Pickleball and squash—although they're both racquet/paddle sports—are very different games. Each has its own quirks. With pickleball, it's the lightweight plastic ball and the non-volley-zone that emphasize strategy over power. With squash, it's the walls that the ball can be bounced off, bringing many more angles into play.
What’s the difference between pickleball and squash?
|Scoring||First to 11. Win by two clear points. Only the serving team can score.||First to 11. Win by two clear points. Either team can score.|
|Equipment||Solid paddle, plastic ball with holes.||Stringed racquet, smaller rubber ball.|
|Court||20ft by 44ft, net in the middle.||21ft by 32ft, walls surrounding the whole court.|
|Location||Inside and outside.||Inside only.|
|Rules||Ball can only bounce once, must land inside the court.||Ball can only bounce once on the floor, but can bounce off the walls multiple times.|
Pickleball Paddles vs Squash Racquets
Squash racquets are stringed, like those used by tennis players. However, there is a big difference between squash and tennis racquets. Squash racquets are longer and thinner, with a smaller surface area for making contact with the ball.
Pickleball is played with flat paddles, usually made of carbon fiber, graphite, or composite materials. Pickleball paddles are smaller and squatter than squash racquets and have no strings.
Pickleball Balls vs Squash Balls
According to the United States Pickleball Association (USAPA) handbook, pickleball balls must have between 26 and 40 regular-sized holes; they must be made of smooth, durable plastic; and they must be between 2.874 and 2.972 inches in diameter.
There are variations in the balls used in pickleball, however, with slightly different balls being used for indoor and outdoor use. Indoor balls are lighter and less durable but easier to control and add spin to, while outdoor balls are heavier (to reduce wind impact) and stronger (to deal with the more abrasive outdoor court surface).
Squash balls are made of rubber and are bouncier, harder balls that are quite a bit smaller than their pickleball equivalent.
What’s interesting about squash balls is that there are different ball regulations depending on your level of play, each delineated by a colored dot. These are:
- Pro Balls (double yellow dot)
- Competition Balls (single yellow dot)
- Progress Balls (plain black, no dot)
- Max Balls (blue dot)
The more elite a ball is, the smaller and less bouncy it becomes.
Pickleball Courts vs Squash Courts
Both pickleball courts and squash courts have service boxes, and both types have a marker that the ball must be hit over (a net in pickleball, a line on the wall in squash).
Pickleball courts are similar to most other racquet sports (such as tennis and badminton): a symmetrical court separated down the middle with a net. Pickleball has the added quirk of the non-volley-zone—a section of the court where volleys aren’t allowed. White lines mark the boundaries of the court, and if the ball bounces outside of these lines, it is considered out.
Squash courts are surrounded by walls (similar to racquetball). The squash ball can be played off the walls. Rather than having two teams on either side of a net, both sides face a wall which they rally the ball against.
Squash courts and pickleball courts are close to the same width (21 feet and 20 feet, respectively). Pickleball courts are longer, since the play happens on both sides of the net.
Pickleball Rules vs Squash Rules
Pickleball and squash have similar scoring rules.
- Both have a ‘double bounce’ rule (meaning that the ball may only bounce once before being struck).
- Both have lines that the ball must be kept inside and a line or net the ball must be hit over.
- If any of these rules are broken by a player or team, the opposing player or team wins the point.
- Both games are played first to eleven, with the winning team having to be two clear points ahead to complete the victory. There is a slight rules difference here, however: in pickleball, only the serving team can win points, while in squash either side can do so.
Tips for Squash Players Transitioning to Pickleball
If you’re coming to pickleball from squash, the first thing you need to know is this—get to the kitchen line quickly!
The best tactic in pickleball is to get forward and try and dominate the non-volley line. Just as in squash—where you don’t want to be stuck at the wall—in pickleball, you don’t want to get stuck at the baseline.
Keep in mind that squash is a much more “wristy” sport than pickleball. Pickleball paddles are less aerodynamic than their squash equivalents, so they don’t do well when played with just the wrist.
Finally, remember that pickleball has less movement than squash—it’s more about positioning. Since you’re not playing off the wall, you have less time to see the ball coming and can’t necessarily take a big backswing like you might in squash.
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