Choosing the right racquet can make a big difference to your game. It should ideally fit your playing style and the level of squash. The squash racquet is a factor of many aspects like weight, balance and shape, grip, string. the ideal racquet is the one that closely matches your playing style and nature.
1. Racquet Weight
When we mention the weight of the racquet, it implies the weight of the frame only – strings, grips are all add-ons to the weight. These days the racquet are made of graphite to make it light and the weight typically ranges from 110 gm to 160 gm.
Light-Weight – The advantage of light weight racquets are that they are easy to maneuver and offer a quick return to the shot. Also a lighter racquet makes it easy to to flick the wrists to play a deceptive shot. Racquets from 110 gm to 140 gm are considered light-weight.
Heavy Racquets – The players who like a traditional play and have slower swings may prefer to have a heavier weight racquet. The power generated from the swing and racquet will be more than a lighter racquet. Weight over 140 gm are considered heavy-weight.
2. Racquet Shape
There are 2 different types of throat shapes: Open throat (also called teardrop-shaped) and Closed throat.
Tear-drop – The tear-drop shape offers a bigger sweet spot due to the way the strings are arranged (usually the main strings run all the way down to the shaft). This shape is also more forgiving and also tend to be more powerful.
Closed Throat – These are rackets with a big opening in the throat area and have shorter main strings and a more compact racket head as a result. The control is more but the sweet spot is also smaller area. To wield this racquet you need to be able to hit the ball with more accuracy so as to take the advantage of the extra precision that these racquets provide.
3. Frame Balance
The balance of the racquets indicates how the weight is distributed. The racquets can be head heavy, evenly balanced or head light.
Head Heavy – Power
With a head-heavy racquet, more weight is at the top of the racquet. As a result the there is more weight behind the shots and makes it easier to hit hard. There is generally more control as you are able to feel the heady heavy weight better
Head -Light – Speed
A head-light racquet has more weight located at the bottom of the racquet and this helps in maneuvering the racquet easier. Hitting shots like the volley, changing the direction of shots at the last minute gets easier with a head-light racquet but the main disadvantage is that this make it harder to control during high speed shots and rallies.
Even Balance – Versatility
Even Balance racquets have weight distributed evenly and this is more suitable for advanced players as they can control which shots require what kind of power/accuracy/control.
The balance is usually a number between 300-400 mm, which is around the middle of the racquet
Every player has an individual preference for grip feel. If you play with regularity, expect to perform some modifications to your grip to attain maximum comfort. The grip also comes in round shape or square shape – it’s a matter of preference.
The way the hand grips the racket is often described as being like shaking someones hand. This is a good way to imagine the basic grip. Ensure that your index finger, known here as the trigger finger, protrudes upwards slightly away from the rest of the fingers, making a V-Shape with the thumb.
- Replacement grips: which is what all rackets come with. These should only be used as the first grip and not on top of another grip.
- Thin replacement grips: which can be put on top of the replacement grip. This will make it quite a bit thicker!
- Overgrips: which go over the replacement grips, and thin replacement grips.
Strings in the racquets are either mono-filament or multi-filament and it is usually measured in gauges. Proper string tension is also important and you might have to tweak both the filament and string tension to suit your game.
Gauge– Squash strings generally range from 1.10 mm – 1.30 mm thickness. Thin strings offer better control but durability is impacted. You might have to go for multiple restrings in case of using thin strings. Look for textured, multi-filament, 17 or 18-gauge strings specifically designed for squash.
There are 3 kinds of strings available:
Natural Gut: Natural guts has its origins in 1875 and it’s made from the intestines of the cow. Natural gut strings have great resilience and offer good control and touch. It is making way to the Nylon fibers but still they are used by some tennis players.
Multi-filament: Also known as synthetic gut (mix of different filaments), this is the most popular string as it plays well, similarly to natural gut, but last longer.
Mono-filament: This is used by players who break strings regularly as it is a very tough string (single filament). But it comes with its downsides as well, there is less feel and comfort.
Tension – The average tension 26-28 PSI and the range is from 24 PSI to 30 PSI and is usually inscribed in the sides of the racquets. Increased tension improves touch and decreased tension improves power. Regular players will need to restring approximately every 2 months to maintain reliable, effective tension.
Some of the string / tensions currently used by leading pro players are:
Mohamed El Shorbagy – current World no.1 – Racquet: Tecnifibre Carboflex Airshaft 125 gm, String: Dynamix V.P. 1.25 mm; String Pattern: 14/18; Tension: 27 lbs; Balance: 350 mm +- 5mm
Saurav Ghoshal – current World no. 13 – Racquet: Head Graphene 360 120 gm, String: Tecnifibre X-One Biophase 1.18 ; String Pattern: 12/17; Tension: 26-30 lbs;
Raneem El Welily – current Women’s World no. 1 – Racquet: Custom Harrow Vapor Squash Racquet 140 gm, String: Barrage Pro ; Tension: 26-30 lbs; Balance: 380 mm