What Is Squash?

Home & Family, Outdoors, People, Sports
on September 29, 2011

In addition to something done to bugs or a healthy vegetable harvested in the fall, squash refers to a popular racquet sport played on an indoor court with four walls. The sport provides fun exercise for players of all levels.

History of squash. The history of squash can be traced back thousands of years to a time when someone decided to hit a ball with his or her hand or fist against a hard object such as a wall. In the 1800s, the English became obsessed with hitting balls with racquets (tennis, by the way, had been around for more than 600 years in France before the English discovered the therapeutic and recreational value of hitting a ball really, really hard at something). This obsession with racquet sports infiltrated, of all places, Fleet Prison in London, where, according to World Squash Federation CEO Ted Wallbutton, "mainly debtors took their exercise by hitting a ball against walls, of which there were many, with rackets (sic) and so started the game of 'Rackets.'" In 1830 at the Harrow School in England, the game of Rackets evolved into what is now known as squash.

Basics of the game. Squash is similar to racquetball. A player must hit the ball against the forward wall in hopes that the opponent will not be able to hit it back. A game can be played by two opposing individuals or two opposing teams made up of two players each. An official squash ball is 4 centimeters in diameter and made of squashy rubber, unlike a racquetball ball, which is made of hard rubber. Squash sports vary in size, depending on the age and level of players.

An international sport. Players from 130 countries play squash on more than 147,000 courts; 116 countries have national associations in the World Squash Federation (WSF), international squash's governing body. Of those nations, none has seen the amount of recent success as Pakistan, which, despite its limited number of courts, has produced some of the world's best squash players of the last half-century. The WSF holds singles and doubles championships for men, women, junior men, junior women and masters age groups.