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July 2022

A promoter of a professional squash tournament recently wrote to me to express their shock at the poor condition of the pros’ squash shoes. “How is this possible?” they asked and it’s a good question.

Squash Shoes Might Be More Important Than Squash Rackets!

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???” 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, holey shoes 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! No Running Shoes – Ever! The very first time I was lucky enough to have a hit with Qamar Zaman, I was so excited I forgot to…

Originally, all squash courts were white and all kit (the clothes) had to be white too, including the shoes.
Around the 1990s courts were allowed to be painted pastel and the rules were loosened to include pastel clothes too.

Let's Make Squash Courts Colourful!

So why not take things to the next level? Why not make squash courts more inviting, more interesting? Traditionalists will argue that it will make it harder to see the ball, and that could be true for some situations, but they said the exact same thing about coloured walls and clothes. “If the ball passes across the body of a player wearing dark clothes, then they will lose sight of the ball!”. And yet, plenty of people wear dark clothes to play squash and nobody complains of losing sight of the ball. I suspect the same will happen with patterned walls. So what exactly am I suggesting? Firstly, I am suggesting removing the rule that both the sidewalls need to be the same colour and also a consistent colour. Pastel colours should still be used, because I do believe that dark colours will make it difficult for the ball to be seen. But why can’t we have patterns or interesting designs? A glass wall, be it the back wall or side wall, has a multitude of colours and shapes behind it, yet the human eye is able to concentrate on the ball pretty well. The Pigalle Duperré is a basketball court in Paris, France. At first glance you might hate it. It’s bright, it’s colourful and it stands out. “But Phillip, the walls of a basketball court are not used like they are on a squash court!”. That’s true, but so what? “The colours are too bright and contrasting!” I agree, so let’s use less bright colours and less contrasting colours then. What I also really like is the gradient floor, that looks pretty cool. Not an exact representation because the darker areas are still there, but you get the idea. Two years ago, I posted an image I found an image of a court with dark silhouettes on the side walls. The general consensus in the comments was that it…

For some, hitting the ball alone on a squash court is like torture. For others, it is both a purposeful training session, but also a chance to switch off and forget the real world. In essence, solo hitting is like meditation for me.

Solo Squash Hitting Is My Meditation

Hi, My name is Phillip and this is a short essay about the pleasure of hitting a squash ball. What’s the first thing you think of when you imagine meditation? Probably somebody sitting crossed-legged with their eyes closed, right? Now, what’s the first image that pops into your head when you imagine running? Maybe somebody running for the bus. I see the sole runner, alone with their thoughts. Just like in the header image. The rhythmic, repetitive, almost hypnotic motion. The rhythm, the timing of the breathing and steps. I used to run, but now I can’t. What I miss most is not the physical exertion because I can get that with a lot of sports, but the mental freedom and relaxation. Of course, running is not the only activity that offers this sort of physical mediation. I imagine that skiing, rowing, swimming andcycling may offer the same benefits. Those activities have the advantage of being performed outdoors and maybe even surrounded by beautiful scenery. But they are bonuses, NOT the essential aspect. Doing some form of repetitive activity allows the mind to either concentrate totally on the movement itself OR flow in any direction it wants. But, if we were to think of squash, what comes to mind? Almost certainly NOT something relaxing. The drama. The competitiveness. The Winning and the losing. The blood, sweat and tears. And yet. Squash offers something that mosts interactive sports don’t: the ability to doit alone. At its heart, squash is about hitting a ball against a wall. If you don’t actually enjoy that raw aspect of it, you probably won’t play for long. For some of us, swinging and hitting the ball is enjoyable in its own right. Nobody else needed! Yes, playing against an opponent, moving, thinking, scoring are all important, but they are built from foundation of hitting. To walk onto a court and begin hitting the ball is mediation…

I’ve always been of the opinion that players should own and use 2 rackets, with both rackets being the same brand, model, weight and balance. However, recently I have been questioning that concept.

Should You Use 2 Squash Rackets The Same Or 2 Different?

There are many things that professional squash players do that club players should aspire to and also some things that club players should avoid., but that’s for another article. One of the things that I have believed for a long time is that club players should have 2 of exactly the same rackets. Let me explain with some examples and then talk about why that might not be the best method for you. None of the points I make below is related to beginners. If you are just starting to play squash, don’t worry about owning two rackets, just find something in your budget that is neither too light nor too heavy. It’s more important to learn good technique than it is to worry about equipment. Let’s Start With The Exception Let’s say you have been playing squash for about a year and love it (of course!), and have decided to spend 60 Euros to buy a new racket. I am NOT suggesting that you buy two 30€ rackets instead. That would be silly. You only really need two rackets if you are playing competitively. That doesn’t mean you can’t own two rackets if you don’t, it just means you don’t NEED two rackets. I have seen plenty of recreational players (just play once or twice a week with the same friends) that have 3 or more rackets – if you have the spare cash, great! What About if I spend 100€ Or More? I have used 100€ as an example, but if could be a little less or more. Now things become a little more interesting because I see that you have three options: 1. Buy one expensive racket i.e. 100€2. Buy two rackets of the same rackets i.e. 2 x 50€3. Buy two different rackets:3.1 Both rackets of about the same price, but different attributes 2 x 50€3.2 Two completely different priced rackets e.g. 70€ and 30€ So…

I believe that people and especially children should play lots of different sports. Playing different sports can give you new insight into your chosen sport.

