An Introduction to Squash Terminology

Like any sport, squash has specific names for equipment, strokes, and scoring. Whether you’re starting to play, or just thinking about starting, you’ll want to be familiar with them so you can communicate with your partners and opponents.

Let’s start with the racket. There are four parts: grip, head, shaft, and throat.
The grip is at the straight end of the racket, the taped area you hold when you swing it.
The head is the circular area that contains the strings and is measured in the specifications in square centimeters.
The shaft connects the grip to the head.
The throat is the area that connects the head to the shaft.
To choose a racket that’s right for you, several factors should be considered, including:

  1. This is the total weight of the racket. This term can be misleading, as some manufacturers give the weight of the head only. Also, tape and strings will add weight, which must be figured into the final evaluation of what weight’s right for you. Most beginners start with a heavier racket; most pro’s use a lighter one. Heavier rackets tend to be more durable, and don’t have to be replaced as often.
  2. As in any racket sport, the balance of the racket is important and must fit the preferences and style of the player. One benefit of a racket that’s fairly head heavy is it gives beginners a good feeling for where the racket head is as they swing. Head light rackets are a bit more maneuverable and can be swung more quickly.

Strings and string patterns. There are many different string patterns, which is the way the horizontal strings cross the vertical ones, and how many there are. They vary with different head shapes and provide different degrees of tension.
Throat shape. The throat is the area that joins the shaft to the head. There are at least three common types: open, closed, and hybrid. Closed means there is a large roughly V-shaped open area; open means the head basically joins the shaft with no visible throat; the hybrid is a small, open V-shaped area joining the head to the shaft.
As in any other game, there are many terms describing various facets of the game, many of them unique to squash. Among them are:

  1. A serve the opponent not only can’t reach but can’t put a racket on.
  2. The area along a sidewall
  3. A horizontal mark on the front wall, just above the tin.
  4. A strong shot hit to the front wall.
  5. A shot struck so softly it hits the front wall and dies, making it un-returnable.
  6. An unacceptable serve.

Game ball. When the server needs only one point to win the game.

  1. The first player to reach nine points wins the game.
  2. A difficult successful return.

Half volley. A shot played just after the ball hits the floor.
Halfcourt line. A line parallel to the side walls that divides the back of the court into equal parts.
Hand out. Change of server.

  1. The time from when a player begins to serve until they become a receiver.

Hot ball. A ball that has been warmed up by being struck, making it bouncier.

  1. A hard-hit shot that’s un-returnable.
  2. Called when a point must be replayed.
  3. A shot that hits the front wall first then hits the crack between the floor and a side wall. Usually unreturnable.

Not up. The ball was not legally struck according to the rules. For example, a ball that bounces twice on the floor before being struck.

  1. A shot that has struck the outline or otherwise struck the wall improperly
  2. A continuous line running around the court marking the highest point at which a ball may legally strike the wall.
  3. Won when the opponent fails to return a shot.

Putaway or Winner. An unreturnable shot.

  1. Starts when the server puts the ball in play and ends when one of the players fails to return a shot.

Service box. A box outlined on the floor of the court in which the player must stand to serve.
Short line. A line across the width of the court marking the front of the service box.
The T. A space on the floor where the short line is joined by the halfcourt line. Staying “in the T” gives a player the best chance to return an opponent’s shot.

  1. A metal strip across the lower part of the front wall that makes a distinctive sound when struck by the ball. The ball must strike the wall above the tin to be a good shot.
  2. Returning a shot before it bounces. Also referred to by players as “picking it off the floor.”

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