If you are looking to understand a lot more about squash rackets in order to buy your first one or even if you have played for a couple of years and want to change things around, our comprehensive guide on squash rackets below will put you in the right frame of mind.
Introduction to Squash Rackets
Squash originated from the older game of racquets in 18th century Britain, and first became popular amongst pupils in the public school system of that country in the following century. From there it spread across the British Empire and across the Atlantic to North America.
In the early days of the sport, rackets were made of wood, and this continued to be the predominant material used until the 1980s.
Wooden rackets, compared to what players use today, were very heavy, and had a small racket head, because of their tendency to break when the ball struck it. This means also that there was only a small “sweet spot” making the ball difficult to control especially for novices.
In the early 1980s, new composites like fiberglass and aluminium began to take over, and the evolution continues with the introduction of materials like carbon, titanium and graphite.
These have not only made rackets stronger, but have also dramatically reduced their weight as well. As a consequence these lighter rackets have made the game much more accessible as well – a lack of technique is no impediment, even for a novice, to enjoying a game of squash.
Squash Racket Size
In terms of size a squash racket has a maximum dimension of 686 mm in length (27 inches) and 215 mm in width 8.5 inches) whilst the maximum stung areas is 500 cm2. The maximum permitted weight is 255 grams (8 ounces).
Factors to Consider Before Buying a Squash Racket
For those buying their first racket, or looking to upgrade their existing one, there are a number of key factors to consider before making a final choice, although, essentially they offer a trade-off between power and control.
Squash rackets typically weigh anywhere between 110 grams (3.88 ounces) and 190 grams (6.70 ounces).
In part, the choice is determined by the style of the player. The faster, more aggressive player will tend to opt for the lighter racket because they can impart more control and change of direction on the ball with it.
By contrast, those with a slower swing will prefer a heavier racket, because they can hit the ball harder, and make their opponent do more of the running.
The age and size of the player also needs to be a consideration. Junior, and smaller players are better suited to a lighter racket.
It should be noted that the advertised weight of a racket does not include accessories like the strings and the grommet (the plastic strip that runs along the inside of the racket, and which helps protect the strings).
Balance is important because the weight of the racket is not always even distributed, in most cases deliberately so, based on the shape, size, material used and the way that the racket has been manufactured. There are basically three options when it comes to balance:
This is suitable for players who like to volley a lot, and who enjoy flicking the ball. It is also suitable for players with strong upper body strength.
These are designed for players who like to hit the ball harder with a bigger swing.
These have the weight distributed evenly and offer both manoeuvrability and power, without the extremes provided by the other two.
Squash racket strings differ by material, texture and tension, and how these factors combine makes a world of difference as to how the game is played.
Whilst most rackets are sold pre-strung, using fairly basic strings, experienced players may prefer to get them re-strung immediately so they are adapted to their style.
Strings are usually made of nylon, although some manufacturers use composite materials and polymers which impart other performance characteristics.
A monofilament consists of a single, heavy nylon fibre, which is durable, but can be quite stiff offering less control.
Alternatively, there are multifilament cores made up of very thin fibres twisted together. They have a soft, resilient feel, and help the player maintain control but, on the downside, they are prone to snapping, and need to be replaced more frequently.
String tension is also a key consideration. As a general rule, the higher the tension, the less power generated, but the more control which can be exerted.
Squash racket throats fall into two generic types – Open throat (teardrop style) and Closed (bridged) throat.
With this type of racket the strings run all the way down to the shaft, allowing the bed of the strings to move more freely. These rackets have a bigger surface area and sweet spot, and are more powerful because the strings have more area to work in and provide velocity to the ball.
There are drawbacks, however.
One is that the player has less control over the ball because when the strings flex and snap back, they do not do so in perfect alignment every time. Also, the teardrop head means that the frame is less stable than the alternative.
Rackets with a big opening in the throat area – often called a bridge – offer better control because of the shorter length of string.
The reason is that when the string springs back it does so with less force. However, by the same token, the smaller string area means that less power can be generated.
Beam and Grip
The beam (width) of a squash racket generally varies between 16 mm (0.63 inches) and 21 mm (0.83 inches).
