Use the right ball

How do you know which ball you should play with?  Selecting the right ball to play and practice with is important to ensure that both players are having fun and getting practice.

Squash balls come in a variety of sizes and speeds, and it is important to understand the differences and pick the right ball to play with.  If you have ever stood in a shop and looked at the different options, it can be overwhelming if you are new to squash and don’t know where to start.

First, all tournaments worldwide are played with Dunlop squash balls.  The World Squash Federation (WSF) only uses Dunlop squash balls for tournaments.

Second, there are different dots on the Dunlop balls, which indicates the “hang time” of each ball.  “Hang time” is all about how long the ball stays in the air – in other words, how bouncy the ball is.  For more novice players, you want to play with a ball that has more “hang time” or is more bouncy, it it is easier to play with.

So, let’s have a look at the different types of squash balls.

Different types of Dunlop squash balls

The squash balls are normally black and have a colour dot on them to indicate the type of ball.  Balls can also be white, especially when there are national and international tournaments that are played on the darker glass squash courts.

  • The Dunlop PRO ball has two yellow dots and is the official ball used for competitive events and for normal play.   This ball is designed for players who can play the ball after it hit the back wall.   It requires hard-hitting to warm up, and it is for players who can consistently hit hard.  It is also the normal ball used for club play at higher altitude areas during the winter months.
  • The Dunlop HIGH ALTITUDE has a green/blue dot that is used in high altitude areas in South Africa, for example, Gauteng. There are local rules as some areas advise the use of this ball only during summer months and the double-yellow ball are used for winter months. The characteristics of this ball are similar to the PRO ball at sea level.
  • The Dunlop COMPETITION ball has a single yellow dot and is designed for the club player on normal courts (low altitude) and for better players on colder courts. This ball has a longer hanging time, and in some South African provinces, is used for competition play for junior players up to under 14. It may also be used for competition play in areas where it is very cold in the winter.
  • The Dunlop PROGRESS ball has a red dot and is slightly larger (6%) than the standard-size ball. It also has a longer hanging time, which makes it perfect for newer players who need to develop the correct technique.
  • The Dunlop INTRO ball has a blue dot and is 12% larger than the standard-size ball, with a 40% longer hanging time than the Pro ball.

The white ball is designed for glass courts, and is a single yellow dot ball.  It is equivalent to a double yellow dot black ball.

Then there is the Dunlop Mini Squash range.  This range was developed to help younger players get to enjoy the game with balls that have longer “hanging time”.

  • FUN is a large red spongy ball. Ideal for ages 5 to 7 years old, and the ball is for absolute beginners. It is highly visible and larger in size, making it an easier target.
  • PLAY is a smaller hard yellow ball than the red Fun Ball, and is slightly oversized compared to a normal squash ball. It is designed for children ages 7 to 10 years old. It has a slightly higher bounce and a longer hang-time than a standard pro ball.
  • COMPETE is a hard green ball, which is similar in size to the Competition/Pro ball. It is designed for children aged 11 and up. These balls have a slightly higher bounce and longer hang time than a pro ball, but bounce lower than the orange PLAY ball. It is also the same size as a standard squash ball.

Which ball should you choose?

You should play with a ball that you can easily hit and have longer rallies with.  It is the ball that you can get warm during a game and that stays warm during a game.

Here other factors come into play:

  • are you in a low-altitude area (close to sea level) or a high-altitude area (like Gauteng),
  • is the weather cold (making it harder to warm up a ball) or hot (making the ball very bouncy),
  • how long can you and your opponent play a rally (normally, the longer the rally, the warmer the ball gets), and
  • your skill level and the skill level of your opponent.

Often you will play with other players that are not at the same level as you.  This can make it very difficult to play rallies and keep the ball warm.  Therefore, we recommend that you select and play with a ball that works for the lower-standard player.

The squash balls we use at CJS

We use different squash balls in our group coaching classes, and it all depends on the age and ability of the players.

For our little players (pre-school to grade 3), we typically use balls that will help them to see it (larger than the regular ball) and hit it easily.  We may use the Karakal ball, which is a larger ball with a nice bounce for very young players.  We import this ball as it is not available in South Africa.  We may also use the Dunlop Mini Red or Orange squash ball, and if the players are a little more comfortable and confident in hitting the ball, we may even practice with the single yellow dot Dunlop ball.

For the under-11 players who do not play tournaments yet, we may use either the single-yellow dot ball or the double-yellow dot ball, depending on the ability of the players and the temperature on the court.

Once players start to participate in tournaments, we practice with the double-yellow dot ball.  U11 and U13 players play with double-yellow dot balls in tournaments in the high-laying areas, such as Gauteng.

U14, U16, and U19 players play tournaments with the high-altitude green dot ball, and so we also use these balls in our group coaching classes (unless otherwise decided by the tournament organisers).

Select the right ball to practice with

If you want to play squash with your child or children, it is important to select the right ball to play with.  Always select the ball according to the ability of the most inexperienced player.

If you have any doubt on which ball to use, please contact us or speak to any of the coaches who will be able to guide you on which ball to use.