The Difference Between Squash And Tennis Explained


I was recently flipping through my television sports channels and came across the CCI International squash tournament. It caught my eye and I wondered just what was the main difference between squash and tennis.

So, what is the difference between squash and tennis? Squash and tennis use a different type of court, racquet, balls, and gameplay. A squash court is enclosed, whereas a tennis court is open. The technique differs in that in tennis the usual swing-path is low to high, but in squash it is high to low.

This article will take an in depth look at the many differences between squash and tennis, some obvious and some more subtle. Both sports are great for the level of fitness and exercise they provide, but in many ways they are more different than alike.

Squash And Tennis – The Court

The court is typically cited as the biggest difference between squash and tennis. A tennis court is open with a net in the centre that players must volley the ball over. The net cuts the court into two equal halves.

Tennis courts are flat, rectangular areas. The size of the court is 78 feet long and 27 feet wide for singles matches. A tennis court’s surface can vary and matches are played on grass, clay, or acrylic material.

A squash court is much different as players play in a closed area in which they hit the ball off of the walls. Players serve the ball into the front wall and opposing players then volley it back to their opponent against the walls. The ball can hit or ricochet off of all four walls.

Squash court surfaces are typically wood or rubber. The size of a squash court is much smaller than a tennis court. A court’s length is 32 feet long and 21 feet wide.

Although tennis is played in an open court and the ball can move in any direction, a squash court must be surrounded by four walls to allow the game to be played.

Squash courts contain specific markings like tennis courts. There is a front line that divides the front and back portions of the court. There is also a half court line that separate the left and right sides of the court. The lines separate the squash court into three distinct boxes.

Inside the left-hand and right-hand side boxes are services boxes. These services boxes are the area in which players stand to serve the ball to their opponents.

Interestingly, the lines on a squash floor are only important during the serve. Once the ball is in play the markings are not relevant to the game.

Squash And Tennis – Racquets

Squash and tennis racquets may look alike, but there are differences between the two types of racquets. Of course, the racquet is the tool players use to hit the ball and it is a player’s most important piece of equipment.

A squash racquet is smaller than a tennis racquet due to the limited amount of space players have on the court. The racquet cannot be any longer than 27 inches. The hitting area of a squash racquet cannot exceed 500 square inches. Typical squash racquets weigh between four and seven ounces.

Smaller racquets give squash players more control over their shots. This allows players to hit precision shots against the four walls of a squash court.

Tennis racquets provided greater reach to players and a broader surface to hit the ball. A tennis racquet cannot be longer than 29 inches. Most tennis racquets vary in size, weight, and hitting surface size.

The head size of a tennis racquet determines the power of a serve, backhand, or forehand shot. Because a tennis racquet’s head is large than one found on a squash racquet, there is a larger “sweet spot”.

Size isn’t the only difference between the two racquets. The traditional shape of a squash racquet is teardrop or oval. An elongated tear drop shaped head gives squash players more power in their shots. Meanwhile, a square head is used to give players more control of their shots.

Compared to squash racquets, a tennis racquet’s head is more circular or rounded. Depending on a player’s level, they may choose larger or smaller head sizes to improve their performances.

Squash And Tennis – Other Equipment

Do players need much equipment to play squash? Players need one very important piece of equipment that tennis players do not. That item is eye protection.

Due to the speed in which the squash ball travels in the small confines of the court, getting hit in the eye can cause ocular damage. Squash is a fast-paced game in which the ball rebounds off of all four walls. A player, especially a beginner, can be blindsided with a ball to the eye.

In addition to being hit in the eye, a player could be struck with a racquet in the face. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), it estimates 2,000 eye injuries are caused by squash balls each year. Another 2,400 eye injuries are due to racquets. A majority of these injuries are due to players not wearing eye protection.

Squash and tennis also differ due to the type of shoes players wear. While tennis shoes can be bought at most athletic stores, squash shoes are far more specialised. Squash shoes have outsoles made of a blend of synthetic rubber and gum rubber.

