One of the main questions many people have when they are first thinking about playing squash is what are the benefits? Some of them seem clear, such as squash is a quick sport to play and so fits really well into high-paced modern living. However, some of the benefits are more subtle and may be hard
I have tried to set out what I see as the main benefits of playing squash in the following areas:
There are so many advantages of the sport, with very few disadvantages on the other side, and I hope some of these might inspire someone to take it up, or someone interested in several sports to pick squash as their game of choice.
1. Simple To Start
To get going in squash, very few skills are really required before you can have something that at least resembles a game in some way.
This is in stark contrast to something like cricket or rock climbing, for example.
If you have at least at bit of hand-eye coordination you should be able to hit some kind of forehand towards the massive front wall. There is plenty of it to hit.
If you at least reasonably mobile and don’t mind a bit of running, then you can hit the ground running in squash.
2. Make Progress Quickly
The next point links on from that. You can get better at squash really fast, much quicker than most other sports.
There are basically two central shots, the forehand and the backhand. Once you have at least a basic idea of these, you are off and away.
A few simple techniques learned at the start can really help you out. These would probably include:
- Learn how to grip the handle of the racket correctly
- Learn where to put your feet as you play different shots.
- Practise going back to the T in between shots before this skill becomes more automatic later on
3. Weight Loss
It is clear that squash is great workout, and it can be used as a great way of losing weight, particularly if combined with a healthy diet.
On average, a player of reasonable weight would burn somewhere between 800 to 1000 calories per hour of squash play. This is one of the highest calorie counts of any sport.
Squash also develops discipline and mental determination, two psychological traits that are crucial for successfully losing weight.
4. Strengthen Muscles And Joints
Squash will really strengthen muscles all around your body, and particularly those in your lower body, and core.
It is great at strengthening muscles around key joints such as the knees. This can reduce knee pain in some sufferers of this.
I have heard several people that suffer from lower back pain being recommended to play squash by doctors. Apparently the twisting motion that takes place repeatedly throughout a squash match is excellent for massaging and strengthening the lower back, and keeping areas around the discs in the back supple and robust.
5. Relatively Few Injuries
Thankfully squash is a very safe sport. There are only a few risks. These included muscle tears. This could be because you slip on court, or just due to normal wear and tear.
Other issues are potential eye injuries caused by being struck by the ball or the racket of your opponent.
However, the sport becomes even safer if you carry out a few sensible precautions such as:
- Wear goggles to erase the risk eye injury if struck
- Wear safe and appropriate footwear
- Warm up and warm down
- Keep an eye on sweat on court, and mop any excessive sweat off the court with a towel in between points
- If there is any risk of collision with an opponent, or you think you are going to strike them with either the ball or your racket, then err on the side of caution. Play a let.
6. Develops Strategic Thinking
Squash really is like chess with a ball. It really fires up the strategy part of your mind, and your abilities to assess, evaluate and problem solve.
You will notice strengths and weaknesses of your opponent, often as early as the warm-up. It is up to you to come with a plan to counter these.
Also, tactics and game-plans will change quickly throughout the course of a match. Some players will be fitter, others less so; some more mobile, others less.
Every game will be different! The more you play, the more quickly you will start to spot patterns of play and behavior. You can tap into your experience of how to address these issues.
These skills are transferable into your normal everyday life.
7. It’s A Social Sport
There are many great opportunities to develop friendships and sense of community and belonging through squash.
There are many clubs and associations that run opportunities to mix with others, and join leagues, internal ladders and other structures.
Some of the most common ways of mixing with others whilst playing squash include the following:
- Join a club
- Join mix-in (a gathering where players play usually one game against a variety of different opponents in succession)
- Join a league
- Join a society at a college, university or work-place
- Many squash clubs are linked to other sports clubs or gyms
- Play with good friends
- Play with others of different genders and ages
8. It’s A Fast Sport
The time we all have available in our lives is shrinking year by year, and squash is the perfect sport for this state of affairs.
An average squash match will normally last anything between ten to forty minutes. Including maybe a bit of travel, changing and showering, you may well be only out of the house for between an hour to maybe two at the most.
9. It Can Be Played At Sociable Times
For those with children, it is common to play squash after your kids have gone to bed in the evening. It is great that you need no natural light to play this sport.
Also squash games can be slotted into other schedules such as around work or going to the gym. Many gyms have squash courts attached, and you can have a quick match slotted into your training regime.
10. It’s Cheap
Compared to many other sports, squash is pretty cheap.
Many clubs and gyms require players to pay a small fee for ‘lights’. This is basically a charge for the court per forty minutes or per hour. A normal charge would be somewhere in the $6 per hour region, which is not a massive amount especially when shared between both players.
Other fees might be a club membership, but usually this is somewhere in the region of $5-$30 per month, depending on the type of establishment. Other than this, all you need is just a couple of pieces of simple gear and away you go.
11. Not Much Gear Required
Compared to many other sports, you only need a few pieces of gear to get going. Some kind of racket and a ball will get you started. A reasonable pair of non-marking shoes would probably make sense as well, but then that is it.
The quality of that gear really isn’t as important as in many other sports. A good squash player will be able to use a very cheap racket just fine.
Balls are pretty much standard price and are not expensive.
Like all things you can invest to get better results. However, to start off with this is definitely not necessary.
12. You Only Require One Other Person
Team sports take much more organising and setting up. Games like football or cricket require eleven players per side, which takes some level of groundwork to generate.
