Choosing the Best Squash Racket for Players of all Levels
It can be overwhelming trying to choose a squash racket that fits your needs and skill level.
With all the different brands, prices, and new models coming out, very often I see beginners, intermediate, and advanced squash players ending up with one that doesn't meet their expectations.
Overall, the best squash racket I've used lately is the Tecnifibre Carboflex 125 S racket. It has AMAZING overall performance and durability, and a low price tag for what you're getting. There is a new, similar model in 2018, but pricier, called the Tecnifibre Carboflex 125 X-Speed. You can read about these rackets in my squash equipment recommendations.
In this guide, I'll be covering all the different aspects to consider when choosing the best squash racket for beginners, intermediate players, and advanced players. You might still not end up with the perfect one, but this greatly increases your chances.
Squash Racket Weight
The weight is probably the most important aspect when choosing a squash racket. It affects:
- Swing speed
- Stress on your wrist & forearm muscles
- Selection of shots you’re able to play
- Durability & price
I’ve personally used all weights of squash rackets, and I would categorize them as the following weight ranges:
- 125 grams and lighter
- 130g – 140g
- 145 grams and heavier
Light Squash Rackets (125g and less)
Recommended for: Advanced players
Light squash rackets will usually feel really good when you hold them for the first time. The main benefits are that they feel very maneuverable, and drop shots, flicks, and quick hits feel great with them.
However, you’ll soon notice some drawbacks, especially if you’re used to heavier rackets. The main ones are:
- The power that you’re used to just isn’t there. Part of the power generated in a squash shot will come from the racket weight.
- A lot of miss-hits. This is because of follow-through issues. The weight of a racket usually carries it straight through the ball, meaning a crisp hit, and nice straight drives. If you have a tendency to cut the ball, or come over it, this will be exaggerated with a light racket.
- Lower durability (discussed more in the Durability section)
That said, a light squash racket can be a powerful weapon for a skilled player. Professionals like Ramy Ashour and Gregory Gaultier are known to use very light rackets.
To properly use a light racket, you need to have developed a few key skills, most importantly:
- A strong wrist with a powerful “snap” in your shots. Large, loopy swing motions won’t fare well. A strong wrist snap will assure that you get the follow-through on the ball, giving that crisp hit. You’ll notice Ramy Ashour and Gregory Gaultier both have this mastered.
- A strong forearm to complement the wrist power. This will assure that your drives reach the back of the squash court, you can hit kill shots, and overall just be able to power the squash ball around the court if you so desire.
- The cash to replace the broken squash rackets 🙂 You’ll notice the pros break theirs constantly, and even 1 good hit on a side wall or back ball of the court can snap one.
Medium Weight Squash Rackets (130g – 140g)
Recommended for: All levels of players
This weight range is what most players go for, including professionals. They provide a good trade-off between power and maneuverability.
As your wrist and forearm become stronger, these squash rackets will actually start feeling lighter in your hand, and you’ll be able to perform a lot of the shots that lighter rackets have an advantage with (notably, flicks and very delicate drop shots).
These rackets will never be quite as maneuverable as light ones, but a skilled player should be able to execute a good 90-95% of the light racket shots with a medium weight one. This is while maintaining the benefits of increased power and better follow-through.
That said, at a professional level of squash, that extra 5-10% of available shots that a lighter racket gives, could mean a huge difference.
Heavy Squash Rackets (145g and more)
A lot of beginner squash rackets, or ones that you find really cheap at sports stores, will be in this category.
Some squash players and even coaches will recommend using one temporarily, for building up forearm and wrist strength with the heavier frame. I would advise against this, as you can get used to it and develop bad habits.
Squash is a game of muscle memory and proper swing technique, and you don’t want to become accustomed to a heavy racket.
Some of the big disadvantages to using them are:
- Very hard to do drop shots, flicks, and quick-reaction shots (ie when the ball comes at you quickly from, say, a hard low crosscourt)
- Easy to over-hit straight drives, crosscourts, and volleys, and have them bounce off the ball wall, instead of hitting good length
- Potential for injury, especially for beginners. If your swing isn’t solid, or you still have a loose wrist during your swing, there’s a good chance a heavy racket can injure you. An improper swing can be a painful experience when you have a heavy racket pulling on your muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Which Weight is Best for You?
I would recommend medium weight rackets (130g – 140g) for 90% of players, including beginners, intermediate, and advanced players. In addition to the benefits mentioned above, you’ll also have the largest selection to choose from in squash stores or websites, since this is the most popular weight range.
For the advanced player that wants to try something new, go for the 125g (and less) rackets. If you have enough power in your wrist and forearm, you might find yourself hitting shots you never thought possible! Though I would recommend building up that strength with a 130g - 140g racket first.
