Is Squash Similar to Tennis?


Is squash similar to tennis? This article will address the major comparisons and contrasts between the two so you can make an informed decision on which sport sounds like the right choice for you!

Here’s the short answer. Is squash similar to tennis? There are many similarities between squash and tennis. Both are racquet sports that involve hitting a small ball on a court. Major differences, however, are the swings required, the enclosed or open court, the types of balls, and the overall technique.

This article takes an in depth look at what is the same between squash and tennis, and what is not. In general, squash and tennis are quite similar to each other, but should be equally appreciated for their unique qualities.

Tennis and squash equipment: what you need to know

Obviously, both sports require racquets.

If you don’t already know, racquets have heads with strings, as well as grips. A tennis racquet grip is long enough to fit both hands comfortbaly, whereas a squash grip is designed for one hand.

Tennis racquets greatly vary in their sizes and weights based on the material they are made of, ranging from 250-325 grams. Essentially, they are much heavier than squash racquets, and it is very unwise to try to use one to play squash. They could easily result in a wrist or elbow injury.

On the other hand, squash racquets are lighter than tennis racquets ranging from 110-175 grams. The deviation in weight within this equipment family is not usually as drastic as tennis racquets.

Additionally, tennis balls weigh around 57-58 grams and have quite a lot of bounce to them. No wonder we throw tennis balls to our dogs rather than squash balls! Squash balls weigh as little as 23-25 grams and they barely bounce at all, that is until the players warm up with the ball thoroughly before a practice or a match. As a result, players must get much lower to the ground by bending from their trunk and legs. Want to find out how to warm up a squash ball the right way? Then read our in-depth guide

Swing path: high-to-low vs. low-to-high

The swing path between tennis and squash groundstrokes like forehands and backhands differ quite a bit as well. The tennis swing path is a low-to-high path, with the racket beginning by the players’ feet and finishing up and over their shoulders. This is called the “follow-through”.

A squash swing can be compared to a sidearm throw, not unlike the one used to skip a stone across a pond. This is the forehand side. On the backhand side, it is similar to throwing a Frisbee except the wrist is meant to be kept firm.

A lot of the power in the swing comes from the firmness of the wrist. Squash swing paths are more of a high-to-low motion, the opposite of the tennis swing path.

Court: indoor vs. outdoor, big vs. small

To start, tennis is usually an outdoor game whereas squash is an indoor game.

Of course, tennis can be played inside when the weather gets colder, but the set-up of each type of court is ultimately based on these climate conditions.

Tennis courts are much larger and require more court-coverage for players, both laterally and vertically. Although tennis can be quick-paced, especially as players get more and more advanced, it is generally much slower of a sport than squash.

The modern-day baseline game allows players more time in between each shot to react and fully prepare for the next one. Players are also on opposite sides of the courts, meaning the ball has more airtime as it travels back and forth over the net.

Since squash courts are smaller and have four-sided walls, players must stay on the same court. They alternate shots using the lines on the front of the wall to keep the rally in play. The back wall of the squash court keeps the ball in play, which helps make the rallies longer.

Since players are on the same court and in very close proximity to one another, the reaction time between each shot is far less than in tennis. Essentially, squash players are constantly on the move, but it helps that the court is small and they have less court to cover.  

Serve: weapons vs. set-up shots

The tennis serve is often the hardest component of the game and the hardest to learn.

The mechanics are difficult, especially when learning a solid long-term serve that does not require too much changing with player improvement. This requires a continental grip and enough acceleration in the swing path to power the ball over the net into the other service box.

If a serve is not strong, it can be easily attacked by the opponent upon return, which can open up the court for the opponent for the next shot if the return pulls you off the court far enough.

Similarly, a good first serve can also open up the court for the server, or it can win them a point through an outright “ace”, which is when the opponent does not get a racquet on the ball at all. This can sometimes be a little embarrassing for some players!

Tennis players also get a second serve if they make a mistake on the first one. This just goes to show that even the most experienced players miss their first serves because they can be difficult to execute, even the professionals.  

In comparison, a serve in squash is quite mellow, as players rarely rely on their serve as a weapon to earn them outright points. An ace is much harder to execute in squash because the back wall can put it in play. The serve is merely a necessary shot to get a point started.

