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Every month, I receive about 2 or 3 messages from juniors asking me if they could become a professional squash players.

We all like to dream, especially when we are young. I remember being around 14 years old and wanting to become a professional tennis player and it’s probably rare that children of that age don’t have some similar dream with their chosen sport. Becoming a professional athlete is very difficult, and I have seen plenty of very talented, hard-working and intelligent juniors go on to become very, very good squash players, but not professionals. If you are an aspiring junior and dream of becoming a squash professional, please read the following letter, and read it all. The Brutal Reality The harsh reality is that 99.9% of juniors who write to me will not become pros. That’s 1 out of every 1000 juniors. That’s a guess, but it seems about right. In fact, it might be 99.99%, so 1 in 10,000, or even more. Of course a lot depends on many factors, some of them out of your control. For example, do you have easy access to squash courts? Are there coaches near you that work with juniors? But even having your own court (one person who wrote to me has) and having a few coaches available, don’t automatically mean it’s going to be easy. “But I could be that 1 out of 10,000, right?” Yes, you could be, but the other 9,999 say exactly the same thing! That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try though. A Thought Experiment Imagine that you could see the future, and you saw that you spend thousands of hours on-court and off-court training, you saw yourself smiling when you win and crying when you lost. You saw yourself getting injured and recovering, your saw yourself travelling to tournaments and waiting in train stations and hotels cold, tired and bored. You saw yourself play some fantastic shots and some absolute clangers. You saw yourself shouting at the ref for what you thought was a bad call and…

There are two situations that seem perfect for buying second-hand squash rackets. Firstly, when you are new to the sport and need something very cheap, and secondly when you are experienced and know what is a bargain and what isn’t. Let’s discuss those options.

This is my second article about second-hand rackets (see what I did there?), but it’s focus is a little different. Buying anything second-hand can be risky. It’s easy to get cheated, either by accident or by design; sellers can make genuine mistakes or know they are cheating you. In fact, I’ve been cheated, but that’s because when I was buying rackets, I had them delivered to an address in the UK )I live in Northern Spain) and didn’t see them until months later, which was too late to complain. I bought a cracked racket in case you were wondering! So why the heck would I recommend buying second-hand if you could get cheated? Well, firstly, unless you are buying a very special and unusual vintage racket, you should always go a see it directly from the seller. That does limit your options, but it also mens less chance of buying a bad racket. Of course, depending on the price and your rush, you could easily take a chance, or make sure you write and ask the seller if there is any damage or problems. That way, if it arrives damaged you have proof that it’s not supposed to be. Then it becomes a fight with the seller and courier, because you should be able to reject it. Case One: Beginners When you are beginner, it’s easy to become obsessed with the technical specifications of rackets in the hope (dream, actually) that it is going to make a big difference to your squash. It almost certainly won’t. It’s like buying a Ferrari to learn to drive. Sure, people will look enviously at you, but you won’t know how to get the most out of it. If you have a lot of money to spend, great, but it’s a waste of money too. Many times, people just need something functional. Something that is better than the basic aluminium rackets used as hire…

This article assumes that the pro tournament you are visiting has a glass court. It’s just some suggestions that I believe will help you get the most out of your first visit.

If you are lucky enough to have a professional squash tournament within travelling distance of your location, and the time and money to get tickets, then I highly recommend going. It’s a great experience to get close to pro players on court and see how athletic they are. Squash TV’s coverage is fantastic, but one of the reasons I feel squash doesn’t get much attention is that TV can never show the true athleticism of the players. Go To Semi-Finals Day Suggestion number one is to go to the semi-finals day instead of the final day. Now, this suggestion depends on the size of the tournament and whether there are men and women playing. In some tournaments, semi-finals day gets you two matches, in others four matches. Not always, but many times the semi-final matches are just as good as the finals. The players have a little less pressure on their shoulders, but enough to make the matches interesting. Failing that the quarter finals are a good option because you definitely get more matches. I understand people’s desire to see the final and the ceremony afterwards, but I want to watch great squash and semi-finals and quarter-finals give the best option for that. View The Glass Court From All Angles If this is your very first visit to a glass court, then you MUST take the opportunity to watch some squash from the sides and front wall. I don’t mean just walking around quickly, but actually watch at least 5 minutes from a variety of locations. You need 5 minutes becasue any less and you really don’t have time to decide if this is a useful angle of not. Personally, I like the side walls, either near the back wall or near the front wall, but not in the middle. That slight angle coupled with seeing the front-back movement allows me to appreciate the speed of the players. Of course,…

You probably know that the original name of squash was “Squash Rackets”, although now we just use “squash” and it seems the “rackets” part has been dropped by most governing bodies and associations.

