Which Salming Indoor Court Shoe Is Right For You?

Salming makes high performance indoor court shoes that are designed for squash …

Salming’s real strength I believe in their line is providing very light, very comfortable, high performance indoor court shoes.

Salming is extremely visible on the PSA Tour. As such most players will have seen their shoes or will know someone that plays in them. They are certainly very popular at our club. What gets tricky though is figuring out which model is for you.

This post is designed to give you our take on the strengths of each model and the technologies they use.

There are 4 series of shoes from Salming: the Kobra, the Viper, the Race and the Adder. Each model has its own strength and those strengths will help determine what the right Salming shoe is for you.

After the section on the shoes we have covered the technologies that Salming has incorporated in the shoes in the Salming Technologies section of the post. Please read that section as well as we cover Salming’s description of each technologies and also provide our take on them too.

SALMING KOBRA

Salming Kobra Royal/Yellow Indoor Court Shoes

Technologies Included in the Kobra:

Here is what Salming has to say about the Kobra:

“The Salming Kobra is a fast paced unique combination of lightweight, cushioning and stability. Together with all the unique Salming technologies, Kobra is wrapped up into one agile shoe.

A new Wrap Around System Design (WAS Design)
In order to facilitate agility and stability but still maintain the lightweight characteristics, we have designed the midsole rear end with higher side walls that wrap around the heel area. In combination with the LMS Plus 8° and the new fully integrated ExoSkeleton construction, it ensures an excellent stability and perfect fit.”

Our take:

The Salming Kobra are Salming’s top of line shoe in terms of both technology and price point. The Kobra provide excellent lateral support, cushioning that helps with comfort and performance, and are extremely light weight and breathable.

The Kobra provide exceptional lateral support and stability. It is one of the first things I noticed when I played in a pair. They are incredibly stable shoes. Before I play I do a stretch lunge exercise. As I am lunging quite far forward I find this to be a good gauge on how much stability the shoe will provide. The Kobra provide the most stable base of any model of court shoe I have played in.

The technologies that Salming has incorporated in the Kobra to achieve such good stability and lateral support are the EXOSKELETON, LMS, LMS+ and a new Wrap Around Design (WAS) system. These technologies work together to provide optimal stability to this light weight shoe.

The WAS system is an enhancement to the EXOSKELETON and is only found in the Kobra line. The EXOSKELETON on the Kobra integrates right in to the loop for the laces that keeps the foot locked in place and provides excellent strength and stability to the Kobra.

Salming uses RECOIL and RECOIL R foam to provide cushioning to the shoes. The RECOIL foam in the forefoot area not only does a great job of absorbing shock, it also transfers energy back to the player to give some additional spring to your movement.

The Kobra might look like they are a bulky/heavy shoe but they are anything but that. They are actually the lightest model from Salming. I believe that is a pretty incredible accomplishment for Salming given just how supportive they are.

The Kobra are geared towards the player looking for the latest and greatest in technology in an indoor court shoe to really take their game to the next level. They provide incredible performance and good cushioning.

View the Salming Kobra in our online store

Salming Viper

Salming Viper 4 Yellow/Orange Men's Indoor Court Shoes

Technologies Included in the Viper:

Here is what Salming has to say about the Viper:

“The Salming Viper is a fast paced agile shoe with a low profile and excellent stability characteristics. It incorporates the very best of Salming Indoor shoe technologies and then some. If you’re a fan of the Salming Race model you will find the Viper lower and with less cushioning in the fore-foot area, enabling a more close-to-the court feel plus a lighter and more breathable upper.

The construction has its origin in the Salming Running shoe product range, where it has been very well received with its three layer system where the unique Salming ExoSkeleton™ keeps the foot in the right position during lateral movements and high performance activities. Agile, fast paced with a low profile – The Viper.”

Our take:

The Viper are designed with a primary focus on performance. They offer excellent stability with Salming’s LMS and LMS+, and EXOSKELETON technologies. The LMS+ 11° provides the largest positive angle that Salming uses with their LMS+ technology. It really keeps your weight inwards and that really helps with lateral support. You are also very low to the court in the Viper which helps with lateral stability.

Salming designed the Viper to be lower to the court with performance in mind. There is much less cushioning than in the Kobra or Race models.

I like to equate it to owning a sports car. Sports cars often have very high-end, low profile tires to provide ultimate performance. If you have driven a car with very low-profile tires you know the performance they provide. You also know they do so though at a cost of comfort. You feel the road more.

In the case of the Viper you feel the court more. From a pure performance perspective, this works extremely well. When you drive down in to the court floor to propel yourself to the ball there is much less cushioning to absorb that energy. This really helps you get to and from the ball as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Being really close to the court also provides a connected to the court feel. It does so at the sacrifice of some of the comfort that you will find in the Kobra or Race. They are not as soft under the forefoot area.

