At first glance, Squash and Racquetball may seem indifferent, but differences are what they have more than similarities between them.
How much of a difference?
Bats are different. Balls are different. The court, playing system, tactics all are different. To an untrained eye, it’s not much noticeable. But, once you know, you’ll realize that the differences between Squash and Racquetball are not insignificant.
In this article, I will share my knowledge of their differences so that you may as well talk like a champion with your friends on your next conversations. Not to mention the embarrassment of bringing a wrong tool on the right game.
History Of Racquetball & Squash
The game squash has a history of over a century before Racquetball was even invented. A lot more people have been exposed to Squash over time. Thus it has a bigger fanbase, that’s kind of expected, right?
Squash evolved from an older game, “rackets.” Students of the Independent Harrow School of England realized that playing rackets but with a punctured ball, results in more interesting gameplay.
A punctured ball bounces considerably less upon contact, and the player has to run to the ball more often. This gained a lot of love, quite fast. Since a punctured ball squashed against the wall upon contact, thus the name came into existence.
Racquetball, on the other hand, is relatively new to the club. An American expert tennis player Joseph Sobeck is credited for inventing Racquetball. Racquetball is another descendant of the old sport “rackets.”
Joseph, in the hunt of a fast-paced indoor sport, devised the pieces of equipment as well as formulated new rules, that in turn, finalized in the “Racquetball” of these days.
Histories aside, the two sports have differences in every aspect. Let’s talk about the differences now.
Difference Between Racquetball and Squash
The differences between the two will be obvious as soon as you hold any similar items of the two games side to side.
Bats used in either sport are slightly different in size and shape. The court is of different size and used in different ways. The Scoring system and winning condition are different.
The paddle used in either sport is slightly different. The squash racket is slightly longer than that of the Racquetball. It is also thinner than the racquetball racquet.
Both rackets are designed tailored to capitalize even the smallest chance to earn a point. Since the scoring system, as well as the gameplay of each sport, is different, the rackets evolved accordingly.
The Squash paddle is called a racket. The shape of a squash racket is like a teardrop, but an elongated one. It is long and thin. A racket can be of a maximum of 27inches or 68.6 cm in length, whereas it should be around 8.5inch or 21.5 centimeters in breadth.
With a maximum strung area of 500 sq centimeters (77.5 sq inch), this racket is for controlling the ball. Since the Squash is a game of accuracy, the racket needs to be good at controlling the ball for a devastating shot.
As for Racquetball, It is more of a game of power. Here, controlling does not win you the games. Power wins you more games. As you’d expect, that racquetball paddle is called a racquet, and it needs to be good at catching any Powershot your opponent may have made.
Thus the blade of the racquet is wide. The length of a racquet can reach a maximum of 22inch or 55.9cm, which is about 5 inches shorter than a squash racket.
A traditional racquet can be about 12inch(30.5cm) wide, which is about 40% wider compared to a squash paddle. The Average strung area of a standard racquetball racquet is around 110square inches or 710square cm.
The Balls 😉
The ball used in either sport is also a factor that differentiates the two sports. As I mentioned before, Squash is a game of control, and Racquetball is a game of power.
Besides, there are differences in the structure of the court or play areas as well. So, the ball has to be such that it works for the playstyle of the sport accordingly.
A racquetball ball needs to be light and bouncy, to allow a player to deliver power shots, while a squash ball needs to be “squash-y”, you know, it needs to squash against the wall and not bounce very well.
Let’s discuss in detail to get a clear idea.
As for a squash ball, they need to be able to absorb a considerable amount of energy upon impact so that the player can control; however, they want the ball to behave without the ball skyrocketing.
To achieve that; a squash ball needs to be elastic, resilient, permeable, and strong. In a simple tongue, a squash ball needs to be able to bend a lot and get back to its shape fast without breaking apart.
A common material used to achieve all these properties is vulcanized butyl rubber, with a hollow inside. On average, a squash ball is about 40mm in diameter and weighs about 0.8 – 0.9 ounces.
A racquetball ball, on the other hand, needs to face more of a harsh situation. Racquetball is a game driven by speed. The ball smashes on the wall more fiercely.
However, the ball needs to keep its velocity and bounce more conservatively to make the game more interesting. There are various types of balls used for different purposes and goals.
For the most part, different qualities such as speed and bounce are controlled by the density and weight of a ball.
A variety of elements are duped in rubber to achieve a specific weight and density. The standard diameter of a racquetball ball is 5.7cm, and the average weight is 1.4 ounce.
Unlike squash balls, different qualities of a racquetball ball are actually important and have a dramatic effect on the gameplay. Thus to specify the type of a ball, they are usually color-coded with various colors and dots.
Playstyle is one of the biggest differences between the two, if not the biggest. Despite looking to be similar and fundamentally the same game, Squash and Racquetball are played very much differently.
They have different rulesets, and the two are played at a much different pace compared to each other. Racquetball is a much faster-paced game. It is a game of speed and quick-response, whereas Squash is played at a slower pace. It is a game of control and agility.
As one would expect, a different pace and different rules yield different tactics for winning, as well as various shots that show the difference between the two games.
Differences In Winning Tactics
Because of the difference in the pace of the two games, it is obvious that strategies will evolve differently, right? Squash is comparatively slow-pace among the two. Thus control plays more of a significant role. Controlling the T-position can give you an upper hand in Squash.
Since the squash ball tends to bounce less, thus it is a common tactic in Squash to drive the ball close to the sidewall, making it harder for your opponent to receive and recover. Lofting the ball is another commonly used tactic to give yourself some time.
Racquetball, on the other hand, is more of a fast-paced game. Here speed dominates the game. The T-position isn’t existent in Racquetball. So, dominating the T isn’t a fact. However, dominating the middle is. But with a fast-paced game like Racquetball, it isn’t as significant.
