Why do you need special footwear to play squash? You play it indoors, on a wooden floor, so surely there must be a shoe for the job amongst the dozens of different sports shoes on the market. Wouldn't a pair of multi-purpose cross-trainers do the job? Aren't those expensive running shoes with excellent ankle support, cushioning and anti-roll stabilisers ideal for a quick sprint around the court?
In short, no. Apart from the fact that all shoes used on a squash court must be non-marking, there are good reasons why anybody considering playing squash regularly should invest in a decent pair of specialist shoes.
The first and most obvious is grip. A squash game is a series of very short sprints and sharp turns in pursuit of a ball. Without grip, a player will not only lose after spending most of the match in an inelegant heap on the floor, but also could suffer serious injury (particularly to the ankles).
The next consideration is the pressure and wear to which the front of the shoe is subjected. Good balance is vital, and players really do need to be "on their toes". By allowing for this extra wear, squash shoes prevent frequent trips to the shops to replace worn-out trainers.
All the shoes reviewed here will serve you well on the court. The SDX2, from Squash Design, a company specialising in squash equipment, is comfortable and has extra firmness around the toe – and for that reason the shoes should be broken in before you plunge into a full match.
Also, as a player twists and turns, he or she needs to know that the back of the foot and ankle are well supported. Despite possessing the lightness necessary for a game of quick movement, squash shoes are surprisingly strong around the heel and lower ankle, and flat in the sole. This last feature is important, as it provides a stable platform for the foot and reduces the risk of the foot rolling over and turning the ankle. Both the Prince NFS (which stands for "natural foot shape") and the Hi-Tec Adrenalin Ultra are well cushioned. The NFS has firm support at the back of the shoe, and similarly the Adrenalin Ultra has plenty of cushioning in the heel and mid-sole to protect the foot, as well as an ergonomically contoured footbed for a snug feel.
And if all that sounds a little technical, let's just say that the standard of these examples of specialised squash footwear is pretty good.
Prince NFS Indoor
Well shaped and cushioned, with firm support at the back.
For stockists: 01539 622 322 www.princesquash.com
Comfortable and secure, light but durable.
For stockists: 01294 316 270 www.wilsonsportseurope.co.uk
Squash Design SDX2
Extra-firm around toes but very comfortable.
For stockists: 00 39 0422 303204 www.squashdesign.com Price: £43
Plenty of cushioning and contoured footbed provide snug feel.
For stockists: 01702 541 771 www.hi-tecsports.com