The Viper are designed for the player looking for maximum performance and do not need, or require as much cushioning in their court shoe.

View the Salming Viper in our online store

SALMING RACE X

Salming Race X Indoor Court Shoes endorsed by Ramy Ashour

Technologies Included in the Race X:

Here is what Salming has to say about the Race X:

“The Race X is an updated version of the Salming race model powered with a new Exoskeleton™ design that is integrated with the lacing construction. The shoe’s upper is made from the same durable lightweight polyester fabric featured on the race providing virtually zero “break-in” time.”

Our take:

The Salming Race X are the latest in the Race series and are the shoes endorsed by Ramy Ashour. The Race X are a good performing pair of indoor court shoes but their claim to fame is comfort. They are a very soft pair of indoor court shoes and feature excellent cushioning in the heel area of the shoe and in the forefoot area.

If you play a lot and are looking to protect your feet from the wear and tear of the hard movements we squash players have to make on court then you should definitely take a look at the Race X.

The cushioning foam under the heel of the foot and the rebound foam under the forefoot provide an ultra comfortable ride. The upper of the shoe is incredibly comfortable too and Salming’s claim of requiring virtually zero break-in time is accurate. You can take them out of the box, lace them up and go play!

While designed for comfort, the Race X do also perform well on court. They are used at all levels of the sport including many top level professional squash players.

We sponsor Nick Sachvie who at time of writing this article is Canada’s top squash player and we gave him the choice of any shoe we carried and he chose the Race X.

The LMS, LMS+ 5°, and EXOSKELETON technologies provide good lateral support. The Exoskeleton system keeps the foot in place in the shoe even though the upper is incredibly soft and comfortable.

The Race X are ideal for the player that is looking for ultimate comfort in an indoor court shoe while still getting top notch performance.

View the Salming Race X in our online store

Salming Adder

Salming Adder Black/Green Men's Indoor Court Shoes

Technologies Included in the Adder:

Here is what Salming has to say about the Adder:

“The Salming Adder is greatly inspired by the success Salming Viper in many aspects. Salming Adder provides the lowest profile (height from ground surface to your foot sole) of all Salming indoor shoes. This enables a great feel for the ground and great stability characteristics. The material in the midsole is a lightweight EVA compound and in the heel impact zone there’s a C35 compound designed to reduce impact forces.”

Our take:

While the Adder are a lower price point shoe and feature less of Salming’s high-end technologies they are still a high performance indoor court shoe. They are the lowest to the court of all of the Salming shoes. Lateral support is excellent in the Adder thanks to their very low profile, EXOSKELETON and LMS+ 11° design.

The C35 cushioning foam under the heel does provides reasonable cushioning to protect against heel strike. As noted there is less cushioning in the forefoot area. The upper of the Adder is not as soft as is found in the Kobra, Viper or Race models.

The Adder are a good performing shoe and will best suit someone that was a light court shoe, and does not require a great deal of cushioning. They are an excellent pair of indoor court shoes at their price point.

View the Salming Adder Indoor Court shoes in our online store

 

 

SALMING TECHNOLOGIES

 

ROLLBAR

Salming’s description: “An increased radius on the inner side of the outer sole, facilitates rolling the foot inwards and toe push off. Reaching for that stop ball in squash or covering a shot in floorball is made easier with the RollBar™ technology.”

Our take: The key benefit of the Rollbar technology is the aid it provides in pushing off towards the ball. When you dig your foot in to the court to push forwards, Rollbar allows the foot to work inwards towards the toe to provide better push off. Additionally, the shoes are very firm in in the toe area to maximize energy transferred to the court and provide the best possible drive.

Salming T.G.S 62/75

T.G.S. 62/75

Salming’s description: “Torsion Guide System. The distance from heel to the ball of the foot (62% of the shoe) has been designed with extra stability, which ends in the so-called ”ballet” line, a 75° angle. In front of the 75° line, we have equipped the shoe with greater flexibility to stimulate the foot’s natural movements. TGS 62/75 takes all of the gait cycle criteria into consideration. At the same time, it softens the strains caused by friction during lateral movements. The shoe bends in exactly the right places, stimulating the foot’s natural lateral and forward movements.”

Our take: The back portion of the shoe is firmer and designed to improve balance and stability. The forefoot area of the shoe has been designed to allow more freedom of movement to allow your foot to move and perform naturally. The split comes at the ballet line. If you were to drive your heels up off the floor so that your weight is on your forefoot area the “ballet line” is where your foot would leave the floor. It is also where Salming has designed the shoes to flex. The front part of the shoe is more flexible. The back 62% of the shoe is firmer to provide maximum stability.

Salming Exoskeleton

EXOSKELETON

Salming’s description: “The exo skeleton design stabilizes the foot for lateral movements and reduces pressure at the MTP joints (Metatarsophalangeal joints). It is important to keep the foot stable medio-lateral, avoiding friction and side forces in the soft parts of the foot sole, especially underneath the forefoot.”

