Squash or tennis, which one is the harder sport?

As someone who plays both squash and tennis, I am often asked which one is the harder sport to play. Considering that I love both equally, I will attempt to do some basic comparisons of the two, and arrive at a conclusion. To avoid complexity, I will stick to the singles version of the two games. The views below pertain to club level players and not to professionals.

squash vs. tennis

 

 Court

Tennis courts are larger and require players to cover more court than squash. However, with the modern-day baseline game, the players get a split second more to react between shots. As per studies conducted, the average ground stroke in tennis takes less than 2 sec.

Squash courts are much smaller than tennis courts and have walls on all four sides. Both the players play on the same court, alternating shots, using the lines and “tin” on the front wall to keep the serve in play. Unlike tennis, the back wall often keeps the ball in play, making the rallies longer. Squash players have to be constantly on the move, but have to cover far less court than tennis players.

Difficulty level: Even

Equipment

Tennis racquets vary in size and weight.  Based on the material and the size of the frame used, their weights range on an average between 250-325 grams. From a racquet sports perspective, tennis balls weigh the heaviest at around 57-58 grams.

Squash racquets are lighter and weigh in the range of 110-175 grams. Squash balls are smaller in diameter than tennis balls and weigh on an average 23-25 grams. Squash balls practically do not bounce until they are warmed up before a game by repeated strokes against the wall.

Difficulty level: Tennis

Serve

Tennis serve is the hardest component of the game that a new player encounters. Beyond the mechanics of a good serve, a poor serve is often easily attacked by the opposing player, putting the server at a disadvantage. A good first serve can deliver an “ace” when the opposing player is unable to make contact with the ball. Tennis players get a second serve when the first one is out of play, which emphasises the fact that even experienced players struggle to keep up a high first service percentage.

Squash serve in comparison is mellow. Power squash serves are not the norm. Skilled players use surprise elements in their serve by varying the spot to which they direct their serve. Unlike tennis, squash players rarely rely on service points or aces to win crucial points. An ace is harder to achieve in squash since the back wall often puts the ball back in play.

Difficulty level: Tennis

Return of serve

Tennis: In my opinion, return of a good serve is harder than the serve itself. Returning a serve, carefully placed to a player’s backhand corner, makes for difficult play. It also opens up the court for the server’s next shot. Putting back in play, a powerful first serve that combines good placement, can only come with years of experience. Professional players’ serves are often clocked at above 150 mph.

Squash: A return of serve is more of a set up shot in squash rather than a defensive or attacking one. The main intent of the returning player is to hit “length” that allows him/her to get to the “T.” Occasionally, a weak serve gets attacked by the receiving server in the form of a drive or a drop. A squash shot can be hit at speeds above 150 mph. However, the wall slows the ball down for the receiving player.

Difficulty level: Tennis

Rally

Tennis rallies involving baseline players can be long. Points are often won from unforced errors when one of the players tries to close off the point by hitting a harder, deeper or more angled shot. Rallies involving serve and volley players tend to be shorter, but more entertaining to watch than ones involving baseline players. Tennis players use different techniques while returning shots on the back hand that include single-handed, double-handed or sliced returns.

Squash rallies are quicker and involve the players constantly moving and at the same time keeping an eye on the ball. The ball is often behind the players and has to be kept in play without interference. Through a combination of drops, drives, boasts and lobs, the players try to keep the ball away from their opponent.

Difficulty level: Squash

Volley

Tennis: Volleys are a vital part of serve and volley tennis. However, with more and more players opting for baseline play, volleys are limited to the rare times when players “rush the net” or “chip and charge.”

Squash: While the traditional squash players were content playing length off the back wall, the new crop of players try to volley more balls in the air, effectively reducing their opponents’ response time. More rallies are played in the forecourt than ever before, making the game more aggressive and engaging.

Difficulty level: Even

Drop

Tennis: Drop is often a surprise shot in tennis. A good drop is a difficult shot and happens when one of the players fakes a drive, but suddenly changes the shot to a drop, catching the opponent by surprise.

Squash: In squash, drop is an essential tool and can be used in an attacking or defensive manner. A drop or a re-drop that does not sit up can make all the difference in the outcome of a game. Unlike tennis, a squash player cannot get good unless he/she perfects the drop shot.

Difficulty level: Squash

Fitness

Tennis: Played at the professional level, tennis can be a gruelling sport that can take four to five hours to complete. At the club level, a game of singles tennis takes an hour or two at the most. People with average physical fitness can play tennis well into their senior years. As they slow down, players switch to doubles tennis to continue enjoying the game. Improper techniques may lead to injuries like the famous “tennis elbow,” shoulder cuff and/or wrist issues.

