Comparing Squash to Racquetball

Squash players know it. Racquetball players know it. Equipment and ball makers know it. The “it” is how very different these two sports are. But it is shocking how many people confuse the two different sports. At first glance the racquets being used look similar with a general teardrop shape. Also, they are both played in rectangular shaped courts that are almost always indoors. Both are excellent forms of exercise and require good eye to hand coordination, stamina, strength, and strategy. But that is about where the similarities end.

The Court

Starting with dimensions, an official racquetball court is 20 by 40 by 20 feet; while a squash court measures 21 by 32 by 15 feet. But unlike racquetball where the ceiling is an important part of the shot making and strategy, in squash it is out of bounds. There is an out of bounds line on all four walls in squash meaning the ball must be hit below that line. A squash court has a tin strip across the front wall starting at the floor, is 19 inches high, and is also out of bounds

Racquetball vs. Squash Equipment

  • The Racquets: While they might look a lot alike, they really are different. Racquetball racquets cannot exceed 22 inches long and squash 27 inches. Both have gotten lighter as space age materials like graphite and even titanium have been introduced keeping them stiff. Both generally come in one size fits all grips but racquetball racquets sometimes give some choice to buyers. There is variability in the stringing tension and string thickness in both, however, racquetball stringing is typically a bit tighter than the 26 lbs often found in squash.

  • The Balls: Squash balls are about 4 cm in diameter with racquetballs being around 50% bigger. But the most important difference is that the racquetball is far livelier with much bigger bounces. As a result, even though squash is a fast game, racquetball is just that much faster.

    • Squash balls have different colored dots on them to signal how bouncy they are. Red or blue dots are exclusively for beginners. Single yellow dot or green dot is for intermediates. Double yellow dot is the most common and is used in clubs and professional tournaments. Orange balls are strictly for high altitude use. White balls are only used in outdoor squash.

    • Racquetball ball colors indicate the speed of the ball. Black is slowest. Blue is the most common and used by average players as is green which is a bit faster. Purple is fastest and is used in pro tournaments. Pink balls are also fast and are used by women pros supporting breast cancer causes. Red is usually an outdoor ball and is very fast. New to the scene are multi-colored balls and are usually faster than average.

Scoring

A typical squash match is first to three games of 9 or 11 points each. Games to 9 are usually “serve-in” style meaning only the server winning a rally scores a point. In 11 point squash games, whoever wins the rally gets the point and is the most common method.

In racquetball you only score on your serve. Racquetball matches are won by the first to win two 15 point games although the third game, if necessary, is usually to 11 in competitive circles. In both sports, winning by two points is typically required.

Comparing Serves

A squash serve is good if it is hit out of the air and hits the front wall above the serve line and below the out line. You only get one chance to hit the ball into alternating sides of the court starting from the opposite service box. The ball must hit the front wall before either side wall and, as mentioned earlier, cannot hit the ceiling. It is allowed to hit the back wall before landing on the receiving player's side.

In racquetball, the ball is bounced before contact is made in the serve. The ball must hit the front wall and then only one side wall at most. The serve is “in” if it goes past the short line and lands in the court before hitting the back wall. You are given two chances to get the ball in play.

Hinders vs. Obstructions

Since both sports recognize the close quarters of play, both will allow a point to be replayed if a player inadvertently gets in the way of the other player or of their shot. In racquetball it is called a hinder and the point is replayed.

In squash, it is an obstruction. In squash however, there is an important distinction. If the player doesn’t let you take your shot it is a let and the point replayed. If however, they are inside the arc of your swing or get in the way of your ball it is a stroke against that player and you are awarded the point. This is a judgement call and there are many nuances to this. In tournament play, an official (if any) is tasked with making this important call.

Both of these sports have devoted fans. And no wonder. As great forms of exercise and competition players have great fun through participation. Tennisracquets.com can enhance that fun by providing a great selection of racquets for players of all abilities. Need help deciding? Call us! And don’t forget to get a good pair of shoes to help you get around the court.