Squash is an energetic, high-speed game played on a four-sided court and wooden floors. Most people are familiar with single-player squash, but the game can also be played in doubles, making it more challenging and exciting!
Doubles in squash consist of two teams with two players, and all players are on the court simultaneously. The game scores fifteen points, and the rules are the same as in singles squash, with each player on their squad alternating shots during points and serve.
Let’s get on the court and investigate the rules and play of doubles squash, how it differs from singles squash, the different elements of doubles vs. single squash, and some of the challenges that doubles squash presents.
The History Of Doubles Squash
You may think that doubles squash is simply a variant of singles squash, but there are four different doubles squash associations in North America with more than 15000 players. While the game is fundamentally the same as singles, the court is slightly different.
Doubles squash was first played in the USA in Philadelphia in 1907. In the 1930s, the game was standardized with the first National Championships for men and women initiated in 1933, and the first tour was organized in 1970, and the sport has been growing ever since.
What Gear Do You Need For Doubles Squash
Aside from the court, which we will discuss later in this article, the gear used by players in doubles squash is mostly the same as that in singles. You will need squash shoes with non-marking soles, a racket that complies with the sport’s specifications, and a ball suited to your skill level.
When it comes to the ball, the harder, bouncier ball used in hardball doubles squash is the dominant version of this game and has been since the 1920s; the softball version of the doubles game was only adopted in the US and Mexico in 1990, and Canada in 1980.
The racket in the hardball version is slightly bigger and more durable to accommodate the hardball and reduce the risk of breaking the racket on the wall during rallies.
With any version of squash, it is advisable to wear squash goggles to protect your eyes and face from ball impact and accidental racket contact during play.
Doubles Squash Vs. Singles Squash Court Size
There are two versions of doubles squash, one using a hard ball and the other using the conventional softball, and both are played on a wider court, with the hardball court being longer.
Doubles squash can be played on a conventional single squash court, but this will be rather cramped considering it’s quite cramped with two players; with four players, it will be even more so.
A standard singles squash court measures 32 feet long and 21 feet wide, while the international softball doubles court measures 32 feet long by 27 feet wide, and this court would not be suitable for singles play unless it had a movable wall.
The hardball doubles squash court is 45 feet long and 25 feet wide and is longer by 13 feet than the international softball court and two feet wider.
How Is The Court Divided In Doubles Squash
As with doubles tennis, there are two players on each team, so you have four players on the court during a doubles squash game. In most cases, the team will allocate each player a side of the court.
One player will take the left side, and the other will handle the right. This is an important element for successful doubles play, as if each player adopted random positions on the court, the game would be disrupted constantly.
In most games, players take turns hitting the ball during the rally, so it is critical to have each player ‘guarding’ and playing from their side of the court to avoid collisions with their teammates and opponents.
Four players on a squash court can get pretty congested and frenetic sometimes, especially when rallies are moving quickly and players need to get to the ball. In contrast, the others need to make space to allow the ‘on’ player (the one going to play the ball) to reach and play the ball unobstructed.
The Strategic Aspect Of Dividing The Court
Another part of doubles squash and dividing the court between the players is the strategic element where one player may be better suited to playing the side where backhand shots are more common. At the same time, the other may be better on the forehand side.
This would also apply. where you have one right-handed player and one left-handed player on the same team.
The primary reason for allocating each player a side of the court is to prevent overlapping, where two players on the same team go for the ball simultaneously. Not only does this create the potential for collision, but it also leaves the court areas unprotected and exposed, which plays into the opponents’ hands.
There would be situations where the ‘on’ player may have to cross the center line to play a shot on the opposite side of the court, where the opponent has played the ball. In this case, the players would swap sides and continue as normal.
So if player A on team A was allocated the left side of the court and has to play a shot on the right side, his partner will move to the left side and stay there through the point. They can then move back into their original positions on the court.
Unlike singles, doubles squash requires more awareness as the available space to move in is halved compared to singles. Players must be more conscious of where their teammates and opponents are on the court and always know which player is ‘on’ during the point.
How Does Serving Work In Doubles Squash
When serving as per the singles game, one team A player will continue to serve until either the game is won or the serving team loses the point. At this time, the service will switch to Team B, where one player will serve.
