Getting into the game of squash is exciting. Learning the game, getting the gear, practicing ad nauseum, and building up your stamina and cardio is addicting.
After you have your squash shoes, clothing, headbands, compression gear, and racket all set up and picked out based on your experience level, the last thing to do is choose the correct squash ball.
If you have not chosen your racket or squash shoes yet, and want to learn more about the game before you begin taking in the information in this article, check out the following links to our articles, guides, and reviews below which offer information on a variety of squash gear:
Choosing the Right Squash Ball
Before you check out the charts and information below, it is important to know a little bit behind the size, weight, and construction of a squash ball, so you have a working knowledge of the gear you are going to be playing with.
The size of squash balls range from 1.56” to 1.59” in diameter (39.5mm to 40.5mm). This makes the squash ball the smallest sports ball currently being used — even beating out the golf ball, which is 1.68” in diameter (42.67mm)!
While the game of squash is most often compared to Tennis, the court, the gear, techniques, goals of each player, and variation in the ball are different than the sport of Tennis. In fact, while a squash ball is regulation size between 1.56” and 1.59”, the Tennis ball is actually larger than a Lacrosse ball, at 2.575” to 2.700” in diameter.
While the squash ball is the smallest sports ball in play, it is not the heaviest — but it is the third lightest. Behind the Table Tennis ball and the Badminton shuttlecock, the Squash ball weighs between 0.8 to 0.9 oz (23 to 25 grams).
A squash ball is made up of raw butyl rubber material, a number of synthetic powders and materials, and many natural materials. Air is then enclosed inside of the rubber ball.
It is important to note that the different types of squash balls intended for different experience levels, are produced differently in order to give players different playing styles and various speeds.
How Does a Squash Ball Function?
The function of each level of squash ball differs with the experience level of the players. Resilience is the primary property of a squash ball’s function. Most of the energy turns into thermal energy inside of the ball when hit. The air that is enclosed inside of the rubber ball during construction, as well as the rubber itself, heats up as it is hit with the racket. This causes the air inside the ball to expand and results in a greater pressure inside.
With greater pressure, the rubber of the ball becomes more flexible and more resilient as the rubber heats up. This results in a better and higher bounce of the ball. This is the actual function of the air and rubber inside.
The temperature of the ball that squash players play with is 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius). It is at this temperature that the energy that is lost to the external features is the same as the energy lost in in the ball rubber and the air inside.
What Makes Each Level of Ball Different?
The function of a squash ball is to offer a variety of bounces, which increases in height as the temperature increases, as explained in the section above.
Each level of squash ball has a slight variation in function that allows players from beginners, intermediate, pros, competition players, and everyone in between, find the perfect ball with the perfect bounce for their skill level.
Types of Squash Balls
Squash balls for adult players come in six different varieties, each of them with different levels of “bounce.” The types of balls can be identified by the color and number of dots on the traditionally-black colored balls.
(For younger players, there are ‘Mini-Squash’ balls available that have a very prolonged and high bounce).
The chart below shows each ball type and the color/dots denoted on the ball:
Choosing Your Squash Ball
The four most common types of squash balls are red, blue, double yellow, and single yellow. When you are first starting out, the blue and red balls are the best (unless you or your child are a very young player, in which case ‘Mini-Squash’ balls are preferable – the orange one being the best).
These balls are recommended in order of least to greatest experience because the blue and red balls for beginners help players to develop their hand-eye-coordination and learn techniques without their reaction times ruining any progress.
For adult players, there are slightly larger squash balls available that make the ball slower and therefore, easier to use and learn the game with. You can see these two balls in the ball chart in the section above: the Dunlop Max Blue (which is 12% larger) and the Dunlop Max Progress (which is 6% larger).
The Max squash ball is great for beginners because it is not only larger, but has a 40% longer hang time than the pro ball.
Starting at blue or red, as you become a better player and are ready for the next step, you can move on to the single yellow dot balls. Do not immediately onto the double yellow balls. Rather than taking the time to properly progress, if you jump ahead and use a ball that is at a higher level than you are, you can really hinder your progression and performance. Don’t worry – you will get there, and remember that learning and getting better is the fun of squash.
Advanced players typically use the double yellow squash balls.
Temperature of the court is an important aspect of playing with the right ball. There is a reason that squash is played indoors. As explained in this article, temperature has a huge effect on the squash ball, and has a direct effect on its bounce.
That being said, squash courts vary in temperature, so take into account the temperature of the court before choosing a ball. In the winter and on colder courts, use a single dot ball (even for advanced players), because at lower temperatures, the double dot balls just do not bounce enough.
Temperature of the court is the reason that squash players “warm up” their squash balls before playing. They are getting the air and rubber material at room temperature in order to play most effectively.
Most beginners find the temperature strange enough, but most never even think about altitude having an effect on the ball. In high altitude areas (which have a lower air pressure), you need to use a ball that has even less bounce.
A special high altitude “orange dot ball” is used in high altitude locations in Mexico, South Africa, and Calgary, while a “Dunlop green dot” ball is more commonly used in North America (high altitude states such as Colorado for instance).