Our take: This is one of the key components of Salming’s shoes. The shoes that feature the EXOSKELETON design are largely made of mesh. The EXOSKELETON provides the necessary support to the shoe. The EXOSKELETON  is the little bands that come up from under the foot then around the foot and in to the lacing area of the shoe. They are very light but very solid and keep your foot in place inside the shoe. This is a critical component in lateral support as if you foot starts to slip outwards when planting the foot on a lateral movement your weight will start to transfer outwards and this increases the risk of injury. It also decreases performance.

Salming Ergoheel Cup

ERGO HEELCUP

Salming’s description: “To stabilize and fixate the heel, which is key to providing a great fit and comfort, we have developed a new anatomical Ergo Heel Cup that is slightly longer than the average heel cup.”

Our take: Salming’s description is clear and it is also very accurate. The Ergo Heel Cup helps keep your heel locked in place in the back of the shoe to prevent it from slipping upwards. This keeps the back of your foot from rubbing against the shoe and prevents blisters.

Salming Hexagrip

HEXAGRIP

Salming’s description: “A new very durable lightweight rubber compound – HX120 – that features Salmings HexaGrip™ pattern designed for the best possible grip on all indoor surfaces.”

Our take: Hexagrip was first introduced in the Kobra series. It is an update to the rubber that they use on the outsole of the shoe. The rubber is formed in a hexa pattern, a 6 sided pattern to provide the best possible grip to the court. HexaGrip provides incredible traction. To maximize your movement you need your court shoes to have the best grip possible and HexaGrip is exceptional. Good grip on the court is also important from an injury prevention perspective as if you slip on the lunge you risk tearing muscles. Salming XR112 with HexaGrip is their top of the line outsole material.

Salming XR110 rubber

XR110

Salming’s description: “In order to help you control all of this cornering performance, our XR110 outer sole has an extra sticky developed compound!”

Our take: XR110 rubber is the compound the outsole of the Viper, Race and Adder are made of. It provides excellent grip on the court. All of Salming shoes grip well which really aids in their performance. Good grip also reduces the risk of the foot slipping out from under you which helps lesson the chance of injury.

Salming LMS Unit

LMS

Salming description: “Lateral Movement Stabilizer – an especially designed light weight integrated dual torsion unit that supports the foot during fast and irregular lateral movements.”

Our take: Lateral stability is one of the key performance and safety components in a shoe designed for squash. There is a lot of lateral movement in squash with the need to change directions quickly. Salming’s LMS provides torsional stability to the shoe in its mid section. That helps prevent your foot from rolling outwards when planting your foot to change direction. This reduces the risk of injury (rolling your ankle) and allows you to change directions as quickly as possible.

Salming LMS+ 11

LMS+ 11°/8°/5°

Salming’s description: “Fast lateral stops expose the foot to the risk to roll over outwards, causing injuries. LMS+ (Lateral Movement Stabilizer Plus) is a unique design with a positive angle of 11° that prevents the foot from rolling over outwards.”

Our take: LMS+ compliments the LMS system to provide lateral stability in the shoe. The 11°/8°/5° angle refers to the angle from the lateral (outside) side of the foot to the medial (inside) side of the foot. There is an 11, 8 of 5 degree angle with the lateral side being higher than the medial side. That angle keeps your weight inwards and helps to prevent your foot from rolling outwards.

 Salming Recoil + Recoil R

 RECOIL™ + RECOIL R™

Salming’s description: “The material in the midsole is a newly developed compound named RECOIL™ which is a super lightweight cushioning compound that releases a higher rebound energy effect. The Recoil R™ – as in Recoil Reduction – is a cushioning compound featured in the heel impact zone designed to reduce impact forces and increase comfort when lunging.”

Our take: In the mid to forefoot area of the shoe Salming has used a RECOIL foam system. The RECOIL foam will absorb shock but it also transfers energy back in to the foot to add more spring to your movement. It’s a smart design that provides comfort and aids in performance. Under the heel RECOIL R is used to absorb shock. As squash is mostly a heel strike first movement there is a lot of impact under the heel and RECOIL R is designed to protect the foot from that.

 Salming Recoil + Recoil R

 RUNLITE

Salming’s description: “The midsole features a special High Abrasion Injection EVA – RunLite™ – designed to create a nice feel for the court. It is light and responds to the surface from the very first step.”

Our take: EVA stands for ethel vinyl acetate and is a type of foam.  The midsole refers to the section of the shoes between the upper and outsole of the shoe. It provides light weight cushioning under the foot while still providing a responsive feel.

 Salming Rebound Foam

 REBOUND FOAM

Salming’s description: “Forefoot rebound energy foam – RE35. 80% better rebound energy than a regular EVA midsole compound.”

