For a sport like squash, mobility, grip, balance, speed, and agility are must have abilities. While all of these abilities can be developed through training and practice, the right kind of gear contributes immensely to the performance of the athlete.
The kind of squash shoe used certainly contributes the most to the overall game play and ability of the player. This is the main reason squash players must ensure to use the right kind of shoes and to ensure that these shoes are replaced regularly to aid their performance.
But when should you change your squash shoes? As a general rule, a squash player that plays three or four times a week may find that they will need to replace their squash shoes every six months. Five or six times a week, and it may be more like every three months. Once or twice, and every season should be OK.
There are no hard or fast rules, but there are key signs to look out for that this article will illuminate. I will also look at why it is important to change your squash shoes regularly.
This article will shine light on the inherent advantages in replacing your squash shoes when they are preventing you playing your best. I will also have a quick look at some guidelines on how to choose a perfect squash shoe that will greatly enhance your game.
But is changing my shoes a big deal?
Yes! To attain success in any sport, having the right kind of gear is crucial, yet often underrated. It is often assumed by most people that sport shoes are generic and this causes underperformance in many regards.
But why change my shoes?
Replacing worn out squash shoes is a lot like changing the oil in your car. Replacing the oil in your car depends on several factors but primarily, the time or traveling distance holds sway. Replacing this oil is important for the overall function of your car.
Think of it like this – whether you have been playing for long or just starting out in the game of squash, your training and workout will only be as good as the shoes you do them in.
When you wear a worn out shoe to play squash, it will not only cause stress on your foot and ankle, it could also lead to injury, and it could affect how your foot comes in contact with the ground with time. Most people are confused as to when, and what signs to watch out for to change their squash shoes.
When should you wear your squash shoes?
Squash etiquette and rules require squash players to wear shoe with soles that has no marking. This means that the shoes a squash player wears when traveling to the squash court or back from it cannot be worn to play the game.
Even if a squash club or gym does not make it a rule, squash etiquette does not allow squash players to wear their squash shoes outdoor. In essence, a squash player is expected to have a different pair of shoe when going to the court and another when playing on the court. This is not a straight cut rule in the book for squash; however, it is quite important because outdoor shoes get dirty and would inadvertently gather dirt on the squash court.
How long do they usually last?
A pair of squash shoes usually lasts between eight to ten months, so it is important to take the cue that once your squash shoes have lasted that long, then it might be time for you to get a new one. Worn out shoes makes the court surface slippery and this is very dangerous for squash players. However, there are some key signs that a change might be due, and these are more important than the age of the shoe.
What signs should I look for to change my shoes?
The major signs to look for that your shoes may in need of a change are the following:
- Slipping on court. This is not always caused by your shoes, but this is probably the key sign that your shoes are due a change. This is clearly as serious safety issue.
- Your feet start becoming sore regularly when playing – sometimes the inside of the shoes becomes so worn or misshapen that this can happen.
- Visible tears on your squash shoes. Any sort of tear on your shoe is a clear sign that a change is required
- If you notice that you do not have enough room in the toe bed. Pounding your toes into the top of your shoes can be discomforting and can make you lose a toenail eventually.
- The sole becomes ‘squishy’.
- The sole becomes visibly worn and you can’t see the rubber tram-lines of the grip
What if I’m a toe dragger?
Squash players don’t wear their shoes out at an equal rate. If you usually toe drag it is very likely that you will need to replace your shoes more often than those players who don’t drag their toes. It is advisable for toe draggers to change their shoes once your toe starts poking out the front.
Is there anything toe draggers can do?
Yes there is! Some squash shoes are designed specifically for toe-draggers. The key feature to look out for when investing in shoes if you are a toe-dragger, is for a rub-guard on the big toe. Several types of shoe have this feature.
What happens to my feet when I play squash?
Here’s a bit of science for you. The sole of a squash shoe is made to be less effective for shock absorption and more apt for floor gripping to cater adequately for the quick movements that squash requires. Therefore it is certainly not recommended to play squash in running shoes or another type of trainer, as these will have been developed with other key properties in mind. Specialist squash shoes are a must!
As you play squash, your heart sends increased blood flow to some part of your body which includes your feet. This will result in sweat formation which will result in low support, soreness, blisters growth and toe nail damage when the player wears shoes that do not fit perfectly.
How healthy your feet are will be determined by the comfort of your squash shoes. Cramp from shoes that do not properly fit properly is something to definitely avoid. Also, feet being rattled around by shoes that are too big will give you great discomfort which will deprive you of the enjoyment and happiness in the game.
Guidelines when selecting shoes
There’s bound to be swelling in your feet as you play. Therefore when you try on shoes, make sure they are not tight. Note that even shoes that are just a little bit tight in the store may become painful during a game. Squash can be very long and tiring. Playing with sore feet can cause discomfort and a lot less fun.
Common sense demands that new squash shoes should be a perfect fit. But it is useful to say squash is an intense game so a perfectly fit shoe is vital for enjoyment of the game.
How to choose a perfect squash shoe that will improve your game
Your squash shoe is the most important piece of equipment after your racket. Like all sports, it is important to buy shoes that are expertly designed for squash as they aid lateral movement. All of the lower body part is actively involved while playing squash and this is why your shoe must form a pivotal support for your ankles, hips, legs and feet.
The perfect shoe for squash must be very comfortable and light on your feet. It should not fit too tightly hence you get blisters on your feet; neither should the shoe be too loose as it could come off during gameplay. The perfect shoe for squash will allow you feel the court under your feet while playing.
Here are some important considerations that you must ensure to tick off for as you aim to get the perfect squash shoe:
- The shoe must not be too thick.
- The perfect shoe for squash must have its soles made of non-marking gum rubber which will cause the shoe to have firm grip of the playing surface and will aid the players stability and optimal weight.
- It must be a perfect fit with lateral reinforcement to ensure optimal stability.
- The shoe’s materials must be resistant, movable and adaptable to the players’ feet.
- Squash shoes must be highly absorbent because players are bound to produce a lot of sweat during gameplay.
- Before settling for any squash shoe, you must ensure to match the shoe with the shape of your feet by trying both legs of the pair before paying for it in the store.
- Remember that the regularity of changing your squash shoes depends on the number of times you play weekly. Purchasing a weak pair of shoes may make the need to change your squash shoes happen more quickly. Therefore you should ensure to stick to the recommendations above to enjoy your game of squash.
All in all, the moral of the story is squash shoes are the second most important piece of kit behind your racket. There is research that looks at the importance of equipment whilst playing squash. (Source)
As a general guide, you want to change your shoes at least once a year. However, for those that play several times each week, this figure is likely to be more like six months or even less. What is important is look out for key signs that tell you that a change is required.
Visible wear and tear, thinning soles, and starting to feel like you are slipping on court are the big things to think about. The correct squash shoes in a decent condition are crucial for general safety and well-being on the court. Keep good care of your feet, and you will be taking an important step in keeping good care of your game and overall health.