Use The Right Ball
Selecting the right ball to play with, based on BOTH players’ standards AND the court conditions is crucial to having fun and getting the maximum health benefits from playing squash.
Squash balls come in a variety of sizes and speeds, these differences are defined by the number and colour of dots on the ball. There are good reasons for this, but from a beginners’ or casual players’ point of view it can seem over-complicated. The types of balls and their use is covered further down this page. The World Squash Federation only has specifications for 3 types of balls: Single Yellow, Double Yellow and Green.
The actual colour of the ball is unimportant. Squash balls can be any colour.
To communicate EXACTLY which ball should be used AND why.
I propose three ideas that, with the support of all sections of the squash community, could help more players enjoy the sport. Before I describe them, let’s look a little closer at the current situation.
Some players use the wrong ball.
They do this for two reasons:1. Miscommunication: Squash uses two concepts to differentiate the types of balls: “hang time” and “speed“.
- “Hang time” describes how long the ball stays in the air. Essentially, it’s saying how bouncy a ball is.
- “Speed” obviously describes how fast a ball moves.
Now, imagine you are new to squash and you see two balls advertised “Slow” and “Fast”. Which ball are you likely to select as a beginner? The “slow” one of course! When you are new to a sport you want to avoid “fast” balls because they would be harder to hit.
2. Ego, Pride, Snobbery: I have often heard people say “If the pros play with a double yellow dot, then so should I!“. It’s WRONG. You should play with a ball that you can easily hit and have longer rallies. I am basing this on my experience, but a club player using a single yellow dot ball will get the same sort of bounce as an advanced player using a double yellow dot ball.
THE CORRECT BALL
The correct ball is one that gets and stays hot during a game.
How hot the ball gets mainly depends on “How hard the players hit on average“, “How often the ball is hit on average” (which mainly depends on rally length and length of delay between rallies), and “the temperature of the air, walls, and floor” (which can be dramatically affected if there are outside walls).
It’s worth noting that a room-temperature red dot ball acts very similarly to a hot double yellow dot and therefore can be used to practice certain shots, for example drop shots.
A chart, some simple skill tests and some carefully worded sentences.
I propose the creation of a new chart that defines the balls based on BOUNCE using both player’s standard AND the court temperature, NOT speed or hang time. I also propose the creation of some simply racket/ball skills tests to help players quickly identify which ball should be used. Finally, I suggest some sentences that could be used in a campaign by pros to succinctly explain the situation.
THE SQUASH BALL TABLE
The guidance table below is for regular matches. During specialized practices ANY ball can be used.
- COURT/TEMPERATURE: This is an approximate guide and includes the air, walls and floor temperature. Some courts, especially those with walls that are also the outside wall of the actual building get very cold. In those circumstances, use a bouncier ball than you would normally use.
- STANDARD: For the purposes of this guide, the following descriptions of standards are used.
- Beginner – Somebody relatively new to squash.
- Improver/Casual – A person who has been playing for a little while, but doesn’t take it too seriously.
- Club Player – Somebody who plays regularly and maybe even in a league or occasional friendly competition.
- Tournament Player – Somebody who players very regularly, practices to improve and probably plays in tournaments.
- Advanced – A player who has reached a level where they can play any shot and trains specifically for tournaments.
No one test or combination of tests will be able to accurately define a person’s standard. These tests are designed to ensure Improvers, casual players and club players are using the correct ball; either single yellow dot or double yellow dot ball. Try one of these tests to see if you are using the correct ball.
TEST 1: Side-to-Side
With a double yellow dot, if both players can hit 15 side-to-side shots quite hard with no mistakes, you should be use a double yellow dot. If not, use a single yellow.
TEST 2: Racket Bounce
If both players can bounce the ball on the floor with your racket 10 times very quickly with cold double yellow dot, you can use it in the match. If not, use a single yellow.
TEST 3: Off The Backwall
If both players can hit 5 consecutive straight drive shots off the back wall on their backhands with a hot double yellow dot, use that. If not, use a single yellow dot.
Here are 3 suggested sentences that can be used in publicity and campaigns to get players using the right ball.
1. If you can't get a double yellow dot squash ball very very hot, it is the wrong ball to play with!
2. Use the ball that the lower standard player needs, not the higher standard player wants.
3. The right ball is the one that bounces a LOT.
Here are 5 posters that can be used to get players using the right ball. Click the links to view high resolution PDF versions.
Below are the types of balls available. They are split into 2 sections: STANDARD and SPECIALIZED.
Standard balls are the one that most people can buy and use.
SINGLE BLUE DOT: This ball is designed for complete beginners. It is bouncy at room temperature and requires no warming up. Perfect for new players.
SINGLE RED DOT: This ball is designed for people who have been playing for a little while or for some beginners. It’s not as bouncy as the blue dot ball, but bouncy enough that you don’t need to warm it up. Perfect for most new players, improvers or casual players.