Our take: Salming uses rebound foam under the forefoot area in some of their models. It is designed to not only absorb shock but to transfer energy back to the foot. The shock absorption improves comfort and the rebound or transfer of energy back to the foot helps performance.

Salming Cushioning Foam

 CUSHIONING FOAM

Salming’s description: “Heel cushioning foam – C35, positioned at the heel centre, gives you 70% better shock absorption than a regular EVA midsole compound..”

Our take: Salming uses cushioning foam under the heel of the shoe to provide maximum shock absorption. 70% better than a standard EVA midsole is their claim. Salming’s Cushioning Foam is extremely effective at shock absorption and really helps make the shoe ultra comfortable to play in.

 

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Help! I’m trapped in the corner and I can’t get out!

Do you struggle to gain control and keep control of the T?
Do you find yourself constantly behind your opponent?
Do you feel as though you are frequently scrambling and under pressure?

If the answer to one or more of these questions is yes, then you are likely finding yourself trapped in the back two corners and struggling to fight your way out.

As complicated as this game may seem at times, it is pretty simple to determine why you are finding yourself behind your opponent.

  • Poor Length
  • Loose Shots
  • Minimal Volleying

Poor Length

You’ve heard it a million times before. “Get the ball deep to gain control of the T”. That said, not all length is created equal. The length required to put yourself in control of the game needs to be quality length. What makes length quality length? There are several things to consider when hitting good length; two elements in particular can aide in adjusting and improving your long game: Weight & Accuracy of shot. These two elements work in tandem with one another. Are you hitting too hard, too soft? Too short or too long? Finding the right mix is magic!

Too hard/too long: You don’t want to crash the ball hard and high into the back where you are essentially “over driving” the ball. In this case your opponent can basically maintain their position on the T and wait for it to bounce off the back wall – yet again jamming you in the back of the court.

Too soft/too short: The opposite of the over drive is hitting the ball too high and too soft. This will provide your enemy with a perfect attacking opportunity, with the ball landing short of the service line and ample time make an aggressive offensive shot. Not only does this shot set your opponent up for a potential winner – it most definitely does not get you out of the corner and onto the T.

The optimal ball to hit from the back to get out of trouble is a lifted drive.
Getting the ball high on the front wall will get you the depth to move your opponent. Hitting the ball with a soft lift will provide you the time needed to get out of the back corner and establish yourself on the T. The softness of the shot should also keep the ball from sitting up for your opponent to pick off of the back wall. The goal is to get the second bounce of the ball just before it reaches the back wall.

Loose Shots

Getting the proper depth of the shot is ideal, but if the majority of the balls you are hitting are loose and coming through the middle, you are still in trouble. You are basically feeding your salivating opponent juicy fruit for them to pick off as they please. For you to move them off the coveted T, the balls not only have to have the right pace, but they also need to be tight to the wall (within 2 floor boards) on rail shots, and cross-courts should have good width (ball hitting side wall just behind the back of the service box). If you have a lob in your repertoire – use it! If you don’t, I highly suggest adding this shot into your game. It is a brilliant defensive shot that gives you time to reset and gain control – and sometimes much needed composure.

Minimal Volleying

You may be reading this and saying to yourself, “I hit good length. I keep the ball tight… Why am I still scrambling in the corners??” The most likely answer is – You are not volleying the ball! If you are in mid court and choose to move back to take a ground stroke instead of up to take a volley – you are relinquishing your T position to your opponent when they are not forcing you out. As the late great Patrick Swayze famously said “Nobody puts Baby in a corner’” so why do you keep putting yourself there? Test yourself the next time you are on court. Get high up on the T and tell yourself that no ball is going to get past you. You might be surprised at how often your tendency is to let a volleying opportunity slip away.
You need to fight to keep the T. Don’t be passive and let the ball lead you into the deep dark woods at the back of the court. Be more aggressive and take the ball early. Not only does this keep your T position. It also puts your adversary under pressure.

If you are yelling, “Help, I’m trapped in the corner and can’t get out”.
Putting these simple tactics into motion are the key to opening your cage.
Good, tight length – VOLLEY, VOLLEY, VOLLEY.

Nicole Garon
Squash Pro & Program Director
Brantford Movati Athletic

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The Benefits of a Heavier Squash Racquet

My last post was on the benefits of a light squash racquet and I thought it would be a good time to review what the benefits of a heavier squash racquet are. There are definitely players that would benefit from playing with a heavier racquet. I find that a heavier squash racquet helps with several parts of the squash game. It makes it easier to generate power, accuracy is improved and you get more feel on drops. A heavier racquet can really improve a player’s fundamental game.

HEAD Graphene XT Xenon 135 AFP Squash Racquet

The HEAD Graphene XT Xenon 135 AFP is listed at 135 grams but weighs around 155 grams fully finished. Its head heavy balance makes it play even heavier than its finished weight.

