How to play a squash game

Have you ever wondered what you need to know in order to play a game of squash?  What racket do you need? Which ball should I play with?  What if my opponent is in my way?

Here is a quick guide to what you need to know about playing a game of squash, so that you can get on court and enjoy the game!

What do I need?

To play squash, you will need a squash racket, a squash ball, and the correct shoes.  The shoes must be “non-marking” shoes or have rubber soles so that you don’t damage the wooden floor of the squash court.

All players under the age of 18 must play with protective eyewear, even if you are playing with your friends or family.

Need to buy equipment?  You can buy equipment at the CJS Online Shop:

Which ball should I use?

There are different types of squash balls, and it is important to play with the correct ball according to your skill level and location.

  • A red-dot ball is used for very young players (5-7 years old) who are new to the game of squash.  This ball is very bouncy, and ideal for young kids.
  • A single-yellow dot ball is also a beginner-player ball and is still very bouncy.
  • A double-yellow dot ball is the ball to play with once you can serve and play a rally.  Junior players up to the age of u/13 play with a double-yellow ball (in both winter and summer).
  • A green dot ball is used for the u/14 age group and higher (in high-altitude areas such as the Freestate and Gauteng).  This ball is less bouncy.  At the coast, a double-yellow dot ball is used.

For adults, the green dot ball is used in summer in the high altitude areas (such as the Freestate and Gauteng), and in winter the double-yellow dot ball is used.  In the coastal areas, the double-yellow dot ball is used in both summer and winter.

Explain the serve

Players spin a racket to determine who serves first.  Whoever wins the spin serves first.

The server can start to serve on either the left-hand side of the court or the right-hand side of the court.  Then, should the player win the rally, the player will serve again from the other side.

The ball must go straight to the front wall and must be above the line across the middle of the court (called the service line).

If the ball touches the service line, it is a fault serve, and the other player wins the point and may now serve.

The ball must come off the front wall to the opposite side of the court and must land behind the short line (the line on the floor from left to right).  Again, if the ball touches the short line, it is a fault and the point goes to the other player.

If you drop or throw the ball and don’t hit it, you can start to serve again.  However, if you swing and miss, it is a fault and you lose the point.  The other player now serves.

Can you stand anywhere to serve?

No.  There are two service boxes on the court, one on the left-hand side and one on the right-hand side.

At least one foot must be inside the service box and must not touch any lines.  The other foot can also be inside the service box, or it can be outside the service box or even touch the line of the service box.

When is the ball good to play?

The ball must be hit before it bounces twice.  If it bounces twice, you lose the rally, and your opponent is awarded the point and may now serve.

The ball must not touch the red line at the top of the court (outlines on all four walls), or above it.  When this happens, it is out and you lose the point.

The ball must not touch the tin (the area at the bottom of the front wall, on or below the lowest line).  When this happens, it is out and you lose the point.

What happens when my opponent is in my way when I want to hit the ball?

Safety is always first priority on the squash court.  When you see that you are going to hit your opponent with either your racket or the ball, please stop playing and ask for a let.

The way to ask for a let is to say: “Let please”.

You then replay the rally.  No one gets a point, and the person who served, serve again from the same side of the court as the last serve.

Can rallies always be replayed when you ask for let?

No, not always.  The match referee will decide if the rally is a let (replay the rally), a no-let, or a stroke.

A no-let may be given if your opponent wasn’t in the way, or you may have been too far from the ball to make a good shot.  Your opponent is given the point.

A stroke may be given to you (you win the point) if:

  • Your opponent didn’t try hard enough to get out of the way, or
  • Your opponent was too close to you and you could not swing your racket.

Can I turn around and hit the ball?

Always remember safety first.  Never hit the ball when it is dangerous!

In squash, if you want to hit the ball on one side of your body after the ball went behind you from the other side, it is called “turning”.

It is safer to stop and ask for a let.

If you turn (the ball goes behind you), and you hit your opponent with the ball, your opponent wins the rally.

Can you take a break for rest during a game?

No. You must finish the game first, and then you can rest for 90 seconds.

What if I get a cramp or hit myself with my racket?

Sorry, you don’t get time to recover.  You have to finish the game first.  If you leave the court before the game is finished, you lose the game.

What does it mean to “clear the ball”?

After you hit the ball, you must move out of the way of the ball so that your opponent can hit the ball.  Your opponent must be able to:

  • see the ball after it comes off the front wall, and
  • be able to go directly to the ball, and
  • have space to swing (reasonably) at the ball, and
  • hit the ball anywhere on the front wall.

What happens if I hit the ball back to myself?

Sorry, you lose the point.

Are there any special rules about the ball?

If the ball breaks, you are allowed to get a new ball and play a let.  Players are also allowed time to warm up the ball first (hit a few shots) before the game continues.

If the ball bounces unusually – no let.