Squash requires a higher level of physical fitness. The typical time allocated for squash at most clubs is forty minutes. The constant movement and lunges take their toll and give the players a quick but thorough work out in a relatively short time frame. Squash players tend to injure their knees the most. Novice players who do not clear, or play too close to their opponent risk getting hit by the racquet or the ball.

Difficulty level: Squash

Conclusion: While both the games bring a high level of difficulty and excitement to players,[Tweet “Tennis edges out squash as the harder sport to learn”]. A tennis player who gets on a squash court for the first time will be able to keep a few rallies going. I cannot say the same for a squash player who gets on a tennis court for the first time!

Personally, I prefer squash. It is a quicker workout in a shorter span of time. At the end of the day, it is about having fun. As my tag line says: Have a ball!

Please comment, and vote below, to let me know if you agree or disagree. If you like this post, please share it using the sharing options below.

If you liked this post, you may want to check out Squash vs. Tennis – The lighter side!

73 comments for “Squash or tennis, which one is the harder sport?

  1. Arun s
    February 5, 2017 at 10:28 AM

    Yes I hope so. In my opinion Tennis is a more difficult sport to master. The long heavy racket can only be wielded in so many ways. It’s a controlled and disciplined stroke at its very basis. As you improve and start adjusting between different grips and modern lighter rackets your game evolves into a more ‘power’ transition. Also it’s a direct confrontation sport and not reflected off wall or glass. Not to take anything away from squash or racketball, tennis is more difficult.
    Oh, one other thing. Badminton hasn’t been mentioned here but that racket is light and extremely effective. A super fast exciting sport with the type of moves you’ll be hard pressed to see anywhere else. Conditioning training for this super sport is extremely demanding leaving you in enviable shape, trust me. Consider for a moment, the fastest kill shot or ‘smash’ is 306 mph ( Guinness world record at 493 kph). Players cover twice the distance tennis players cover, in half the time.
    I’d like to see some feedback and that’s a challenge.

    • February 5, 2017 at 11:05 AM

      Thanks Arun.

      I agree with you on all counts. In fact, I have always maintained that singles badminton is one of the toughest individual sports out there. At the end of the day, each sport has its own unique nuances and skill requirements.

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  3. Graham B
    September 14, 2016 at 12:20 PM

    I think there some interesting comments above.

    Although there are similarities between tennis and squash (racquet and ball) there are many differences; apples and pears so to speak.

    Good squash players can use delay and deception to not show the shot they are about to play until the last moment. In so doing, they send the opponent the wrong way or keep the opponent waiting to see what the shot will be, so they are mentally and physically playing with the opponent. I have not seen anything like it done by tennis players.

    Also a squash ball can be hit with all sorts of spin. It is possible to hit the ball with large amounts of power but make the ball spin down so that it does not come off the back wall, or spin up and then die, or one can hit the ball gently very high on the front wall, placing a lot of bottom back spin on the ball, so the ball drops in to the back corners and spins dead or towards the side wall. Then there is the spin to put on the ball to make a boast die or move away from the opponent. Tennis players also use spin but they only have the contact between their racket and ball to play with. Squash players have that but also the contact the ball then makes with the walls and how it moves onto and off those walls.

    Digging the ball out off the back corners and defending, and turning defence in to attack, is a real art form. There is nothing like it in tennis.
    The walls are a big factor in squash. Spinning the ball to run tight along the walls so it is hard for the opponent to hit without risk of breaking a racket. Doing a quick working boast to bring the player forward. etc
    There has been a lot of comments about tennis volleys. In squash the opportunities for a wider variety of shots exist eg to simply smash the ball low and down, to dop, spin, boast, lob, aim for and hit the nick, take the pace off the ball so it does not hit the back wall and dies.

    I also think good squash players move more, and in different ways, than tennis players. Not only are they moving side to side they are having to move forward and backwards. There is a massive amount of lunging, almost to the splits and then bouncing back. The movement in squash is more 3 dimensional, whereas in tennis it is mostly just side to side.

    One last thought it has been timed that a 5 hour 5 set professional tennis match eg Wimbledon, only has about 35 minutes of actual open play in it. Professional tennis players take sitting down breaks, mop their brows with towels, mess about choosing balls etc. At professional squash matches there is far more actual play during the match.

  4. Bob
    June 8, 2016 at 9:46 PM

    I play both, although just started learning squash. I found the difference is that in squash, skill levels are really apparent. In tennis you can generally keep a rally going even with an experienced player, but in squash even someone with 1 more year of experience will boot you after a few shots.