SINGLE WHITE DOT: This is no longer considered official as it is not listed by the World Squash Federation in their Ball Specifications2. Believed to be between the red and yellow dot, but the original one should be the same as the current single yellow dot. Perfect for colder days.
SINGLE YELLOW DOT: Designed for the club player on normal courts and for better players on colder courts. This ball definitely requires some warming up before it becomes sufficiently bouncy for fun play. Designed for most club players.
DOUBLE YELLOW DOT: Designed for players who can play the ball after it has hit the back wall. Requires constant hard hitting to reach its optimum temperature. Perfect for players who can consistently hit hard.
Use for certain situations.
DUNLOP INTRO: This ball is 12% bigger than a standard squash ball and has been specifically designed for beginners. Its size and bounciness make it perfect for people who have just started playing squash. It is ONLY made by Dunlop. Designed for beginners.
DUNLOP PROGRESS: This ball is 6% bigger than a standard squash ball. It is designed for improvers; players who have passed the beginner stage. It is ONLY made by Dunlop. Designed for improvers.
WHITE BALL: The white ball is a single yellow dot ball, created specifically for glass courts. It is equivalent to a double dot black ball. Some glass courts have been designed to use black AND white balls. Designed for glass courts.
GREEN DOT: This ball is designed for high-altitude locations. At altitude, in Denver USA for example, a standard double-yellow dot would play too fast. In my experience they can also be used in very high humidity/temperature situations, for example right next to an indoor swimming pool. They are very difficult to buy outside of the locations that use them. Designed for high altitude locations.
MORE RESEARCH IS NEEDED
These are questions I’d like answered.
- Why does the white ball have a single yellow dot, even though it has double yellow dot specifications?
- Do the blue and red dot balls from manufacturers other than Dunlop have similar properties?
- I have seen at least one site4 say the green dot is medium/slow and not high altitude. Where does this information come from?
- The WSF specification2 lists the white and green dots as “slow”, but that doesn’t make sense if the green dot is supposed to be used at high altitude. Which is correct?
- If the only difference between a double yellow dot and green dot ball is Rebound Resilience at 23 Degrees C2, why does the green dot behave differently at playing temperature?
- Do the Dunlop Intro and Progress balls have blue and red dots on them? – EDIT: Yes, they do. Edit 2: Mine doesn’t.
If you know the answer to any of these questions or know somebody who does, please contact me: [email protected]
I read a lot of webpages when researching the creation of this page. There is a LOT of false and incorrect information available online, but of course there is a lot of good information too. Below is a list of the references I used. This is NOT a scholarly or journalistic article, but I have tried to be as rigorous as possible in my research. Not all links below provide correct information!
- Squash Ball in Court Part 1 by David Baker
- World Squash Federation: Rules of the Singles Game 2019 (page 20)
- The White Ball Experiment on Reddit
- The Squash Company
- SquashGame.info – forum questions
- Double yellow dot white balls!?
- PSA – Squash Balls Explained
- SquashGame.info – choosing squash balls
- Wikipedia – Equipment
- IthcaSquash – detail research about squash balls
- SquashPlayer.co.uk – squash Balls
- Blue Stem Magazine – history of the squash ball
- Squash Ball Material
- Quora – How are squash balls made?
- Investigating the Bounce of a Squash Ball
- The Dynamic Behavior of Squash Balls
- What Ball to Choose
- SquashHQ – Best Squash Balls
- The Influence of temperature on Bouncing Balls Research
- Parkway Physiotherapy – Selecting Squash Equipment
- World Squash – History of Squash
- J Price of Bath – UK squash ball manufacturer
- SquashMad.com – Single Yellow Dot Debate
- SquashMad.com – Join the One Dot Revolution
- Squash Sport USA – Squash Balls
- Squash Empire – Squash Balls Guide
- Squash Ball in Court Part 2 Page 1 by David Baker
- Squash Ball in Court Part 2 page 2 by David Baker
- How Glasses Caught A Killer Paperback by David Baker
- Racquet Network – Squash Ball Test
- Squash Balls Review with Squash World Tour
ABOUT THIS PAGE
I created this page to make it easy for players to find and use information about choosing the correct squash ball for their standard and court conditions.
It was heavily inspired by this post on the Squash SubReddit: How does your club encourage the use of different balls. Unfortunately, there was no real answer to the question.
A little while later, the discussion about World Squash considering lowering the height of the tin for all players to 17 inches, also included using the correct ball.
My objective was to create a guidance chart that made sense to players with some flexibility built-in. I also wanted some sort of test that players could perform to avoid arguments about standard.
Of course, there is no simple test that would quickly and clearly define a player’s standard, BUT if something could be formulated that would avoid players using the Double-yellow dot squash ball, simply “Because the pros play with it!“, that in itself would be good enough.
The chart and test are open to update and change at any time.
I am going to try to encourage the adoption of the guidance chart and simple test by contacting players, coaches, websites and organizations, and telling them about it. if you can help promote this project, please let me know.
This page will also act as the framework for a future video.