Power from a squash racquet can be generated by more racquet head speed, by having more mass behind the ball at impact or of course both. The heavier squash racquet helps with having more mass behind the ball. The extra mass of the heavier racquet allows the player to generate pace with a slower swing speed. I also find the heavier racquet promotes a longer more fluid swing. Once you get the racquet back and up and then start the forward part of the swing the weight of the racquet helps it come through to the ball. This more natural fluid motion helps the player hit through the ball on contact which helps with power. Having the racquet come through the ball to the target helps transfer maximum energy to the ball.

Many of the same concepts that help with the generation of power with a heavier racquet, also help with accuracy. The slower more fluid swing helps with being more accurate. You are generating pace without having to generate as much racquet head speed, which improves directional control. When you are hitting the ball, there is a correct spot to hit the ball in the swing path. With a lighter racquet, you are swinging faster to generate pace and you are through that spot much quicker. With the slower swing, you are in the correct spot to hit the ball for a longer time making it easier to control direction. The extra mass of the racquet provides more power, the slower swing provides more accuracy. Your mistakes will also be less drastic and closer to your intended line than if you are swinging faster.

Dropping the ball is another area of the game that I believe a heavier racquet is of benefit. Dropping is very much about feel. The reason I believe that a heavier racquet helps when dropping the ball is that you can feel the racquet in your hand more than you can with a lighter racquet. Having more sense of the racquet and the racquet head, allows you to better control the head which is imperative when playing a drop. Playing a drop is one area of the game where feel is critical. Everyone is different of course but for most people having more sense of the head of the racquet will allow them to better control the racquet and thus be able to drop better.

For a player looking to improve the fundamentals of their game a heavier racquet can be of real benefit. You get easier pace on your drives and you do so while not sacrificing accuracy. Having better length really gives you the opportunity to take the ball short by dropping. Having more feel of the racquet while taking the ball short helps you play better drops. The heavier racquet really helps improve your basic game which will make you much harder to play against.

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Battling the Broken Body Blues

Staying Focused During Injury

Well, lets face it – Injuries suck.

As an armchair athlete or a competitive, dedicated and somewhat obsessed athlete as myself – it is torturous.  All you want to do is ignore the pain and play. Hop in a time machine and avoid the injury all together, or jump forward past the ridiculously, painfully slow rehab to a full functionality you and  – PLAY. All options of which are completely unrealistic – especially ignoring the pain ; )

Many would say we are juvenile  and completely obsessed with play. But the fact of the matter is without the physical outlet, we would be completely “untamed”. If you can relate to this, and are currently suffering an injury holding you back from your sport – then perhaps my words might be of help on your track to recovery, or at least make you chuckle.

No matter what the injury is, an incident, an accident or good old fashion wear and tear – the result is the same.  You are unable to play the game you love until you rehab your limb and life back to some semblance of its former self.

I can only speak for myself, but I have a sneaking suspicion that many of you will be able to relate to my point of view.

For me, throughout the process of rehab – time has not only slowed to a drunken snails pace, but at the same time gone into warp speed. My knee seems to be making the smallest most minuscule improvements on a weekly/monthly basis (and at times feels as if it is going backward), while at the same time the Squash season is running toward me like Usain Bolt.  This juxtaposition is grossly unfair and at times makes one feel like giving up all together. Yes, I am talking about the anger and gloominess that are part and parcel of injury. This is what most of us have to battle – and this is how I am battling the “body broken blues”.

Staying Active

Ridiculous I know. If I could be active I would be playing squash. At any point I would much rather be playing squash than on cardio equipment. That said, my knee simply will not allow for certain movements – and those certain movements are all required for squash. My staying active saviour has been Spin Classes. Not only is it a phenomenal workout (which helps burn the built up energy), but it is also a brilliant cross training tool for squash. Working the legs at intervals helps build the endurance and speed required for intense squash rallies. When the knee is ready to take on squash movement – at least I won’t be too far behind in fitness.

Staying on Top of Rehab Exercises

Let’s face it, these exercises are not fun. There isn’t a point system, there isn’t an opponent to conquer. To me I have had to look at this as a personal challenge to get myself back into action and feeling as strong, stable and secure as possible – as quickly as possible. Someone tells me it will take a month – I work my butt off to make it happen in 3 weeks. Yes, I have a competitive nature and I try as much as possible to use it for good not evil ; )

I have to remind myself (quite often) that as boring and as silly as these rehab exercises may seem – they are actually accomplishing something, stick to it!

Staying Focused

Have a goal in mind. Not just getting better – but an actual deadline goal.