Squash Racket Head Shape
The head shape of a squash racket has many different effects on the racket performance. The main factors affected are:
- Touch / Control – how much you can feel the ball on the strings
- Sweet spot size – the area of strings where you’ll get a crisp, clean hit on the ball, with no miss-hit
The different head shapes you’ll encounter are:
(used in many Technifibre rackets, and some newer Dunlop ones)
Teardrop rackets will give you more power in your shots, which sacrificing some control. These are geared mostly for intermediate – advanced players that use their wrist to provide most of their ball control.
It may be tempting to use these rackets as a beginner, since many professionals use them nowadays (notably Mohamed El Shorbagy, Marwan El Shorbagy, and Miguel Angel Rodriguez). However, they do require some skill to use to their full advantage. That being said, they do offer a good trade-off between good power and a large sweet spot.
(used in most Dunlop, Black Knight, and Head rackets)
This is the most classic racket head shape. Most old-school players (or just older players in general), will play with these. They give the most feel and control in your shots, but lack the extra power that Teardrop and Elongated Teardrop rackets give. There is also lower string area, meaning a smaller sweet spot.
The small sweet spot can cause miss-hits initially, but you can easily get used to an open-throat racket within a few sessions, and you’ll be hitting the ball cleanly.
(used mostly in Prince rackets)
This head shape gives the most power and the biggest sweet spot. With Elongated Teardrop rackets, you’ll notice a big boost in power over more traditional Open Throat ones. However, this comes with a noticeable drop in control, which makes it especially difficult to line up accurate drop shots.
The extra power these rackets give make soft, touch shots difficult for beginners and even intermediate players. A strong, flexible wrist is needed to compensate for this, which is something only advanced players will have developed.
Squash Racket Balance
Squash racket balance is determined by which end of the racket is heavier. The categories of balance are:
- Head light - the head is lighter than the shaft
- Head heavy – the head is heavier than the shaft
- Even – an equal balance
You can test what the balance is by finding the midpoint and balancing your index finger on it, to see which end is heavier. Note that you’ll need to do this with your racket unstrung and with no grip to get an accurate balance.
The categories that squash rackets will fall into are:
Squash Racket Balance measured in mm
Squash racket balance will usually be advertised in millimeters, or mm. This is the point of equal balance, as measured from the bottom.
For example, a balance of 360mm, means if you measure out 360 millimeters from the bottom, that is the point of equal balance. Take note if that point is more towards the bottom or top of the squash racket, and you have your answer of head light, head heavy, or even.
What balance should you use?
Think of balance as adding or removing a few grams from your racket weight, even though this isn’t what’s actually happening.
However, since it’s the head that’s moving through the ball, a head light one will feel significantly lighter, and likewise a head heavy one will feel much heavier.
I personally find head light rackets feel better, whereas head heavy ones feel sluggish. You don’t want a buy an expensive, light one, and have it feel heavy because of the balance!
Opt for head light when you can, or at worse go for an even balance.
Squash Racket Brands
Each brand of squash racket has their own pros and cons. I’ve personally players with many different brands over many years, and these are my observations on the major players:
Pros: probably the most well-known brand, and used by many professionals. They offer a wide variety of head shapes, weight, and balance, so there’s something for everyone.
Cons: I’ve never had a Dunlop squash racket that I absolutely loved. They seem to perform average in power, touch, and durability, so I wouldn’t recommend these for advanced players that want an excellent racket in certain performance categories. Newer models (2016 onward) also seem to have dropped in durability.
Pros: Good durability, and a solid range to choose from
Cons: a high price tag when compared with Dunlop and Technifibre, and not a wide range of balances to choose from (they tend to be on the head-heavy side).
Pros: The elongated teardrop design gives the best power of all the brands, as well as a large sweet spot. Players looking for a huge boost in power will love Prince.
Cons: Very low durability. I’ve broken 4 Prince rackets in the period of a couple of weeks, some sustaining only 1 hit against a side wall. Be ready to pay a hefty price tag for these powerful squash rackets.
Pros: Technifibre has really upped their game in the last few years, with professionals like Mohamed El Shorbagy and Miguel Angel Rodriguez using them. They offer great teardrop models with good factory strings included, making these a popular choice and one I’d recommend for intermediate-advanced players.
Cons: They are mostly evenly balanced, but I’ve always found they feel more head-heavy. I would like to see more head-light models for advanced players. Also, they have a very long handle, so gripping Technifibre models might feel odd at first.
Pros: Some very head-light models that will appeal to advanced players. Professionals like Amr Shabana and Fares Dessouki play with this relatively new brand.
Cons: They lack a bumper guard, which some players might not notice if they buy an Eye racket online. Coupled with the light material of construction, Eye rackets will break often and run up your squash costs.
Pros: Tend to be beginner-friendly, with several models costing under $100.