During the game, each player will alternate serving until either the game is won or the point is lost. The serving team will retain the services if they continue to win points.
Squash, like tennis, has server boxes designated and marked areas on the court reserved specifically for serving. To complete a legal serve, the serving player must have at least one foot inside the server box and may not contact any part of the line, or that service will be called a fault.
The serve will also be called a fault if the ball hits the service line or short line, the half-court li, orts the line that defines the court boundary at the top.
How Many Points In A Game Of Doubles Squash
Unlike the singles version, which plays to eleven points per game and usually plays to the best of five games per set -i.e., the first player to win three games wins the set; the doubles game plays to fifteen points with the team reaching three games first winning the set.
If the game reaches 13 points each, the team that reaches thirteen points first gets to choose the additional number of points required to win the game. This game is 2, 3, or 5 points, and the team that achieves these points first wins.
If the doubles game is tied at 14 points, the team reaching fourteen points first will choose the number of points needed to win- but this is restricted to either one point or three points.
In doubles hardball squash, you don’t need to win by two clear points, as is the case with the softball game. This makes for some very exciting ‘sudden death’ games
Does Each Player On The Team Play In Turn During Points
In doubles squash, no law states that the players must alternate between shots during a rally. You will see that sometimes in this game, a player from each team will be involved in a ‘shootout’ where they play several shots back at each other.
This is a strategic play, where their partner will wait and look for loose shots from the opponent and then play the ‘killer’ or winner to take the point. The only time that players must alternative is on the serve.
The Let And Stroke Rule In Doubles Squash
The ‘let’ in squash indicates an unintentional action has occurred, like the ball hitting a player accidentally, having unintentional racket contact or obstruction as players try to reach the ball during play, and the point will be replayed.
A ‘stroke’ is when an intentional obstruction or failure to make an effort to clear after your team has played, resulting in losing the point.
Like the rule in singles squash, the let play occurs more often in doubles squash as there are more people on the court, and the instances of getting entangled in each other are higher. This creates unintentional obstruction, so the players call the ‘let’ and replay the point.
The main reason is to prevent injury and keep the game fair and flowing. In competition, the referee is tasked with calling the let during play. This is also why the doubles courts in both versions are wider, and in the hardball game, they are longer, as it gives more playing space.
Players must make every effort to clear once the shot has been played, giving the next player a fair chance to reach and play the ball without obstruction and have sufficient space around them to strike the ball back to the front wall.
Intentionally blocking an opponent or restricting their space to swing a racket by not clearing after playing your shot could be called a stroke and result in losing the point and relinquishing of service if your team was serving.
The player may call for the ‘let’ if they feel they have been obstructed, and in non-competitive games, the point will be replayed. Still, in competition, the referee may call the ‘let,’ or if the action is considered intentional, the guilty team or player may lose the point and the serve if it was theirs.
Why Play Doubles Squash
In the USA, doubles squash is very popular with players in the 40+ age range mainly because it is less strenuous than singles squash. Doubles squash, whether hardball or softball, is exciting, fast-paced, and can produce high-intensity competition between teams.
Doubles squash is great for overall fitness as it provides a good cardiovascular workout, improves flexibility and agility, and mental focus and concentration while playing. Doubles squash, like singles, also provides a good social environment.
The fact that there are leagues across North America and the sport is growing means that you can also take your game to more competitive levels if you choose, and with a variety of league skill levels, you can enter as a beginner too.
What Are The Risks Of Playing Doubles Squash
Like its single counterpart, the most common injuries in squash are caused by getting hit by rackets, balls, and collisions with other players and the walls. Other injuries include joint sprains on the wrist, knee, and elbows from swinging the racket, muscle cramps or strains from overexertion, and dehydration.
This is why it is vital to warm up properly before each game, stretch and cool down afterward, and take the time allocated to enjoy drinks and refresh between games, so you don’t become dehydrated.
Suppose you have any existing medical conditions like cardiac issues or breathing problems. In that case, you should consult your doctor before playing, but you can start slowly and build up stamina and fitness over time.
Since the rules are not that different, adapting to doubles squash will be quick, while finding a teammate could mean trial and error with a few people before you find someone who works with your play style.
Both versions of the doubles game in squash, whether hardball or softball, are great exercise and great fun, and if you have played single squash and want to try something different, then doubles squash is a great option.