Squash 101


Illustration by Peter Arkle.

by Tony Moore 

After a 51-year hiatus, squash (the sport, not the vegetable) is returning to Dickinson at the varsity level in winter 2014. If you don’t know much about this fast-paced game, you probably know at least this much for sure: It’s played in an enclosed court with a racket and a rubber ball.

But there’s a lot more to the sport Forbes magazine called the world’s healthiest. So let’s jump right in.

Squash is played by two players (or four, for a doubles match). Players take turns hitting the ball against the front wall, below one line and above another, until one player reaches 11 points.

The college squash season runs from November to February.

The center of the court, where the half-court line meets the short line, is called the “T.” This is where the action is, and players strive to control it.

“At the highest levels of the sport, it’s a grueling physical game,” says Chris Sachvie, Dickinson’s new squash head coach, who was assistant squash coach at Brown University. “It’s a battle of attrition in which one player usually hits the breaking point.”

Urban squash programs are popping up all over the U.S., which has helped place players into top high schools and colleges.

Squash is played on every continent and in over 175 countries by more than 25 million people.

Squash has its own lingo, especially in terms of shots players can take. For example:

  • Boast: Playing the ball off a side wall or the back wall before hitting the front wall.
  • Kill: Hitting the ball hard and low on the front wall so that it only makes it back to half-court.
  • Rolling nick shot: When the shot is hit so well, the ball rolls along the floor.
  • There’s also the Philadelphia (or corkscrew), skid boast and Mizuki, which can’t be defined in the confines of a mortal magazine.

The current speed record for a squash ball is 176 mph.

But that ball doesn’t bounce very well, so players burn an average of 1,000 calories per hour chasing it around.

The average match (best of three or five games) takes 40 minutes or so, closer to an hour at the professional level.

Learn more

Read more from the summer 2014 issue of Dickinson Magazine.

Published July 22, 2014