Fond of squash? The sport, that is. Squash is a great sport to play indoors, and while most other sports ground to a halt during the winter season (who’d like to go swimming in a swimming pool during frigid weather?), squash is still alive and kicking. If you are interested in starting out in squash, know that one of the most important things you need to improve your game is a good quality racket that is most suited to you. So if you’re looking to know how to effectively choose squash rackets, here are the things you should do:
1. Test out your racket. This is the single most important thing you should do when choosing squash rackets. Remember, one person’s idea of a perfect racket may not hold true for you. That’s because how suitable a particular racket is for you will depend on your level of expertise and your personal preference. That’s why the store where you intend to purchase your squash racket should allow you some demo testing. Try out the feel of swinging the racket and hitting with it. Is it too heavy? Too stiff? While testing, you should know what different factors to look out for (see number 2).
2. Know the different factors to consider. When testing your squash racket, what should you watch out for? In summary, these are the key factors to consider: the weight of the racket, the balance, the stiffness, and the grip. Here are some more details on each factor:
The weight of the average racket ranges between 140 to 170 grams. The lightest racket is at 115 to 120 grams, while the heaviest are at 210 grams and above. In general, a lightweight racket is recommended for more experienced players and those with faster swings. This is because a lighter racket requires more accuracy and better control from the player. They also require a more powerful swing from the player, because lightweight rackets deliver less intrinsic force.
The balance refers to where the centre of balance lies in a particular racket. Some terms involved with this factor are rackets that are head heavy or head light – this means that there is too much or too little weight on the head part of the racket. In general, a racket that is head heavy produces a more powerful swing, but most people want an evenly balanced racket. Again, this depends on your personal preference.
The stiffness refers to how rigid or flexible the racket is when it is being controlled. In simplest terms, the higher the racket’s flexibility is, the easier and more comfortable it will be for you to maneuver. On the other hand, choosing a stiffer racket could mean a powerful swing.
The grip, as the name implies, refer to how comfortable you are in holding the racket’s handle. This will mostly depend on the handle’s thickness, shape and contour. The grip is easily modifiable with materials such as tape and towels, so you don’t have to worry too much about this factor when trying out your racket.
3. Know how to balance your racket selection. You should know how mix and match the different factors according to your playing style and expertise. For example, you could choose a lightweight racket for better maneuverability, but choose one that is more head heavy for the powerful swing it gives. Heavy rackets are known for their power, but do not choose one that is too heavy, as it would become difficult for you to control. When in doubt, the general rule is that you should purchase a racket that is evenly balanced and of average weight. This is a safe choice specially if you are just starting out.
4. Ask around. This is another practical thing you could do. Ask other squash players about their preferred brand of racket, especially in terms of durability. You could also request to try out different players’ rackets, until you find one that you are most comfortable with. If you’ve got a particular brand and model that you prefer, you could then hunt for it online. Shopping for rackets online is an advantage because of its reduced prices; just make sure that you already know the exact specifications of the racket that you want. Some popular racket brands include Head, Dunlop, Prince, and Browning. Shop for them online at sites such as SquashPro, Court Company, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. In these websites, you’d also be able to find a variety of other rackets such as tennis racquets and Racketball rackets (such as the brand Ektelon), and in different colors such as green and white.
Remember, finding the perfect racket will go a long way towards bringing you up to one of the top seeds in any of your squash matches.