Personally without a set date/event on my calendar staying on top of rehab would slip in priority. It is so easy to not do it for a day, and another day slips by – but then I look at the calendar and that tournament date is looming, getting closer by the second. I have no time to dilly dally, I have to remain focussed on improving the functionality of my knee. I tell myself , “You want to play – do the work to get there”. Please note! Choosing a realistic goal is essential, otherwise disappointment will be a very hard cold slap in the face. Discuss your goals with your doctor/physio or whatever healthcare practitioner you are working with. Ensure that they know what you are aiming for. They can help keep the goal sensible as well as aid you achieving those goals.

Staying Positive

Its pretty simple really. Play is fun. Work is not (and rehab is work). Unfortunately in this situation one must be done to allow the other to happen. Progress is slow, frustrating and down right maddening at times. After all “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is very true indeed. All I want to do is get out on court and play my favourite game. I miss squash, and missing something generates the feeling of longing and sadness. There have been times where I get “testy” and “edgy” because I am not able to do what I love. In a sense I am like that child that is moody because I can’t have ice-cream before I eat my broccoli. So I simply must eat my broccoli. Therefore I have decided to take small bites so I can finally get my ice-cream. The improvements are slow and small – but they are not unimportant. If I didn’t acknowledge the little improvements I would only see what has to be done, not what has been done. I am not the most patient person in the world (far from it), but this has taught/forced me into being more aware of the big picture.

This has been my journey with the “broken body blues” and how I have been dealing with the daily task of rehab. Hopefully something in this has resonated with you or at least has provided you with a sense that you are not alone!

Mantra of the day:

“Small bites will eventually get me through the broccoli to that divine bowl of ice-cream!”

Keep on Chomping.
Nicole Garon
Squaush Pro & Program Director
Brantford Movati Athletic

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The benefits of a light squash racquet

As my last blog post noted I have recently been using the Harrow Vibe Jonathon Power Signature Edition squash racquet. I have been using lighter squash racquets now for the past year or so. So what are the benefits of a lighter racquet and why would someone choose to play with one? For me I find the benefits to be a shorter more compact swing, deception, quicker reaction time and it also compensates for slower racquet preparation. I have found all of these aspects to be of benefit to me.

Harrow Vibe Jonathon Power Signature EditionThe lighter racquet really allows you to generate a lot of racquet head speed with a much more compact swing. I find that allows me to focus on getting the racquet back and not having to get the racquet up as much. The swing is much shorter and more of a snap through the ball rather than a long fluid motion. You can generate lots of racquet head speed with the pronation or supination of the forearm. With heavier racquets it is much harder to generate enough racquet head speed in this manner. You really need to focus on getting the racquet back and up and let the weight of the racquet carry the racquet through to the ball.

The shorter more compact swing really helps with deception as well. For me I find it easier with the shorter swing to disguise whether I am driving or dropping from the same racquet preparation. As the swing is short and most of the acceleration is through the hitting zone with pronation/supination of the forearm on the drive all you need to do to drop is not accelerate the swing. With a longer more traditional swing you when you have the racquet back and up you end up having to slow the swing down to drop to really disguise the drop well which is not as easy to do.

Reaction time is improved with a lighter racquet as well. As there is less mass to move you can get the racquet back and through to the ball easier. This is very valuable for players that like to volley a lot. Being able to get the racquet back and then through to the ball faster than you can with a heavier racquet allows you the option to drive or drop on the volley on more balls than you would a heavier racquet. With a heavier racquet it will take longer to get back and then through. If you don’t have enough time to get the racquet back that limits your options on the volley to a drop or to block the ball back to length. You will not be able to hit the ball hard to length as often.

For the player with poor racquet preparation a lighter racquet can be of real benefit as well. While I certainly believe the correct cure for poor racquet preparation is to actually improve that facet of your game, if for whatever reason that is not going to happen a lighter racquet can improve your play. It improves your play for the same reason described in the paragraph above. You can get the racquet back and through to the ball in less time than you can a heavier racquet. That will give you more options and the ability to drive more balls.

I have been using the Harrow Vibe for the last few months now and have really enjoyed playing with it. I have found it allows me to have a shorter more compact swing, better deception, volley the ball more frequently and allows me to prepare my racquet better more often. All of these traits are at present helping me with my game.

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A Review of the Harrow Vibe Jonathon Power Special Edition Squash Racquet

Harrow Vibe Jonathon Power Signature EditionI recently decided to switch racquets as I wanted to try something light and with a soft feel to it. I also wanted something that was fairly forgiving to play with. As such I decided to give the Harrow Vibe a try. I had most recently been using the Harrow Spark before so the weight difference was not to significant. The Vibe is slightly heavier at 140 grams fully finished compared to the Spark’s fully finished weight of 135 grams. The balance of the Vibe is more even compared to the Spark which is head heavy so even though the Vibe is heavier on a scale, when playing it felt a bit lighter to me. The Vibe has a very soft feel to it which is exactly what I wanted to try. The Vibe’s 500 cm2 head is definitely more forgiving than the smaller head of the Spark.