    I’m starting to like squash more, it’s much more intense and you really feel like you’re competing against someone up close and personal. Tennis I find is a bit slower, and the players are so far apart, it doesn’t have that same intensity.

    Although squash is a bit easier to learn – it took me ages to even learn to serve in tennis.

    I’m not experienced enough to say, but from my perspective, squash seems easy to learn but hard to master, whereas tennis is the opposite.

    • June 8, 2016 at 9:59 PM

      Bob, Thanks for your perspective. You got it right: “Squash seems easy to learn but hard to master.” In my opinion. tennis is hard to master as well.

  5. Stuart Arrowsmith
    January 22, 2016 at 10:51 AM

    Just a comment on physical comparisons.
    With tennis, you get 2 serves, (or 3 if you hit the net on the 2nd and it drops in), and in major competitions, players get to sit down for a 2 minute rest every other game. Add to that the time out spent bouncing the ball on the base line in between these serves, and time out for video replays, over a 4 hour match, the ball is only in play for about 45 minutes ! Next time you watch a major tournament, time it and see for yourself !
    In squash you get 1 chance at a serve,a 90 second break at the end of each game (which can last 30 minutes) and the match can easily last 90 minutes. Each rally takes longer, the ball is in play longer so you have to be fitter.
    Any of the worlds top squash players would surely beat the worlds top tennis players in an endurance test, all day long.

    • Mike
      December 13, 2016 at 3:44 AM

      Andy Murray would be a beast on a Squash court!

  6. Spencer
    December 28, 2015 at 12:52 AM

    As a top squash player in the country and a member of the US National Team, I find that almost any squash player can pick up a tennis racquet and have a good game. I only play tennis about once a year, and every time I find that I am albe to kepp rallies because of what I have learned from squah.

    • Spencer
      December 28, 2015 at 12:53 AM

      But I think you did a very good job on the article and I hope you do more like it in the future

    • December 28, 2015 at 11:19 AM

      Spencer, Thanks for your comment.

      You are obviously very athletic… Though, I am not so sure about “almost any squash player” being able to play tennis well from the get go.

      • Claudia
        May 27, 2016 at 6:52 PM

        I agree with Spencer. Except for the serve, a squash player can do a very good job playing tennis, simply because of the slice. I play mostly squash, but occasionally play tennis too, and I always see tennis players frustrated and even annoyed because of my slice shots. They are always expecting the ball fast and on the baseline. Oh, and I never ever get tired playing tennis.

        • May 28, 2016 at 1:05 AM

          Claudia, Thanks for your comments.

          In my opinion, a well-matched game of singles tennis can get quite intense. Also, sliced shots on the forehand can limit your game…

  7. John
    December 21, 2015 at 4:17 PM

    No mention of the “Nick” intricate part of the game of squash that makes it harder than tennis.

    • Claudia
      May 27, 2016 at 6:54 PM

      And the whole role of ‘deception’ in squash, which so often makes a player correct his/her trajectory. Deception in squash is both physically and intellectually challenging.

  8. Rmbobby
    October 13, 2015 at 7:03 PM

    In-general (and having played both for many years) squash is the more physically intense but tennis is, by far, more technique intense.

    Tennis entails such a high level of strokes technique because of the spin requirements (to be any god at least) and footwork patterns (often because the weight of the incoming show can’t be swatted away like you can easily do in squash if needed) that it can’t really be compared to squash in that regard. Similarly, in tennis the penalty for a slightly misjudged shot is instant point less 95% of the time, whereas in squash the rally would mostly continue even if the it put the player in a disadvantaged position.

    This means that mentally, the concentration required for tennis is eons higher than squash – especially in terms of avoiding chocking/tightening up. I personally found coming from tennis that squash was easy in general mental terms because of the technical disparity. Where squash is harder than tennis is the intensity it requires. Keeping exhaustion at bay so you don’t go downhill in your strokes/patterns of play is paramount in squash. Anyone who thinks they’re really fit should try squash – they will find out pretty quickly how much pain can be brought (assuming they’re coordinated enough to play to a reasonably level).

    One last point about the above, volleys in particular. Volleying is much, much harder in tennis because you have to deal with spin and the weight of a much heavier ball, variety of angles, the arc of the ball, height of the net etc. In squash because the ball you’re volleying has come off the front wall and the fact it compresses more the ball virtually has no spin on it to contend with – so volleying is much more straight-forward than tennis technique-wise. Volleying in tennis also requires an innate feel for net play which few players have (less than 1 in 10 – even at the top of the game). In squash (as above) the penalty for not hitting a perfect shot is rarely as immediately fatal as it is in tennis most of the time.