Return of serve: getting the point started

Although the tennis serve is difficult, sometimes the return of serve can be harder because it can open up the court for the server’s next shot. Putting it back in play can be tough and requires concentration and near perfect execution to put the receiver in an advantageous position.

Good placement requires good preparation and good contact with the ball. Of course, this comes from years of experience and requires a lot of factors to line up the right way. Similar to the squash serve, a return is more of a set-up shot in squash rather than a defensive or attacking shot. The main purpose of returning is for the player to hit enough length which allows him/her to get to the “T”.

Occasionally, a weak serve can get attacked by the receiver if they decide to drive or drop the ball. Some shots in squash can reach speeds up to 150 mph, but the wall slows it down. Tennis does not have a barrier to slow it down in this way, but again, there is more time to prepare for the serve as it requires a greater court to travel across.

Volleying

Volleys are an extremely vital part of the serve and volley tennis game. However, more and more tennis players seem to be gravitating towards baseline play, widely known as “grinders”, or those that just keep the ball in play until the opponent makes a mistake. There are still a few players out there who like to rush the net to get a point over quickly.

Traditionally, squash players are quite content with playing length shots, but volley at any opportunity when their opponent plays a loose shot. Volleying takes away their opponents’ reaction time, and also gets your opponent moving when they may be off-balance or in a poor position. More rallies are played in this manner than ever before, which is making the game quicker, more aggressive, and extremely engaging to both play and watch.

Drop: arsenal trick vs. fundamental shot

In tennis, the drop shot often comes a surprise during a long point. A good drop shot is actually quite difficult to execute because many times it takes place from behind the baseline.

Moreover, many players try to disguise their drop shot as a drive and then fake the drop swing at the last minute. When done well, it’s an extremely effective shot, but there are many factors that must go right for it to be executed the way players want it to.

In squash, a drop is an essential tool that is used for attacking or even when a player is in defensive mode. A drop that does not sit up can make all the difference in the outcome of the game. A squash player cannot get very good unless they perfect this shot, whereas, for a tennis player, the drop shot is just a nice addition to their game.

Rally: long and steady vs. quick and exhausting

Tennis rallies, especially from the baseline, are long. Points are most often won from unforced errors when one of the players tries to close off the point by hitting a harder, deeper, or more angled shot. These long-winded rallies require a lot of strategy, ball placement, and a healthy dose of patience.

Rallies involving serve and volley players tend to be shorter, but more entertaining to watch because they are energetic, intense, and swift. Tennis players use different techniques while returning shots on the backhand such as one-handed, two-handed, or slice returns.

Squash rallies in the amateur game are normally quicker and require the players to constantly move and at the same time keep an eye on the ball. The ball is often behind the players and has to be kept in play without interference or any room to take a breather.

Through a combination of drops, drives, and lobs, the players try to keep the ball away from their opponent. It’s all about strategy but almost always in a quicker fashion than tennis.

Fitness: an advantage for both sports

Speaking of rallies, fitness is a key component in the success and length of rallies for players in both sports.

Tennis, when played at the highest level can be absolutely demanding and take several hours to complete. At the intermediate level, the matches can take much less time and allows great freedom for those to play well into their older years, even as their joints and bones start to wear down.

Squash requires a greater level of physical fitness because it is extremely cardio-intensive. The typical time of a squash match is around 40 minutes, but it is 40 minutes of constant lateral and vertical movement which can take a toll on the body. It was actually ranked as the healthiest sport to pick up, as these short sessions are known to torch calories quickly.

The takeaway:

Overall, both the games should be appreciated for their unique components which make them exciting and great for physical fitness. Tennis is harder to learn as the swing path techniques and grips are not as easy to pick up as those in squash. Squash is a quicker workout in a much shorter span of time, whereas tennis takes place over a longer amount of hours.

Regardless of which one is the perfect fit for you, the two sports are each great fun and require an aggressive and focused mindset. If you are looking for any of these qualities in your athletic life than I’m sure you will find that both of these sports can help fulfill this competitive desire. Happy hitting!

Meredith Breda

Meredith has played many racquet sports at a high standard all her life. She is currently a college tennis player in the States. She has an expert knowledge of both squash and tennis. Meredith writes for a range of publications and online sites. You can find out more about Meredith at https://sportscentaur.com/about-meredith-breda/

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