubber. Plus, squash owes its name to those mischievous school kids who realized a punctured Rackets ball ‘squashed’ on impact, making it harder to hit.
Court size (singles)
Since one sport was invented in England, and the other in America, here’s metric and imperial to make everyone happy.
Racquetball (LxWxH): 12.19m x 6.10m x 6.10m (40 ft. x 20 ft. x 20 ft.)
Squash (LxWxH): 9.75m x 6.4 m x 5.64m (32 ft. x 21 ft. x 18.5 ft., rounded to tenth)
How to serve
Squash is more confining on this one, there is a box on the court you have to stand in, and the ball has to be sent into the opposite quarter.
This is what we mean:
In racquetball you can stand anywhere in the service box and let it rip. The ball has to drop behind the service box without hitting the back wall first.
How to win
You must have the serve to score in a racquetball match, which would make it much longer, save for the fact it’s best of three. Games are to 15, unless a tie-breaking third game is required, which is played to 11. Squash players score points from any rally, and play their games to 11, with the winner of a match earning the best of five. In Canada, you must win by two in both sports.
Canada’s Jonathon Power is a former squash world no. 1, the first North American to ever do this. Finally, squash is also among eight sports on the shortlist for Tokyo 2020.
Jonathon Power doing his thing