This year, in my commitment to stay fit and get involved in physical activity on campus, I’ve tried activities I’d never imagined I could do. I’ve learned throws at Tae Kwon Do, gotten my groove on at Zumba, pumped iron during women-only hours at the strength and conditioning centre, and stretched into yoga positions I thought could only be accomplished by Gumby and elastic bands.
One sport I’d been avoiding,though, is squash. Why? Well, I’d only ever played once or twice in high school phys. ed. I don’t own a racquet or ball. None of my friends play squash, and I just can’t seem to convince them to try it.
But with only a month of classes left, I decided it was now or never. And, readers, I’m so happy that I gave it a try! I got a great workout, will hopefully make some new friends and realized that getting involved in squash on campus is really not that hard.
So, readers, if you’ve been thinking about playing squash, or want to try a new sport here’s how:
1. Book a squash court. It’s free! At the Athletic Centre, students and members can book squash courts one day in advance by calling 416. 978.3436 “0” or visiting the main office.
Beware, you will be asked whether you would like to book an “American” or “European” court. When I was asked this, I thought, “ahhh…American? European? I have no idea? Does this mean I shouldn’t play? Maybe I should just hang up and go for a run instead!” On a whim, I opted for American, which is a slightly narrower court than the wider European ones. Since I’m a beginner, court size doesn’t really matter anyway.
Book a squash court at Hart House by calling 416.978.2452 or dropping by the HUB.
2. Learn the rules. Check out the abbreviated version of the“World Singles Squash Rules” to help you understand the basics.
If you’re a beginner, like me, you really only need to know the basic rules so you can have a rally, which is casually hitting the ball back and forth on your own or with a partner. First, the ball needs to hit the front wall before it hits the floor or another wall. Also, if the ball bounces on the floor twice, the player who was the last “striker” (last person to hit the ball) wins the rally.
3. Get equipment. If you are like me and don’t have a squash racquet, this is no a excuse not to play. At the Athletic Centre, you can rent rackets for five dollars from the Varsity Sports Store. It’s a great deal, because you can put the money you spend on rentals (up to twenty-five bucks) towards purchasing a racquet. You will also need to purchase a ball for $3.97 + tax.
At Hart House, you can sign out racquets, safety goggles and balls for free. All you need to do is leave your student card and complete a sign-up sheet.
4. Play!! Solo or with a partner. This week, since I couldn’t convince any friends to join me, I just went on my own. Unlike badminton or tennis, where you need a partner to return your shots, in squash, you can have a rally with yourself to brush up on your skills and have a great workout. All the side to side shuffling, quick sprints, lunges, and torso rotations really got my heart rate up and made me sweat.
If you’re like me, and don’t know other squash players, both the Athletic Centre and Hart House have squash-buddy finding systems in place to help you network with players of your ability. At the Athletic Centre, there’s a “Buddy Binder” at the front desk, where players can leave their contact info so other players can get in touch with them for games and rallies. There is a similar list posted on the wall outside the courts at Hart House. I’ve e-mailed two players who listed themselves as beginner/intermediate. So, Grace and Sarah, I hope to hear from you soon!
Both the Athletic Centre and Hart House also offer registered squash programs and lessons. This would probably be the best way to meet other aspiring squash enthusiasts and develop my skills. It’s definitely something to consider for next term!
Readers, despite all of my initial excuses, I’m really glad I gave squash a try. In fact, it’s a sport I’d love to continue because it’s a challenging workout that involves a lot of strategy and tactics. For me, it’s also a great way to have fun and meet new people. So, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’m able to find a few squash buddies to play with. But, in the meantime, I’ll keep working on my skills. Readers, do you have any tips?