Whether you are new to the game of squash or have advanced to a higher level of gameplay, you will need to purchase a new racket or two for practice and competitive gameplay. Your racket should always be up to par with your level of experience for the best performance possible.
Your skill level from newbie to beginner, beginner to intermediate, and intermediate to advanced will always require you to choose a racket that is suited to your increasing abilities. But how do you choose the right racket when the time comes? You could ask around, see what players are using at similar skill levels, or you can take the time to understand the importance of each component of a squash racket has on gameplay.
For example, to better understand the role of stringing, tension, and patterns, you can read the following article:
What to Consider When Choosing a Squash Racket
For a better understanding of how to choose the right racket, there are six aspects to any squash racket that will have an impact on the racket’s performance when in your hand. What is important is knowing your preferences, what you need in a racket the most, and choosing a racket with the right mix of these components so that it complements your skill level to its optimal level.
When it comes to a racket’s construction (not to be confused with composition, as seen in the next section), there are two main types found in a squash racket: the Single Post (also called Closed Throat Construction) and the Open Throat design.
The closed throat/single post construction offers a larger sweet spot for ball contact and can generate more power. Less effort is needed to hit the ball consistently due to the additional flex in the racket frame.
The open throat design will help to offer the user stability and control due to the main strings being shorter than the closed throat design. This construction offers better control at the risk of a smaller sweet spot, and is therefore the main choice for professional players and club players at all levels.
Beginners would benefit from a closed throat/single post design so they can take advantage of the larger sweet spot and need less effort to generate a lot of power. Once a player has honed their skills, they can try out an open throat racket design once they have a better handle on the ball.
Now, racket composition is essentially the material that the frame is made up of. Most squash rackets are made from carbon fiber or graphite materials these days as well as other composite materials. Some high-end performance rackets also feature titanium alloys as well.
Carbon fiber racket frames keep the racket lightweight while offering both a strong and durable stiffness around the head and a flexibility during gameplay. This increases aerodynamics and when paired with your string pattern, quality, material, and tension of choice, can make a great difference on your gameplay.
There are three categories of what is called balance with regards to squash rackets. When you are searching for a new one, you will most likely come across the phrases: Head Light, Head Heavy, and Evenly Balanced, or similarly worded categories.
Each of these types of balances plays differently in a player’s hands and each has different benefits. Before purchasing a racket, it is important to try each one out — know ahead of time which type of balance you are looking for and be sure to practice using a racket of that balance before committing.
Head Light rackets has, as indicated, less weight in the head of the racket and more weight down in the handle. This makes Head Light rackets feel more maneuverable and lighter in the hand. This results in a feeling of better control. Highly skilled squash players tend to favor this type of racket due to its lightweight frame, balance that favors an even lighter feel, and the control it offers.
Head Heavy rackets, alternatively, have the majority of the frame’s weight in the racket head. While in the hand, these rackets feel a little heavier (by a matter of grams) and offer less total control, but they give the user more power with less effort in the swing.
The flame is flexible and when you swing at the ball, you generate more power with a touch.
Evenly Balanced (or just “Even”) rackets have an equally distributed weight across the frame that gives you a quicker swing and maneuverability while still generating power. To many players, this in-between choice offers great flexibility and increases one’s power and shot making ability.
The next aspect to choosing the right racket is weight. Squash rackets range in weight from 120 grams to 170 grams – this number fluctuates significantly based on personal preference. There are advantages to both lighter and heavier rackets depending on one’s skill level and preference in gameplay.
Light weight rackets (typically ranging between 120 g to 150 g) allows for quicker wrist flicking and movements when hitting the ball. With a faster movement of the head, this means you can get a good feel for the racket and hit with lighter touches. This aides in deception in the front of the squash court and means for easier control.
Heavy weight rackets (between 151 g to 190 g) aid in adding a ton of power to your shots at the risk of feeling heavier in the hand and during your shot swings. While it is somewhat unusual for a racket to be so heavy, these can weigh up to 190 grams. Typically, heavy rackets tend to realistically weigh between 151 grams and 180 grams. A heavier racket does provider much more stability and control and is much smoother on impact. If you get a racket right around the 160s and 170s, you will have a larger and longer sweet spot without the frame becoming to heavy. As with head heavy frames, rackets that weigh more require less effort to drive a ball consistently.
Skill level is, of course, an extremely important part of choosing any racket. While it may be tempting to buy your pro squash hero’s lightweight custom racket, this can actually hinder in your ability to become better at the game. The same goes with racket balls. If you are a beginner, do not try to play with double dot balls — to learn how to play the game best and progress naturally into a great player, you really do need to be patient and use the right gear for each skill level.
There are three skill levels for squash rackets, which reflect the skill level of the player: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced.
Beginner squash rackets are great for first time players because they are designed to be a learning tool. Durable, sturdy, and heavier in weight than intermediate and advanced rackets, beginner rackets increase the flexibility of the player with longer, teardrop sweet spots that offer the best power and control. Usually around the 155 g to 180 g mark, these heavier rackets have an even balance and allow the new player to feel the ball better through the contact zone on the strings in order to groove their swing and learn the fundamental skills for control and gameplay.
Intermediate rackets are a great introduction to the next level of skill. Your racket will get progressively lighter as you go on (however, it ultimately depends on personal preference) and with a slightly lighter racket weighing between 150 grams to 165 grams, these options will help you to continue to focus on your ball control and swing while introducing power to your arsenal. Intermediate players tend to have a heavier head weight or a bit more head weight in an even racket. This provides balance and flexibility while promoting the learning player’s skills in control over the ball and the amount of power they utilize.
Advanced rackets are the combination of the best of all racket features. For an even balance of control for precision gameplay and power for better shots, advanced rackets will help those heading to the next level to continuously improve their skills in the game of squash. These frames tend to be much lighter than beginner and intermediate models.
Weighing between 120 grams and 140 grams, the pros and club players tend to opt for the lighter of the rackets. Some have convex heads in order to add strength and stiffness without compromising any of the performance features. These pro rackets tend to be even-balanced or head light in addition to being lightweight in the frame. They often feature special aerodynamic components as well.
Players will often stick to a certain combination of features in their advanced racket or switch through the high-quality pro models to test their ever-increasing skills. Remember, even pros players always have more to learn and more to master.
Racket Grip Shape
While it seems somewhat minor in comparison to weight, composition, construction, and skill level, the grip shape is also important to the individual player and can make a difference between improving your game or stunting it.
Squash rackets are created with standard handle sizes but the grip shape can change between brands and manufacturers. Personal preference is is huge when it comes to grip tape. Make sure you pay special attention to this feature of your next racket before you purchase it. If possible, get a feel for it in person first, even if you are purchasing it online. A bad grip can completely ruin your gameplay and your purchase.
There are basically two different types of handles: Rounded and Rectangular.
Some prefer the rounded grip shape while some find it difficult to keep their racket perfectly angled and oriented when they are playing eyes-off during rallies. If you like to have a certain feel to your grip so that you can always orient your racket for optimal contact and precision, a rectangular grip can offer you a more definite grip.
However, all of these rules could go out the window the moment you pick up a racket with different grips. The size of your hand, the length of your fingers and palms, and your comfort in the grip will determine your preference in the end.