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These articles are suitable for players who belongs to a club and plays regularly. That is quite a wide description though, so if you have been playing a few years, even though you might not belong to a club, these articles could still be of interest to you.

I have a fascination with private courts. Perhaps because I dream of owning one or perhaps because I am an urban explorer at heart. Who knows?

Fifth Avenue Private Squash Court

All squash courts are beautiful, but some are more beautiful than others. The ones with limited access hold the most interest for me. This short article is the first in a regular series on private and beautiful squash courts. I recently received an email from a New York resident asking for advice about their squash. They mentioned having a squash court in their building. They use it most weekdays and are thinking of purchasing a ball machine to use. We talked about their options and I asked if they could send some photos. I won’t reveal the exact location, but as you can see from the title, it’s in Manhattan. If you live in New York, you might, just might, recognise the lobby. Apparently the building was built in the 1920s and as you can see from one of the photographs below in the gallery, it’s a hardball court rather than a squash court, although I haven’t differentiated that in the title. The area is very exclusive, with a duplex apartment recently selling for tens of millions of Dollars. Let me quote the sender to give you some more details. “As you exit the back door, you are on the lobby area. You proceed to the back and get into a private elevator to the basement. You flick onthe lights and descend a rather concerning set of stairs and flick on more lights. The court is accessed by stepping up, something I recallnever having to do. Unfortunately, the court is 18′ x 31′ and the service line is at 20′. There is a basketball hoop and a white three point line painted on the floor. I checked with a squash court builder about bouncing a basketball on the court as to whether it is damaging and he assured me not to worry!” If I ever get back to Manhattan, I’ll do my best to have a hit on it and…

Maybe you are not a squash player yourself, but are looking for gift ideas for somebody that is? In which case, this is the perfect article for you!

Perfect Gift ideas for Your Favourite Squash Players

We all want to buy the perfect gift for our friends and family. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just something that the person would love to receive. Unless you partake in the same activity, it can be hard to know what people need or want for their given sport. In fact, you might buy the completely wrong thing. So, with all that in mind, here are a few ideas for gifts for your favourite squash players. Squash Rackets This is the most personal piece of equipment. Think very carefully before buying a squash racket for a somebody. The only two times it’s a good choice is when the person is a beginner and doesn’t have a racket or the person told you EXACTLY which racket to buy. Squash Shoes Not as personal as squash rackets, but still quite personal. Besides getting the correct size, choose a shoe that seems similar to the ones they currently use. For more information, see my “Squash Shoes Might Be More Important Than Squash Rackets!” and “Should I Buy Expensive Squash Shoes? articles. Squash Balls This is the perfect gift for a squash player. All squash players need a regular supply of new squash balls. It might seem like an unimaginative gift and it is, but it is an incredibly useful one. Buy the same brand and dot designation that they currently use. Squash Grips Just like squash balls, squash grips are another boring but useful gift for the squash player. There are two main types: overgrip and replacement grip. Most players have a preference and it is best to buy the same type as the one they currently use. Squash Strings This could be a great option for an unusual gift. Club squash players need to replace their strings and they often get lazy about it. Check with your local restringer to see if they offer a voucher or similar. Gifting a restring…

Yesterday, I wrote about skipping, body shots and solo work, each important in the success of both boxers and squash players. Today, I am going to explore some other ideas.