    • October 13, 2015 at 7:40 PM

      Thanks for your insights. I agree that while squash is more intense, there is less room for error in tennis.

      • Milan
        June 3, 2016 at 2:34 AM

        Hi, I think, that in both games the margin for error is very thin. Putting the ball very precise on very small areas is crucial in both sports. Especially in squash, if the ball hits the side wall first after bouncing back from the front wall, the opponent immediately has got an advantage, to give just one example.
        The quality of the return of serve is definitely as important as in squash. And believe me, a really good serve, is as risky as it is hard to hit, than in tennis. The technique might be more difficult but I would say that it requires a lot of feeling to play an ace in squash. The fact that there are just a few aces in the professional squash game speaks for the difficulty itself.

  9. barry
    July 18, 2015 at 5:00 PM

    Hi
    What a good take on squash v tennis. I would add that the squash drop shot is much easier to play than the tennis one. Also tennis players who start to play squash tend to be very good at volleying both forehand and backhand.
    If you had to pick one person to adapt to both games, it would be the tennis player.
    Great article, thanks

    • July 19, 2015 at 12:53 AM

      Barry,

      You are spot on.

      I don’t know too many tennis players who can play an effective drop shot. As for volleys, I feel that tennis players who switch to squash try to volley too much, even when they shouldn’t – I do.

    • Arun s
      December 14, 2015 at 9:29 AM

      It is a good post and I have to agree with Dax on most of the points.
      I’m a Tennis and Badminton player with vast experience over the years. It takes a while to adjust from one to the other, especially if you play both on the same day.
      Haven’t really played squash but some racquetball years ago. Badminton is the most demanding and offers more of a hard workout in a short time. Luckily the equipment is light and strong enough to put through the rigours.
      I’ve played tennis, badminton and table tennis consistently for a long time and only recently got into Pickleball as well. It’s a derivative sport that growing exponentially. I, like many others put it off for a decade when told by someone it was fun.
      It actually is very interesting and can be a pretty good workout.

  10. indra Karki
    June 10, 2015 at 8:31 AM

    I have been playing Squash as well as Tennis for quite sometime and my impression is that I love the both but in terms of self satisfaction it is nothing like Squash. I am playing Tennis at national level and Squash at international level, of course for my age group!.

    • June 10, 2015 at 9:56 PM

      Squash does make you feel that way. You are quite the athlete!

  11. deadlock
    June 8, 2015 at 9:36 AM

    Being a fan of both, I think squash is definitely more physically taxing but not necessarily more difficult when it comes to technique. There’s more variety of shots in tennis. Also, tennis is more fun as a spectator sport but that’s a bit off topic.

    • June 10, 2015 at 6:22 AM

      I’d say that both are equally as difficult in technique. In squash there are far more versions of the same shot with different grips/stances etc. You also use the boast which tennis doesn’t have (and a drop which is seldom used in tennis, but always used in squash) – Tennis on the other hand has a different spins to learn (top spin) and you have less to aim at, which evens things up in the difficulty of technique I reckon.

      • June 10, 2015 at 7:19 AM

        Thanks for your comment.

        You are very right about “more versions of the same shot with different grips/stances” in squash.

  12. Richard Howes
    April 11, 2015 at 4:09 PM

    Very interesting article.

    I’m 45 and played tennis all my life at a fairly high level. I avoided squash with the idea that it would negatively affect my tennis game.

    At the age of 41 I started playing squash. Now four years later I can comment from experience on this topic and your conclusions about beginners Dax.

    I am now playing a reasonable level of squash and improving in leaps and bounds year-on-year. Sure I struggled with a stiff wrist and long ‘arm’ strokes at first and found the angles and strategy confusing. Shot selection remains my biggest gap having not played as a youngster. For one thing the stock tennis shot is cross court whereas in squash it’s straight. And of course in tennis you never aim ‘outside’ the court like you do when boasting in squash.

    All that said I picked up squash quickly having never played. I have tried to introduce squash players to tennis and there is no doubt its more difficult to learn. As you say rallies of a few shots are fairly easy for even people who have never played either game to do, even if gently. Absolute beginners at tennis find even a couple of shots difficult to string together. Ball spin has such an important effect in tennis, and almost no influence at beginner squash level.

    Loving squash though!

    Keep up the great articles.

    • April 11, 2015 at 5:44 PM

      Thanks for your comments Richard!

