Squash Vs Racquetball Compared, + Which Is Harder?

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Racket sports like paddleball and padel have become increasingly popular, but some of the tried and true, classic racket sports are still among the most popular around the world, including squash and racquetball.

But, what are the main differences between squash vs racquetball? Which sport is harder: squash or racquetball? Is squash or racquetball a better workout?

In this article, we will do a head-to-head comparison of squash vs racquetball, looking at the key differences between the two, such as game rules and equipment, and to help you decide which racket sport is the better workout.

We will look at: 

  • What Are the Differences Between Squash vs Racquetball?
  • Which Is Harder: Squash or Racquetball?

Let’s get started!

Two rackets and a ball on the court floor.

One big difference between squash and racquetball is that squash is much older than racquetball, with its origins dating back to the 1860s in England. 

The sport of squash reportedly evolved from a sport played in prisons in the 1700s.

In contrast, racquetball was only invented in 1949.

This doesn’t necessarily make racquetball any less of a “valid“ sport than squash, but the richer history of squash sometimes has squash purists saying that the deeper legacy of squash vs racquetball makes squash a more legitimate sport.

What Are the Differences Between Squash vs Racquetball?

There are several key differences between racquetball and squash, namely in scoring, courts, equipment, and serving.

Let’s look more closely at the difference between squash and racquetball:

Two people playing squash.

#1: Squash vs Racquetball: Scoring

There are three major differences in squash scoring vs racquetball scoring:

  1. In racquetball, only the player who is serving has the opportunity to score a point, whereas, in squash, either player can earn a point whether or not they are the server.
  2. The total points necessary to win a game of squash vs racquetball is also different: A game of squash is played to 11 points, and racquetball is played to 15 points.
  3. In racquetball, a player must win at least two rounds to win the game, but the first person to hit 15 points wins the game, even if both players are tied at 14 points prior to the final point. In contrast, in squash, the player must win by at least a two-point margin (so the lowest swish score to win a close game would be 11-9).

#2: Squash vs Racquetball: Courts

There are several differences between the racquetball court vs squash court.

Squash vs Racquetball Courts: Dimensions

The racquetball court dimensions are larger than the squash court dimensions, measuring 40 x 20 x 20 feet for a racquetball court vs 32 x 21 x 15 feet for a squash court.

A racketball court.

Squash vs Racquetball Court: Boundaries

There are stricter boundaries and limitations when comparing the squash court vs racquetball court.

Racquetball has a designated serving area in the court that is located between two specific lines.

Aside from this serving area, the racquetball court has no restrictions in terms of where the bar can bounce. Racquetball players can even make use of the ceiling and walls during gameplay.

In contrast, squash courts have designated serving boxes and “out of bounds“ boundaries. If the ball bounces out of these areas, the point is not valid.

#3: Squash vs Racquetball: Racquets

One of the differences in equipment can be seen in the squash racket vs racquetball racket.

The racquetball racket is smaller, with a maximum length of 22 inches. It resembles a tennis racket and has a closed neck.

The squash racket looks more like a badminton racket and often has an open neck. It is also longer than a racquetball racket, measuring up to 27 inches in length.

If you compare the weight of a squash vs racquetball racket, the weights can be similar, but the range is greater with squash racket vs racquetball rackets.

A squash racket can weigh between 110 and 190 grams, while a racquetball racquet has to weigh between 150 and 180 grams.

The racquetball also travels faster than the squash ball, so players are usually advised, if not required, to wear facemasks and wrist tethers for protection.

Teo rackets and a ball on a court.

#4: Squash vs Racquetball: Balls

Another difference in the equipment used in squash vs racquetball is with the balls themselves. 

Traditional squash balls are smaller than racquetball balls. 

Squash balls have a diameter of 4 centimeters, whereas racquetballs have a diameter of almost 6 centimeters.

The squash ball is also denser and bounces less than the racquetball ball, so the squash ball tends to “die” after coming off a wall, whereas the racquetball ball will have more bounce and may ricochet faster.

Given the differences in the squash and racquetball courts, the gameplay and strategy used to score points in racquetball vs squash also vary.

For example, it is much more common to see a “kill shot“ in racquetball vs squash because the court is less restrictive. 

A racketball kill shot is usually aimed to hit the lowest part of the front wall. Then, the ball bounces twice right near the wall in order to end the rally and earn a point for the player who delivered the kill shot.

Because there is a tin in the squash court, there is no kill shot. (The tin on a squash court is the area below the lowest red line on the front wall. The tin marks a boundary because if the ball hits the red tin line or below, then it’s out.)

The closest equivalent to a racquetball kill shot in squash is hitting the nick. (The nick is where the side wall meets the floor of the squash court.)

A racket and a ball.

#5: Squash Serving vs Racquetball Serving

There are also differences in the squash vs racquetball serves. 

Although both sports require serving from a service box, the squash serve has to hit the wall below the service line and above the tin line first and then land back on the service box, but the ball does not need to bounce back in the service box with racquetball.

In squash, players are also only permitted to do one serve, no matter how the serve goes. 

In racquetball, if the serve is faulty—such as if the ball touches any wall or ceiling after hitting the wall before bouncing on the floor, if the ball bounces ahead of the short line on the floor, or if the server steps out of the service box before the ball bounces on the floor—the player gets a redo.

The racquetball serve can also be replayed if the receiver is not ready.

There are also differences in how the racquetball vs squash serve must be received.

When a player delivers a racquetball serve, unless the ball passes the encroachment line, the receiver must allow the ball to bounce once before hitting it.

In contrast, the squash serve can be played by the receiver before it bounces.

A ball on a court.

Which Is Harder: Squash or Racquetball?

Most racquet sports experts suggest that squash is harder to play and harder to learn than racquetball. 

The ball is smaller, the court has more limitations, there are more rules to learn, and there is generally more skill involved in squash vs racquetball.

Racquetball balls are said to travel up to 160 mph, which is faster than squash balls, which may travel as fast as 100 mph.

However, experts suggest that the path of the racquetball is more predictable than that of the squash ball due to the density and bouncing nature of each ball.

So, which sport burns more calories, squash or racquetball?

In general, squash burns more calories per hour than racquetball for a person of the same size and ability level due to how the game is played, the running involved, and the speed of gameplay of squash vs racquetball.

Two people playing squash.

According to Nutracheck, for a player who weighs 65 kg (144 pounds), casual racquetball burns about 435 calories per hour, whereas competitive racquetball burns up to 652 calories per hour. 

In contrast, playing squash at an intense level of play burns a whopping 797 calories per hour.

Of course, the more intensely you play either sport and the more you weigh, the more calories you will burn.

For this reason, there can be some notable differences in the demographics of recreational squash players vs racquetball players.

Squash often appeals to younger, fitter, and more athletic individuals looking for a great workout in a competitive game, whereas racquetball often appeals to older adults still looking for a good workout but at a more moderate intensity level.

This is not to say that racquetball can’t be a great workout or that there can’t be a very intense racquetball game and a beginner-friendly squash game, but squash is usually a more vigorous workout than racquetball.

To help support your racketball or squash performance, check out our upper-body workout guide here.

A person ready to serve in squash.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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