Weight and Balance

I was already used to playing with a light racquet as noted so the change to the Vibe in relation to the weight was an easy one. I like the even balance to it. I have been working on a shorter, more compact swing that I can hold and then snap through to the ball with. I find this is easier to do with a lighter racquet and the Harrow Vibe was very good for this with its very light weight and even balance. A quick note on weight which I will go in to more detail on in a forth coming post. There are a few different ways that manufacturers advertise the weight of a racquet. They are unfinished, unstrung and fully finished. You can add as much as 40 grams in some cases to an unfinished weight. So the Vibe’s weight of 140 grams fully finished is very light indeed. That coupled with its even balance makes it extremely manoeuvrable.

Feel

This is the racquet that Jonathon Power actually plays with. Having previously been a Dunlop guy Harrow designed his signature model around the feel that he likes. It has a very soft, almost whippy feel to it. I noticed the change from the Spark here a great deal. The Spark, like many Harrow frames is quite stiff. This Vibe has a softer frame but also it has a less dense 14 x 18 string pattern compared to the Spark or Vapor’s 14 x 19 stringing pattern on their smaller heads. It makes a big difference. You can visibly see that the Vibe has a more open string pattern through the sweet spot of the racquet compared to the Spark or Vapor. The softer feel gives you the sense that the ball is sitting on the strings longer. That is not the only difference on contact. There is a definite flex to the racquet when you hit the ball. These were all things I was wanting to give a try. It felt odd having come from such a stiff racquet but it has really grown on me.

Forgiving

The last few racquets I have all had smaller heads that would be considered control frames. I have found when I playing well these do suit my game as I like to move the ball around the court. I have found though that when under more pressure and when I am not playing quite as well the smaller sweet spots of these heads was coming back to haunt me. The smaller head and tighter string pattern of the Spark and Vapor are not forgiving. I wanted to try something with a larger sweet spot and that would be more responsive on slightly mishit balls. The Harrow Vibe definitely helped with that. It was easier to generate pace with the Vibe due its larger sweet spot but more importantly under duress I am getting more out of the racquet, and my shots with the larger more forgiving head. Interestingly if I am playing really well with either the Spark of Vibe I am in good command of the ball. I find I am in more command of the ball with the Vibe under pressure than I am with the smaller head of the Spark. This was actually the principal reason for trying the Vibe out and it did really work out.

Overall Conclusion

I really enjoy playing with the Harrow Vibe.  I liked it enough that I have one in my bag now strung up with Tecnifibre X-One. It did take some getting use to the softer more flexible feel of the Vibe but the rewards of doing so were worth it. You do get an improved feel of the ball on the racquet and it is a forgiving racquet to hit with. A final note on the weight of the racquet. It is very light and not what I would think is ideal for the beginner. It is pretty easy to get ahead of the ball if you are anxious as you can generate so much racquet head speed, so easily. For the player that can control that and has good timing that is actually a real advantage though. If you are looking for a light, manoeuvrable, forgiving racquet with a soft feel then the Harrow Vibe is a terrific choice.

View the Harrow Vibe in our online store

 

 

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The 2017 Canadian Squash Championship

I had the opportunity to go to Mayfair Lakeshore this past Friday and Saturday to watch the 2017 Canadian Squash Championships. What an incredible 2-days of squash. Having 2 athletes we sponsor in the semi-finals made it pretty exciting for me. We sponsor Mike McCue and Samantha Cornett. Mike was facing Andrew Schnell in the semi’s and Sam was facing Danielle Letourneau.

Mike’s match with Andrew was a big challenge for Mike. He has not beaten Andrew before and Andrew was the higher seeded player. Mike was seeded in the 3/4 position and Andrew Schnell was the #1 seed and defending National Champion. To make things even harder for Mike he had just played Andrew’s brother Graeme. Mike did beat Graeme in 4 games but they were extremely tough games with a match that had gone right around the 1-hour mark. Andrew had made relatively quick work of his quarter final opponent.

The match between Mike and Andrew was an incredibly grueling affair. I am constantly amazed at the court coverage of squash players of this level. In addition, how fit they are to be able to perform at this level over such a close 5-game battle is astounding. I truly believe the average club player would have been struggling fitness wise after the length, and intensity of the first few rallies. The 1st game was extremely close with nobody taking a big league. Andrew played the better squash at the end of it though and won it 11-9. It was Mike’s turn next though as he came back to take the 2nd game in extra points, 12-10. The pattern of close games continued with Mike taking the 3rd 11-8. Andrew though in the next game seemed to find himself and built a lead. Mike seemed to have perhaps lost a bit of focus. In the mid to late part of the game though Mike really found his game again and start to really press. He nearly got the game back to level before finally losing it 11-9. The score was now 2-2 and the 5th looked like it was going to an incredibly tense game. I know I was certainly tense as I was really hoping for Mike to pull the match out. Mike came out strong in the 5th, played a great game and managed to beat Andrew 11-7 and advance to the final. What amazed me the most about Mike’s performance was how focussed and calm he kept himself even in such a tense situation. Neither the pressure of the situation, or the pressure Andrew was putting on him phased him and Mike played up to his full potential in one of the biggest matches of his career. Not an easy thing to do. Congratulations Mike on making your first final! I hope it is the first of many.

