"Gentle Squash" is a health and fitness type program that can be played by anyone who is able to walk!
You don't have to be super-fit. Those who were tested during its beginnings were found to have increased their levels of fitness to a marked degree and even to the point of giving up much of their prescribed medicines; heart rates and cholesterol levels improved, weight loss was marked as were respiration rates, as well as giving the participants a general feeling of well-being.
It is also plain good fun!
The rules are modified to the degree that the pressure on knees and ankles has been extensively reduced; by slowing the game down using a foam ball (about the size of a tennis ball) that hangs in the air and allows the player to almost walk over and hit it.
Shorter handled (Junior) racquets are used to allow better control of the ball closer to one's body.
No sidewall 'boasts' are allowed and the ball may bounce twice before being returned, the ball should not be served beyond the ‘short line’, players stay on their own side (no poaching) and no running backwards (older players can fall!) – just let the ball go; the accent is on keeping the rally going for as long as possible – using the correct grip and having the shoulders facing in the direction of the ball as in proper squash.
This is where the game of squash racquets differs, wherein one has to be fit to play squash and not playing squash to get fit!.
There are no set rules, merely guidelines. The game may be changed to cater for differing levels of the player’s ability – we use a racquetball for advanced players – keeps them on their toes. As the players’ ability improves, they could be encouraged to only allow the ball to bounce once and eventually utilize the full court.
It is good for improving aerobic fitness, improves hand-eye co-ordination, and is not so hard on the knees and hips.
Gentle Squash should be run by a qualified squash coach. Warm-up before the game and cool down exercises after is encouraged. The more advanced players are encouraged to mix with beginners, whereby the former can hone their skills and thereby advance to even enter Masters competitions. It has been done.
WHERE TO PLAY
It is currently offered at Eastside in Tasmania - http://www.eastsidesquash.com.au/