How can two sports, squash and racquetball, appear so similar but be so different? After all, they are both fast-paced, played in an enclosed room with a racket and ball and you need to be quick, agile and coordinated to be a good player. Although this is true, there are a lot of differences. No doubt, many differences are in strategies and stroke techniques, but the major differences are more obvious -- court layout, the equipment, serving rules and the scoring system.
Both sports are usually played on an indoor court, but the courts have different dimensions and boundaries. A squash court is slightly smaller than a racquetball court -- 32 feet long and 21 feet wide. The highest in-bound point on the front wall is 15 feet above the floor and on the back wall, 7 feet. A ball that hits a 19-inch strip of tin at the base of the front wall is out of bounds. An angled, out-of-bounds line runs along the side walls from 15 to 7 feet. A racquetball court is 40 feet long, 20 feet wide and 20 feet high. In racquetball, all surfaces are in play -- even the ceiling. The only exception is when there is a gallery opening at the back wall.
The most noticeable difference between the sports is the size of the rackets. You can't play with a squash racket longer than 27 inches and a racquetball racket can't exceed 22 inches. Racquetball rackets have a wrist cord attached to the frame, which must be attached to your wrist when you play. The rules say the cord can't be longer than 24 inches. A squash ball is smaller and weighs less than a racquetball ball -- 1 1/2 inches in diameter and weighs .8 ounces. A racquetball ball measures 2 1/4 inches in diameter and weighs 1.4 ounces.
In both sports, each point starts with a serve. In squash you have one chance to serve and get the point started, but in racquetball you have two chances. When you serve in squash, you toss or drop the ball and hit it before it bounces. In racquetball, you bounce the ball first and then hit it into play. To be a good serve in squash, the ball must hit the front wall above the service line and below the 15-foot out-of-bounds line. In racquetball, the ball can hit any part of the front wall.
Squash and racquetball matches usually consist of the best of three games and in some cases, a squash match can be the best of five games. Squash uses a "point-a-rally" system -- a point is awarded to you or your opponent with each rally. In squash, you must be the first player to win 11 points to win a game. The U.S. Squash rules state that if a game is tied at 10 points, you keep playing until you or your opponent has a two-point lead. In racquetball, only the server can win a point and to win a game, you must be the first player to score 15 points. If the match is tied, one game each, a third tiebreaker game is played, and the first player to score 11 points wins the game and the match.