On to Sam Cornett’s match. Sam was the #2 seed. She had won the Championship in 2015 but missed last years’ tournament due to injury. Danielle was ranked in the 3/4 spot. The match was very hard fought and close but Danielle seemed to be more of control of it and Sam was having to fight to stay in it. Danielle was really attacking well with some great variations and was taking the ball in short on the boast beautifully. She was really putting Sam under some immense pressure. Danielle went up 2-1 and up in the 4th game with several match balls. Sam played incredibly tough and fought off a couple of them. The last point unfortunately ended in a very hard stroke call against Sam. I was surprised and even some of the people near me that were cheering for Danielle seemed surprised that it was given as a stroke. You can be the judge if you like. As of writing this the video can be viewed below. It is a good match and worth watching. For the point in question pick the play up at 34:30 which is the start of the last point. While I was disappointed that the match ended on that call, Danielle had played extremely well to get to match ball. I was also impressed by Sam’s poise in this situation. I can only imagine how she felt losing the match on a call I am certain she believed was wrong but she handled herself with class. Of that I am not surprised. Sam Cornett is one of the truly great ambassadors for our sport.

Stream Live

The second day I was there, Saturday was finals day and I was very excited for it. I was hoping for Mike to win his first National Championship. I was also hoping that Sam would win her 3/4 match. Sam seemed to struggle in her match against Nikki Todd. She once again showed her grit and determination though and fought back from 1 down and then again from 2-1 down to level the match up. The 5th game was a very close game as well but Sam managed to win it to finish 3rd. I would also like to congratulation Hollie Naughton who beat Danielle Letourneau in the final. Hollie won in 2016 as well so is a back to back Canadian Champion.

On to the final match to be played. The men’s final featuring Mike McCue versus Nick Sachvie. A 3/4 seed version the other 3/4 seed. The first game of Mike’s match against Nick was close in the beginning of it but Nick built a lead and closed it out well 11-7. The hard work that Mike had put in to get the final looked to have taken a toll on his legs. Nick on the other hand had won all his matches 3-0 and never really looked threatened in any of them. Nick went on to win the final 11-7, 11-5 and 11-5. A truly incredible performance by Nick Sachvie. I would like to congratulate him on winning the 2017 Canadian Squash Championship. There were a lot of people in the crowd that were very happy for Nick. While I was hoping for a McCue victory I too am very happy for Nick. He had a great season on the PSA tour and is now the 2017 Canadian Champion.

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The lob and counter drop

Like many squash players I am a member of Squashskills.com and enjoy their training videos and programs a great deal. I have really enjoyed their focus on the lob and counter drop over the past couple of weeks. Covering these two shots in back to back weeks makes a lot of sense as you are in the same court position, at the front of the court for both. You also are in a similar body position for both shots and you hit both shots with your racquet out in front of you. Peter Nicol really does a great job in this video (Squashskills.com membership required) discussing how well the lob and counter drop complement each other. He focuses on the fact the counter drop takes the opponent deep in to the front corner and the cross-court lob takes them to opposite back corner. I want to focus on how having a good counter drop makes your lob easier and more effective. The opposite is true as well, having a great lob makes your counter drop easier and more effective. Continue reading

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Time to get fit

Following up on our last post about Paul Coll today’s post is going to look at fitness. Squash is a tough game physically and being in good physical shape is imperative to performing at your top level. There are 4 key elements that I want to focus on. The 4 are endurance, core strength, flexibility and explosive power. The reason I am focusing on them now is twofold.  it is just about the new year so a lot of people will be making new years’ resolutions. I am also focusing on them now as I need to work on them myself! Watching Paul Coll’s run at the Channel VAS Championship a couple of weeks ago, really brought in to focus just how far athleticism can take you.

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Paul Coll – Superman the 2016 Channel VAS Champion

Paul Coll 2016 Channel VAS Champion

Photo credit to www.psaworldtour.com

What a great tournament Paul Coll had at the 2016 Channel VAS Championship. He put on an amazing display of athleticism and squash. Coll earned his nickname previously in large part due to his flying dives he made to get seemingly unplayable balls back. What impressed me the most with his play this tournament was how in control of his body he was. There was no need to dive. His movement to and from the ball was incredible. His tactics were also excellent. He was defensive when he needed to be and attacked when appropriate. The quality of his squash was also very impressive. Paul Coll really showed what a quality squash player he is at the Channel VAS Championship. Continue reading

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