Applied physiology of squash

Sports Med. 1990 Jul;10(1):31-41. doi: 10.2165/00007256-199010010-00004.


Squash is a moderate- to high-intensity intermittent exercise. Players are active 50 to 70% of the playing time. 80% of the time, the ball is in play 10 seconds or less. The rest intervals fit a normal distribution with an average duration of 8 seconds. Heart rate increases rapidly in the first minutes of play and remains stable at approximately 160 beats/min for the whole match no matter what levels the players are. The energy expenditure for medium-skilled players is approximately 2850 kJ/h and over 3000 kJ/h for A grade players. The thermal and metabolic response to squash is similar to that of moderate intensity running. Hyperglycaemia, elevated free fatty acids and growth hormone levels, and low serum insulin values are the common metabolic changes. Blood lactate levels are understandably low due to the very short work to rest pattern of play. Injuries are not frequent in squash but they can occur. Serious eye injuries have been documented and as a result protective equipment is highly recommended. To reduce the possibility of sudden death on the court or after the game, older players that present some risk factors for cardiovascular disease should be warned against smoking after the game and informed of the serious implications of the development of chest pain, or undue tiredness before, during or after squash.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Efficiency / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Racquet Sports*
  • Running
  • Sports Medicine
  • Time Factors