Wellington Rackets Court in Berkshire

I’m not a historian, just a person interested in the history and development of the sport we love: Squash. Even though the events described occurred only a few hundred years ago, many of the details have been lost, but historians generally agree that Rackets started within debtors’ prisons some time in the 18th Century (between 1700 and 1799). As a side note, debtors’ prisons are an interesting rabbit hole to explore if you have time). Essentially, prisoners took the idea of Fives, which was simply hitting a ball against the wall with their hands, by using Real Tennis rackets. BTW, the game we now know as Tennis, wasn’t invented until 1872, but more on that another time. I’m unclear exactly what ball they used, probably the same ball as Fives, again more on that another time, but it’s worth pausing for a moment to talk about variety. Every Game Different Nowadays, all sports are so well defined that it’s hard for us to imagine a time when things were more like the wild west. At the time of these events, there were no sports associations. Each group of people played how they wanted. For example, one prison might have played with a side wall, others not, one with a bigger harder ball, the other softer and smaller. There was no standardisation at all. That theme followed on to squash, which didn’t standardise the court size and ball specifications until the early 20th century. So, here was have a group of people in prison, who played game with a ball and racket against a wall. This eventually spread outside the prisons to alleyways and other suitable places in and around London. Again, each game might have been slightly different, even the scoring could be adjusted to suit the needs of the players. Schools came next, and such was the popularity of the game that some schools began to build courts with…

I was recently asked this in an email and the sender had been told by somebody that their courts that they had to wear shorts – no tracksuit bottoms.

There used to be a time when squash players were forced to wear all white clothing, including the shoes. I played and coached through this era, but now it is considered old-fashioned. The reason given was that if the ball passed across the body of a player wearing dark colours their opponent would lose sight of the ball and be at a disadvantage. They also wanted to keep the “image” of the sport as formal. Nowadays, players wear any colour or design they want. But what about the style of clothing? Did you know that back sometime in the 1930s and 1940s, ladies were asked not to wear skirts during play? The reason given was the same as for the white clothing: a “flowing” skirt may cover the ball. So back to the title question. No, you don’t have to wear shorts or skirts when playing squash. But, I do want to mention three points for your consideration. Distraction I looked through the current rules but couldn’t see anything about the clothing you wear when playing squash. So, does that mean you can wear ANYTHING you want? Yes, and no. If your opponent believes your clothing is a distraction then they can ask the ref for a let. Now this is tricky because I don’t believe that can say that the colour or design itself is a distraction, just during the rally. It would be ridiculous for a player to keep saying the pattern or design distracts them. Although, if the design has particularly rude wording or is what most people would consider acceptable, then maybe the ref could rule to change it. More on that later. Knocking up in a tracksuit. The more important point about distraction regarding your clothing would be something that is not tight, but very loose and flaps about a lot. I know this is a silly example, but it’s a perfect illustration of the…

The simple answer is “”NO!”. In fact, the complicated answer is also “NO!”. so how do you choose the right brand for you? Read on to find out.

How Often Should You Replace Squash Strings?

There are definitely differences between brands and sometimes even between batches. Some a deader than others, some more lively. For me, and remember I only make squash videos now, no playing or on-court coaching, the most important two aspects are consistency and durability. Honestly, they should be your most important aspects too, but perhaps you have different criteria. If you were to buy 5 different brands of squash ball all of the same dot, you would find that unless they are made in the same factory, there would be differences. The better a player you are, the more likely you are to notice smaller difference – purely because you have spent more time playing. It is unadvisable to keep changing brands of balls, unless you can’t find a regular supply. better to find one you like and tick to suing it if you can. Leagues And Tournaments The first question to ask yourself is “What brand is or will be used for any leagues or tournaments I plan to play in this season?”. Of course, this question is only relevant if you play competitive squash. If you don’t, I’ll talk about your situation in a moment. It’s best to play with that brand because you don’t want the shock of having to adapt to a different bounce profile as well as dealing with a new court and opponent. So, find out which brand they sue and buy some of those. Playing Just For Fun If you play just for fun then you simply have to see what is available in your area. For example, I live in Spain and Decathlon is the largest sports retailer near me and they sell their own balls. They interestingly sell two types of double yellow dot balls: WSF accredited and not accredited. I found the not accredited balls bounce higher and last longer. The key is not to use shiny balls and use the…

For many readers of my articles, this might seem an obvious question, but I want to ensure that I don’t neglect squash players that play outside of clubs.

A squash exhibition match can take many forms, but essentially it is a non-official match between two professional players. They are paid to play by the club or part of their sponsorship agreement. Members, and sometimes non-members, often have to pay for tickets, but that’s not always the case. The evening might start with some cheese and wine meet-and-greet session, where people can meet the players and have their photograph taken with them. Then there could be a questions and answer session held in front of the court, although sometimes this is done after the match. Most times a few club members get to play a game with one of the players and those people either pay more for that privilege or are chosen from a list. Those games form part of the warm up for the event. Finally, the main event starts, which is the two pros playing a match. It’s not a competitive match in the sense that it’s not part of a tournament or inter-club team match, but that’s not to say that it’s not competitive. In some cases there is prize money for the winner. In fact, I remember watching Jahangir Khan versus Jansher Khan in a 10,000 Pound, winner-takes-all “exhibition” match in Surrey, UK, many years ago. Rahmat Khan kindly gave me tickets and I took one of my pupils along with me. We watched from above the front wall, yes, above the front wall and it was fantastic. Jahangir won 3-2 in a very close match. This is one of the benefits of joining a proper squash club, and I recommend you do a little research to see if one is near you. I want to be clear what I mean by “proper” squash club. Many facilities have squash courts, but a squash club is one that exists to provide its members with lots of activities to participate in. Club nights, coaching, tournaments, teams…