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I have always enjoyed a wide range of sports. As life went on though, I have settled into a couple of sports that are easy to play regardless of weather, and don't require assembling a large group (as for, say, basketball or flag football). An avid tennis player in junior high through college, I found it difficult to play regularly when I moved to Miami in 1994. It was simply too hot, humid, and rainy. This was when I discovered a racquet sport that could be played indoors, with air conditioning, and ball speeds that guarantee an interesting game .


Racquetball has been a major pastime of mine for many years now. For the most part, I have given up playing competitive tournaments, primarily becuase I no longer want to give up an entire weekend once a month to play a tournament. Currenlty I play several times a week with a regular set of partners at the outstanding facilities at the University of Texas. I also compete each semester in the UT intramural racquetball leagues. When my work schedule allows me to participate, UT has an awesome racquetball club that meets in the evenings. It has been a couple of years since I've been able to play on club nights.

My Equipment: Given the fact that the current year's racquetball racquets are always in the range of $200 each and I usually keep three racquets in my bag, I generally select racquet models that are 2-3 years old. The 2-year old technology is still more than adequate for my game and older racquets retail for half the price of the newest models. Currently I am playing with the HEAD Extreme 170. I just made the switch to this racquet after many years of playing with the Head Liquidmetal IGS. I loved the IGS racquets, but they were terribly fragile. I broke six IGS frames over four years. So far the Extreme 170 has proven to be quite durable, and it has a balance of power and control that suits me quite well. I always replace the factory grips with the head Tacki-Mac Serrated MT slide on grip. For many years, the best glove on the market was the Head Sensation 02 glove. It had an awesome single-piece heavy leather palm and it could be washed and tossed in the dryer which really reduces the costs of replacing gloves on a regular basis. The construction of these gloves changed last year so I switched to the Head AMP Pro glove which was the next best glove I could find. Most players prefer a thin leather palm, so very few gloves have the heavier feel I like. And, of course, I always wear eyeguards. Two reasons: First, you should always be watching the ball, even as your oponent hits it. Doing this would be foolish without eyeguards. Second, I have learned firsthand that a strike to the eye with even a slow-moving ball is incredibly painful. For many years I have used Ektelon More Game guards because they are lightweight, fog free, and offer great peripheral vision.


Recently I started playing squash after watching the game being played at the gym for several years. STill in the newbie phase, I am currently playing witht he the Head 135 CT racquet which is an older model, but has incredible power and control. My only complaint is that this racquet does produce a bit more vibration than comparable racquets, but I am willing to make this compromise for the power that it offers.

Although squash appears on the surface to be quite similar to racquetball these are completely different sports. Played on a smaller court, with a smaller softer ball, I find that squash is by far more aerobically demanding than racquetball. In terms of technique and strategy, both squash and racquetball are equally demanding but in very different ways. It is amusing to be around a group of racquetball players who scoff at the seeming simplicity of squash then only days later be with a group of squash players who scoff at the simplicity of racquetball. Neither viewpoint is correct. If I had to sum up the important differences, squash requires constant running and footwork to reach the ball. The ball stays where it hits the floor with very little bounce, so you have to be there and this requries serious hustle. Because of this, and the restrictions on where the ball can strike the walls (ceiling, high side walls, and low front wall are out of bounds) there are fewer angles to anticipate and ball placement becomes paramount. In contrast, racquetball requires much more footwork and body movement to anticipate ball angle and set up your shots from a good stance given a much wider range of ball approach angles. Also, the fact that all walls (including ceiling) are fair play requires a very different (and perhaps more complex) strategic approach than squash. One interesting difference is that a rally-ending killshot (a shot so low on the front wall that it cannot be retrieved) is often possible in raquetball whereas this is not possible in squash as your shot must hit the front wall 17 inches above the floor.



      Copyright (c) 2008 Michael R. Markham -- Updated May 30, 2013