Some people mistakenly believe squash and racquetball are the same sport because they both take place in a glass-enclosed room with a single exit. If you have never played either sport, you may not know what they entail or how they are different.

Although squash and racquetball appear very similar, they are played differently. Understanding the differences will help you decide which sport you want to practice, whether you play simply for enjoyment or exercise.

Squash vs Racquetball

Understanding the History of Squash and Racquetball

When it comes to the history of these two sports, you need to know squash is the older of the two. Squash was invented in the 1850s at the honorable Harrow School in England.

This game was developed based on combining two popular games of the time, racquets and fives. At the time of its conception, rubber balls had just been released.

Students from Harrow School would throw the rubber balls against the walls, and the balls would “squash” against the walls, making it much more difficult to return shots. Many people are surprised to learn there were even some squash courts on the Titanic.

Racquetball was invented about one hundred years later. Joe Sobek, a professional tennis and squash player, is the one credited with creating racquetball. After he discovered the sport, he traveled to different YMCAs across the country and taught the rules to those interested.

Racquetball became a raging success in the 1960s because it offered a high-intensity level of competition. Soon, racquetball courts and clubs began to arise all across the country.

Squash vs Racquetball

Racquets and Rackets: How Are They Different?

One of the first differences you should understand between the two sports is the equipment. Besides a court or a simple wall, you will need a racquet or racket to play with. No, these two are not the same equipment.

Racquetball uses a racquet. Racquets are typically up to 55.88 centimeters in length. This tool features a teardrop-shaped net opening for hitting the ball.

Squash rackets are not just spelled differently. These sporting tools are typically longer, up to 66.8 centimeters. The stringed surface is also narrower than a racquet.

Squash racket vs Racquetball racquet

Understanding the Differences Between the Balls

Another key difference between these two sports is the balls. Both of the balls used in these sports are hollow and made of rubber. This is where the similarities end.

Racquetballs are the larger of the two balls, usually by about 42%. Racquetballs are also much bouncier. Squash balls tend to flatten against the wall, making it much more difficult to return play.

Squash ball vs Racquetball ball

Differences Between the Court Sizes

There are also key differences between the sizes of the courts for racquetball and squash. Squash was developed in England and racquetball in America. Because of their invention locations, there are differences in the courts.

The dimensions of a standard racquetball court are 40 ft. x 20 ft. x 20 ft, while a squash court features a 32 ft. x 21 ft. x 18.5 ft court. The racquetball court is larger, giving players more room to move as they play the game.

Squash court vs Racquetball court

Serving Differences in Racquetball and Squash

The way players serve the ball is also different between these two sports. A squash player must stand in a small square. They must send the ball to the opposite corner of the court for a qualified serve.

In the game of racquetball, players can stand anywhere in the box and hit the ball, but the ball must drop behind the box before it hits the wall, or the serve is not considered qualified.

players on squash court

Differences in Winning Squash and Racquetball

There are key differences in how squash and racquetball are won by players. If you have never played either game, you may be confused about how to win.

In racquetball, a player cannot score a point unless they have the serve. This rule makes the game much longer than squash.

To get to the win, players must also play the best of three, and each game goes to a score of 15 unless the players are playing a tiebreaker game, which only goes to 11.

Squash players, on the other hand, can score points during any rally. Each match goes to a score of 11, and players play best of five to win.

It is important to note, in Canada, players must win by two while playing both squash and racquetball. This makes the game a little more challenging in this country.

Which Game Is More Popular?

Both games are popular around the world, but squash has a leading edge because it has been around longer. There are an estimated 5.6 million racquetball players worldwide. Squash boasts of having 20 million players across the world.

woman holding squash racket
Squash racket

Is Squash or Racquetball Harder to Play?

If you are considering playing one of these sports, you may wonder which is more difficult. While some would argue, many people feel squash is a more difficult game to play because it is more physically demanding.

Squash balls are more hollow than racquetballs, so they do not bounce well off walls. Due to this difference, squash players must bend much lower and stretch further to serve and rally.

Because of its high level of physical demand, squash burns a lot more calories per hour than racquetball. In a recreational game of squash, players can burn up to 700 calories per hour. In competition, these numbers go up to 1,150.

In a recreational game of racquetball, players burn up to 675 calories per hour. A racquetball competition could lead to 950 calories burned in an hour.

men playing racquetball

Find Your Passion and Play

Now that you know the differences between these two sports, you should consider playing them both to see which one appeals to you the most. Both are high-intensity sports that are challenging, yet fun.

Neither sport is difficult to play, though there are some rules you need to learn. With a little practice and time, you can become a master at either sport you choose.

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