Introduction To Squash

By Guy Keeble

HSV has the perfect sport for all you active students out there looking to up your up your game, and go head to head with your friends. Squash is the name of the game, and an odd-shaped racquet is your weapon! So why is squash the bee’s knees? Aside from looking like a boss in your custom made squash goggles, it offers a variety of challenges which could suit the unsporting as well as seasoned athletes. When played with speed and power it can be an intense workout. However, a slower pace gives you a chance to develop skills such as hand-eye co-ordination, dexterity, accuracy and finesse.

How to get started

Squash is a racquet game for two people. Make sure to wear appropriate clothing to allow for a large range of movement. Grab a bunch of mates and get yourselves down to the squash courts at the sports village on Dehavilland. They can be booked independently but to get started, we recommend you join the Active students session on Fridays from 14:15 to 16:30

The Court

The court has quite a simple layout. The back of the court is split into two areas called half-courts, with a serve box in each half. The front wall has three lines across it; the lowest is called the board line, the middle is the service line and at the top is the out line. Players must have one foot inside the serve box while serving, and the serve must hit the front wall between the service line and the out line, as well as landing inside one of the half courts. The ball can only bounce once, but it can hit the side and back walls before or after it hits the front wall. The receiver may hit the ball on the volley or after the bounce.

Scoring

When the server wins the rally, they score a point. When the non-sever wins the rally, they gain the right to serve. A game is played to 9 points and a match consists of the best of 5.

Serving

The server retains the right to serve as long as he/she wins points, serving from alternative sides for each point. The server can have only one attempt to serve and loses the serve if:

  • The ball touches any wall other than the front wall first.
  • The ball (unless volleyed) does not land in the back quarter of the court opposite to the one served from.
  • The ball does not land between the cut line and the out line (on the line is out or fault).
  • The server does not have at least part of one foot in contact with the floor within the service box, without touching the service box line.
  • The server makes an attempt to serve but fails to strike the ball.
  • The serve touches the ceiling or lights.

Obstruction

You now know enough of the rules to be able to start to play the game. However, you won’t play long before noticing that the presence of two players in a confined area wielding rackets can lead to problems of interference. The rule on interference can be stated simply as follows: Players must avoid causing interference to their opponents. If they do not try to avoid this, they lose the point. If they try to avoid interference but cannot, then the point is played again (called a let). If however, interference is accidental, but the striker is prevented from hitting a winning shot, then the striker wins the point. Interference includes not allowing the opponent to hit the ball directly to the front wall.

Top tips

1) Before going on court, warm up and gently stretch your muscles. This will help prevent injuries from sudden exertion at the beginning of the game.

2) Hit the ball to a good length hard or soft, this means to the back of the court. The ball should land deep in the court so your opponent can’t return it easily from the back corner, if the ball lands short of a good length, aim higher on the front wall.

3) Aim into the back corners and the front corners.

4) Keep the ball close to the sidewalls, it’s more difficult to hit.

5) When you have played your shot go back to the “T”- from this position (centre of court) you are in a position to cover wherever in the court your opponent returns the ball.

6) Don’t hit the ball down the middle of the court.

7) Watch the ball at all times, you must watch it leave your racket and follow it to your opponent’s racket and so back to your own racket even if it means turning your head around to see the ball.

8) Serve to a good length, which is deep into the opposite corner. Hit the ball high onto the front wall.

9) After serving move to the “T” watching the ball.

10) Return a service to a good length, preferably straight down the side wall and then go back to the “T”.

11) Make your opponent run. Place the ball as far away from him as possible. If he is in the centre of the court move him out to the back. The centre of the court is your position!

12) Volley the ball wherever possible. This gives your opponent less time to get set.

13) Know when to delay or hold your shot. Usually this is when you have time to spare. This may wrong foot your opponent. If however your opponent has struggled to return the ball then taking the ball as early as possible will put more pressure on your opponent.

14) Vary the pace. Don’t hit the ball hard all the time; lob it occasionally to test your opponents in the air.

15) Look for short shots. Get good length shots and then make your opponent chase your short shots to the front court. This can be a soft drop shot or a hard hit kill shot. Play a short shot when your opponent is behind you.

16) Don’t get in your opponents way, move quickly away after you’ve played your shot.

17) Keep your racket up. It’s a shorter distance to the beginning of your swing so you will be ready to hit the ball quicker.

18) Play, as much as you can, you will improve quicker.

19) Remember it’s only a game. HAVE FUN.

Guy