To the uneducated, squash and tennis both use a ball and a racket, are both played by two players (at least in the singles game) and are both court based sports. That leads people to assume that they’re similar and if you’re good at one, you’ll be likely to be adept at the other two. However, they’re very different sports, and to really shine in both will require you to master very different skills and techniques too.
Let’s have a delve into the two sports, and compare and contrast what makes each so popular. Of course, here at Squash Blogger we’re inevitably going to be biased towards our beloved game of squash, but we’ll try and stay as objective as we can.
Rules and Gameplay Compared
If you need a run down of the basic rules of squash, you’ll find that on our beginners guide to squash. We’ll give a brief summary here, but take a look at that page for a more in depth dive into how the game works.
Squash is played indoors within a four-walled court, where two players take turns hitting a small rubber ball against the front wall. The objective is to make the ball bounce twice before the opponent can return it, scoring points in the process. The ball must strike the front wall between the service line and the out-of-court line, and it can also hit the side walls, but not the back wall directly. The first player to reach 11 points, while leading by at least two points, wins the game. A match usually consists of the best of three or five games.
Tennis, on the other hand, is typically played outdoors on a variety of court surfaces, such as grass, clay, or hard courts. Two players (singles) or four players (doubles) use a tennis racket to hit a felt-covered rubber ball over a net, aiming to make the ball land within the opponent’s court boundaries. Points are scored when the opponent fails to return the ball within the allowed number of bounces or hits the ball outside the designated court lines. Tennis matches are played in a best-of-three or best-of-five sets format, with each set won by the first player to reach six games while leading by at least two games. If the set reaches six games all, a tiebreak is played to determine the winner of the set.
The Two Court Types
The clear and obvious difference with the courts is squash requires opponents to share the same space, whereas tennis players are located on opposite sides of the net.
Both sports have service boxes and court markings so show where the ball can land and defined to be in or out, but where those markings are positioned couldn’t be more different! For example, all court markings for a tennis court are on the ground, whereas in squash, some are way up in the air out of reach of players on the front wall.
What You Need To Play
Each player needs a racket in both sports, and a shared ball in play that they take turns to hit. Aside from the court itself, players simply need sports kit to play both sports. One minor difference is that squash players are more likely to choose to wear eye protection, whether or not they usually wear glasses. This is due to the speed of the game – a squash ball to any part of the body can sting – to an eye could be serious.
Other Quirks Of The Different Games
There are far more tennis courts available than squash courts, and that’s down to nothing more than the relative popularity of the sports. Tennis has a huge global following, with huge audiences tuning in to Grand Slam tournaments broadcast on major channels.
While squash does have a loyal following, it’s much smaller, and TV coverage is more limited to the key competitions spread through the year on the bigger channels. Satellite and cable companies with multiple dedicated sports channels do show squash regularly, but depending where you are in the world it will vary in getting air time.
As a result, leisure and sports centers tend to be keener to invest in tennis courts over squash courts, with estimates putting the number of tennis courts at nearly a hundred times that of squash courts in the US.
Here’s a comparison in a selection of countries:
|Country||Tennis Courts||Squash Courts|
The Squashy Summary
As you’ve read, the visible similarities of a court, two players, a ball and a couple of rackets are about as similar as the two games get. Squash is a very fast paced game which is as much about a quick dash to the ball as it is about shot selection and accuracy. Tennis on the other hand has more focus on shot precision, and strategy to stop your player getting the ball back in a manner.
If tennis is like cardio exercise on a bike or treadmill, squash is more similar to HIIT training that gets the heart pumping very fast indeed. Of course, both are great ways to stay active, but the differences to explain why different people are drawn to the different sport.