Squash was invented in England in the 1860s. There are two competing stories – one that it was invented at Harrow when some boys couldn’t get on to the school rackets court, the other that it was invented in a debtors prison when inmates of the same class as the Harrow boys started hitting a ball against the walls of their cells. From Harrow it soon spread to other public schools and top universities as well as London and the Commonwealth. This is how it found its way eventually into Pakistan, Egypt, Australia and New Zealand. In 1939 the Royal Air Force (RAF) sought a sport which had to match several criteria: limited amount of space required, high reaction speed necessary, intensive, and playable in a short period of time. This is how on all RAF-bases, all across the globe, squash courts appeared soon followed by the British Army.
Commercial squash originally evolved in Australia and then crossed back to England. This gave the sport a massive boost leading to the ‘squash bubble’ of the 1960s and 70s. Instead of being an elite sport for boarding schools, universities and the officers mess, it became a sport for everyone. At its peak squash was the second biggest sport in England and is again gradually making a comeback in popularity and participation along with its sister game racketball which started along side squash in the mid 70s. In Germany, with tennis and football, squash ranks in the top 3 of popular sports. Worldwide, squash is played in more then 175 countries, both on a competitive level as well as for recreational play. Estimates are that some 20 million men and women play squash.
Squash and the Olympics
According to the World Squash Federation, as of June 2009, there were 49908 squash courts in the world, with 188 countries and territories having at least one court. England had the greatest number at 8,500. The other countries with more than 1,000 courts, in descending order by number were Germany, Egypt, the United States of America, Australia, South Africa, Canada, Malaysia, France, the Netherlands, and Spain. Today, The United States has the fastest growing squash participation. There are an estimated 20 million squash players worldwide and if that doesn’t impress you then the health benefits of squash definitely will.
Squash develops agility, sharpens hand-eye-co-ordination, improves flexibility, pinpoints concentration and improves fitness. Just 30 minutes of squash can burn a staggering 500 calories! So what is not to love about Squash!
One of our members below even at thousands of feet up was enjoying squash and showing others the real benefits of the sport! Could this become the next Olympic sport?
Squash has been featured regularly at the multi-sport events of the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games since 1998. Squash is also a regular sport at the Pan American Games since 1995. Squash players and associations have lobbied for many years for the sport to be accepted into the Olympic Games, with no success to date. Squash narrowly missed being instated for the 2012 London Games and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games (missed out again as the IOC assembly decided to add golf and rugby sevens to the Olympic programme).