Sometimes referred to as "the thinking person's racquetball," squash actually grew out of tennis, at the Harrow School near London in the 19th century. Like many boarding schools, Harrow featured several narrow courtyards between buildings where the boys were expected to play their games. This setting was not ideal for tennis, so the boys adapted their game to use walls, just like you see in squash. Once the game became a hit at Harrow, it quickly spread to other schools, and the first privately owned squash court was completed in 1873.
Squash rackets vary considerably in the shape of their racket heads, and there are several characteristics you should look for when picking out the best racket for your game.
Shape of the Head
Unlike with tennis and racquetball rackets, squash rackets have a lot of variety in the shaping of the head. Some are almost circles, while others are longer and more oval. Obviously, the larger your racket head, the more likely you are to hit the ball when you swing, but larger racket heads also develop higher linear velocity at impact, just because the whole unit is longer. One warning here--different racket head shapes mean differences in the shape of the throat, which can affect the durability of the racket, not just in terms of stringing, but also in terms of impact management. As of May 2011, the Head Pyramid Power 150 is one of the most highly rated in terms of durability, particularly in the throat area.
As with tennis rackets and golf club shafts, squash rackets also vary in the flexibility of their shafts. When you swing the racket, either you will feel the shaft "whip" after you make contact or there will be very little give. The stiffest rackets make your hand shake with every shot--and that's not what you want. However, the degree of flexibility is a matter of personal taste more than absolute quality.
Center of Gravity
You will get the best results out of a racket that feels balanced when you hold the grip in the same way you'd shake someone's hand. If the head of the racket is constantly pulling your hand downward while you're playing, or if the head feels so light that it doesn't seem to be attached, then the balance of your racket is off. Find the balance that is most comfortable for you when trying out a new racket.
Squash rackets generally range from 120 grams to 210 grams in weight, but most fall between 140 and 170 grams. The more expensive the racket, the lighter, generally--because of the materials used. Lighter rackets give you more of an opportunity to show you can hit finesse shots--and so heavier rackets can be easier for novice players to use.
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