A Guide To Squash Balls - The Dots, Colours, Speed, Bounce,
and the Best Brands!
Squash balls are an extremely important accessory to the game of squash!
These simple-looking pieces of rubber can make or break a game of squash, creating an amazing match or a frustrating experience.
Too often, I see people using the wrong type of squash ball, not knowing that there's many factors to consider!
Let's get right into it, and not leave any stone unturned when it comes to choosing the right squash ball.
Squash Ball Dots and Colour Types
The squash ball dots and colours are:
Dots & Colour
Speed of ball
Single Blue Dot
Single Yellow Dot
Beginner / Intermediate
Double Yellow Dot
Intermediate / Advanced
Single Blue Dot
This is also known as a “progress” ball. It has the highest bounce out of the box. Use these if you’re 2 new squash players. You’ll be able to have longer rallies, since it will consistently have a higher bounce.
The drawbacks: the ball is so bouncy that it will bounce far off the back & side walls, which can create traffic issues between players. Also, drop shots are next to impossible with these balls, since they bounce so much.
Single Yellow Dot
This is an intermediate ball, with slightly less bounce than a single blue dot. Use these if you’ve learned to hit the ball harder & achieve longer rallies.
Double Yellow Dot
This is a professional level ball used by the pros, but also used most frequently by regular club-level players. It has the least bounce, and requires some good hard hitting to get it warm. Good drop shots and good length are rewarded with Double Yellow dot balls, since it dies more in the corners.
Which type of squash ball should you use?
- If you’re a complete beginner, use a Blue Dot to get started. Squash isn’t fun if the ball is dead and you can’t keep rallies going. So you’ll want a good bouncy one for that.
- Migrate as quickly as possible to a Double Yellow dot. This is what most players use, so if you want to find squash buddies / partners, join a new squash club, and experience the full variety of squash shots in a match, this is your go-to. Once you start using these, you’ll never go back to Blue Dot or Single Yellow dot.
- Single Yellow dot (intermediate) balls are pretty useless in my opinion. After a dozen or so sessions with a Blue Dot, you should be hitting hard enough to warm up a Double Yellow. If the conditions are really cold on court, you can move back to a Blue Dot temporarily.
If you'd like to check out the official technical specifications for squash balls, you can check out the World Squash Federation's specifications. These will give you the current size of regulation balls, including diameter, weight, stiffness, and strength. I don't see this as being too important, since what matters most is playing with a ball that lets you have good rallies.
I don't concern myself much with what the pros use, or what is "regulation" size. After a lot of testing, I've found that Head balls give the most consistent performance, which I talk about in the "Best Brands" section below.
The Best Squash Ball for Beginners
For beginners, the best squash ball is a Double yellow dot ball, NOT a Blue Dot, or what companies call a "progress ball". Beginners who can actually hit, and have some hand-eye coordination, should build up good habits with a Double Yellow ball right away.
Why? You want to develop the RIGHT squash habits as quickly as possible. It’s much harder to undo bad habits, than to learn the right way at the beginning. Most players you come across will play with Double Yellow, so beginners will want to be able to accept any challenge!
Some of the most important skills in squash are:
- Muscle memory
- Hand-eye coordination
Every squash ball type moves at different speeds and will need different variation of each of the above skills, so you should adapt to the Double Yellow ball as soon as possible.
Even beginners who have played racquet sports in their life have enough arm & wrist strength to warm up the ball, so you’re good to go.
If you absolutely can’t warm up the ball and get it bouncing, then use a Blue Dot for as short a time as possible. Graduate up to the Double Yellow as soon as you can!
What are White Squash Balls?
White squash balls are used on glass courts, because it’s easier for the players to see them on court. Glass courts allow black colors to be seen through the glass, so a black squash ball would blend in and confuse players. You’ll also notice that the floors on glass courts are often dark shades of wood, so a white squash ball contrasts well against it.
If you watch professional squash, you’ll notice the pros almost always use white squash balls. Very often I'll watch the pro matches on PSA Squash TV, and I used to wonder if I should buy some for myself.
Many squash players will have thought this at some point, and maybe even ventured out to buy some, usually at a higher price than the black ones. I wondered why the pros would only use black squash balls when they played on traditional courts, rather than glass courts.
Why is this? Is there something special about white squash balls? Are they higher quality than regular black ones?
Sometimes, in early rounds or qualifying rounds of professional squash tournaments, the pros play on traditional squash club courts (not glass ones). In these cases, they’ll use black squash balls that contrast against the lighter color floors and the white walls of the court.
- White squash balls are nothing special, even though they usually cost more than black ones
- They have an almost identical bounce to Double Yellow
- They tend to wear out quicker than black ones. This may be due to less durable rubber use to make them
So save your money and buy the regular squash balls!
