Learn How to Play

Squash History

Old and New Squash Rackets

Squash was invented in Harrow school around 1830, when the pupils discovered that a punctured Rackets ball, which “squashed” on impact with the wall, produced a game with a greater variety of shots and required much more effort on the part of the players, who could not simply wait for the ball to bounce back to them as with Rackets. The variant proved popular and in 1864 the first four Squash courts were constructed at the school and Squash was officially founded as a sport in its own right.

Squash is played in more than 185 countries, on nearly 50,000 courts, and the WSF now has 147 Squash playing National Associations in membership. It is the sole International Federation for the sport, as recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and maintains responsibility for the Rules of the Game, Court and Equipment Specifications, Refereeing and Coaching. The WSF maintains a World Calendar of events, organizes and promotes World Championships for Men, Women, Junior Men, Junior Women and Masters age groups in both singles and doubles Squash; and leads its Member Nations in programs for the development of the sport. Squash has been played for over 140 years, grown sensationally in the last forty and is now poised to become one of the largest and best loved of all sports.

Basic Rules and Gameplay

Here’s a quick run through on some of the common terms used in squash:

Serve – starting a rally by hitting the ball (underarm or overarm) against the front wall.
Let – if your swing is impeded by your opponent, a let is called and neither player wins a point.
Stroke – if your swing is prevented by your opponent, a stroke is called and you win the point.
Out line – the line running around the top of the court. If the ball hits the red line that marks the top of the court then it’s out.
Service line – the line on the front wall in between the tin and out lines.
Tin – area below the lowest red line on the front wall. If the ball hits this line or below then it’s out.
The T – the T shape in the middle of the court where the lines meet.

Squash equipment

Squash is played between two players on a squash court each using a standard racket, and a ball approved by Irish Squash.


Matches are the best of 3 or 5 games, at the option of the competition organiser. Each game is point a rally scoring to 11 (PAR 11). If the score in a game is tied at 10-10, a player must win by 2 clear points.

How to win points

Points can be scored by either player. When a player fails to serve or to return the ball, in accordance with the rules, the opponent wins the point. When the Receiver wins a point, they become the Server and add one to their score.


a) The right to serve is decided by the spin of a racket or coin. Thereafter the Server continues to serve until they lose the point; the opponent then becomes the Server.
b) At the beginning of each game and each rally, the Server has the choice of serving from either service box and shall thereafter alternate for as long as they score points and remains the Server.
c) The ball must be served direct on to the front wall between the service line and the out line, so that on its return, unless volleyed, its first bounce lands within the back quarter of the court opposite to the Server’s box.
d) A service is a fault:
(i) If at the time of striking the ball the Server fails to have at least one foot in contact with the floor within the service box, and no part of that foot touching the line surrounding the service box (called a foot-fault).
(ii) If after releasing the ball the Server fails to strike it before the ball falls to the floor, touches a wall, or touches anything the server wears.
(iii) If the Server fails to strike the ball directly onto the front wall between the service and the out lines.
(iv) Unless volleyed by the Receiver, the first bounce of the ball on the floor is not in the quarter court opposite the serves box.
(v) If the Server serves the ball out.


After a good service has been delivered, the players return the ball alternately until one or the other fails to make a good return, or the ball otherwise ceases to be in play, in accordance with the rules.
NB: If any part of the ball touches the out line the ball is deemed out or if the ball hits the tin or the floor on its second bounce the ball is deemed down. Similarly, if the ball bounces on or before the short line from a service, the serve is deemed a fault.

A good return

A return is good if the ball, before it has bounced twice on the floor, is returned by the striker on to the front wall above the tin, without touching the floor or any part of the striker’s body or clothing, provided the ball is not hit twice, down or out.


A let is an undecided stroke, and the service or rally in respect of which a Let is allowed, shall not count and the Server shall serve again from the same box.
(a) A let may be allowed:
(i) If the striker refrains from hitting the ball owing to a reasonable fear of injuring the opponent.
(ii) If the striker, on the way to playing the ball incurs sufficient interference to impede their access to the ball when the striker would have otherwise played a good shot.
(iii) If the Referee is asked to decide an appeal and is unable to do so.
(b) A Let shall be allowed:
(i) If the Receiver is not ready, and does not attempt to take the service.
(ii) If the ball breaks during play.
(iii) If an otherwise good return has been made, but the ball goes out on its first bounce.
iv) If the ball in play touches the receiver or anything carried or worn by the receiver whilst on the way to the side wall or back wall in anticipation that the ball would have reached the front wall and hence been a good return.

How strokes (points) can be won

A player wins a stroke:
a) If the server fails to make a good serve (See point 4 on the Service).
b) If the opponent fails to make a good return of the ball in play.
c) If the ball in play touches the opponent or anything carried or worn by the opponent whilst on the way to the front wall.
d) If a player drops the racket, calls out or in any other way distracts the opponent, and the Referee considers that such occurrence has caused the opponent to lose the stroke.
e) If the ball hits the ceiling or any object outside of the court.

Freedom to play the ball

After playing a ball, a player must make every effort to get out of the opponents way.
That is:
(i) A player must make every effort to give the opponent a fair view of the ball, so that it may be sighted adequately for the purpose of playing it.
(ii) A player must make every effort not to interfere with, or crowd, the opponent in the latter’s attempt to get to, or play, the ball.
(iii) A player must make every effort to allow the opponent, as far as the latter’s position permits, freedom to play the ball directly to the front wall, or to either side wall.


Immediately preceding the start of play, a period not exceeding five minutes shall be allowed on court for the purpose of warming-up.

Where can I play Squash in Ireland?

There are hundreds of Squash courts throughout Ireland and the players and teams of those clubs will be delighted to meet any player. You can view a map of the locations of the clubs here.

Health and Safety

As with all sports if you have any reason to doubt your health please consult your doctor before playing squash. If you have an injury, think before you play as you may aggravate the injury. Ensure that you stretch properly before playing, this is called the ‘warm up’ and also stretch after your game, the ‘cool down’. Approved eye guards are strongly recommended. In tournaments held under the auspices of Irish Squash, it is compulsory for junior players to wear approved eye guards.


Irish Squash

Irish Sport HQ
Sport Ireland Campus
Dublin 15


+353 1 6251145