HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT SQUASH RACKET
It’s been said that your squash racket is like an extension of your arm, so you can see why it's so important to find the right squash racket that suits your style of play, or is it? When you buy a squash racket for the first time, you may not be thinking of the weight, balance, head size, strings or grip. But then again, why should you? As long as the racket looks and feels good to you personally, then the chances are that you'll probably play well with it, for a while at least. However, as you improve your form and technique all these factors may help you to decide which racket best suites your playing style.
Factors to consider:
The trend with squash rackets is shifting towards more and more stiffer rackets, as they give the player more energy and better precision.
String type and tension is another factor to consider, and contrary to most people’s beliefs, tighter racket strings give more control, looser racket strings give more power. It is therefore, possible to alter the playing characteristics of a racquet by changing the tension and strings when the racquet is restrung. Have you ever wondered why all the top squash players like Nick Matthew change their racquets so often during a match, string tension makes a difference! Also, some of you may have noticed that the racquet never plays the same after it has been restrung. You will be surprised at how much of a difference this can make.
The feel of a racquet will also depend on its balance point. To find the balance point of a particular racquet, try to balance the racquet on one finger by placing it between the racquet head and grip until it's balanced on your finger. The balance point is typically shown in centimeters; the higher the number the lighter the head of the racquet. The lighter the head, the less power you'll have through your stroke but the trade-off is that you'll have more control and maneuverability with your racquet. This is just another consideration when looking for that perfect racquet to suit your style of play. Keep in mind that the addition of strings, vibration dampeners, grip tape or any other after market racquet accessory will also influence the final balance point of any given racquet.
- Head size
Does head size matter? The larger the head size of a racquet the bigger the sweat spot (more than 490 cm2). A racquet with a larger sweet-spot will be more forgiving when you play those bad (off centre) shots. The sweet-spot of a racquet head is where all the power and control is realized.
Generally heavyweight racquets weigh over 160g, mid-weight racquets are between 140g and 160g and finally lightweight racquets are usually under 140g. To add to the confusion, most weights imprinted on racquets refer to the weight of the frame and unstrung racquet head. With the addition of strings, these racquets can weigh a little bit more. But as a general rule of thumb, the heaver a racquet, the more power you get on your shot. The lighter a racquet is, the more control and feel you get when playing a shot.
- Racquet grip
Change your grip if it looks old and tatty and you will instantly notice how good the racquet feels. When you buy a new squash racquet, it's recommended that you put on an over-grip since most squash rackets come with very low profile grip. If the grip is too small, then there is a tendency to hold the racquet grip too tight with your hand in an effort to control the racquet. As a result you'll find it difficult to play any challenge or touch shots properly as your hand and wrist will be too stiff. Put on an over-grip that lets your hand comfortably hold the racquet without having to hold it tightly. As a general rule you should have about a one finger width space between the butt of your palm and fingertips when gripping the racquet.
A few final words on which squash racquet to purchase
We don’t think it really matters which brand you purchase. For your first squash racquet, avoid one that's too light (less than 130g), as it'll be expensive and will have less power. When starting out in squash it's important to be able to play a good length (i.e. hitting the ball to the back of the court, past the service box). Purchase a squash racquet that's durable and well balanced (not head heavy or light). As you improve your game you'll be able to control your swing on tight shots a lot better. Also, consider a racquet with an oversize head of 490 cm2 or greater. This will give you a larger sweet spot so that shots that are hit 'off-centre' will still have power to them, although not much control.
Once you've found a racquet that suits you, buy a spare. You may not be able to buy the exact same model again. Often manufactures discontinue models after a couple of years. Alternatively make a note of the weight, balance and head size and try to get a similar replacement. Just bear in mind that each time you change your racquet, your game can differ for up to 3 months whilst you get used to it. You should have complete confidence in your racquet’s abilities, in a tough squash game you need to be able to rely on it instinctively as though it were a natural extension of your arm.
Choosing a Squash Ball:
How do you choose the right squash ball? Just follow one easy rule: A softer ball bounces less and thus is slower. A harder ball bounces more and thus is faster. Beginners generally prefer learning with a faster ball that offers a little more bounce, a white dot ball for example will afford these characteristics.
- Beginner - Blue Dot
- Intermediate - Red Dot
- Upper Intermediate - White Dot
- Advanced - Yellow Dot
- Professional - Two Yellow Dots