For those of us of a certain age, the days of playing football, rugby or other high contact sports are sadly behind us. For many of us, however, the need for competitive sport still burns deep.
Squash had always been a big part of my sporting life. I love the competitiveness, speed, skill and fitness levels required for this exhilarating game.
Once I hit the age of 40, though, I abandoned the game of squash in order to preserve the remnants of my football career. The gladiatorial aspect of the one on one battle on an enclosed court was, however, deeply missed. I was delighted when 12 years ago a work colleague introduced me to ‘old man’s squash’ – racketball.
Racketball is closely related to squash, played on the same court and with the same rules.
The ball is the size of a tennis ball and is bouncier which means there is less of the dipping, bending and twisting that causes so many squash players physical problems in later life.
The bouncy ball results in long rallies and an excellent cardio-vascular workout without the damage to the joints that squash guarantees.
The racket also has a larger head than a squash racket so all in all it is easier to play and enables beginners to pick the game up very quickly.
Tennis players in particular are taking to racketball during the winter months which is contributing to making the sport the fastest growing racket sport in the UK.
The Americans have played racketball since the 1930s but play the sport on a longer and slimmer version of a squash court and with a harder ball and smaller racket.
Scoring is like squash with a point-per rally scoring of up to 11 points but with two clear points needed to win a game.
The sport is now played in many of the 200 countries where squash is played. The British Racketball Association was formed in 1984 with the National Racketball championships held annually at The Edgbaston Priory Club where there are a number of age categories.
A couple more years, plus the new hip that I now need, will see me entering the National over 55s section. Which of course is the section with the most entrants.
Locally, we have a large active racketball scene going on at Chapel Allerton in Leeds where we have around 200 people playing regularly. The six squash courts now frequently have more people playing racketball on them than squash.
The sport is very much in the ascendency both nationally and at Chapel A where regular fun, team and social events are organised alongside the 15 divisions in the internal competitive mini leagues.
Pretty much every game ends with you and your opponent sharing a sociable drink in the bar. Well, it would be rude not to.