Hashim Khan is the legendary squash champion who founded the Khan squash dynasty. He started as a ball boy at a British Army outpost near Peshawar in what  is now Pakistan. He went on to win the British Open, essentially the squash world championship, seven times, beginning in 1950 when he was already 35 years old. In  2002 he played in the Over-60 division of the British Open at the age of 87.


Herbert Warren Wind wrote in The New Yorker. “The more I think about it the more convinced I am that the greatest athlete for his age the world has ever seen may well be Hashim Khan.”


The following quotes are from Squash Racquets: the Khan Game by Hashim Khan with Richard E. Randall. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1967. In this book Hashim’s natural expressions are left unchanged by his coauthor, which makes it a wonderful read. It is still in print.

There are some major differences between squash (or squash racquets as Hashim calls it) and racquetball. The court is smaller, the ball is not as lively and the 18 inch tin on the front wall means that kill shots are more difficult and rollouts are impossible. Also, the grip and stroke mechanics are a little different. Nevertheless, there are many things that are the same and Hashim has some great advice for racquetball players. Here are some passages that are particularly relevant for racquetball.


Experience versus youth


A player with this many years of experience does not run like before. But he gets experience. He plays many thousand games, he knows many things to do. Experience is not as good as to be young – there is nothing that good – but anyway I give thanks for it. P. 40


Wind stays good, yes, but you push too hard, and you have accidents with legs. P 41.


Watch your opponent


Watch close your opponent to catch his idea soon as can. P. 43.



Squash vs tennis


Walls keep people out, yes, but they give joy to game. You thank these walls, I think. You play tennis, the ball goes by and you are not ready, too bad, you lose that point. In squash racquets not so always. Many times when you turn, you see back wall catch that ball and bounce it back to you. Maybe then you are ready. You have second chance. P. 47.


Choose the right racquet


Maybe to begin you buy low-price racquet, get good one later. In beginning, maybe when you aim for ball, you hit wall. A few hits on wall, goodbye that racquet. Last thing about racquet: choose right size grip. If it is too big, you cannot snap your wrist properly. If it is too small, you must all time squeeze hard so handle does not turn in your hand. You get tired. P. 53.


Keep a loose grip


Sometimes, you see it is safe, rest racquet neck in left hand, let loose a little your fingers. When ball begins to come to you, your hand is happy to grip tight again. P. 54.


Square up to the side wall


Face right wall, feet wide apart, maybe 3-4 inches more wide than shoulders. You can use whole body for power when you face side wall. You face front wall, your arm has no help, it is weak, you try and see. P. 56.


Stay loose


Do not make tense your body, do not try too hard. Swing like you are Tarzan of the Apes on some vine. Muscle is not power in squash stroke. Body weight in right place, going right speed, is power. P.63.


Best way to get in shape


My idea is play squash racquets, best way to get in shape for this game. But maybe you are not so young any more – like me, sometimes a little stiff. Then, first loose up your muscles before you play. Do few sit ups, some squats, touch toes, that is all. Soon you are loose, you can go in court. P.66.


The Hashim Khan Diet


If you are a fat man, big tummy, I tell you squash racquets never takes this weight from you. I am in court six-seven hours every day, and never I lose one ounce like this. Eat not so much, only way. P. 67.


The athletic position


From beginning all the time crouch a little when you play. Some players wait for ball in court like I see people stand around at cocktail party, little drink in hand. Too relaxed. Ball comes to them, they think, “Ah, here comes ball, I get ready.” They get ready too late. Why you think tiger goes to crouch when it waits for dinner in bushes? Better to spring. Same for squash player.  Crouch. Bend knees a little, feet apart, lean forward a little from middle. Hold racquet up, do not let sag down near floor, hold up, ready across your middle. Now you can quick spring anywhere with big step, play forehand, backhand, you waste no time. Pp.68-69.


Move, get set, then hit


Try to remember: move quick as can to gain time. Then take care with stroke. You learn this, you do a very good thing for your game. P. 73.


Keep eye on ball


Cat never takes eye from bird it tries to catch and never you take eye away from ball you want to hit. Keep eye on ball is most important one thing I tell you about this game of squash racquets. P. 74.