      I wholeheartedly agree with your observations. Like you, squash was the last racquet sport that I picked up. Still play a bit of both. The old knees are complaining though…

  13. John
    March 3, 2015 at 5:40 AM

    Fitness,I’d have to say squash players,though in recent years tennis players are much better athelets now,from the point of playing both depends on a lot of different areas, I was a top racketlon player so changing over from squash to tennis was something I was use to,I think you’ll find most tennis player hate the back corners of a squash court, while squash players on a tennis court I feel it would be the grip and pace of the ball coming at me.
    Dax, I had Two years at the B and R, this was the host club to the 1st Canadian racketlon event 2003

    • March 3, 2015 at 7:43 PM

      Thanks for commenting John!

      Clearly, you can expand this discussion to include badminton and table-tennis.

      I am surprised that racketlon has not gained more popularity among racquet sports enthusiasts – sort of the iron man/woman of racquets!

      By the way, the link you included does not work.

  14. Leone
    January 7, 2015 at 6:40 PM

    Have you ever played Racketlon?

    • January 7, 2015 at 6:51 PM

      Not in a competition. I do play badminton and TT. I feel that singles badminton is the most demanding one of the lot.

  15. Matt
    November 26, 2014 at 5:29 AM

    Nicely written. I personally feel that with the comparison of tennis to squash, and squash to tennis, that yes a tennis player will have an easier time using tennis technique on a squash court, than squash technique on a tennis court, meaning that yes it’s easier to go from tennis to squash. HOWEVER, from my experience playing with friends, a tennis technique is so easy to beat on a squash court, and if you were to force a tennis player to start playing squash from day one with squash technique, then they will have a hard time. I also think you need to bring mentality into it. Squash rallies are generally much longer, and even at lower levels turn into a game of racket chess.

    One thing I disagree with is the comments about how the walls make it easier. Yes they do, until you meet someone who can judge length perfectly, and leave you scrambling in the back corner, where the lack of walls would be much nicer. Also, in tennis there are no nicks. In squash you can be in the perfect position to return a shot, but if the other player hits a perfect nick then you are done.

    I personally feel that these to game should not be compared. Yes they are both racket sports but in my eyes that’s where the comparison ends. Each game has their own respective challenges, and each game should be equally respective. As we all know, anything in life is incredibly hard to master.

    • November 26, 2014 at 6:52 PM

      Matt, Thanks for your insightful comments!

      I don’t disagree with your view that if you made a tennis player play squash the proper way, he/she would struggle. My point is that at a beginner level, a tennis player can keep the squash ball in play while the reverse is harder.

      With respect to the back walls, it goes both ways. A beginner would struggle with good length shots that die in the back corners, while an advanced player will use the walls to dig it out through a boast or something.

      I enjoy badminton and TT as well and understand when you say that each one has its own challenges…

      • Matt
        November 27, 2014 at 1:46 AM

        I feel that you’ve addressed this issue perfectly 🙂 this was not a dig at you. obviously everybody shall think differently and I feel that your review is as honest as possible. I 100% agree that a tennis player can just pick up a squash ball and have a game 🙂 if a squash player did that with tennis then you’d be losing soooo many balls haha. What I love with squash is that once the top players really get going then you see some real athleticism and intelligence 🙂

        • November 27, 2014 at 10:45 PM

          Thanks Matt!

          Let me know if you are ever in Toronto and looking for a hit…

      • jeanette
        March 2, 2015 at 10:30 AM

        Hi Dax,
        I suppose the other view point is at what age you start both these sports. My son started both of these sports at 5 years old and has always switched easily between both. He now plays both these sports at a high level however, he much prefers squash mainly due to the speed and skill level required.

        • March 2, 2015 at 7:56 PM

          Jeanette, I think you are right.

          From personal experience, I would say that I played badminton and table-tennis at a higher level than squash and tennis, which I picked up after I left college.

  16. September 25, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    I want to start 1 of them, but eventually play both. Which 1 should i start with?

    • September 25, 2014 at 9:00 PM

      There are two ways of looking at it.

      If all you want is to play socially and want to learn one of the games quickly, start with squash.

      If your intent is to try and get good at both games, start with tennis. Transition from squash to tennis is harder…

      • Srinivas
        November 12, 2014 at 8:51 AM

        Hi Dax,

        Which one gives more physical exercise Tennis or Squash.

        Can I use same racket for both Squash and Tenni?

        • November 12, 2014 at 5:49 PM

          If you compare good singles tennis to squash, it is about the same, with squash being a slightly quicker work out – normally 40 minutes vs. an hour of tennis.

