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It is recommended that you warm up your body before any form of exercise so that your muscles are warm and loosened up.
With the game of squash, though, there is an extra step: you also have to warm up your equipment.
While this is certainly not standard practice in most sports, squash balls are unique in that they do not play as well before they have been warmed up.
A cold or even room temperature squash ball feels pretty dead when you try to play with it, and it does not bounce properly.
Additionally, squash is typically played in the winter season, so the exposure to the colder winter air makes it even more important to warm up your ball.
At this point you are probably wondering how to warm up a squash ball to prepare for a game.
Let’s take a closer look at how this is done and why it is necessary.
Types of Squash Balls
Squash balls come in a variety of types which are differentiated by the size and color of the ball.
It is important to choose the correct ball for your skill level.
The squash balls intended for advanced players are much harder to warm up and keep warm because it takes a consistent hard hitting in order to warm up all the way.
Beginners do not usually have as much force behind their hits and will not be able to warm a professional ball up properly in order to use it to its full potential.
There are four levels of squash balls: professional, competition, progress, and intro.
The professional ball is distinguished by 2 dots.
This type of ball is used in professional competitions and tournaments. It requires repeated hard hitting to warm up and to maintain its temperature during the game.
It also has the shortest hang time in the air of all four types of balls.
The competition ball has a yellow dot. This ball is used by club players and those with a good amount of experience.
This ball might also be used in place of a professional ball when being played on a particularly cold court since it is not as hard to warm up as the professional ball.
The progress ball has a red dot and is best for recreational players.
This ball is also good for players who are trying to improve their technique because it does not have to be hit as hard to keep its bounce.
It is also a little bit bigger than the professional ball.
The intro ball has a blue dot. The intro ball has the longest hang time to help new players keep rallies going.
This is the easiest ball to use and to warm up, which is why it is ideal for beginners that are still learning technique.
Why warm up a squash ball?
Unlike other sport balls, squash balls need to be warmed up before play because they will not bounce properly when they are cold or even room temperature.
When the ball is cold, the air molecules inside are moving slowly which causes the fall to deflate slightly and not bounce as well.
As the ball heats up, the air molecules move faster which creates more air pressure and increases the elasticity and the bounce of the ball.
You can think of it like the tires on your car.
During the winter, you are more likely to have low tire pressure and need to put air in your tires; this is because the air molecules are moving so slowly which causes the tire to deflate.
This is what happens with the squash ball as well.
This ball is unique compared to any other sport ball because it will bounce more than twice as much when warmed up as it will in its original cold state.
If you play with a ball that is not properly heated, it makes it harder to perform long rallies and takes some of the skill and tact away from the game.
Things to avoid in squash balls
Because squash balls already need to be warmed up in order to bounce properly, you should consider how you store them so that you don’t make the process even longer.
Avoid storing squash balls in a cold environment, such as the trunk of your car on a cold day.
If squash balls are left in a cold environment, it will take even longer to warm them up and get them to the level of elasticity that you need to play with them properly.
Also make sure that you use proper technique when warming them up instead of trying to use a shortcut.
Do not try to warm up the squash ball by rolling it around against the ground under your shoe.
This is not a very effective method of warming it up, and it can weaken the seam of the ball, leading to the ball wearing out much faster than it otherwise would.
In addition, avoid warming up the ball before you have first done your own warm up for your body.
Hitting a cold squash ball puts a lot more pressure on your joints and muscles because the ball is not yet bouncing very well before it warms up.
Because it is not yet bouncing, it is also not getting much height when it rebounds off the floor, so you may have to bend over or stoop down more.
As a result, you are more likely to get injured because of the added stress on your body from playing with a cold ball.
You can avoid injury by making sure your muscles are warmed up and ready to go.
How to warm up a squash ball
If you are warming up the squash ball while with a partner, both you and your partner should stand in opposite service boxes as if you are about to receive a serve.
Hit the ball high on the wall that is straight in front of you; volley the squash ball against the wall three times and then pass it cross court to your partner.
Your partner should repeat this exact process before passing it back to you.
If you are a beginner or are looking for an easier warmup, you can also let the ball bounce on the ground each time it comes back to you instead of volleying it the whole time.
If you are able to volley, though, that is the fastest method because the ball does not come in contact with the cold ground.
The temperature of the court can affect how quickly the squash ball heats up, so if you are able to volley the squash ball without it hitting the ground, that is your best option.
If you are doing a solo practice and need to warm up the ball, you can do so while completing some solo hitting drills.
To warm up the ball on your own, face one of the side walls from the middle of court.
Use a forehand and hit the ball high enough on the side wall that it bounces back over your head and hits the side wall behind you.
You can then try the same thing with a backhand.
Continue to repeat this process until the ball is warmed up and has started bouncing more easily.
In both of these types of warm-ups, the ball will heat up because of friction.
Friction is created each time that the squash ball hits the wall, and this friction is converted to heat energy.
The amount of time that a squash ball needs to warm up depends on the type of ball being used.
The intro ball does not really need any warm-up time, and the progress ball needs only a couple minutes.
The professional ball takes the longest to warm up, needing about five to ten minutes to reach its peak performance capability.
Another option for warming up squash balls would be to invest is a squash ball warmer.
These machines are designed to warm your ball up for you so that you do not have to use up any of your energy before the game gets started.
It takes about 5 minutes for the ball to warm up in the machine.
Once you have warmed up your ball, leave the lid on the machine so it maintains its temperature.
This will allow you to put your ball in the machine to maintain its temperature between games.
While this device is certainly not a necessity, there are several benefits to using one.
Using this machine saves time, allowing you to start your game right away instead of having to spend 10-15 minutes manually warming up your ball.
It also helps reduce injuries because you will not have to put the added stress on your muscles and joints from playing with a cold ball while you warm it up.
Finally, the ball warmer also allows you to have a spare ball ready to go.
If your ball bursts during the game, you will not have to interrupt the game in order to warm up another ball.
Instead, you will already have one ready and can continue immediately with your game.
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