Ron Beck © 2008 , Editor
of SquashTalk.com, player for 38 years.
you satisfied with your squash racquet? Has your latest opponent
told you he beat you because of his great racquet? Here are some
ideas on selecting a new racquet
most indispensible tool for squash is your racquet. How have
you gone about selecting one?
wish I could have a dollar for every time a player barged into
her club's pro shop and asked the pro point blank, "Which
racquet is best for me?" The answer is rarely satisfactory:
And usually the pro is going to steer the player towards one
of two or three models carried in that shop.
Before getting into specific
factors that you can look at, I must emphasize that trying out
the candidate racquet is the best way to choose a racquet. Play
with the racquet on court, to get a feel for the swing and balance.
Try several different racquets to establish the differences in
how they feel. The combinations of weight, balance, and stiffness
are endless, and the choice must come down to personal preference.
The key variables in squash
The first thing you need to
understand in selecting a squash racquet is how they differ.
Here are some of the main characteristics of squash racquets;
and my view on how those characteristics affect how the racquet
will play. Understand, though, that there is no consensus on
these playing parameters.
of the racquet. The
weight of the racquet is its most obvious characteristic,
and the weights are quite variable. The lightest racquets
weigh in at about 120 grams, and heavy ones can be 210 grams
or more. Most typically, racquets in the 140 to 170 gram
range are used. As an oversimplification, less expensive
racquets are the heaviest, and lighter racquets will cost
you more. Stronger materials must be used to allow a racquet
to be fabricated at a lighter weight.
needs a light racquet? Players selecting lighter
racquets tend to be skilled control and touch players,
juniors, and women. A lighter racquet lets the player "feel"
the ball as he hits it. This gives the beginner an impression
of control. However, it is the experienced
player who can best use a light racquet. The beginner
will have a lot of difficulty with the necessary accuracy
required to use a light racquet. Put another way, a lighter
racquet requires the player to add her own strength to put
power into a shot -- because the lighter racquet generates
less momentum. Therefore, though often juniors and women
select very light racquets, this is sometimes a mistake on
their part, since it can make it more difficult to impart
speed and direction on the ball. Skill and techique is required
to make use of a light racquet.
In summary, a lighter
racquet is easier to swing and give better "feel" of the
ball, but also will be harder to control and will be more
of the racquet. Racquets vary substantially in where
their center of balance lies. Here is a factor that can best
be established by trying out the candidate racquet on court.
It is usually fairly easy to feel when the racquet has "bad balance" --
that is if it is head heavy or head light. Try
out the racquets and reject ones that don't feel right: A racquet
that feels really heavy is usually head heavy. The balance varies
from one racquet to another within a model line -- so you need
to insist on trying out the specific racquet you propose to buy.
of the racquet. Racquets
vary totally with regard to their "whippiness." Try out for
yourself racquets that are very stiff and then racquets with
different degrees of give and test out how your shots perform
with these different racquets. The best racquet for you will
be dependent on your style of play and your level of expertise.
If you can control it, a stiffer racquet is usually superior
for both shot making and the power game.
Racquet stiffness, though,
in the final anaysis is totally a question of personal
style. Be aware of the stiffness of racquets you play well
with, and try to be consistent in the racquets you use.
The only racquets to
really steer clear of, in this respect, are the very cheapest
ones that tend to vibrate as they are hit.
of the racquet head. Racquet manufacturers experiment
with different racquet heads and market the results of their
experimentation. In general, larger racquet heads give you a
greater margin for error and also additional power.
Be aware of the design
and shape of the throat of your proposed racquet. Certain
racquet throat designs make for decreased racquet durability.
Look to your squash professional's advice in this area.
As a general statement, racquet manufacturers will create
a series of racquet models with slightly different throat
designs at different price points. Usually, the stronger
racquets are also more expensive. An example is the Head
Pyramid Power line. With the "Pyramid Power 150" affording
excellent durability and play.
material: Strength and durability. Racquets
are made with a confusing array of composite materials. The latest
racquet rage are the Titanium lines that have been introduced
by almost all manufacturers. In most cases, these are titanium/graphite
composites. Although they play with great power and control,
almost all of the titanium frames have had breakage problems.
SquashTalk interviews with racquet dealers indicate that Prince
and Head have both had quite significant returns of broken titanium
frames. The titanium composites appear to introduce a brittleness
that the racquet designers have not yet solved.
track record. Check
with other squash players and your squash retailer to learn about
the durability record of your candidate racquet. Squash racquet
models are surprisingly divergent in their durability.
grip. Don't worry
about the grip in selecting your racquet. You can easily modify
the grip later by replacing the grip, "building-up" thickness
in the grip, or reshaping the grip.
it out, try it out, try it out! Always
test-drive your proposed new racquet first. Never invest
in a racquet until you have tried out that model for several
games and established whether the feel of it works for you.
Racquet preferences are very individual.
The grip is a part of the
racquet you should consider customizing. Many players arrive
at a prefered grip shape, and build up the grip on each new racquet
to feel the same. This help you to keep your shotmaking consist
as you change racquets. It can be as simple as always replacing
the manufactured grip with the specific brand or type of grip
that you are used to. Or it can be as complicated as building
up the thickness or changing the shape of the handle before wrapping
on the new grip. A friend I played with for years built up massive
grips on each of his racquets with toweling. Anyone else handling
his racquet thought he had truly lost his mind! But for him it
worked -- although I could barely get my hands around his racquet
grips, he could achieve great touch with them.
Restringing your racquet
The strings on your squash
racquet will wear out. The strings loosen up in use, and each
time you strike the ball the strings abrade and weaken. At a
minimum, restring your racquet every two months to maintain good
tension for striking the ball.
have selected a racquet and you love it. Now how many of them
do you own? If you are one of those players that just buys one
racquet and uses it until it breaks, you are making a big mistake.
You have taken the time and effort to find the right racquet
for you --- now go out and buy two spares. Yes that's right --
two spares! The racquet manufacurers frequently change their
models, so by buying three now you do two things: (1) You have
the extra on-hand for that critical moment when you break your
racquet and (2) You can continue to enjoy the feel and familiarity
of the exact racquet you have selected and practiced with.
Taking care of your racquet
Here are some suggestions to
take good care of your racquets:
the racquet in your car. Squash
racquets are not designed to take the extremes of heat, sunlight,
and cold that they encounter by being left outside in your
car seat or trunk. Let
your racquets breathe. Burying
your racquet in your bag or in its cover prevents the racquet,
and grip especially, from drying out after you play. Use
your racquet cover. The
cover helps protect the racquet and strings from scuffing and
the like. Put
your name on it! This
will help keep your racquet from "walking away" at the club.
Where to buy your Racquets
I have emphasized the importance
of testing out racquets on-court. Clearly, then, a store or pro
shop that gives you the opportunity to "demo" a racquet is a
However, you might have other
ways to test the various racquet models - by borrowing a racquet
from a fellow player, for example. Then, having decided on a
racquet the free-phone and internet dealers can be an excellent
choice, because of their price and inventory advantage.
If you are looking at a Prince,
Head or Pointfore Racquet CHECK
THE SQUASHTALK ESTORE .