          No, you cannot use the same racquet for both. Squash racquets are lighter and can break if you hit tennis balls with it. If you use a tennis racquet to play squash, you will injure your wrist.

          Good luck!

          • October 11, 2015 at 12:21 PM

            Singles in tennis is best of 3 sets (sometimes a 10 point tiebreak replaces a 3rd set). If the match is competitive, it will take between 2-3 hours. And yes, this goes for club tennis.

  17. Bill
    June 1, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    I started playing both games at the same time and while squash is a much better workout, tennis is much more difficult to play. The walls in a squash court allow players to take only a few steps to get to most shots. It is also much easier to keep the ball inbounds on a squash court since you can hit the ball off any wall.

    • June 1, 2014 at 12:47 PM

      Thanks Bill!

      Squash is certainly a quicker work out. Once you get used to the walls, they can certainly be used to keep the ball in play. No such options in tennis…

  18. Shane
    May 26, 2014 at 11:15 PM

    They are both as easy and hard as each other. It purely comes down to skill level, none of this ball and racquet weight…thats just looking for excuses. I guarantee a high level tennis player would be able to beat low level squash players after a relatively short introduction time to the game, and vice-versa

    • May 27, 2014 at 9:55 PM

      Shane, Good point. I had not looked at it that way.

      From my experience I find that it takes longer for a good squash player to get reasonably good at tennis than the reverse. Would you agree?

      • Matt Bray
        August 27, 2014 at 9:07 AM

        I would agree. I am a Squash player and I recently played tennis for the first time in 10 years. I could not for the life of me get out of the shot prep habit that I have in squash. I had my racket high in the air ready to cut through the ball and it wasn’t working (obviously). This was the case for the first 4 games or so before I started to get the hang of it. The grip also had me confused.

        The friend I played probably wasn’t very good by club standards, and once I got the hang of it I beat him in straight sets. But perhaps that’s because I’m naturally sporty. Had I played a much better player would I have had the time to imrpove and get out of my squash mentality? I don’t know.

        But yes as a squash player I found it incredibly difficult adjusting to tennis, the shot/grip/shot prep etc. However I didn’t enjoy the amount of standing around and the speed at which a rally can be over. I enjoy long grueling rallies that require the utmost concentration and focus, which rarely happens in tennis, for me at least, perhaps because we weren’t very good? Although the pros have 2/3 shot rallies as well.

        To flip this around though, as much as a good tennis player could easily get the hang of squash, I think they would struggle just as much with the swing/shot prep as we would on their court.
        When having lessons my coach would often tell me off for that ‘tennis shot’. The two games are completely different when approaching the swing, the grip, positioning.

        I have gone the long way round to tell you that I agree with your point.

        • August 27, 2014 at 6:37 PM

          Hey Matt,

          Enjoyed reading your comment!

          I can kind of relate since I went back to tennis after a long break and struggled to win games…

          Hopefully, I don’t come across as saying that squash is easy to get good at. It is not. It is just that it is easier to learn if you are a beginner.

          Cheers! Dax

  19. Ashton
    March 9, 2014 at 7:06 AM

    I’m a squash player and for me, getting on to a tennis court and playing isn’t too bad. Honestly in my opinion, tennis is the baby version of Squash. And with return of serve. It’s easier to return a tennis serve than that of a squash serve that has been hit to the back wall and just bounces high enough for you to scoop it out. When a ball hits the wall it slows down slightly. When it hits the back wall it sometimes gets too slow to bounce back and practically dies in the corner. I have played both and I disagree with what you say

    • Dax
      March 9, 2014 at 10:36 AM

      Ashton, Thanks for you comment.Some of my squash buddies share your view, and strongly believe that squash is a harder sport to play. I don’t disagree.

      My position, specific to this post, is that the difficulty level involved in learning tennis is higher than with learning squash. As for return of serve, if you are unable to volley a squash serve, you get a chance to play it off the back wall (most of the time), in tennis, if the ball goes past you, the point is over. We can always agree to disagree on this…

      By the way, I play way more squash than tennis these days and am a huge fan of the sport.