Killshot used in this game, really is a kill shot, that is totally out of the question in Squash because of the Tin-area of the squash court. Driving near the sidewall is more or less useful, but not as much as Squash.
Slow lofting in Racquetball is simply just inviting your opponent to go for a finishing shot unless he is already in a tricky situation. Because of the speed and high bounce of the game, it is trickier to catch your opponent off-guard with slow motion, but it is much more likely to do so in a sudden fast motion.
Killing shot or finishing blow is an extraordinary tool to define the nature of any game. It does not outline the game, but it helps to understand its nature. Let’s take a close look at some of the popular finishing tactics in either of the games.
In Squash, a touch of backspin is much more common. The backspin helps the ball to stay afloat a tad bit better. It is essential in Squash due to the ‘Tin,’ a limitation of the court. It also helps to keep the ball close to the wall, effectively either killing the ball or wearing your opponent down opening the next shot.
In Squash, you tend to control the ball a lot more. Your wrist tends to be loose and ready to move, and your swings tend to be vertical. This is done in order to tame the bounce and movement of the ball, and eventually control your opponent.
On the other hand, speed is prior in Racquetball. The player who controls the speed ultimately controls the gameplay. Oftentimes, it comes down to wearing down your opponent. Remember the backspin on the ball on Squash, well, on Racquetball, oftentimes, there is no spin.
A few times, when spin is involved, it is topspin. It helps to add an extra downward movement on the ball, to help deliver a kill shot. Speaking of a kill shot, a kill is a commonly used finishing tactic in Racquetball, where you try to make the ball bounce twice in between the front wall and the service line.
It is nearly impossible to execute in Squash due to the tin and the shorter length of the field. Another barely occurring but exclusive to racquetball shot is “around the world,” which involved both sidewalls and the back wall.
The court is a big element of the difference between the two games. Not only the size of the court is different, but also the court is used in a different manner.
Squash has more restrictions compared to Racquetball, and Racquetball allows some parts of the court as a legit play zone, which is off-limits for squash players.
For the sake of convenience, I’ll divide the difference into two sections and discuss thoroughly.
Size Of The Courts
The size of a squash court is 32x21x15 in the unit of feet. It is a rectangular room with a length of 32 feet. A straight line called, “the frontline” perpendicular to the length of the court divides the court on the front side and backside.
Also, The backside of the court is further divided into the back left corner and the back right corner. The conjunction point of the two lines is the so-called “T-position.” Dominating this T-position is of great advantage in Squash. Furthermore, each corner has dedicated service boxes.
Now, of a Racquetball court, It is also of a rectangular shaped box with a dimension of 40x20x20 feet. The length of the court is broken by three parallel lines perpendicular to the length.
The first line is 15 feet from the front wall known as the “Service Line,” the second line is called, “Short Line” which is 5 feet on the back from the service line. Another 5 feet after the short line, comes the receiving line.
Here we can see that the racquetball court is much longer compared to the squash court. It is because the players need this extra space to understand and react to the ball. Also, the height of the court is greater for Racquetball.
It is for allowing the ball to bounce more and higher, bringing more variation and factors of interest. The space between the front wall and the service line of a racquetball court is barely used, because it is actually pretty tough to kill the ball in the area (remember the topspin trick?), and if it is executed well, it is almost unpreventable. A Squash court doesn’t have such areas.
Even though the courts of both of the games are similar in shape, the courts are used differently. One major difference is the presence of the metal strap on the front wall in Squash, called, “The Tin”.
The tin is the 43-centimeter high metal strip across the width at the bottom part of the front wall. If a shot hits the tin, it is automatically “out”, meaning the opponent gets the point. There is no such obstacle in Racquetball.
Another big difference between the two games is the legal play zone. In Squash, there is a designated line across the walls called “Out Line”. It goes horizontally across the front wall, the back wall and slightly diagonally on the side walls.
This line calls the top portion of the walls as well as the whole ceiling off-limits for playing. If a ball touches it, that’s an out. There are no such limitations in Racquetball.
While in Racquetball, the whole court is the playable area. Other than the players, any obstacles caused by the court are part of the game, and both players have to deal with it. Although, any obstacle(commonly caused by the doorframe) upon both players mutually agreeing can be called off-limit by the referee. But that’s case sensitive.
The Scoring systems are a little finicky to compare. First of all, they may vary from place to place, depending on where the game is happening. For example, there are several scoring systems popularly used in Squash. PARS to 15, PARS to 11, HiHo to 9 are a few of them.
In Racquetball, the rules used in the USA vary from the rules considered standard in Canada. To keep the argument short, I’ll discuss the two rules approved by the respective administrative bodies.
In Squash, The person winning a rally gets the point, regardless of him serving or receiving. But in Racquetball, if the winning person was receiving, he doesn’t get the point. He just wins the next service.
In Squash, the matches are usually the best of 5. On the other hand, Racquetball is played on the best of 3. Every game in a squash match is played to 15 points whereas, in Racquetball, the first 2 games are played to 15 and the last one is played to 11.
In Squash, to win a game, the leading player needs to be ahead by at least 2 points. It is not necessary for Racquetball.
With that, I will finish my comparison between Squash and Racquetball. I personally found the similarities and differences between the two games interesting. Both squash and Racquetball are fun games, and to be honest, at some points, their differences are marginal.
It is easy to misunderstand one game to be the other one, or rather be confused about their rules and pieces of equipment. I tried to explain the differences as simply as I could. Nonetheless, no one of the two games is more fun/exciting, in my opinion. They are both exciting, tricky, beneficial for health, fun-to-play, and fun-to-watch games.