3 Things Squash Players Can Learn From Tennis Players

The three ideas below are not in any particular order. What matters is you use them at the right time and in the right situation. Different opponents require different tactics, and it is important that you develop the ability to use the most appropriate tactics. Number 1: The Serve I’ve written about the squash serve plenty of times, and the reality is that the better you get at squash, the less important the squash serve is. However, for probably 75% of club players, it’s still a very important shot. Hitting an ace in squash is much harder than in tennis. Partly because you only get one serve and partly because of the situation itself. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to win the point from the serve though. I plan to make a proper video about the serve and write a more in-depth article, but for now, a good serve is one that causes your opponent to hit a weak return, BUT also doesn’t mean you could hit the ball out or very weakly. You will need to experiment with what serve works best against each opponent, but as a general rule the side wall causes the most problems for your opponent, so use it wisely. Lastly, actually take time to practice your serve. Very few people do. Stick two targets to the wall, one each side and using a red dot ball, try to hit it. Keep score. 11 Serves. Which “side” wins? Whichever “side” lost, do 5 more serves that side. You could even make it competitive with a partner at the end of a friendly match as a cool down drill. Number 2: Pick a Style Tennis courts have different surfaces which necessitate different tactical approaches, and while squash courts do vary due to geography and ceiling height, in general they are very similar to each other. Tennis players generally fall into two tactical styles: Baseliner and…

A few weeks ago, I posted a reply to a tweet where I said that “we need thousands of children playing squash to ensure the survival of our sport.” and I want to play Devil’s Advocate to that statement.

Do We Really Need Children To Play Squash For It To Be Successful?

The header image is taken from this tweet by Lauren Selby who is “Director of Coaching at the Off The Wall Squash Academy in Colchester” and as you can see oversees a huge junior programme. The whole team at Off The Wall Squash do an incredible job of promoting squash in schools and clubs. But are juniors really needed for a sport to be successful? Many years ago, I was lucky enough to be involved in the SRA/Dunlop Squash Roadshow in the 1990s. Initially as just one of the day coaches to eventually running the whole event. The roadshow visited about 30 clubs and leisure centres a year for about 5 years. It introduced squash to thousands of juniors. Some of the most successful days had nearly 500 children arrive throughout the morning split into different age groups. I mention this because not only because I was and am a firm believer in the idea of children being the future of squash, I actually worked very hard to help that come to fruition. I didn’t just “talk the talk”, I “walked the walk”, as we say in England. But recently I have come to doubt that approach, or at least want to question it. And this is why! Padel – A Recent Success Story Padel is NOT new. It was invented in 1969, yes, that’s right 1969, but it has recently become HUGE! I’ve never played padel, although even my town in Spain has a newish 9-court facility and once I have healed from my hip operation I do plan to have a go. Very quickly, let me explain why I think Padel has become popular. I could be wrong and feel free to correct me. Firstly, it’s easier to learn than squash. The part of the padel racket that hits the ball is bigger than a squash racket, the ball is significantly bigger than a squash ball. The padel…

I propose we as a squash community designate one day a year as “Vintage Squash Racket Day”, where we all play, train and coach with a vintage squash racket. The only exceptions being beginners – nobody wants new players to have to go back to those heavy rackets!

Vintage Squash Racket Day

I have written about the benefits of using a vintage squash racket (not recommended for beginners, improvers and juniors though), and I stick by the concept, which I why I am making this proposal. We will need to decide exactly what constitutes a vintage racket, i.e. the age or date cut off, I suggest the year 2000, but maybe 1990 is better. I suppose it could be a set number of years ago, for example 30 years, which at the time of posting would be 1992. One other option is to limit the head size of the racket as that is an indirect indicator of the racket’s age.Its purpose would be two fold, firstly to appreciate how far the technology of rackets has progressed and allowed us to play better squash and secondly as a training aid. I firmly believe that using smaller headed rackets for an occasional training session actually helps improve your timing. Events like fancy dress tournaments could also be part of the day, but that wouldn’t be its focus. And by fancy dress, I mean sports/squash clothes from the 1970s/80s/90s. Interference and confusion with World Squash Day must be avoided at all costs. That is a serious and important project, whereas this is just a bit of fun. Perhaps it could be 6 months apart. If enough people think it’s a good idea, I would try to co-ordinate the event, but ideally a few people should be involved.Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the idea.