    • John
      February 5, 2015 at 7:03 PM

      Im sorry but tennis is not a baby version of squash. I agree with most of the article but not at all with the fitness. The amount of fitness necessary for tennis at a certain level is crazy. Drop shots are incredibly hard to get to in tennis requiring an insane amount of quickness as well as endurance needed for the multiple hours of tennis. Another aspect that was left out was tournament play where you play multiple times in a day. I agree that if you are talking about senior tennis then you are right about fitness, but if you are talking about competitive tennis, then there are no better athletes in the world than Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovich, or my personal favorite Gael Monfils (Watch this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLiRoGFil6w). Even Roger isn’t able to be a legitimate force since he is too old (at 33). And when you get to playing people who hit over 115 mph serves you will realize how hard it is to hit a clean shot to their backhand. You are meant to return serves in squash. If you dont play tennis competitively then you really dont understand the amount of work necessary to be successful.

      • February 5, 2015 at 9:52 PM

        Thanks John! Appreciate the comment.

        I don’t disagree that professional players who play five-hour matches are in a different league. I had club-level players in mind when I wrote this post. Not a lot of club players can execute a tight drop shot from the base line, or get to one for a decent return. Head to head, I believe tennis is a harder sport. Especially, when you are learning it.

        Great video by the way! Gael Monfils is part professional tennis player and part showman…

        • October 11, 2015 at 12:09 PM

          Even at the club level tennis requires a lot more fitness than squash. Perhaps if you’re talking about 3.5 and under players that can’t hit consistent shots then maybe squash requires more fitness. However, once you start getting into 4.0 and up tennis requires much more fitness, strength and mental toughness. I’ve played 4.5 matches that lasted 3+ hrs (both doubles and singles). The type of sprinting, directional change and lunging required in tennis eclipses anything that you’ll be exposed to in squash. Also, tennis being outdoors can expose you to extreme heat while squash is primarily indoors and doesn’t expose you to this type of thing. My guess is that your squash level is much higher than your tennis level.

          • October 13, 2015 at 8:00 PM

            If you play singles at 4.5 or above, you are playing at a high level. In club squash terms, that would be like an A level. Both games are equally demanding at that level.

            The difference is that with squash you can get an intense workout in an hour while you need to play at least double that in tennis for the same result.

  20. john
    January 9, 2014 at 5:15 AM

    Hey Dax, Great article. I’ve played both tennis and squash, squash much more so – and it’s my preferred sport. I agree with all of your points, and definitely, squash is the easier to learn. However, as you get to a more advanced stage, I think it’s harder to win a rally in squash. Two good players in a squash rally will tend to rally for longer, and while in tennis a good shot can win you a rally, that’s not the case in squash – it takes 3 or 4 good shots to win a rally, and you have to out manoeuvre your opponent to do it.

    Also – in tennis you face your opponent – you can always see them and you always know where they are – it just doesn’t require the same thought as squash which is more dynamic due to the players constantly moving around each other.

    • Dax
      January 11, 2014 at 4:27 PM

      John, I fully agree with your comments. In fact, at the higher levels of the game, like pro squash, most points are won through fakes and deceptive shots. You can get tired watching the never-ending rallies! The fact that both players are on the same side of the court certainly brings another dynamic that tennis and badminton players don’t have to deal with.

      You may have some thoughts on my new post on squash – http://bit.ly/1iZL8g5

  21. Neil
    July 28, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    Great article , well done Dax I’m just curious how you give the court difficulty equal between tennis and squash. Squash you always have to run backwards essentially, and with 4 walls it makes it much more confusing espeically with the multiple boasts that can be played in squash, yes tennis has drop shots which bring a player to the net and a lob, but squash has that as well. I personally think that it should go to squash despite like you said being smaller

    • Dax
      July 28, 2013 at 7:16 PM

      You make a good point Neil!

      I did ponder that one quite a bit before picking difficulty level “even.” Primarily, my logic is that there is more court to cover in tennis. While the the walls of a squash court certainly bring another level of complexity, they also keep the ball in the court allowing players to go back and retrieve shots that are already behind them. In tennis, if the ball goes past you, you are sort of done.

      • Neil
        August 3, 2013 at 8:38 PM

        thanks for the comment dax! one thing on the court to cover, i agree that tennis court is larger to cover but the tennis ball travels much slower and it can take a short time for the opponent to respond in good time when you make a groundstroke/shot but in squash the court require more tactical thinking i believe and despite the court smaller the rallies can make the court seem daunting, considering the pace of a rally is generally much higher than good club level. Plus couldnt you argue that the complexity of the let rules and the stroke rules make it less convenient to move about in a squash court?

        • Dax
          August 4, 2013 at 12:47 AM

          Thanks for the follow up Neil!