Generally the thinner beams are reserved for expert players, whilst the thicker beams are more appropriate for the less skilled. The thinner the beam, the greater the degree of control and angles which can be put on the ball.
Grips come in a standard size. However, it is easy to alter them by adding overgrips to suit the size of a player’s hand, or their style of play.
I know I have put something as important as the racket price so low in the list but if you are a serious player you would want to consider the other factors before you jump into the price.
Squash rackets vary tremendously in price, and if budget is the key factor, then a basic racket can be picked up cheaply.
However, buying cheap is unlikely may be a false economy because it may not suit the style of the player, and may need to be replaced in a matter of months.
It is better, money allowing, to consider all the factors above, and then for the prospective purchaser to buy one that suits their game, and level of skill and expertise.
Five Best Squash Rackets
Here are five of the best squash rackets currently on the market for squash beginners.
The Harrow Vapor
Harrow, although not as well- known as brands like Dunlop and Wilson, are celebrated amongst aficionados, as the Ferrari of squash rackets.
This American company has earned their reputation by offer rackets with superior playing characteristics, and by producing rackets that seem lighter than their competitors, produced of superior materials.
The Harrow Vapor has been their best-selling model for years, and is used by a number of top players in the world. Designed with a closed throat, the Harrow is particularly light, weighing in at just 125 grams (4.4 ounces).
The Vapor has a high balance point, meaning that most of the weight is distributed at the top of the racket, enabling the ball to be hit hard with a minimum of effort.
A feature of this racket is that there is very little vibration when striking the ball, meaning that the ball can be steered exactly where the player intends it to go.
The Vapor has a relatively small racket head, and the space between the strings is smaller than with many competing models, meaning that the player can exert more control when making a shot. However, the sweet spot is small, so it is best suited for players with some skill and experience.
The Vapor is strung with the Barrage Pro String which is 1.15 mm thick. This gives greater ball control but tends to wear out comparatively quickly.
- Very lightweight and made of superior materials;
- Weight distribution means that power can be generate easily without excess effort;
- Quality of strings and tension enables great control to be exercised by the player.
- Small sweet spot so not suited for novices and the less skilled;
- The Barrage Pro String is less durable, and breaks more easily than other makes;
- Harrow is an American brand so a number of their accessories can be difficult to find in Europe and the rest of the world;
- The Vapor will come in at the top end of their budget for most people.
Prince Triple Threat TT Sovereign
The Triple Threat Sovereign has been a popular model of squash racket for a number of years, and continues to sell well, even if a little out-dated.
So-called because of the three materials which are needed for its manufacture, Copper, Tungsten and Titanium – it helps in adding balance and security while playing. What this piece of squash equipment also does is
This squash racket also employs a Powerscoop shaft, which is much needed by a player to drill some power into his/her shots without allowing a feel of any kind of shock in the arm.
Weighing 135 grams (4.76 ounces), and with 360 mm of balance, the Sovereign has a closed throat design, and a beam width which varies between 18 and 20 mm.
It uses Sweet Perfection 17 crossed strings. The racket is 685 mm long (26.97) long, and has a head size of 480 cm2 (74.4 in. 2).
The manufacturer Prince uses the patented Power Ring technology which allows the it to have all its strings wrapped around an inverted ring.
This not only ensures that the frame is more durable, but provides greater length, and uniformity which allows for a more consistent setup.
Also featured in the racket is a wall glide bumper, which in turn provides the kind protection not seen elsewhere when making tighter wall shots.
- The Sovereign has a lower string density, offering more power;
- The Power scope shaft reduces the amount of arm shock suffered by players when striking the ball;
- Prince’s patented Power Ring technology gives the racket a more durable frame and allows for consistency of shots because of the longer, more uniform strings;
- Has a large head size, meaning a greater sweet shots than many other rackets;
- It is competitively priced.
- It is a little unbalanced, and is head heavy;
- The racket is heavier than more recent models produced by the same company;
- Some players have reported that it is less stable when playing with the heavier squash ball used in doubles.
Black Knight Ion Cannon PS Castagnet
The Black Knight Ion series has been developed in collaboration with David Palmer, a multiple British Open champion.
