Squash vs Racquetball: What’s the Difference?

Squash

This one’s easy: one is a racket sport while the other is a fruit! 😊

Just kidding, we know you meant squash the sport, and we will discuss various differences between the two over the course of this article.

Differences between Squash and Racquetball

The two sports differ in origins, popularity, court shape and size, gear and equipment, rules, and duration. Refer to the following table where these differences are highlighted.

Squash Racquetball
Origins London – 1830

Developed by prisoners as a variation of tennis and modified by students at Harrow School

Connecticut, USA – 1950s

Developed by player Joe Sobek by modifying the rules of tennis, handball, and squash

Popularity 20 million in the U.S. and is gaining popularity 3.5 million in the U.S.

14 million at peak time in the 1980s

Shape of Court Common section where the ball hits the wall and 2 lined boxes, 1 for each player Divided into three distinct floor areas
Size of Court 40 ft long

20 ft wide

20 ft high

31 ft long

21 ft long

18 ft high

Gear and Equipment Racket: < 27 inches

Ball diameter: 2.25 inches

Protective eyewear

Special squash shoes

Racket: < 22 inches

Ball diameter: 1.5 – 1.6 inches

Protective eyewear

Special racquetball shoes

Rules Indoor, ceiling is out of bounds

Serve to opposite corner of wall

Best of 3 (Pro), 5 (Other)

Points to win: 15 (Pro), 11 (Other)

Indoor, ceiling is in bounds

Serve anywhere on the wall

Ball must pass the short line before bouncing

Points to win: 15

Duration 60 – 90 minutes Approximately 20 minutes

What is Squash Known as in America and Why is it Named Differently There?

Squash actually has a diverse database of names. In France, it was called “Jeu de Paume” which translates to “Game of the Palm”. That was decades ago, when the game still did not involve rackets.

In Britain, it was simply called tennis. A similar game called “Fives” was born in England and was played like “tennis” except without a racket. Later on, in Harrow School, Fives was combined with rackets to create the game we all know today as squash.

The balls first used in this game were initially dense and made of very hard material. However, they gradually changed into lighter, more hollow rubber balls. This led to naming the game “Baby Racquets” or “Soft Racquets”.

Ultimately, the game acquired its name, “Squash”, because of the squashing of the rubber ball against the wall. In North America, the game was split into two: hardball and softball.

Though misleading, this had nothing to do with the actual ball; it only depended on court size – hardball was played on narrower courts while softball was played on wider courts.

Is Squash Really Considered a Sport for Rich People?

So, capitalism and conservatism have really spread out to reach sports now too? This sport earned itself the name “Game of Millionaires”, and here’s why.

Squash is one of the relatively few games played within four walls, and the walls count as part of the court! In the past, construction of such courts cost more than other more common courts or fields like basketball and tennis courts.

That is one of the reasons why squash was considered a sport for rich people; note the emphasis on the past tense.

Today, it is no longer a sport for the rich and squash courts can be found in dozens of countries in the world, be it first-world or third-world, advanced or traditional, rich or poor…

Another quite interesting reason why squash was considered a sport for rich people is that the RMS Titanic, one of the fanciest and most famous ships to have ever treaded our oceans, was the first ship to have a squash court aboard!

Could you imagine pounding a ball with high speed on the court walls and suddenly, the ship encounters a massive iceberg, causing the ball you hit to hit you right back?

Well, no stories about that were told, but now that I mention it, surely your interest is piqued…  Not only was there a court on the ship, but it was also surrounded by a viewing deck where rich passengers placed bets on the players.

While the game holds this title, it ironically brings in much less money than other common sports, such as basketball, football, American football, tennis, and baseball. These sports do not seem to mind, though – squash keeps the title, they keep the money $$$.

Is There Any Relationship between Those Two Sports and Handball?

It may seem odd that a racket sport and handball are actually very similar. Yet, racquetball is pretty much handball with a racket. Both sports can be played with 2, 3, or 4 players.

Three-player racquetball is normally referred to as “Cutthroat”. An interesting fact is that there are two types of handball, but only one is similar to racquetball and squash.

The other type is normally referred to as team handball and is completely different. It consists of two teams of seven to eleven players each. Each team has to throw an inflated ball into a goal.

This type of handball is so different than other that more similarities can be found between the former and football than between the former and the latter types.

A Final Word on Squash and Racquetball

While today’s world still hosts international squash and racquetball championships, they do not gain as much recognition as other world championships. Nonetheless, both sports are still practiced.

While squash is still making its way towards more popularity, racquetball is slowly decreasing in popularity and possibly nearing extinction.

The causes behind such decreases in practice are usually due to under-funding or preference of a similar yet updated version of the sport.

There are dozens of racket sports in the world, such as cricket, paddle ball, squash, tennis, and table tennis – only the strongest can maintain their popularity over time!

Saurabh

I like to share my knowledge and that's why I made this blog. You can learn something new every day.

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