          It is true that tennis players get more time to react to shots than squash players. The fact that in squash, both players share a court and have to deal with lets and strokes also add to the complexity of the sport. My view was that these aspects have a greater bearing on squash rallies which I categorized as harder than tennis. Hopefully you see my point…

  22. Ball Player
    June 9, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    Tennis is a 2 dimensions game and Squash a 3 dimensions game. Most of the time, Tennis players don’t realize that Squash has an extra dimension.

    • Dax
      June 9, 2013 at 11:20 PM

      True! Tennis players don’t have to deal with the back and side walls…

      • October 30, 2014 at 4:30 AM

        I would disagree with that. Squash has a much limited spin dimension that you’ve completely overlooked.

        It’s much easier for two novice players to sustain a rally in squash- not so much in tennis. Average players will find the ball shooting out of the court within 2 shots or thereabouts. The day I picked up a squash racket, I found myself comfortable enough to rally for extended periods. Same goes for badminton and Table tennis. Back on a tennis court and people are struggling to extend a two shot rally.

        It takes much longer to attain a level at which you can sustain a rally in tennis (much more so than squash, badminton, table tennis too) which implies that it is a tougher sport to master.

        • October 30, 2014 at 9:36 AM

          Gaurav, I do agree that tennis is a harder sport to learn.

          My contention is that the back and sidewalls bring another dimension to the game. Whether it makes the game easier or harder, can be debated…

  23. Harjit
    January 20, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    Excellent analysis Dax! I myself am more of a Tennis / Racquetball player. I am very much intimidated by squash mainly because the ball never seems to bounce! I agree with your conclusion that squash would give a much more intensive workout in a shorter period of time versus Tennis. However I do enjoy tennis games that have extended rallies, close scores and last a long time.

    • Dax
      January 20, 2013 at 4:25 PM

      Agree that a balanced game of tennis – singles or doubles – can be good fun! Getting enough court time for tennis can be a challenge in most clubs.

  24. JoeT
    January 18, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    I agree with your comparison and conclusions with regards to the two racquet sports. Having played more tennis than squash by a considerable margin, I’m surprised that the backhand is not on your comparison. I suspect it is over looked due to it being more of my personal Achilles heel 

    In a much more literal sense though, general accessibility to a particular sport (equipment and venues) should be included into the consideration for which is “harder”.

    • Dax
      January 20, 2013 at 4:22 PM

      Joe, Good observation about the backhand, and court access. The very fact that a substantially higher percentage of shots are targeted towards the opponent’s backhand – in every racquet sport – validates your point. The best players in tennis, badminton and TT try to convert backhand shots to the forehand whenever possible.

  25. Dax
    January 18, 2013 at 8:10 AM

    Deji, Thanks for the comment!

    With respect to the equipment, my primary consideration was the weight of the racquet and the ball. Getting a heavier racquet in ready position, when the ball is hurtling towards you, would be a daunting task for a beginner. Your point about the variability of the bounce is a good one and certainly should have been considered.

  26. Deji Odetoyinbo
    January 18, 2013 at 12:14 AM

    Excellent, excellent analysis Dax. Although I’m a squash devotee who’s probably played fewer than a dozen games of tennis in his time, your comparisons left me with a far more favourable impression of the nature of tennis than I previously had.
    As to your concluding question, the answer is easy; Squash is clearly the easier game to *learn*. The smaller court size and the presence of side and back walls which conspire to keep the ball in play permit even the newest players to acquire what one pundit called “instant mediocrity”; one can feel pretty good about ones exertions on a squash court without having to go through the inconvenience of acquiring some competence.
    To my casual observation, keeping a tennis ball in play requires significantly more deliberateness, more precision, a more conscious understanding of the connection between power, placement and control.Or to put it another way, an athletic type of beginner may keep a squash rally going with an enthusiastic “bash and dash” effort; an approach which will get him almost nowhere in tennis.

    I disagree with you on a couple of points though. Most importantly, in the equipment category, you give the advantage to tennis based on the size of the racquets and balls. In my opinion, it is that very variation in “bouncability” of the squash ball that makes it such a challenging game. The experienced squash player may need to alter his game to match the ambient temperatures and neutralise or take advantage of the ball’s variable liveliness. A tennis ball’s bounce (assuming the surface is the same) does not vary much regardless of season!
    You should have given the advantage to squash!

    • s
      July 21, 2014 at 2:00 PM

      Deji, That just isnt true. Temperature and altitude both have a significant effect on a tennis balls behavior.

    • October 30, 2014 at 4:33 AM

      Absolutely agree with your first half Deji. Very well put. The Bash and Dash will most definitely not work on a tennis court, while I’ve found it to work to a decent degree on a squash court as well as badminton and table tennis.

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