The Ion rackets use Nano-Crystalline Technology (NCT) as an additive to the polymer structure of the graphite frame.
This process reinforces key stress points around the racket, allowing for fine tuning of both balance and weight. Furthermore, the combination of BCT with the geometry of the Ion frame reduces the amount of distortion and rotation when striking the ball, enabling greater control of it.
This particular model is the racket used by French National champion Mathieu Castagnet, and has been developed and made to his own specifications.
It has a head heavy balance, and incorporates an open throat (teardrop) design, with a large 500 cm2 (77.5 in.2) head area.
Weighing in at 135 grams (4.7 ounces), it has a beam width of 23 mm and a length of 686 mm (27 inches).
The racket also features Castagnet’s preferred string, the SuperNickZV, which is pre-strung in a 14 * 18 pattern.
- Advanced technology in the frame makes it lighter and stiffer and reinforces it ensuring high quality performance;
- Employs Power Surge technology enabling players to hit the ball with more power;
- Has a very large head and a greater sweet spot;
- Design makes playing deep and wall shots comparatively easy.
- Recommended more for advanced players than beginners or those of average ability;
- It is difficult to judge and control drop shots because of the power generated off the racket strings;
- It is head heavy so favours those who are looking for power over control.
- Slightly more expensive than some competing models.
Head Graphene Touch Radical 135 Slimbody
This is the successor to the Head Xenon squash rackets which have been amongst market leaders for years.
Built to offer more power, it is designed for players with a more aggressive technique and those looking to exercise more control over their movement on court.
Weighing in at 135 grams (4.7 ounces) it has a relatively small head size of 460 cm2 (71 in.2), and a narrow beam (16.5 – 20.2 mm).
This is a Slimbody model meaning that the racket is made from extra thin profiles, making it easier to move the ball through the air.
Open throat in design, it incorporates the next generation of Head’s Corrugated Technology (CT2) which features corrugated rails around all sides of the throat.
This enables players to get greater power with every shot. Head heavy when it comes to balance, the Graphene Touch offers improved shock absorption on impact.
One distinguishing aspect of this range is the AFP string pattern. AFP (Adaptive Fan Pattern) means that the strings can be strung both ways, in a standard or fan pattern. This gives players the option to choose between more power (standard pattern), or greater control (fan pattern).
The racket, by default, comes with the Head Reflex 1.20 mm squash string, which is a multifilament string with a PU reinforced outer layer. This affords players a lot of comfort and power.
Head provide all their professional models with their Hydrosorb Pro squash grip.
- AFP string technology allows players to choose between a pattern which offers them greater power or one that allows them more control;
- Slimbody design facilitates playing the ball through the air;
- Corrugated Technology in the throat area means the ball can be hit harder;
- Racket comes, as standard, with Head’s Hydrosorb squash grip, one of the best available.
- The racket is head heavy so favours more aggressive players;
- It has a relatively small head area, and narrow beam, so favours the more skilled player;
- More expensive than some competing models.
Tecnifibre Carboflex 125
Used by international squash star Mohamed Elshoborbagy, the Tecnifibre Carboflex weighs 125 grams (4.41 ounces) and is slightly head heavy, with a balance point of 360 mm. It has a teardrop throat, with a racket head area of 500 cm2 (77 in.2).
Constructed from Graphite and Basaltex material, it features an Isomorph shaft mm and uses Tecnifibre string in a 14*18 pattern.
It uses Tecnifibre string which is designed to fray, and develops notches where it comes into contact with other strings. This helps players get cut on the ball, and also develop a lot of power in their shots.
- It is easy to manoeuvre from side to side, and can be used by players of all ability;
- Thanks to its dense string quality, it provides great accuracy and enables players to get cut on the ball;
- The big racket head area means that it has a similarly large sweet spot;
- Its graphite construction and multi-directional weave enhances feel and reduces shock.
- Not suitable for beginners because they may not be able to generate mush power when they swing the racket;
- Because strings need time to fray, it can take several weeks of playing before users can get the best from this racket;
- Strings tend to snap and break over time;
- Some players have complained that the grip gives them blisters.
- Due to its lightweight, it favours players who are looking for accuracy over power.