Author Archives: Jeff Warren

A Review of the Salming 2017/2018 Indoor Court Shoe Lineup

Salming has a terrific selection of high performance indoor court shoes that are perfect for squash. Salming is very active in sponsoring Professional Squash Association (PSA) players and marketing their brand in association with the PSA itself. As such they are very visible in the squash market. Most of their models are also quite eye catching and flashy so they are hard to miss. Salming’s real strength I believe in their line is providing very light, very comfortable, high performance indoor court shoes. 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.

Salming Kobra

Salming Kobra Royal/Yellow Indoor Court ShoesThe Kobra series are Salming’s top of the line shoe in both price point and technology. They provide excellent lateral support, excellent cushioning, and are very light and breath well.

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.”

The lateral support provided by the Kobra is exceptional. I have found that the LMS+ system in combination with the ExoSkeleton that is incorporated in to the WAS Design really does keep your foot firmly planted in the shoe. This in turn helps keep you firmly planted to the court.

The cushioning system of the Kobra is designed to both provide comfort but also help with performance. Under the heel of the foot the Kobra has cushioning foam which is designed to absorb shock. As squash has a lot of lunging and longer strides most people will strike heel first. The cushioning foam system from Salming does an excellent job of absorbing that shock. In the mid to forefoot area of the shoes Salming has used a rebound foam system. The rebound foam will absorb shock of course but it also transfer energy back in to the foot to add more spring to your movement. It’s a smart design that really is there to provide comfort and aid in performance.

The Kobra are very light and breath extremely well. Salming is a real innovator in the indoor court shoe market in this aspect of the shoe. The shoes are so light and breath so well due to the use of mesh in the upper of the shoe. The mesh is what makes the shoe extremely light weight and also what allows it to breath so well. To provide the necessary stability to the shoe Salming has designed the Wrap Around System Design (WAS Design) in the Kobra. The WAS Design is the Exoskeleton system that comes up between the 2 layers of mesh from under the foot and integrates in to the loop the laces pass through. The Exoskeleton provides excellent strength to the shoe without adding very much weight. Where the Kobra is unique in the Salming line is that the Exoskeleton goes up in to the loop that the laces pass through which really allows the shoe to wrap around the foot.

To view the Salming Kobra in our online store click the “View Salming Kobra” button below.

View the Salming Kobra in our online store

Salming Viper

Salming Viper 4 Yellow/Orange Men's Indoor Court ShoesThe Salming Viper are all about performance. While they have a good cushioning system under your heel they are lower to the court than the Kobra in the mid to forefoot area. They keep you really connected to the court which really helps with movement. As with the Kobra the Viper feature a lot of mesh to keep the shoe light and to help it breath. Strength is provided by the Exoskeleton technology.

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.”

Once again lateral support in the Viper is excellent. The provide a wide base under the forefoot area and feature Salming LMS and LMS+ systems to really keep you foot planted on the court and help prevent ankle roll. Being such a low profile shoe helps with lateral support as well.

The Viper are a very comfortable shoe to wear. The cushioning under the heel is the same as in the other Salming models, a cushioning foam. The upper is quite soft as well while still providing the strength and stability needed by way of the Exoskeleton system. As they are lower to the court in the forefoot area you will feel the court more and there is less cushioning there compared to the Kobra or Race. They are designed this way intentionally. They are for the player looking for performance and not as worried about maximum cushioning.

To view the Salming Viper in our online store click the “View Salming Viper” button below.

View the Salming Viper in our online store

Salming Race X

Salming Race X Indoor Court Shoes endorsed by Ramy AshourThe 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.

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.”

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. The LMS system provides good lateral support. The Exoskeleton system keeps the foot in place in the shoe even though the upper is incredibly soft and comfortable.

To view the Salming Race X in our online store click the “View Salming Race X” button below.

View the Salming Race X in our online store

Salming Adder

Salming Adder Black/Green Men's Indoor Court ShoesLast up in the line-up this year is the Salming Adder. The Adder are Salming’s more value priced offering. While they do not feature all of Salming’s top technologies they are still a very good pair of indoor court shoes that provide excellent performance on court.

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.”

The Adder as noted by Salming are the lowest profile shoe they make. They are very low to the court which from a pure performance perspective is a real plus. While they do have Salming’s cushioning foam in the heel overall the player is lower to the court and there is less cushioning provided. The upper is a little more firm than the Kobra, Viper or Race. For the player that likes a very low to the court shoe and likes a shoe that is a little firmer than the other Salming models the Adder is good shoe to take a look at.

To view the Salming Adder in our online store click the “View Salming Adder” button below.

View the Salming Adder Indoor Court shoes in our online store

 

 

So that is the new lineup for the 2017/2018 season. Salming has incredible indoor court shoes that are designed with squash in mind. Their different models all provide some different strengths and there should be a model in their lineup that will work for the vast majority of squash players!

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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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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.

Continue reading

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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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A review of the Salming Kobra Indoor Court Shoes

When Salming first started marketing their Kobra line I was very excited about the shoes. I made sure we ordered them right away and we were one the first stores in North America to have them.  I was excited to not only get them in the store I was also excited to get a pair for myself. The previous pair of Salming shoes I had been using were the Viper and I was interested to see how they would compare. Things that I wanted to compare were how well they perform and comfortable they are.

Salming Kobra White Indoor Court Shoes Continue reading

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Karim Abdel Gawad the 2016 PSA World Champion

Karim Abdel Gawad 2016 PSA World Champion

What a fantastic run Karim Abdel Gawad has had since the 2016/2017 season started. I have always enjoyed watching him play because he has such excellent control of the ball. The “Baby Faced Assassin” is such an appropriate nickname for Gawad. He looks so relaxed and casual but if you leave the ball loose the point is over. At the start of this year’s world championship tournament he was certainly one to watch but I don’t think he was a favourite to win. I know I was certainly expecting Mohamed Elshorbagy or Ramy Ashour to win. Gregory Gaultier and then perhaps Nick Matthew would have been my next picks. I was wrong in those picks and should have been picking Karim Abdel Gawad. Congratulations to Karim Abdel Gawad as he is the 2016 PSA World Champion! Continue reading

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