Squash also called squash rackets, rackets also spelled racquets, singles or doubles game played in a four-walled court with a long-handled strung racket and a small rubber ball. The game is played on exactly the same principle as rackets but in a smaller court. Squash is usually played by two people, but it can be played by four (doubles).
Two different varieties of game are played: softball (the so-called “British,” or “international,” version) and hardball (the “American” version). In softball, which is the standard game internationally, the game is played with a softer, slower ball on the kind of wide, tall court shown in the accompanying diagram. The ball stays in play far longer, and there is more court to cover, making it a physically demanding game that requires fitness, patience, and deliberation. Hardball squash, which is popular in the United States, is played on a narrower court with a harder, faster ball. The hardball game emphasizes quick reactions and creative shot making.
Squash rackets is a descendant of rackets, having probably originated around the middle of the 19th century at Harrow School in England. Students there who were unable to get into the rackets court took their exercise hitting an India-rubber ball, which squashed when hit against a wall. The new game soon became popular in other English boarding schools. In the 1890s private courts were built, and, after the turn of the century, club courts appeared at Bath, Queen’s, and the Marylebone Cricket Club.