Watch ball in stroke. Eye is wonderful quick to follow that ball, to tell body, “One moment please! A little closer! Snap wrist now!” such things, so ball goes to center of strings and flies out to proper place in court. P.74.


Contact point


Body hangs right to stroke ball high as knee, every man is same. P. 76.


Wrist snap


Remember: wrist swings racquet, speed of ball is how fast that racquet swings. P. 77.




Do not change feet. Face side wall like for alley shot. Some player, they want to cross ball, they put front foot behind the other, they aim body way they want ball to go. They have bad stroke. Also, opponent looks at feet, he knows which way ball goes before hit. P. 78.


Playing the back wall


 Many times, ball has good speed, you hurry, you can get it off back wall. Some players do not go all way to back wall. They just move little way. They think, “Why run? Ball comes back to me in one moment.” Sometimes fooled, these lazy players! Ball bounces only little. Emergency. They quick have to reach behind and hook that ball to send it up front. Bad stroke!  Pp. 78-79.




Volley steals time from opponent. He makes his stroke, he likes to go to good position, get set, watch to see what you do. If you run to catch that ball after bounce, maybe he has 2-3 seconds. Nice for him. But you move quick to volley, you think quick where to put that ball, opponent has shock. You steal his time.  He does not worry what he does to you, he worries does he reach ball before second bounce. You put pressure on him. P. 83.


Importance of the serve


Some squash players, plenty of experience and no excuse, have wrong idea about serve. They think it is not important, just signal to begin, like bell in boxing match. Not so! Service in squash racquets is not like bell. It is like first punch… maybe K.O.! P.86.


Hitting the lob


Swing body to make smooth your stroke, start weight on right foot. Lob is nice, soft stroke. P. 88.


Down the line shot


 Alley is little road that runs close all along building. Alley shot is like that. It runs close all along side of court. Idea is to make difficulty for opponent, of course. You give him ball close to side wall, this is not easy to kill. You make side wall your friend. P. 100.


Drop shots


Drop shot is slow ball, it hits just little over tin on front wall, ends quick. It ends more quick if you send it close to corner, so it goes to side wall after front. Side wall is like brake. Yes, and you are lucky, maybe that ball goes to crack at bottom of side wall. When you make drop that hits side wall nick like this, you have very nice shot indeed…. Necessary you make proper stroke. Do not poke that ball. Make a nice stroke, wrist cocked, little backswing, little twist of wrist, racquet open a little, and follow through smooth. P. 106.


Volley drop shot


I take that ball in air, before bounce, and send it soft up front, a little over tin. Volley drop. Dies quick. Opponent, he is not beginning to run and he loses point. If ball comes to you very fast like that and you want to make drop, give only little baby stroke, just aim that ball to proper place. P. 117.


Play the percentages


When you know you have not good chance to make a winner, play safe shot: maybe good chance comes next time. P. 125.


Study your opponent


To catch idea quick one thing I learn long time before is most players have favorite shots. They run to certain place in court for get, they make favorite reply. Maybe 3-4 good shots possible to make, never mind, most times they play favorite! Pp. 131-2.


Every player I see has some habit, even top players, they like to play certain way in certain places, and always in matches I watch very close in those places for favorite shots. P. 132.


Habit is like spring. Opponent pushes away, he makes other shot once in a while, but most times habit pulls him back. Watch your game. Try to keep loose, try many different reply! P. 133.


Stay out of the way


All the time watch close to be not hit, quick move after you play to give opponent clear shot. This is good sports. P. 135.


Good players, amateur, professional, they have back stroke, they have follow through. They need some room. Quite proper. I give that room. P. 136.



Nine simple rules


(1) Keep eye on ball.

(2) Move quick to “T.”  [Center court position.]

(3) Stay in crouch.  

(4) Take big step [to reach ball].

(5) Keep ball far away from your opponent.

(6) Have many different shots ready so opponent does not know what you do next.

(7) Do not relax because you play good shot; maybe opponent retrieves that ball; better you get ready for next stroke.

(8) Soon as can, find out where opponent has idea to send ball; then quick take position for your return shot.

(9) Have reason for every stroke you make.

 P. 152.