When just starting out in playing squash it might be tempting to have your first go with any old racket you have lying around the house. Surely there’s not that much difference between a squash and a tennis racket you may think? Also, maybe you’re concerned that if you invested in a squash racket first, you might try it out and find squash really wasn’t for you after all. And that would be a waste of money, wouldn’t it!
On the other hand, having researched this issue in depth, almost all experts agree that it is very unwise to use a tennis gear to play squash for a number of reasons.
So can you use a tennis racket to play squash? You should not use a tennis racket to play squash because they are far heavier than squash rackets, and could result in wrist and shoulder injuries. A tennis racket would also sap stamina much quicker, and would be hard to swing hard enough to get force into your shots.
All in all, don’t do it! Get a squash racket. Here are more of the reasons why, and some related issues thrown in as well…
Why you definitely shouldn’t use a tennis racket
Where do we start! One of the main issues is the risk involved. If you are using a proper squash technique with cocked wrist and whipping backswing, then the heavier tennis racket is going to put tremendous strain particularly on the shoulder and wrist. There are fundamental differences between the tennis and squash backswing and swing-path through a shot.
Also, there is the risk of hitting your partner with a racket. Unfortunately, unintentional contact is sometimes made in matches. No one tries to hit their partner during a game, but the occasional glancing blow is part and parcel of squash. Those strikes would be considerably more painful with the weight of tennis racket thrown behind them.
The other major problems are accuracy and power. Playing with accuracy is the key to squash. With a tennis racket it is much harder to achieve because the traditional squash forehand and backhand cannot be played entirely correctly with the heavier racket.
Power is compromised by the slower swing speed, and also there are issues about the different way the rackets are strung – squash rackets being strung much more tightly that tennis rackets.
What do squash rackets look like?
There are rules that govern what the shape and size of the racket head should be. Wikipedia states that ‘Modern rackets have maximum dimensions of 686 mm (27.0 in) long and 215 mm(8.5 in) wide, with a maximum strung area of 500 square centimetres (77.5 sq in). The permitted maximum weight is 255 grams (9.0 oz), but most have a weight between 90 and 150 grams (3–5.3 oz.).’
So that’s the rule! Although the weight of the racket allowed is a massive spread, you will find that the most popular rackets are usually in the 110 to 130 gram category
Most rackets are either tear-shaped or oval. Which to choose is usually just down to the individual player.
What do tennis rackets look like?
Very different! ITF states that ‘The frame of the racket shall not exceed 31.7 cm (12.5 inches) in overall width. The hitting surface shall not exceed 39.4 cm (15.5 inches) in overall length, and 29.2 cm (11.5 inches) in overall width.
Tennis rackets are significantly wider and heavier than squash rackets. A heavy racket weighs about 310 grams, a medium weight racket would be about 280 grams, and even the lightest are about 260 grams. This means that even the lightest tennis rackets on the market are actually illegal for a competitive game of squash! It also highlights the huge difference in these two types of racket.
Could you use a racquetball racket to play squash?
Once again, no! Though racquetball rackets are slightly more similar to squash rackets that tennis rackets, there are still many key differences. A racquetball racket shaft is much shorter. Also the stringed area is a different shape and size.
Could you use a pickleball racket?
What do you think! Of course not.
Where can you find a cheap racket?
The good news is that beginners rackets are now extremely cheap. You can get one for as cheap as $10 brand new!
Another option is trying to find a second-hand one online or in a charity-store.
Also, almost all regular squash players have more than one racket. Ask around! You may find that whoever you’re playing would be delighted to let you use theirs. Explain that you just don’t want to buy one until you’re sure that you and squash have a future.
Another idea is to hire one from the squash venue. Not all courts will have this facility, but often if it is a local leisure centre, or even a squash club, they will often have a facility to let you hire or borrow one.
Another piece of good news is that cheap rackets can often actually perform well, and there is not a massive gulf between quality as there is in some sports. In cricket, for example, the difference between an expensive and cheap bat is huge! The ball will literally go three times further off a quality blade. Tennis is another example, were huge amounts more power and spin are possible off a quality racket. Golf is probably another similar sport.
But squash is not really like that! So cheap does not necessarily mean poor quality.
What sorts of rackets are best for beginners?
So with this in mind, it is perhaps time to either find or buy a squash racket. But what are the key features that beginners really need to look out for?
Probably the most important things to decide about are racket weight, shape, strings and of course price. Don’t overthink though! Buying a squash racket really is not that massive a deal when you are starting off and you can get going with pretty much anything. Here are few points, however, to get you started on the right path:
As already alluded to, squash rackets come in two different shapes – oval and tear-drop. Most squash pros these days, seem to use the tear-drop shaped rackets.
Also, I would recommend these for a beginner. The main feature that lends itself well to someone starting in the game is that these rackets have a larger sweet spot. They are also, quite simply, just a bit more powerful. Unless you really like an oval racket for some strong reason, I would definitely get a tear-drop style.
The main reason for getting an oval racket is some players find they have better control with them. So if you have tons of power, but not much control, then perhaps an oval one would be the racket for you.
The other major consideration is weight. As mentioned before, the rules of squash allow for a whole spectrum of weights, to exceptionally light to really very heavy. However, most top brands fall into a much smaller weight bracket. A ‘normal’ racket would be something around the 120 grams mark. A slightly lighter racket would be 110 grams. Something slightly heavier would be 130-140 grams.
I would certainly go for something in this 110-140 gram ball-park as your first racket. The weight of the racket will have a bit of an impact on how you play. It can also make your strengths stronger, and your weaknesses less weak. Put simply, a heavier racket is
However, the differences can be quite minor, so I’d say just pick a racket that feels good to you.
Your racket will come pre-strung from the factory, and the strings used will be fine to begin with. They will be strung to the correct tension, and usually of a quality that can produce control and power.
Later on you may wish to upgrade your strings to a premium quality. This is also a wise thing to do when your strings snap for the first time (something that will definitely happen!) There are many different strings on the market, but in brief they are all differently designed for power, control or spin. Select one that you think will best improve your game.
This is probably the most important decision for many! As I have said before you really don’t need to pay the earth! However, it must be said that if you get one of the exceptionally cheap rackets on the market, then it may not last as long as a slightly more expensive racket.
As a rough ball-park, normally if you spend over about $40 dollars you would be getting a racket that is capable of good performance and also of lasting for a good amount of time. The thing to look for is to select a racket that is a Premium graphite or titanium frame.
If you had been considering playing squash with a tennis racket then please think again! The main problems are to do with the weight of the racket. Tennis rackets are about twice as heavy as squash rackets. This means they are illegal in the rules of the game. It also means they can be dangerous, and can lead to elbow and shoulder injuries in particular. They will also cause greater injury if you hit your opponent – not something you will aim to do, but something that is quite possible when you just start out playing!
Also a tennis racket will hamper the quality of your shots, and make a good level of racket-speed almost impossible. Luckily, decent squash rackets are not expensive, and you can always buy a second-hand racket, or borrow or hire one. So make the investment from the start! A squash racket for squash, period.