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squash vs racquetball

Squash vs Racquetball - What's the Difference?

If you’re new to squash or racquetball, they may seem like pretty much the same sport on the surface but let's delve into it a little deeper.

While they do share similarities, there are key differences that separate the two and make them both unique. To find out more about the differences between squash and racquetball, read on!!

What’s Squash?

Squash is played by either two players (singles) or 4 players (doubles). For this blog we will be discussing singles softball squash, the international game.

The singles squash court has four walls, all of which are playable  as long as the ball stays within bounds (under the top red line on each wall and above the tin on the front wall). 

In squash,the  two players take alternating turns hitting the ball with their racquet to the front wall. The first to score 11 points wins the game. Matches are best of 5 games.

Squash has about 20 million regular players around the world, in 185 countries. The sport is governed by the World Squash Federation (WSF) [link].

What’s Racquetball?

Racquetball is a racquet sport also played in an enclosed court and can be played with 2 players (singles) or 4 players (doubles). For this blog we will be discussing singles play with 2 players.

Racquetball is similar to squash in that you serve the ball to your opponent and try to win the rally or have your opponent unable to return the ball. 

The ball is bouncier in racquetball compared to squash and is much faster. It is easier to hit the ball because of the bounce.

Differences Between Squash and Racquetball

1. The History

We won’t delve too deep into the history of these sports, but it’s good to have an overview of squash and racquetball’s beginnings.

Squash was invented around 1830 by students at England’s Harrow School. The sport was perhaps made ‘official’ in 1864, when the school built the first four squash courts. You can learn more about squash’s history here [link to what is squash post].

Racquetball is a more recent sport, having been created by an American man named Joe Sobek in 1950. He was a professional tennis player who created a sport inspired by other racquet games, such as squash and handball.

2. The Court

In both squash and racquetball, the courts are similar in that they have four walls. However the similarity ends there.

 In squash, the lower front wall has a “tin” that the players are not allowed to hit and will lose the point if they hit it. As well the 4 walls have a red line at the top that you must keep the ball under. The player who hits the ball on the line or above loses the rally. 

In racquetball, one of the strategies is to hit as low as possible on the front wall and have the ball bounce twice before your opponent can hit it again.

Also in racquetball, all the walls of the court are within bounds, including the ceiling after the serve.

In terms of size, a racquetball court is slightly bigger, and 20 feet wide and high and 40 feet long. On the other hand, a squash court is 21 feet wide, 18.5+ feet high and only 32 feet long.

3. The Rules

In squash, a player starts the game at Love-All (0-0) and by serving from the service box (left or right) and serving it to where the receiver is standing in the opposite box. If you win a point (your opponent can’t return the ball, it bounces twice, or they hit it out) you start the next point serving from the opposite box. The score is now 1-0. Call the score out before serving.

Squash matches are the best of 5 games with each game played to 11 points and a player must win each game by at least 2 points. The first player to win 3 games wins the match. Squash is PAR scoring (point a rally) so you can win points if you are serving or receiving.

In racquetball, the player starts the service motion within the service box, bouncing it first and then hitting it to the front wall and past the short line of the service box. It must bounce once before it hits the back wall. It cannot touch the ceiling on the serve.

In racquetball, only the player who serves the ball can score points. The rally ends when the ball isn’t returned or it bounces twice.

Racquetball matches are best of 3 games played to 15 points. If needed the third game (tiebreaker) is played to 11. The winner of the game is whoever wins 2 out of 3 games.

4. The Equipment

There are also differences in the gear used.

The balls used in racquetball and squash are both hollow and rubber. However, racquetballs are bigger and bouncier compared to squash balls and do not need to be warmed up.

A squash ball needs to be warmed up before the match begins to make it bouncier. Typically squash players hit the ball 3-4 times to themselves and then shoot it over to their partner's side and you alternate like this for approximately 5 minutes until the ball is warm to the touch.

The racquets are also different. Squash rackets are longer (27”) and have a smaller head size whereas in racquetball the racquets are shorter (19-22”) and slightly wider. Both have strings and a grip to hold onto.

5. Popularity

It’s worth mentioning the difference in the number of players for both sports. While estimates vary, it’s safe to say that there are more squash players than racquetball players.

The number of racquetball players worldwide is estimated to be 5.6 million, whereas there are around 20 million squash players. 

Both sports are seeing an increase in popularity worldwide.

Conclusion: There Is A Difference Between Racquetball and Squash

Some people may say squash and racquetball are ‘basically the same sport’; well, now you can set them right!

Team Squash

Interested in checking out more news, updates, and products from the world of squash? Have a look at our Team Squash page and signup for the newsletter!

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