Squash vs Tennis: Which One Is Harder, And How Do They Compare?

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Whether you choose squash vs tennis or tennis vs squash as a beginner, it is important to set your expectations that there will be a learning curve for both of these sports. 

But, when choosing which to partake in, you will mostly like want to know, what are the main differences between squash vs tennis? Which sport is harder: squash or tennis? Is squash or tennis a better workout?

In this article, we will compare the main differences between squash vs tennis, look at whether tennis or squash is a better workout, and which is harder to learn as a beginner.

We will look at: 

  • Squash vs Tennis: Which Is Harder for Beginners?
  • What Are the Differences Between Tennis and Squash?

Let’s get started!

A tennis racket and ball.

Squash vs Tennis: Which Is Harder for Beginners?

Before we look at whether you get a better workout playing squash or tennis, let’s first consider if it is harder for a beginner to learn tennis or squash.

This is an important distinction because although you might get a better workout playing squash vs tennis or tennis vs squash (to be discussed below), just because one of the sports is physically more taxing does not necessarily mean that it is more difficult to learn.

Both squash and tennis are highly technical sports with a lot of gameplay rules and sport-specific skills.

This means that neither squash nor tennis is the easiest sport for beginners to pick up, especially when you compare squash and tennis to something like running or incline walking, in which the technique is very basic, if not even innate.

In addition to building your physical fitness (cardiorespiratory fitness, speed, agility, muscular strength, balance, etc.) required to play squash and tennis, you will also need to work on your technique, ball handling skills, strategy, hand-eye coordination, and develop your understanding of the rules.

People playing squash.

That said, most sports experts suggest that it is more difficult for a beginner to learn to play tennis vs squash.

This is primarily because when you play squash, the ball is confined to the four walls surrounding the squash court, so there is less running involved in squash vs tennis. You also have a smaller “territory“ to cover and defend or chase balls that you miss.

This can help you focus and track the squash ball more easily and reach and move quickly enough to hit the ball back when playing squash vs tennis.

Another reason why squash is potentially more beginner-friendly than tennis is that the squash ball does not bounce as much as a tennis ball. 

This makes it easier to anticipate where the squash ball will ricochet and how it will travel both when you hit it off of your racket as well as when it bounces off of the walls or floor. 

What Are the Differences Between Tennis and Squash?

Let’s look at some of the main differences between squash vs tennis.

Two people playing squash.

Squash vs Tennis: Courts

One of the most significant differences both in terms of how squash and tennis look and feel when you are watching or playing them, as well as the technique involved in playing the sports, is the differences between a squash court vs tennis court.

Squash and tennis are both played on a court, but tennis courts are much larger than squash courts, and they are usually outdoors or open, whereas squash courts are indoors.

This not only means that you have to do more running to cover a larger court with tennis vs squash, but you also only use the ground when playing tennis, while squash makes use of the walls and corners of the room as well.

Thus, there is more running in tennis vs squash, but the gameplay pace is faster between shots in squash vs tennis due to the smaller squash court size vs tennis court size.

Another difference between the tennis and squash courts is that tennis opponents occupy opposite sides of the court split by the tennis net, whereas two squash opponents are on the same court at the same time.

They alternate shots using the lines and “tin” on the front wall of the squash court to keep the serve in play. 

Ultimately, the differences in the tennis vs squash court balance each other out. 

Tennis involves more running than squash because of the larger court area. However, there is a little bit more time in between the tennis ball being hit back to you. 

Plus, the ball goes out of play more often, whereas with squash, players are constantly on the move, and each serve stays in play longer, so there are fewer breaks in between points even though the amount of running to hit the ball is less. 

Tennis rackets and balls.

Squash vs Tennis: Equipment

Of all of the common racquet sports, tennis balls are the heaviest, weighing around 57 to 58 grams per tennis ball. 

The range of a tennis racket’s weight is less precise because the materials and size of the tennis racket frame will have an impact on the weight. 

However, most tennis racquets weigh between 250 and 325 grams (8.8 ounces to 11.5 ounces), with the upper-end range being more common.

Squash racquets are significantly lighter than tennis racquets, typically weighing between 110 and 175 g (or 4-6.5 ounces).