In squash you only need one other player, and so there is much more flexibility about timing and availability.
Also, you can potentially practice on your own, something that is not really a viable option in many other sports.
Most pros will incorporate at least some level of solo work into their weekly routines, and so this form of practice is definitely valuable in your development, as well as being so easy to organise and facilitate.
13. Play In All Weather
In many rainy, or freezing countries, squash is a brilliant choice of sport. It is traditionally a winter sport, and played at the coldest time of year.
There is never a threat of being rained off, or of storms or snow or any other things getting in the way.
In leagues and club tournaments, pretty much all fixtures will be played to a conclusion on the date and time that they are intended for.
One of the core physical skills that squash encourages is agility. It is a game of short sprints, lunges and turns, and it strongly develops footwork and movement skills.
You may find yourself generally becoming more slight of foot, and able to weave, shimmy and change directions more briskly the more you play.
There is a tremendous correlation between successful squash players and their level of flexibility.
Squash keeps your body supple and flexible by its repetition of stretching, and twisting movements that come thick and fast throughout play.
You can also enhance this by stretching before and after play, and also incorporating stretching into a practise routine. The more flexible you are, the lower you will be on impact with the ball, and the more successful you will be in lunging and retrieving difficult balls.
16. Mental Strength And Determination
Squash is quite a gruelling sport. There is frenetic activity in high-burst rallies of massive amounts of effort.
All this effort requires the mental discipline and determine to keep going. You have to force yourself to make the effort, to keep running, to keep chasing and believing that you can win.
The more that your practice this act of will, the more natural it becomes. You will just instinctively want to keep going and keep giving it your all.
This attitude definitely spills out into the rest of your life. If I had to pick one skill that squash gives you in life above all else it would be this one. Grit, resilience, determination – it gives you all of these in bucketloads.
17. Culture Of Respect
I am always amazed at how strong the culture of respect is in squash, at least with the majority of players.
Because everyone is aware that there are safety implications when two people play in the same enclosed space, there is just commonly shown respect for the safety of others.
You will never see squash players intentionally hitting their opponents, or tripping them, or even abusing them (at least rarely). There are so many tricks that could take place, that simply never do.
There is a culture of do to others what you would expect to be done to you in return.
18. Growing Sport Throughout Parts Of The World
In several countries, such as the USA, squash is growing quite quickly. More people are taking up the game, possibly because of some of the benefits I’m talking about in this article. It is of course nice to be part of something that is generally expanding rather than shrinking or dying.
19. Money In Pro Game Is Rising Year On Year
If you think you may ever have a chance of making it in the pro game, the good news is that the salaries of the professionals are rising reasonably rapidly year on year.
Now the top 100 in the world are all able to at least make a living from the sport.
The top 20 will all be on 6 figure salaries, with the leading handful of players making in excess of $200,000 a year.
It is a good time to be entering into the game.
20. Great For Women And Men
The number of female squash players of all standards is a good healthy proportion of the total number of participants, particularly in contrast to the majority of other sports.
Also, it is one of the rare sports where women will regularly play (and beat) men in competitive play.
The top ladies in the world also regularly play to a high standard in tournaments and matches involving many men.
One of the beauties of squash is the sheer number of hits you get every match.
Even in a short game, you will probably be making several hundred strikes, and a longer match you will be hitting the ball probably more than a thousand times.
This repeated hitting has an excellent impact on hand-eye coordination. Many squash players report that they feel a benefit in their hand-eye if they play other hitting sports, such as tennis or cricket.
Traditionally squash is a seasonal sport, and is played in the winter. Although many people now play squash all year round, this seasonality can be an excellent advantage in many ways.
Many people I know play tennis in the summer, and squash in the winter. The two sports seem to transition beautifully into each other.
Myself, I play cricket in the summer and squash in the winter. The two seasons interlink perfectly, with cricket ending just as squash starts off and vice versa.
So if you also play an outdoor summer sport, squash is the perfect vehicle for keeping your skills sharp in the winter, and also for putting all the same effort and focus into.
23. Learning How To Win
Of course winning is a huge part of sport, and one of the major strategic skills that overspills into normal life.
Squash is a great sport for experiencing comebacks, and shock wins. Never give up! There is always a chance of overturning a 13-8 lead.
There are many skills required to win, which include:
- Keeping calm at key moments
- Playing sensibly in tight or key times of the game
- Maintaining concentration
- Finding determination to keep on fighting
- Developing your own self-belief
All these skills are massive features in life itself, and any practice of them on a squash court can only do wonders for your psychological make-up.
24. Stress Relief
Squash is fun!
It’s high level of activity releases multiple endorphins into your system. These feel-good chemicals have an excellent impact on our mood and response to events.
You have to be completely in the moment when you are playing squash, and it is a great way to be present and not to be worrying about the future or past. You can forget your worries and issues for an hour at least.
Feeling good, healthy and happy can also put minor problems into the perspective they deserve.
25. Great To Play With Family Members/Partner
You can have some sort of game of squash with your close family or friends very easily, even if they are nowhere near the standard that you are.
For example, if you have kids, you can have some sort of knock up against a wall usually at least from the age of 7 or 8, and often much younger.
Also I know many people that play with their spouses or partners, and it is a great way to be active together, and enjoy some quality time in each other’s company.
I hope these many benefits have really sold to you the beautiful soul of squash, and you can see why you need it in your life. Playing squash can have lifelong advantages on many areas of your health, wellbeing and mentality. Good luck in trying out this spectacular game!