24 July 2022 / 3-Min Read / Translate↗
As I said in the introduction, a squash tournament promoter wrote to me, and I will keep their identity a secret, but I am sure they won’t mind if I quote from the email: “A few days ago, top touring and teaching pros played a tournament match, and voila, both players had tattered, skidding, holey, ripping, lousy condition shoes. The response to my questions like, “why risk your game performance and health with shoes like that?” was “I’d rather play with well-worn in shoes than new shoes.” One player had a huge blister! The other replied, “I do too!” They are Pros! They give such advanced thinking to working-in racquets and strings and balls and … in prepping for matches, but shoes???“
Vintage Dunlop Green Flash squash shoes
All good questions and honestly my answer is that it is a lack of preparation and planning on their part. Having comfortable shoes *is* important, but playing with ripped shoes or shoes with holes is simply unprofessional. If this is how pros behave, it’s hard for amateurs to take shoes seriously. Shame on the pros, I say!
I can’t tell you which brand and model of shoe is right for you, but I can guide you through some considerations to ensure that at the very least you are wearing shoes that are safe for you and the court. The reason that squash shoes might be more important than squash rackets is because shoes are for your safety. I’ve never seen somebody get injured from having the wrong racket, but I have seen plenty of people twist their ankle, injure their feet and generally have pain because they bought or used the wrong type of shoe.
This article is my attempt to protect YOU! BTW, the shoes in the main image are from the 1970s and should NOT be used for modern squash!
Please don't ever where running shoes on a squash court.
The very first time I was lucky enough to have a hit with Qamar Zaman, I was so excited I forgot to change my shoes. After he had finished running me around for 20 minutes, he told me I should never wear running shoes on court. I felt like such an idiot. I had my squash shoes in my bag. I was lucky that I didn’t injury myself.
Running shoes are bad for a numbered of reasons. Firstly, they are raised at the heel. This is to provide cushioning when running, but on a squash court you do lots of twisting and turning. Those motions coupled with raised heel is a recipe for disaster. Secondly, running shoes provide support ONLY for forward motion. As you know squash requires you to twist and turn at a moment’s notice. It requires you to drag your toes as you outstretch to reach the ball. That’s why squash shoes often have extra covering around the toe area.
Lastly, the soles of running mark the court. They leave dark lines that can damage the covering of the wooden floor. Squash shoes (and some other sports shoes) are called “non-marking”, meaning that do not leave marks on the court floor.
Also, any shoe that looks like a running shoes should be avoided too. If in doubt ask or avoid them. I am thinking of the current trend for “traveling shoes”, with soft woven covering – super comfortable, but totally inappropriate for playing squash.
To summarise, NEVER WEAR RUNNING SHOES ON A SQUASH COURT!
It’s important to find a shoe that fits the shape of your feet and feels comfortable. I used to be sponsored by Adidas, and that was great because I was using their shoes already. The shape fitted my feet perfectly. I don’t know or care whether they were the “best” shoe on the market, I cared that I liked them. Your task is to find a style that feels comfortable for you. You can search the web for forums and reviews of all the different shoes, but if the “best” shoe doesn’t feel right, it’s not the “best shoe for you”.
The combination of sock and how you tighten your shoes is important too. I found normal thickness socks made of cotton and not tighten the laces too tight was right for me. Some people use two pairs of socks; one thick, one thin, some have very loose laces, others very tight. Experiment to find your solution.
I recommend that you own and use two pairs of squash shoes. If you are a beginner or recreational player, then you don’t need to do that. If you play competitively and about 3 times per week, then two pairs is a good idea. Like rackets, I recommend using the same two brands and models, but if you like to switch around, that’s fine too, as long as both feel as comfortable as each other. Each week, swap the pair you use and keep the others at home to “air” – this means to let them rest!
Wear your new squash shoes around your home for at least 4 hours BEFORE you even think about wearing them on court. It doesn’t have to be a continuous 4 hours, perhaps 1 hour per day. The point is to let your feet become accustomed to the shape and feel. Yes, I used to do this even if I had the same brand and model of shoe as the current pair. It’s not hard to do. Think of it as wearing them as slippers for a week. You should NEVER wear new shoes for a competitive match if you can help it.
I've helped hundreds of players improve their game, and I can help you improve yours.
How often should you change shoes? – Of course this depends on how often you play. I say change your squash strings as often as you change your toothbrush and that might work for squash shoes too. However, if you shoes are in good condition, then there is no need to change them. The moment you begin to see or feel “wear and tear” of your shoes then that’s a good time to begin to look for a new pair.
Are Expensive Shoes Better? – I recently published and article called Should I buy Expensive Squash Shoes and in it I said, buy the shoes that fits the best. Expensive should are generally better, but only if they fit your feet well. Don’t buy expensive shoes just because they are expensive.
What Are The Best Brands To Buy? – I generally liked the larger brands, but currently own a pair of cheap Decathlon squash shoes. Remember, I do not play or coach anymore, I only make videos, so my needs are different from yours. The Decathlon shoes are quite heavy, but well made. If you are on a budget, they are pretty good.
A selection of basketball shoes.
Recently I have heard more and more people claim that basketball shoes work great for squash. While I will die on the hill that running shoes are actually dangerous for squash, I won’t say the same for basketball shoes. However, for me, basketball shoes are too high, and I don’t mean around the ankle, I mean the sole. That extra height might provide extra cushioning, but it also introduces the possibility of twisting the ankle.
That said, if they feel comfortable for you and are non-marking, I’m not going to fight you over it. Let me ask you one question though: How many professional squash players wear basketball shoes? None. Now, that maybe to do with sponsorship, but looking at the price of basketball shoes, I would think that shoe manufacturers would prefer to sell basketball shoes than squash shoes!
Not everybody has access a wide range of squash shoes or the money to purchase what they want. Some other sports use shoes that are suitable for squash and might be easier to find where you live. I am not saying these are the only other sports’ shoes suitable, but I feel confident that these shoes will be good enough for squash. If you have a question about which shoes are suitable, just ask and I will have a look.
+ Badminton Shoe – These shoes are very similar, although sometimes lighter than squash shoes.
+ Indoor Volleyball Shoes – Again, these are similar to squash shoes but sometimes have less support on the toe (I don’t know why).
+ Handball Shoes – Like badminton and volleyball, these shoes are designed for twisting and turning on a wooden court floor.
+ Netball Shoes: Modern netball shoes seems surpising similar to the shoes above.
You have two tasks. Firstly, making sure the shoe is suitable for squash and secondly finding the right fit for your feet.