How Technology has changed the game of Squash

When I started playing squash in 1979 all rackets were wooden and they had synthetic or natural gut strings with a leather grip. I would put a towelling grip on my racket which needed to be roughened up on the corner of the squash door before using. As a junior player I used a cut down Dunlop Maxply Fort. I then moved onto a lighter racket which was a Grays Light Blue. I then used an aluminium framed racket which generated a little more power but still quite heavy.

By 1984, during my Regional squash days, I was using a Slazenger Graphite racket. This was the birth of the graphite racket and when rackets became a lot lighter but maintained a small head like the wooden rackets. Squash balls then were the Grays Mirco which were manufactured from a thicker rubber that was far heavier than the current double yellow dots used today.

Grips are now absorbent and rubberised giving good comfort and grip. Strings now contain products such as titanium providing durability but at the same time providing a good "feel".

These equipment changes over the years have completely changed the technical basis behind the squash swing. In the past coaches would promote a "U" swing, starting high behind the ear going down to hit the ball with a high finish. This was such a large swing needing lots of effort to force the racket through due to it's heavy weight.

Things have changed with the lighter equipment. The most efficient forehand swing is much shorter, fast and relaxed coming round the body, pushing through the ball using much more wrist action, I would describe this as being similar to throwing a flat stone to skim over water. The back hand is more like throwing a Frisbee with a fast wrist action cutting fast across the ball, keeping elbow high but relaxed on both sides. The wrist is flat and relaxed to create the whipping through to increase racket speed where in olden days the wrist was cocked and locked. The shorter swing allows more time for holding on the ball for deception. Or the ball to be taken earlier thus putting the opponent under greater pressure. With modern technology you can do more with the ball creating "cut" which is opening the racket face to make the ball spin keeping the ball low to the floor and creating an erratic bounce making the ball inconsistent and therefore harder for the opponent. You can also put topspin on the ball, to make the ball move on the wall and the floor and these new techniques make for a more exciting game.

Ideas on movement about the court has changed. In the past the player at the front of the court, when the ball had been hit from the back of court, would run backwards to the "T", then turn to retrieve the ball. These days it is generally accepted that it is quicker to turn around and run forward, getting to the ball faster thereby speeding up the pace of the match. Players are now concentrating on pushing harder off the ball to create more time on the ball and to be able to do more with the ball. Over all the game is faster and the players are fitter and stronger, matches tend to last longer so the professional game tends to be American Scoring to 11 or National League to 9 making games tense and exiting.