The gum rubber is blonde or light brown in colour. It is also soft to the touch. The synthetic blend of rubber that shoe manufacturers use is sticky preventing players from slipping on the court. S

Squash And Tennis – Balls

Are squash and tennis balls alike? While squash balls vary in size and the material used, tennis balls do not deviate from their traditional form.

Squash balls are made of rubber with a hollow sphere inside. Meanwhile, tennis balls are hollow rubber spheres covered with bright yellow felt. Like the size, the brightly coloured tennis balls allow players to see it more easily.

Tennis balls are larger in diameter and weigh more than squash balls. The two differences allow them to travel at high speeds on much larger tennis courts. The size also allows players to track the ball from greater distances.

Many new squash players are unaware there are different types of squash balls. The balls are specifically made for players depending on their playing level.

According to the PSA World Tour website, there are four types of squash balls that can be used. The type of ball a player uses can make a big difference in their performance. Therefore, it is important for players to get the right ball for their level.

  • 2-Dot balls

2-Dot balls are professional level squash balls. These balls are used for professional tournaments, competitions, and for high-level club matches. A 2-Dot ball requires players to consistently hit it hard during play. A 2-Dot ball must be “warmed up” and the temperature of the ball improves its performance.

A 2-Dot ball isn’t as springy or bouncy as beginner balls. Therefore, amateurs and beginners should not use them. Unfortunately, many novice players are unaware of the differences and buy 2-Dot balls when they are just starting out.

Playing with the wrong type of squash ball can prevent players from developing. They can also cause a player to perform poorly in matches.

  • Yellow-Dot

Yellow-Dot balls are recommended for club players and those individuals not yet ready for the professional level. Yellow-Dot balls have a longer hang time than 2-Dot balls and do not have to be consistency hit hard to perform well.

  • Red-Dot

A Red-Dot ball is for players developing their game. While players who compete in regular competitions and play for squash clubs should use Yellow-Dot balls, recreational players can choose Red-Dot.

Red-Dot offers more hang time than Yellow-Dot and 2-Dot balls. The added hangtime means players do not have to react as quickly. Developing players need the added hangtime to process were the ball will go and how to play it.

Players can improve their techniques when playing with Red-Dot balls. In addition, players do not have to be strong hitters as the ball’s bounce is greater than 2-Dot balls.

  • Blue-Dot

Blue-dot balls are for beginners and help new players learn proper hitting technique. The great hangtime gives players a chance to process gameplay and improve reaction time.

Beginners who go straight to using professional level balls can fail to gain proper playing technique. Blue-Dot balls give new players the chance to learn the game before developing and increasing their level.

Squash And Tennis – Gameplay

Are the rules and gameplay of squash and tennis similar? The answer to this is no as both games have their own unique set of rules that dictate the way the game is played. While there are some aspects that are similar between the games, overall, they are different.

In tennis, players compete in the best of three games in order to win. Tennis players have a maximum of one bounce to return a shot after their opponent hits the ball. The ball must be hit over the net while staying inside the court’s boundaries. If the player is unable to keep the ball in, send it over the net, or hit it after one bounce, a point is awarded to their opponent.

A player must score four points to win. However, if the score is tied, the players continue until one has a two-point advantage.

Squash scoring has similarities to tennis, but there are some distinct differences to the gameplay. A squash match is the best of three or five games. The number of games is usually decided on by the competition, tournament, or governing body overseeing the match.

While tennis is played to four points, squash is played to 11. The first player to 11 wins the game, but like tennis, a player must win by two points.

One of the biggest differences comes in scoring. A squash player can score whether they are serving the ball or not. The player that wins a point following a rally becomes the server. For example, if player A serves the ball and wins the rally, he/she will score a point and retain service. If player B receives the services and wins the point, he/she becomes the server.

In tennis, the serve is an important feature of the game. Players can serve the ball and score an ace if they blow the ball past their opponent.

