A bit of history
Squash is a very fast game that needs speed, skill and a relatively good level of fitness. The squash ball can get to speeds of 170mph! It is a high intensity sport and players can burn over 1000 calories an hour! That is one of the most calorie burning sports out there.
Harrow school in London is often seen as the birthplace of modern day squash. Back in the day the young schoolboys developed their own version of the game ‘rackets’.
Prisoners at the Fleet jail in London created ‘Rackets’ at the beginning of the 18th century. Rackets involved hitting a ball against one or two walls. The ball was made from wound cloth and was quite like a golf ball. The racket was a stretched tennis bat.
Rackets soon became popular across Great Britain and was a favourite hobby in alleyways and at schools.
Another ball and racket came called ‘fives’ (so named from the five fingers of a hand) was also a hit. This was an old version of handball and was more or less rackets without the racket itself! Many people played both sports in the same court.
In 1850, Harrow built two rackets courts outside. They were hugely popular and not everyone could get a go so the children would use the small walled yards or alleys. As these yards were not often smooth… you were faced with the challenges of chimneys, doors, ledges, windows, water pipes… it was very important to be able to make quick decisions and have excellent hand-eye coordination. It was not an easy sport to learn in such small conditions!
Fives was extremely popular also and the combination of Rackets and Fives lead to the creation of squash at Harrow School. On 20 January 1865 Harrow officially opened a new complex of rackets and fives courts and the boys jumped on and played their new game of baby rackets. And this game became the game of squash.
There is a World Squash Federation, which now has over 150 Squash playing National Associations in membership. It is responsible for the rules of the game and maintains a world calendar of events.
Squash has not yet made it into the Olympic games even though a number of bids have bee made. In the 2016 games in Rio it was really considered but lost out to golf and Rugby 7s. It is still hoped that squash will get into the Olympics one day.
Playing squash…is it for me?
Squash is a fast sport and never seems to stop. As it is in an enclosed area the ball soon comes back to you and doesn’t leave much time for a break. You need to be quite fit to keep up. If you want a real power workout then squash is probably the ideal sport for you.
Luckily squash is easy to get started with and is cheap. You do not need a huge amount of equipment and a simple sports kit will suffice for wearing. You will need a rack, a ball and non-marking trainers.
Today over 25 million people play squash.
There are around 50,000 courts around the world in 185 countries.
Squash is one of the healthiest sports to play due to cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength, flexibility, muscular endurance, calories burned, and risk of injury.
An hour of squash can burn 600-1000 calories.
Squash has a lot a fantastic health and fitness benefits, including:
- Improving cardiovascular fitness
- Allowing more oxygen to go round the body providing muscles with energy
- Improving hand-eye co-ordination when serving
- Calorie burning
- Better aerobic fitness
- Better muscular endurance
- Increases flexibility
- Strengthens muscles particularly in the legs and arms
- Quicker sprint speeds
- Improves concentration
Would you give squash a go?