5 Hacks To Make Your Court Shoes Fit Better (And Reduce Injuries!)
The more experienced you become at a sport, the pickier you become with your equipment. Nasty old grip? Could make the difference between winning and losing a close match. Hair in your face? Could distract you and mess up your timing when under pressure.
Most of my issues related to equipment have revolved around shoes. Since I have long, narrow feet, and skinny ankles/calves, I find it difficult to find shoes that fit my feet well. I think shoes are the most important part of your kit. If necessary, you can borrow and quickly adapt to a new racquet, but ill-fitting shoes will throw off your movement, and therefore your timing. Furthermore, poor fitting shoes can cause injuries, especially if you play often.
Over the years, I've developed several tips that I swear by to help me reduce injuries and help my shoes fit my feet better. To some it may sound silly, but it makes a world of difference to my confidence in my movement, especially when I'm forced to move fast, adjust quickly, or take big lunges into the corners (basically all of squash movement!).
My Top 5 Squash Shoe Tips
1. Find a shoe that works for your foot type (narrow or wide)
The first tip could not be more simple. Find a shoe that has a chance of moulding well to your foot. Some brands run wider than others, so likely once you find a brand and model you like, you'll want to stick with it. Tip: if you find a shoe that feels like it's made for you, buy several of them at once!
My personal favourite shoe is the Asics Gel Blade 7, with the mesh on the exterior. (Asics also makes a Gel Blade 7 which is all plastic, and it doesn't wear as well in my opinion).
The Gel Blade is quite a small, light shoe. It's so slight, that some versions even look like a track running spike. So if you are heavier, or require and prefer more padding underneath you, beware of the Gel Blade. Or, if you like the lightness of it, try it out, but be sure to implement Tip #3!
2. Try wearing 2 pairs of socks
I mainly wear 2 pairs of socks to fill out my shoes. My shoes feel too roomy and naked with only one pair. I've done this since the beginning of college, when I found my shoes would stretch out a lot and I had trouble tying them tight enough.
Wearing 2 pairs of socks can also give you more cushioning and reduce the likelihood of blisters.
3. Rotate at least 2 pairs of shoes
If you play squash more than 3x/week, I'd recommend rotating your shoes so they can have time to dry out and "come back to life". When you wear your shoes, the padding is compressed, and it needs some time to return to its pre-squished state.
Since I currently train 2x/day, I should theoretically be rotating more than 2 pairs of shoes, but I can tell that even rotating them between every use has made a difference to their longevity and the wear and tear on my body.
Bonus tip: If you coach, don't wear your training shoes for coaching. It's unnecessary "mileage" on your performance shoes! I try to use more heavily padded shoes for coaching.
4. Tie your laces more securely
To keep my skinny ankles secure in my shoe, I create a tighter "base" when tying my shoe. First, start by using all the eyelets (ie. the extra hole that isn't usually laced when your shoes are new). Then, when you cross your laces to weave one underneath the other, weave it an EXTRA time, so it holds more firmly against the front of your ankle. Along with wearing 2 pairs of socks, I have found this trick to be the biggest help in keeping my foot secure in my shoe.
5. Good insoles
I've used several different types of insoles : normal insole, custom orthotics, Dr Scholls-type insoles, and half insoles. Since I've developed some plantar fasciitis and achilles tendinopathy, I've begun using ProFoot inserts in all of my shoes, especially my squash shoes and have found them to relieve my plantar fasciitis. The best part? They're only $8 a pair, and wear quite well. I've experimented with lots of other cheap insoles, and have found them to deteriorate and lose their "bounce" quickly. Not so with the ProFoot insoles!
There you go! My top 5 tips for better fitting squash shoes. It may seem silly, but I have tried googling the answer to EVERY SINGLE one of these tips, because I was in desperate need of some solutions. If you're in the same boat, I hope even just one of these tips helps you!