Of all racket games in the world, squash and tennis are, without a doubt, the most popular ones.
When you observe tennis and squash, you might spot quite a number of similarities between the two sports.
For instance, at the most basic level, both are racket sports that involve hitting a ball within a specified court.
Despite the similarities, however, the two sports have quite some unique differences, and you simply cannot assume that they are the same thing.
So, I decided to make this article about squash vs tennis to show you guys the differences between the two sports and help you decide which sport may be right for you.
Table of Contents
Which Sport Came First?
Tennis came first, long before squash was invented. In fact, squash is based on the ancient game of real tennis.
The origins of tennis date back thousands of years, and there’s even evidence of the game being played in ancient Greece culture.
Tennis was developed from a 12th-century French version of handball, and the name even comes from the French word “Tenez,” meaning “play!”.
French players would yell “Tenez” at the beginning of a match, and this way, the game of the palm came to be known as real tennis.
English king Henry VIII built the first tennis court in the 1530s at Hampton Court Palace. The first tennis racket was invented in 1583 in Italy.
Lawn tennis, a version of real tennis that could be played outdoors on the lawn, was invented by Major Walter Wingfield in 1873. For most people, this is considered the true origin of modern-day tennis.
Before 1873, tennis was played as an indoor sport reserved for the rich and the royals.
Squash was invented in 1830 at Harrow School, a prestigious boys’ school located outside of London.
The game was accidentally invented after a group of boys at the school realized that a punctured racquets ball “squashed” upon impact with the wall.
The new game discovered while playing using the punctured ball turned out to be more exciting, seeing as it offered a greater variety of shots, and that’s how squash came to be.
Differences Between Tennis and Squash
Tennis is an outdoor sport while squash is an indoor sport. There are, therefore, very distinct differences when it comes to the courts used in either game.
A tennis court measures 78ft x 27ft for single matches, and 78ft x 36ft for doubles matches. The open rectangular court has a 3.5ft-high net in the middle, placed 21ft from the service line.
The court surface could be made of grass, clay, acrylic, asphalt, or porous concrete.
A squash court is enclosed, whereby besides the floor, there are four walls and a ceiling.
The court measures 32ft x 21ft x 18.5ft, making it considerably smaller when compared to a tennis court.
The court surface could be made on wood or rubber.
The tennis court is designed such that players volley the ball over the net from one player to another. A squash court is designed such that players hit the ball off the walls.
Both courts have specific markings. The markings on a tennis court are applicable throughout the game. However, the markings on a squash court are only significant during a serve and aren’t that relevant after that.
Squash and tennis rackets look quite similar. Both rackets have a teardrop shape, but a tennis racket is more circular, while the elongated teardrop of a squash racquet is more oval.
Seeing as a squash court and ball are much smaller than a tennis court and ball, it only makes sense that the squash racket is smaller as well.
The maximum length for a squash racket is 27 inches, and the maximum hitting area on the racket is 500 square inches.
The maximum length for a tennis racket is 29 inches, and there is no particular set standard for the size of the racket’s hitting area.
While squash rackets typically weigh between 3-6 ounces, the majority of tennis racquets tend to weigh between 9-11 ounces.
The head of a tennis racket is larger than the head of a squash racket, and this, in turn, allows for a larger sweet spot on the former.
The stringing of the two rackets is different as well, whereby a tennis racket is strung more loosely than a squash racket.
Squash balls and tennis balls are both made from rubber and have a hollow design. For tennis balls, however, they come covered by a fibrous felt which alters the aerodynamic properties of the ball.
Tennis balls are bouncier, whereas squash balls typically don’t bounce unless they are warmed up by doing repeated strokes against the wall before a game.
A tennis ball weighs around 2 ounces and is pretty standard, with the only variation being in the color of the ball.
Squash balls come in six varieties, all having different levels of bounce, and they weigh about 0.8 ounces.
In terms of the size of the balls, squash balls are much smaller, having a diameter of approximately 1.5 inches while tennis balls are larger, having an approximate diameter of 2.6 inches.
