A Beginner’s Guide to Squash

Wellbeing Tips
February 5, 2019

Fast as lightning and requiring a high level of physical fitness, squash—the sport, not the vegetable—is tough, but super-rewarding. Read on to find out more.

Although it hasn’t quite achieved the same status as tennis or badminton, squash is a fantastic sport for fitness fanatics. Forbes ranked it as the number-one healthiest sport on the planet, and this holistic sport’s health benefits stretch from sharper hand-eye coordination and greater agility to improved strength. Check out our beginner’s guide to playing squash, and then discover a couple of things you probably didn’t know about the sport.

How do you play squash?

Don’t know how to play squash? No worries, it’s a simple game. Basically, the aim is to hit the ball against the wall until your opponent is no longer able to return it. And… that’s pretty much all there is to it. If you’re just beginning to learn how to play squash, you’ll want to remember this key piece of advice: make your opponent do the running.
According to the pros, the person who is in the center of the court is better able to control the flow of the game, making it more difficult to your opponent to get a foothold and giving you a better chance of winning.
And if you’re wondering, “What’s the difference between squash and racquetball?”, the answer is, “Just about everything” — from the equipment used to the layout of the court and the rules. Even the serving styles are different!
Want to learn more? Check out these awesome tips for newbie players.

What are the health benefits of squash?

We’ve already covered this a little bit, but hey, here’s a more in-depth take. First off, squash is a tried-and-tested calorie killer. According to Livestrong.com, a person who weighs 155 pounds can burn 422 calories after just 30 minutes of intense squash action. The heavier you weigh, the more calories you can expect to burn.
And that’s not all: squash may also help you stave off the Grim Reaper himself. Yes, that’s right, according to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, people who participate in racket sports can reduce their risk of death by a spectacular 47%. So now that you know a little bit more about the sport—and its awesome health benefits—let’s take a look at some fun facts about the sport.

1. As sports go, it’s a youngster

Hitting a small ball with a racket is nothing new, of course, with the French game of “le Paume”—created in the 12th century—acting as something of a common ancestor for all the racket sports that came after it. However, squash’s history can be traced back to around 1830, when it was invented by pupils at Harrow School in England. At almost 200 years old, that makes squash a bit of a spring chicken when it comes to sport. Wrestling dates as far back as 15,300 years, while the first reference to running as a sport was made in 776 B.C.

2. The ball moves faster than… a lot of things!

Squash pros hit the ball hard. Really hard. 176 mph hard, if you want to be exact. That speed, recorded by Cameron Pilley, is the world speed record for smashing a squash ball. It’s faster than the fastest tennis serve in history—163.7 mph. It’s way faster than the cheetah, earth’s speediest land animal, which clocks in at around 60 mph. Okay, okay, it’s not quite as fast as the fastest road car, but it makes a valiant effort. Bottom line: squash is a seriously fast-paced game.

3. A nuclear-powered sport

While the Manhattan Project and the humble game of squash might seem worlds apart, there’s actually a pretty compelling connection between them. The very first nuclear reactor, built in 1942 during the heat of WWII, was produced in an old squash court on the University of Chicago’s Hyde Park campus. The court no longer stands, but where the bleachers used to be, there’s now a bronze statue commemorating the role that this unassuming sporting facility played in one of the 20th century’s great technological innovations.

Feel like getting involved? There are lots of squash clubs all over the U.S., perfect for anyone who wants to squish the a ball and learn how to play squash.