Cons: Black Knight tends to perform like Dunlop – with average performance across the models I’ve tried, and nothing that really stands out. I wouldn’t recommend these for advanced players
Strings are extremely important for getting the most out of your squash racket. In my early days of playing, I underestimated how important the strings are, and I would guess many beginners don’t realize this yet.
The fact is, factory squash strings (the strings that come pre-strung) are generally terrible, and I would recommend replacing them right away. It adds a few dollars onto your racket purchase, but well worth it. This is especially important with brands like Dunlop, Head, Prince, Black Knight, and Harrow.
Technifibre is the only brand that has high quality strings pre-strung. This makes them a very attractive option, since $30-40 can be saved by keeping the factory strings.
Other than Technifibre, Ashaway makes great strings that you can replace factory ones with.
Squash Racket String Pattern
String pattern doesn’t vary much between rackets of the same head shape, but there are a few subtle differences out there to be aware of. Overall, more strings means more power, and a larger sweet spot. Less strings increases the chances of a miss-hit, and decreases the sweet spot size (why anyone would want less strings is a mystery to me, but it’s available)
The different strong patterns available are: (note that there may be some outliers that I don’t cover here)
The good ones:
- 14 x 18 – the standard for most open throat and teardrop rackets, seen most often in Dunlop and Technifibre
- 16 x 17 – found in many teardrop Head rackets, providing a good sweet spot. Also in many Prince with elongated teardrop head shape
- 18 x 17 – found in some open throat Head
- 16 x 16 – found in some Prince
The bad ones:
- 12 x 17, and “fan” pattern – found in some Head ones. Fan string patterns, in my opinion, give horrible ball control and results in more string breakage. Also, less strings means smaller sweet spot and miss-hits
- 14 x 15 – found in the Prince Sharkbite. I can’t emphasize how terrible this string pattern is. I’ve played with it, and the sweet spot is non-existent, along with tons of miss-hits. Whoever created this string pattern must not understand squash.
Racket durability is a big factor for choosing a squash racket, especially if you’re on a budget (which most players are).
There are 3 main factors to consider with squash racket durability:
- Racket weight – lighter ones are generally more fragile, since the material used in the frame is usually very thin
- Brand – certain brands are notorious for cracked frames, after only a few smacks against the wall. Prince and Eye are examples of this. Technifibre and Salming tend to be very durable
- Year of manufacture – squash brands are making their rackets more fragile nowadays, clearly to cause more cracks and more profits for them. It’s unfortunate, but I try to find older models that end up lasting longer
Note that the brands that produce durable / less durable rackets can vary from year to year. Sometimes a line of rackets gets released that break extremely easily, from a brand that was previously known as being very durable (ie Dunlop). The only way to know for sure is to test!
We can only assume that squash brands will continue to tinker with their materials of construction, in order to maximize profits and still give solid performance. As I mentioned, test out a new line or an older one, and if it’s affordable and durable with good performance, buy a whole bunch so they’ll last you!
Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced Squash Rackets
Take a look at my complete guide of my favorite gear to see my racket picks for 2018. I'll be updating this every few months, but I can't see my racket picks changing any time soon!
A reasonably-priced teardrop between 130g – 140g, will give you the best opportunity to improve your game on a budget. I wouldn’t spend more than $100 for your first 2-3 rackets. You can usually find older models of established brands like Dunlop and Head.
Stick with a 130g – 140g racket, but allow yourself to spend up to $150. This will expose you to head-light models that can let you practice new shots, and better performing frame materials.
At this skill level, you can also experiment with open throat and elongated treardrop head shapes, but I would still stick with a teardrop shape at this point.
At this point you can play around with different head shapes, weights, and balances to see what suits you best. Lighter rackets will let you practice new shots like quick flicks and delicate drop shots.
Since advanced players each have their own set of skills and preferences, it’s difficult to recommend 1 certain model. I would recommend going a little lighter at 125g – 130g, and experimenting with different strings and head shapes, such as with Prince and Technifibre.
Things to Watch Out For
- Brand marketing: Squash brands will often advertise new expensive racket models as having “10% more swing speed”, “20% increased stiffness”, etc.. The fact is, most of these aspects wouldn’t be noticed by 90% of players, and only the professionals will notice a difference. Don’t be swayed by these marketing tactics, as the brands just want you to ditch your old model for a shiny new one.
- Price doesn’t mean quality: As I’ve mentioned, no racket should cost more than $150. There are plenty of great options for under this price.
- Factory strings: Some factory strings (the strings included on your new racket) are very poor quality, so don’t decide whether you like a certain model before trying it with a high-quality string like Technifibre or Ashaway
- Bumper guards: Brands like Eye have no bumper guard on their rackets, meaning much lower durability