Squash balls are notably smaller than tennis balls and usually weigh about 23 to 25 grams.

Another difference between squash vs tennis balls is that squash balls are much less bouncy. 

In fact, squash balls have virtually no bounce until they are warmed up before a game when a player repeatedly hits the squash ball against a wall to warm up the materials. 

On the other hand, tennis balls are highly bouncy.

The difference in tennis vs squash racquet weight and the weight and bouncing characteristic of tennis balls vs squash balls tends to make tennis more difficult than squash in the area of equipment and the resultant implications of the equipment.

A person serving a tennis ball.

Squash vs Tennis: Serve

One of the reasons that tennis is often considered to be harder than squash for beginners to learn—and hard in general as a sport—is because the tennis serve is notoriously difficult and is a key component of a tennis game.

If you do not have a good tennis serve, your opponent will be able to easily attack the serve and may score against you. Similarly, a good first serve in a tennis game can deliver the tennis server an “ace.” 

This means that if the player delivering the tennis serve is able to properly serve the tennis ball into the opponent’s court without the opponent successfully making contact with the tennis serve, the player who hit the serve will win the point.

Plus, that same player will get to deliver a second serve, earning yet another opportunity to score against the opponent with a good tennis serve.

A good tennis serve is strategic in terms of where you get the ball to land in the opponent’s court within bounds in a way that your opponent will not be able to make contact with the ball. 

This requires tremendous precision. 

Moreover, the best tennis serves are powerful because a high-speed tennis serve will be much harder to hit back, increasing the likelihood that it will be an ace. This requires explosive power and strength.

People playing squash, awaiting a serve.

In fact, some professional tennis players serve the ball at speeds that reach upwards of 150 mph.

In contrast, when comparing a squash serve to a tennis serve, the squash serve is more mellow and not delivered with such power. 

Instead, a squash player will try to be unpredictable in terms of where they hit the serve to try to trick the opponent and win points. 

This is not to say that a squash serve is slow; in some cases, the ball speed off of a professional squash player’s serve may also reach upwards of 150 mph.

However, the travel speed of the squashed ball will slow significantly once it hits the wall, which is required before the opponent can hit the ball back. 

This is not the case with tennis.

It is much harder to ace off of a serve in squash because of the allowance of the squash ball hitting the back wall and still remaining in play.

Ultimately, a squash serve is more of a setup shot than a deliberate opportunity to try to score against the opponent.

Therefore, in sum, it is more difficult to master a good tennis serve, and it is more difficult to hit the serve back relative to a squash serve.

A squash racket and ball.

Squash vs Tennis: Rally

Generally, the squash rally is more difficult than the tennis rally because the rallies in squash are faster and involve players constantly moving around the court while keeping an eye on the ball without interfering with the ball in play and trying to keep the ball away from the opponent. 

There are lots of techniques used in squash during a rally, such as drops, lobs, drives, and boasts, among others.

Drop shots are particularly important for squash players to master. Even though the drop shot can occur in tennis, the reliance on this technique is not as common as it is when playing squash.

Squash vs Tennis: Fitness

Squash and tennis both require a tremendous amount of fitness

Tennis tends to be more of an endurance game, with players sometimes covering up to 5 km of running during a game over the course of one or more hours of gameplay, depending on the level of the players. 

A person hitting a tennis ball.

Squash is also a vigorous sport. It is more anaerobic than aerobic, especially relative to tennis, due to the high speed of the gameplay and lack of breaks in between serves in squash vs tennis.

According to Nutracheck, for a player who weighs 65 kg (144 pounds), playing squash at an intense level of play burns a whopping 797 calories per hour.

General tennis burns 435 calories per hour, doubles tennis burns 362 calories, and singles burns 507 calories per hour for a 65 kg person.

Most squash games only last about 40 minutes, depending on the court booking system and the players, but the players are in motion almost the entire time and doing a lot of sprinting and quick maneuvering of the body.

Squash and tennis both require quickness on your feet and great agility

You also need good upper-body strength, even though the net weight of the rackets is light. 

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

People talking on a squash court.
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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