Hardball squash

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Sports

Hardball squash is a format of the indoor racquet sport squash which was first developed in North America in the late- nineteenth century and early-twentieth century. It is sometimes referred to as being the "American version" of the sport. Compared to the "British version" of the game – which today is usually referred to as being the "international" version, or "softball" squash – the hardball game is played using a harder rubber ball which plays faster, and usually on a smaller court for singles play, or a much larger court for the doubles game.

Records of squash being played in Canada go back to the early- 1880s. There it was found that the softer squash balls being used in Britain were not ideally suited to playing in the extremely cold conditions of the Canadian winter, and so a harder rubber ball was developed. It was quickly found that this ball was better suited to playing on slightly narrower courts than were used in the British version of the game. As the popularity of the game spread around Canada, the United States and Mexico, court specifications were codified. In 1924, it was decided to standardize the court width for the hardball games at 18½ feet, with a 'tin' at the bottom of the front wall which was 17 inches high – whereas the British version of the game was played on a 21 foot wide court, with a 19 inch 'tin'. By 1929, official court plans were being sold by the United States Squash Racquets Association (USSRA), and the hardball game was brought into controlled growth.

Hardball squash was largely the only form of the game played in North America until the 1980s. Growing exposure to the international version of the game then led to many clubs in North America building 21 foot wide courts, and the "soft" ball being used on wide and narrow courts. Additionally, the USSRA recognised a 20 foot width as being acceptable for playing the international version (this width being derived from an increasing trend of converting racquetball courts for squash play). By the mid- 1990s, the vast majority of squash players in North America had switched to playing the international version of the game. In 1996, 80% of squash ball sales in the United States were of the international-format balls.

Though hardball squash is no longer a very popular game for singles play, the hardball doubles game continues to thrive. Hardball doubles is played on a court measuring 45 feet long and 25 feet wide.

Famous hardball squash players

  • Michael Desaulniers
  • Victor Niederhoffer
  • Sharif Khan
  • Henri Salaun
  • Mark Talbott

Most observers consider Sharif Khan and Mark Talbott to be the two greatest players of all time in the hardball game.

Well-known recreational players

  • Donald Rumsfeld

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