The squash service is not the same. In squash, the serve is intended to start the rally. Players put the ball into play fully aware scoring from the serve is unlikely. Players stand in the service box to serve the ball.

A served ball must hit the front wall in between the service line and the out line. Players must use precision and control to hit the front wall. Therefore, hitting a serve with power can prevent the ball from hitting the exact point it needs to.

The server must make the serve with at least one foot in the service box and not touch the line. The served ball must hit the front wall and then land in the opposite back quarter of the court.S

Squash And Tennis – Physical Demands

How physically fit do you have to be to play squash? The answer may surprise you, especially if you have watched some players knock a ball around the squash court at your local gym lackadaisically.

Squash players must be incredibly fit. The game is fast-paced and players must be agile to change directions in a split second. The close confines of a squash court mean players must react very quickly to the ball.

The layout of a tennis court allows players to have slightly more time to react to a served ball. However, squash players do not have the same luxury.

According to research, tennis players rarely run over three miles during a five-set match. Interestingly, they have more space to cover, but squash players regularly equal or better the distance covered by tennis players.

In 2018, pro squash player Tarek Momen played a record 97-minute match at the Swedish Open. Momen covered nearly three miles during the epic match against Mathieu Castagnet. The distance covered was incredible for a squash match especially when Momen’s movements were taken into consideration.

The Egyptian spent most of the three miles sprinting forwards and backwards. He also ended most of his sprints with lunges that bent him over toward the floor. According to the PSA World Tour’s official website, Momen spent 60 minutes of the 97 total minutes of the game in play and not resting.

Due to the physical demand of squash, it is a sport that is highly recommend for individuals looking to lose weight, improve their cardiovascular shape, and to get fit. Squash’s combination of agility, speed, power, and hand eye coordination translates over to tennis. However, fitness experts are urging people of all ages to play squash rather than tennis to improve health today.S

Squash And Tennis – Injuries

Both sports demand players to be physically active. Players can experience injuries to their bodies, but not all injuries are the same when it comes to squash and tennis.

Due to squash and tennis forcing players to use their entire bodies, injuries can occur to the legs, back, torso, and arms. One of the most common injuries in both sports is Lateral Epicondylalgia. More commonly known as tennis elbow, this injury occurs due to repeated use of the arm to play the sport.

Players of both sports can also experience overuse injuries to the knees, ankles, and shoulders. Sudden injuries such as sprained ankles or pulled muscles are common.

Squash and tennis differ due to some specific injuries. These injuries typically occur due to the close confines of the squash court and the speed of the game.

Eye injuries are common due to being hit in the face with balls or racquets. Players may even collide with one of the side walls causing facial or head injuries. Players can also run into each other during a squash match causing a variety of injuries.

In addition, the turning and movement in squash can cause leg and back injuries to players. These same injuries may not occur in tennis athletes or not as regularly. Once again, the agility and nature of squash causes different injuries that affect players unlike in tennis.

Squash And Tennis – Conclusion

While squash and tennis have many similarities, the two sports are different. It isn’t just in the basic gameplay and rules that the two games differ. While they both evolved out of the old-time game Rackets, the two have separated into two exciting sports loved by millions.

Can I play squash with a tennis racquet? You cannot use a tennis racquet to play squash. The tennis racquet is much heavier, and would both impede the technique of the player, as well as potentially leading to a greater chance of injury.

What is the difference between squash and badminton? Squash and badminton use different types of racquets, badminton racquets being much lighter. Squash uses a rubber ball, whereas in badminton you use a shuttle. In squash the court is enclosed, but an open court is used in badminton.

What is the difference between squash and racquetball? Squash and racquetball differ in the types of balls used, the racquets, and also the technique for both is different. The lower bounce of the squash ball leads to a different swing-path, and greater speed required to reach the ball.

Martin Williams

Martin is the founder of Sports Centaur. An avid player and fan of many sports, he is passionate about encouraging enthusiasts of all ages to get the most out of their sports of choice. You can find out more about Martin at https://sportscentaur.com/about-martin-williams/

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