Squash is serving up big play for longevity in life

WORKOUT: Australian squash representative John Tobin preparing for masters action on his Ballarat home courts. The sport is rebuilding as more people realise multiple benefits of picking up a racquet. Picture: Lachlan Bence

WORKOUT: Australian squash representative John Tobin preparing for masters action on his Ballarat home courts. The sport is rebuilding as more people realise multiple benefits of picking up a racquet. Picture: Lachlan Bence

Squash culture is changing, keeping people in the game longer, and the sport is gradually rebuilding as a result, according to a Ballarat racket sport expert.

Ballarat Squash and Racquetball Association manager Russell McLean said the game was far kinder to your joints than at the game’s peak in the 1980s and 90s. He said once people realised, helped by new techniques, balance and movement, the game was growign again in regional citites.

A British study suggests squash could help stave off death longer than other sports and forms of exercise, a finding Squash Australia has been quick to promote, backing up a decade-old Forbes survey that had squash topping the table for the world’s ‘healthiest sports’.

McLean said squash really was a fully body, cardio workout, demanding hand-eye coordination. Younger players, learners or older players wanting to stay in the game also had the option to hit the wall in racquetball.

“We’ve got all ages, equal men and women and it’s a great social way to meet people,” McLean said.

“Health and well-being is just as much about building on social enjoyment.”

McLean said juniors tended to get the feel for the game via the bouncier variation racquetball, particularly to sharpen hand-eye coordination, then move into squash usually about 17 years old.

He said it was also a great option for older players to step back a little but has found many who were wary of troubled knees in the past, had fewer niggles once they had been retaught stance and technique in play.

McLean, new to the Ballarat centre, has helped oversee Bendigo squash and racquetball membership boom from 50 to 220 members in the past three years.

“People are starting to hear more about squash again,” McLean said.

“There’s a bit more interaction with the game in America – that always helps in promoting the sport.”

The Ballarat centre is undergoing upgrades to improve overall facilities.

Ballarat Squash and Racquetball Centre will host its annual open squash championships early next month. Organisers aim to attract more than 100 entries from across the state.

Meanwhile, the British Journal of Sports Medicine foudn the risk of death from any cause was 47 per cent lower among those who played racket sports. Research found squash had the best life odds followed by swimming, aerobics and cycling.