Guide to Squash Racket Specifications
The stationary weight (measured in grams) usually represents the unstrung weight of the racket frame, excluding the strings, grommets and grip. Squash rackets typically weigh between 110-145g.
The balance of a racket is a measure of its weight distribution, which may be evenly distributed or shifted either towards the head or the grip. The static balance point (centre of gravity) of a racket is expressed as a measurement from the butt end in millimetres or inches. If the balance point is closer to the head, the racket is considered head heavy, while if the balance point is shifted towards the grip, it is head light. If a racket has an even (neutral) balance, the weight is typically centred around the throat of the racket.
Squash rackets typically have a balance point between 300-400 mm. An even balance is generally at around 340 mm.
Traditionally, many professional players favoured head-heavy rackets but with the game becoming faster-paced and more attacking many are opting for head-light frames.
The dynamic weight or swing weight of a racket, expressed in grams, is calculated by measuring a racket’s weight in relation to its balance, length and head size. In essence, swing weight is a gauge of how heavy a racket feels when swung. The lower the number, the easier it is to swing and the greater the manoeuvrability. Rackets with a higher swing weight are harder to swing, but offer greater stability on impact.
The length of a racket is measured from the bottom of the handle/grip to the top of the racket head. Squash rackets typically have a length around 680mm. A maximum length of 686 mm is set by the World Squash Federation (WSF).
Head size, expressed either in square inches or square centimetres, measures the total strung area of the racket. Squash rackets head sizes are limited by World Squash Federation (WSF) regulations, which stipulate that the strung area of a squash racket shall not exceed 500 cm². The smallest head sizes tend to be around 450-460 cm².
Larger head sizes play looser, producing longer dwell time and greater power with a larger ‘sweet spot’, so are better for new or developing players who aren’t able to consistently hit the centre of the string bed. Smaller head sizes generally play stiffer as the strings are shorter, providing shorter dwell time and greater control, but have a proportionally smaller sweet spot and are less forgiving on off-centre shots so are suited to more advanced or experienced players.
Squash rackets have two head shapes – teardrop (open throat) and round/classic (closed/bridged throat). Open throat rackets offer a larger, elongated sweet spot, provide more power and are more forgiving. Closed throat rackets have shorter main strings, giving a smaller sweet spot and reduced power but with greater control. This classic round-head shape is typically favoured by older players and stronger and more skilled players looking for enhanced control. Most professional players, however, use teardrop rackets.
Beam width (measured in millimetres) represents the thickness of the racket frame. The measurement is taken as the width of the racket when viewed from the side. Rackets with a thicker (wider) beam width are usually stiffer and more powerful due to the extra material in the frame, while rackets with a thinner (narrower) beam width offer greater manoeuvrability, flexibility and feedback.
The beam width of squash rackets is generally between 16-21mm.
String patterns are expressed as the number of main strings x the number of cross strings. A more open string pattern with fewer strings yields a lower overall string bed stiffness than a dense pattern, providing improved power but with reduced string durability. A dense or ‘closed’ pattern with more main strings or cross strings creates a stiffer string bed, allowing for better control with reduced power. Closed patterns are therefore suited to use with softer, thinner and more feel-oriented strings.
There are two types of shape for the main strings. The traditional pattern is where the main strings run parallel to each other. ‘Fan’ patterns, where the main strings converge at the throat, are used in some teardrop squash rackets and provide extra power. The main strings are longer, which creates more power for the same reference tension. This is because long strings stretch more than short ones under the same loads. However, the narrower string pattern means these rackets have a smaller hitting area and are less tolerant of off-centre hits, so are generally more suited to experienced players. However, the fan pattern shifts the sweet spot higher up the string bed, providing greater control when the ball is tight against the wall.
The majority of squash rackets offer a traditional stringing pattern, most commonly 14x18 or 16x16. However, there are many exceptions. Open patterns may be 14x15 or 12x17 depending on the head shape, ranging to dense patterns 16x19.
The stiffness of a racket frame is measured by its ability to flex on its longitudinal axis. Stiffer rackets bend less on contact with the ball, absorbing less impact energy from the ball and resulting in greater power. Flexible rackets bend more, leading to greater energy loss from the ball and reduced power, with an increased dwell time on the string bed during impact.
The material of a racket frame has the biggest overall effect on stiffness. The majority of squash rackets are made from (or contain) graphite. Some composite graphite rackets are hybrids with materials such as titanium to increase frame stiffness, providing greater power at a lighter weight.
Aluminium rackets are stiffer, more durable and often significantly heavier than graphite rackets. The rackets are usually cheaper and advisable for beginners as they are more likely to withstand repeated contact with the walls and floor. They absorb less vibration from shots compared with graphite frames so are not advisable for people with elbow injuries.
Grip size is measured as the circumference of the handle in inches. Squash rackets are generally only available with one standard grip size (3 7/8”).