- The first server in squash is determined by spinning a racket. The first server in tennis is determined by tossing a coin.
- In both squash and tennis, you have the option of playing either singles (one on one), or doubles (two players per team).
- Tennis matches are played to the best of three games. Squash matches are played either to the best of three or to the best of five games. The number depends on the tournament or the governing body that’s overseeing the match.
- Tennis matches are played to 4 points while squash matches are played to 11 points. If there is a tie in either instance, play continues until one team gets a two-point advantage.
- In tennis, one player gets to serve for the entire game. In squash, the players alternate service depending on who won the last point, and the player who won a point becomes the new server.
One key difference comes in the protective equipment worn by the players in both games.
Squash is a very fast-paced game, and the ball is continuously flying in all directions at high speed. For this reason, squash players have to wear protective eyewear.
They eyewear serves to protect them not just from the flying ball but from an opponent’s racket swing as well.
Because the court is much smaller in squash than it is in tennis, then there’s a higher likelihood of getting hit by a racquet in the face.
There’s no eyewear required when playing tennis. However, you may find some players wearing sunglasses to protect themselves from the sun’s glare.
You would need a more forceful swing when playing squash than you would when playing tennis.
A squash swing needs to be quick and strong and have enough follow-through to generate power for the shot. As previously mentioned, a squash ball isn’t very bouncy, and so the pace has to come from the swing.
The style of making shots in squash requires you generate power from your wrist, so it highly depends on the firmness of a player’s wrist.
When playing tennis, however, making a shot involves moving your entire body, including your shoulders and torso, as you follow through with the swing.
Squash uses somewhat of a continental grip.
This is because the small court and the fast pace of the game mean that there’s very little reaction time. So, a player needs to transition from their follow through to a ready position quickly and seamlessly.
You simply cannot afford to be slow when changing grips on the different shots.
It is much harder to master a tennis serve than it is to learn a perfect squash serve. Both employ different mechanics.
In tennis, a server is allowed another try if they make a mistake on their first serve. This goes to show just how vital the first serve is and how difficult it is to execute a perfect serve, even for professional players.
In squash, the server is only allowed one try meaning there are no do-overs like in tennis.
A tennis serve is such a vital component of the game that it can earn the server an “ace,” which is a point earned when the opponent fails to get their racket in the ball.
Tennis players have to master the art of the topspin, which is a skill that isn’t required for squash players to have.
What is topspin?
Well, when hitting a backhand or forehand in tennis, a player needs to swing over the ball to produce a topspin. This art is taught gradually to any tennis player.
When a topspin is executed, then the racket ends up way back behind the player, and the ball drops to the surface in the process. The topspin allows a player to dominate points off the baseline.
On the other hand, squash shots are much flatter, because it’s all about placement, and not necessarily about power.
Squash players are always on the move, running up and down the court because of the short reaction time that there is.
A tennis player’s movement on the court is more sideways, and they tend to move less when compared to squash players. At the same time, however, remember that tennis players have more court to cover.
Squash shots are much less predictable than tennis shots. This is because the squash ball bounces off the walls at all sorts of angles and so the game involves many tricky corners and edges.
What Is Better Workout: Squash vs Tennis?
Both squash and tennis bring a high level of difficulty and excitement to the players.
While tennis is the harder sport to learn, squash is the one that offers a better workout.
Both sports offer a great deal of physical workout, but if you want something really intense, then squash takes the day.
It is no wonder that Forbes ranked squash as the healthiest sport.
When playing squash, the quicker rallies mean that players would need to continually be on the move running around all four corners of the court.
The constant movements and lunges are sure to take a toll on you, so much that playing squash for half an hour can potentially burn as many as 800 calories.
A tennis player playing squash will realize that the game improves their stamina, and their reflexes as well, making them faster on their feet.
There are a lot of overlapping techniques between squash and tennis.
As a result, you will find a lot of people playing tennis in the summer and squash in the winter.
It takes a little while to adapt to the transition between the two sports, but once you do, you will find that it’s a breeze juggling between squash and tennis.
After all, did you know that Roger Federer is a keen squash player?