What Can Squash Players Learn From Boxers - Part 2

If you haven’t read yesterday’s Part 11, don’t worry, you can read it later. All the ideas are separate, so you don’t need to have read it first. I am a great believer in “Cross-Learning”, that’s like cross-fitness, but instead of doing exercises from other sports, it’s about learning from other sports. Here are some more ideas from boxing that can be applied to squash. Fitness Is Important, But Technique Is Vital Being fit is very important for both sports, but I truly believe that being technically superior has more effect on success than fitness. I’m not saying that you don’t need to be fit to win squash matches, because you do, but the fittest player doesn’t always win. Of course, neither does the technically proficient player either. It’s clearly a combination of physical, technical and mental. Fitness comes and goes – technique is for life! I have no doubt that I could be super fit and get into the ring with a old boxer and he would beat me easily. Just the same as an old squash player would beat a young, super-fit novice. Fitness is only useful when you skill levels are more or less equal. Once you perfect your technique, you will only need to maintain it. Fitness requires constant work. Never neglect your skill and technique training! Don’t Get Hit And If You Do, Cover Up! There are two types of defence in boxing: avoiding getting hit (see the image of Mr. Ali as a perfect example), although Mr. Alvarez is also fascinating to watch2, and covering up in close quarters. I don’t know if you can split the concept into squash, but the simple idea of defending when needed does translate very well into squash. There are different types of defence in squash, but I suppose the most obvious ones are using height and slowing the ball down. Done well, both can actually turn into…

I don’t profess to be an expert at boxing, but you don’t have to be an expert to learn from other sports. Boxing is interesting in the way that both boxers use the same area, same as in squash.

What Squash Players Can Learn From Boxers

Who hasn’t watched Rocky and wanted to start training? Those training montages1 inspire us all, but there’s more to boxing than singing “Eye of the Tiger” and running up steps at dawn! Here are a few ideas for squash players to steal from boxers. Skipping One of the first things you think of when you imagine boxers training is skipping, at least I do. Some people call it Jumping Rope and there’s plenty of videos2 about how to do, different techniques and even “Can you stop the rain?”. I’ve written about the Split Step in Squash3 but to effectively do it, you must have strong legs and core, and one of the best ways to develop that is via skipping. Some of you may be thinking skipping is for children, well, wait until you buy a fast, metal skipping rope and watch those videos. The great thing about skipping is that the equipment is not too expensive, easy to carry in your bag and you can do it almost anyway. It’s perfect for heating up before a training session or match, or as part of your actual fitness training. It is possible to skip without the rope, but by using the rope, you also develop concentration and timing. Every ambitious squash player should spend 6 months doing it before deciding it’s not suitable for them. Skipping is hardcore training and will only improve your squash! Body Shots Each and every rally in squash is like one whole boxing match. The knockout blow is like the nick shot. Of course, you need to win at least 33 points to win a squash match, but only one knock out punch in boxing. Boxers “work the body” with body shots. Those punches don’t often win matches, but they tire the opponent out, drop the guard and then allow us to look to end the match. Same in squash. The deep shots to the…

For many squash players, a racket press is a relic from a bygone age, something they might never have seen and certainly never used.

What Were Squash Racket Presses?

Wooden rackets were heavy and very susceptible to moisture. Over time the racket head would warped if it were not stored in a cool and dry place. In this context “warp” means to lose its alignment. If you were to place the racket on the floor flat, it wouldn’t touch the floor evenly. One side would be higher than the other. I looked for photos on the internet but couldn’t find one and luckily all my wooden rackets are not warped. Back in the 1970’s, when you bought an expensive wooden racket, they might even come with a presses, although it was often bought separately or you used the one from your previous racket. I never owned one back in the day, because I always broke a racket before it had time to warp and my rackets were cheaper than the press! I’m not sure if that was a good or bad thing! The image above shows the 3 main designs. The first one, almost square, but not quite, was the easiest to use as it utilised the metal bar you see with the hook shape. You placed the racket inside, then “flipped” the metal bar to the other end and it clamped the racket in place. The two other designs required you to unscrew the wing nuts and slip the racket inside. You then had to screw each wing nut again – very time consuming! I think my favourite design is the triangular ones, which I much rare than the three designs above. Most professional squash players didn’t bother with them because they greatly increased the weight and bulk of carrying multiple rackets around and being sponsored, they didn’t really care if the racket warped as they would just get another bunch supplied. There’s a great photo of a group of Pakistani squash players standing around some with 6 or 7 rackets in their arms. I looked high and…

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…