by Pierre Bastien
One of the squash equipment questions I get most often is some variation of, “Which squash racquet should I buy for my child?”
Honestly, this question has always stumped me. When I review squash racquets, I’m usually thinking about how it will play for adults. After all, I’m an adult myself. Or at least, I like to tell myself that. Either way, won’t somebody please think of the children?
My son is now eight years old and he’s recently started taking squash lessons nearby at the Philadelphia Squash Club. They run a busy junior program and provide racquets as needed for the budding squash players who show up for lessons.
The club has two types of racquets on hand: junior squash racquets and standard squash racquets. The pros encourage juniors to pick whichever type of racquet feels more comfortable to them.
Now, before I go on, you should know that standard squash racquets are 27 inches long. That’s actually the official maximum length of a squash racquet, as specified by the World Squash Federation. (Technically, the rule says 686 millimeters, but I’ll save you the math.)
Well, junior squash racquets are just shorter than standard ones. They have less power and shorter reach, but are easier to maneuver. When juniors are first starting out, they’re training their brains to measure the distance between the handle and the string bed. A shorter racquet is simpler to operate.
There are two ways to get a junior squash racquet. One is to get out your hacksaw and cut the handle off an adult racquet. Search for “junior squash racquet” on YouTube and you can watch Barb Cooper make one.
The other way is to buy one. Most of the major manufacturers offer a junior squash racquet, and you can usually find them for around $50. I’ve seen models from Black Knight, Dunlop, Harrow, Head, Prince, and Tecnifibre.
At some point, your junior will be ready to move up to a standard squash racquet. There’s no hard and fast rule for when this should happen. My son seems to have migrated to the standard racquet at this point, but it’s really down to whatever feels comfortable in the player’s hand. I’m sure there are juniors out there who started off with a standard adult racquet and never even used a junior one. For all I know, there are adults out there still rocking a junior racquet. It’s a big world.
Once they’ve moved on to a standard squash racquet, which models are good for juniors?
Generally, the advice I’ve heard is juniors should use a light racquet so they can swing it freely. “Light” is subjective, but I would look for something 130 grams or less. A couple readers on my site, including a ten-year-old girl, suggested trying one of the 110-gram models from Eye Rackets.
To keep costs down, you can also look for older racquets that are no longer the latest-and-greatest but are still proven frames. You can usually find decent ones for less than $100. At our club, they’ve got a few Dunlop Aerogel 130s; my son seems to like these. A friend of mine got his son a Prince Pro Airstick Lite 550, and reports he’s happy with it. These racquets may no longer be available by the time you search for them, but with a little digging you can usually find similar ones that fit the bill.