How to Warm Up a Squash Ball
In order of effectiveness:
- Roll it back & forth underneath your foot. This is not ideal, as it dirties the ball and causes it to skid more.
- Bounce it repeatedly between the floor and your racket.
- Hit it as hard as possible with your forehand.
If you've just graduated to using Double Yellow squash balls, you’ve likely noticed that they hardly bounce at first, especially in cold temperatures.
Squash beginner = tough time at warming up a ball
Intermediate / Advanced squash players, or previous racquet sport experience = more arm & wrist power available to warm up the ball
To see warming up a squash ball taken to the extreme, check out this crazy video of Ramy Ashour and Mohamed El Shorbagy pounding the ball Egyptian style. Of course there's no need to do it this fast, but it shows that just simply slamming the ball against the front wall is the best way to go.
I see a lot of players who roll the ball underneath their foot instead. Clearly this isn't the most effective method. We should follow the professional squash players as much as we can!
Squash Ball Speeds, Durability, and Bounce
When you take a new squash ball out of its box, there’s certain things you’ll notice right away. Each ball is different, mainly in the 3 categories below.
Most squash balls now lose the rubbery grip on their outside within 2-6 hours of hard play. When this happens, the ball appears shiny and will skid on the squash court floor, especially with low / hard shots
This is how fast the ball comes at you after it hits the front wall, and after it bounces on the floor. Court temperature is a factor in ball speeds, but moreso is the ball construction. This varies heavily by brand.
In addition to the dot type of a ball, the manufacturing also affects how high it bounces
The Best Squash Ball Brands
Here are the main squash ball brands and the strengths / weaknesses of each one:
- The “Gold Standard” used by professional male and female players in the PSA and WISPA squash leagues
- High bounce
- Low durability - Used to be a very durable ball as recently as 2014-15, but now won’t last longer than 2-3 hours of hard play before becoming shiny and skidding
- Variable performance since 2014-15. Dunlop balls can be very fast or quite slow, brand new out of the box
- Highest price
These used to be my go-to ball. Given the obvious recent changes to their durability, and variable performance, these are now my #2.
- Medium speed / fast ball, overall faster than Dunlop balls
- Medium-high bounce
- More consistent performance – I’ve never had a slow Head ball, so you know what you’ll get out of the box
- Good durability – a solid 6 hours of play before skidding starts
- Lower price
Head are now my #1. Consistent performance is the most important aspect for me. I also can’t argue with better durability and a lower price tag.
- Medium-fast speed, similar to Head
- Low bounce
- Extremely low durability – these balls will become shiny & start skidding within 1-2 hours of hard play
- Highly variable speed & bounce
I know many players (including myself), who have boycotted these balls. They are just terrible, due to low durability and unpredictable performance. At best, a brand new Black Knight squash ball could be used for a quick 30-minute solo session.
- Very fast squash ball that requires very little warming up
- Low bounce
- Good for beginners who can’t hit hard
- Way too fast for intermediate – advanced players who can hit hard
Wilson balls are too fast for most players, especially in warm court conditions.
- Very fast ball, similar to Wilson
I would not recommend Prince for the same reasons as Wilson.
Not every squash ball is created equal!
Also, some brands have changed their manufacturing processes over the years, making the balls less durable, and making them more variable in performance.
Contrary to most players recommending Dunlop Double Yellow balls my recommendation is Head brand Double Yellow balls. You can read about this and my other equipment recommendations in my post on the the best squash equipment in 2018.
They’ve recently proven to be more durable than Dunlop, and take longer to become shiny. Beginners will be happy with the speed & bounce of Head balls, and lower price.
They are also very close in speed & bounce to the more-frequently used Dunlop balls, so there is no problem adjusting to squash matches using Dunlop balls.
There is no perfect ball out there, but in my opinion, Head currently comes the closest! I’m secretly hoping that Dunlop uses its current market dominance to manufacture an even better ball… fingers crossed.
Why won't my squash ball bounce?
Squash balls need to be warmed up before they bounce enough to play. Hitting the ball hard against the front wall is the best way to do this.
Where can I buy squash balls?
The most convenient and cheapest option would be online, on Amazon or through a squash-specific retailer. They go through tons of orders, meaning you won't be getting old squash balls that are more brittle and likely to break.
How long can I expect a squash ball to last?
Most brands will last a good 4-5 hours of play, before losing their grip and skidding. You can extend this to about 7-8 hours by cleaning the ball regularly with water and a towel.
Which balls do the professional squash players use?
Dunlop double yellow dot. On glass courts, they use white ones, and on traditional plaster courts they use black ones.
Why do squash balls smell bad sometimes?
As they rubber of the ball heats up during a match, a squash ball can start smelling surprisingly bad! It's just the natural smell of the rubber coming through.