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Slipping and Sliding in Badminton Shoes


Recently, I went to play badminton with drop-in group I had never met before. I was invited by a friend who wanted me to experience for myself just how slippery the floors were in the high school gym the group called home. In fact, he was so concerned about the floors that he wanted me (as a coach) to write a letter to the school board regarding the danger to athletes forced to compete in such conditions.

“OK,” I said when invited. “I’ll come.” But I knew full well what I was going to find when I got there, so I asked my friend what his shoe size was so that I could bring some shoes to test on the slippery floors. “It won’t make a difference,” my friend warned me. “Everybody is having the same problem. It doesn’t matter what kind of shoes they wear.”

In all there were 17 players present on the night I visited. Looking around the gym about 30 minutes into the session, I saw two players in Nike running shoes and 15 in court shoes. Of the 15 wearing court shoes, two were wearing tennis shoes and five were wearing Mizuno volleyball shoes with synthetic rubber heels.

The remaining eight were wearing indoor court shoes suitable for badminton. Of these eight, five pair were models that Yonex ™ stopped selling three to five years ago, two were new budget models and one — only one pair of shoes on the 17 players present — was a new model from the recreational category.

Halfway through the two hour session, my friend stopped play so he could formally introduce me and explain that I was there to examine the floor and potentially write a letter to the school board on the group’s behalf.

The first thing I did was ask for a show of hands. “How many people are slipping and sliding?” I asked. Almost every hand in the room shot up. “OK. How many people are not having problems?” Down went 15 arms and only two went up. One was the guy in the recreational grade badminton shoes and the other was a young lady in new budget grade shoes.

Without explanation, I divided the players into two groups. I put the two players with new shoes on one side of a badminton net and everybody else on the other. Then we did a little test. I asked the large group to show me how slippery the floor was. They obliged and made it clear that they were unable to maintain traction over most of the floor on their side of the court.

Then I asked the two players on the other side of the net to slip and slide around the floor on their side of the court. Of course, they could not. “No fair,” said one of the slip-n-sliders, “That side of the room has more traction because this side of the room has the doors and benches.” OK. Fair enough. I told the groups to change sides and we repeated the experiment. The young lady with the budget shoes was able to slide a little, but the guy with the recreational grade shoes had full traction of this side just as he had on the other.

To complete my demonstration, I asked my friend (one of the slip-n-sliders) and the guy with traction to remove their shoes. I then got down on my knees with one of their shoes in each hand. Pushing down and forward, I showed them how the worn out shoe in my left hand was able to slide across the surface while the shoe in my right hand refused to slide at all. I then invited the players to try it themselves and several did.

While they were doing that, I went to my bag and took out a new pair of recreational grade badminton shoes and asked my friend to put them on. Once they were correctly tied to his feet, I asked him to demonstrate once again how bad to floor was in the gymnasium. Of course, he could not, because there was nothing wrong with the floor in the first place.

The most important feature of athletic shoes is traction. It’s not style. It’s not colour. It’s not price. It’s traction first. Fit second — and everything else is last. If you do not have proper traction, you will not play well, you will not be safe and you will expose yourself to injury.

Buy good shoes with maximum traction and take care of them. Budget shoes are suitable for players who expect to outgrow them before they wear out. They are also suitable for players who will only need them for one session. Be aware, though, that budget shoes are a false economy. While they may cost 20-30% less than recreational grade shoes, they last half as long or less. So if you are a semi-frequent player, you will be buying budget shoes twice as often as recreational grade shoes because the traction they give you will be short-lived at best.

If you take care of recreational or competitive grade badminton shoes, you may get two full seasons out of them. But beware. Even the best organic rubber dries out over time. So you will have to replace your badminton shoes regularly, even if you don’t wear them, even if you take perfect care of them. Traction should be your guide. Once it’s gone, your shoes are done. Regardless of how much you paid for them, regardless of how much you like them, once the traction is gone, it’s time to replace them.

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Why Aren’t New Facilities Opening?

Every racquet sports club in the world can be arranged on a business spectrum. On the right side of the spectrum are clubs that are businesslike. The more businesslike the club, the further right on the spectrum they fall. On the left side of the spectrum are, for lack of a better word, unbusinesslike clubs. The more unbusinesslike they are the further to the left on the spectrum they fall.

Clubs on the right side of spectrum are business-like in their approach. Their facility is managed so as to turn a profit and generate a return for the club’s owners. Clubs on the left side of the spectrum are just the opposite. Their approach is not businesslike in the least. On the far left side of the spectrum, generating a return on investment for the owners is not even a consideration.

Most clubs fall somewhere in the middle. The vast majority of non-profit clubs skew heavily to the left side of the spectrum as do the most of the privately owned clubs. Only a tiny sliver of privately owned clubs, in my experience, actually fall on the right side of the spectrum and almost none are found on the far right.

Non-profit clubs generally don’t have to turn a profit. In most cases, they are part of a larger non-profit facility that can go to one level of government or another for more money when they need it. If you examine their income statements, you will see that without government subsidies they operate at a loss every year. If you look at their personnel files, you will see that nobody is accountable for these losses and nobody ever loses their job when income fails to exceed expenses. As long as the members are happy, managers in these facilities tend to keep their jobs.

One would expect for-profit clubs to be the opposite. Since they are businesses, one would expect that losing money would lead to immediate consequences for management. However, this is not always the case. Many racquet sports clubs are divisions within larger businesses and are not expected to be profitable. Some health clubs with squash courts in downtown Calgary, for example, are provided as a service to tenants. These clubs are not expected to turn a profit. Their job is to stay open and minimize losses in order to support higher rents in the office towers above.

If you look at the income statements for these clubs, you will see something very similar to the income statements of the non-profit clubs. They lose money every year but they continue to operate because somebody — in this case the landlord — makes up the shortfall. And again, as with non-profit clubs, nobody loses their job when a loss is incurred because the people in control do not expect the facility to turn a profit. While these clubs are generally considered to be for-profit clubs, they really fall into an in between category I call not-for-profit and they tend to fall in the middle of the spectrum.

Pure for-profit business models in racquet sports are exceedingly rare. Rarely do you find a club that is run with the specific goal of turning a profit for shareholders. Most of the clubs in this group come into being when a racquet sport is peaking, when there are more players than the non-profit and not-for-profit facilities can serve. Think of tennis in the 70s, squash in the 80s, racquetball in the 90s or pickleball right now. At their peaks, each of these sports was able to support genuine for-profit racquet sports facilities. Outside of the boom years, they were not.

Outside of these peaks, there just aren’t enough customers to support clubs that need to turn a profit. As a result, owners with money to invest tend to take their money elsewhere. And who can blame them? If you need/want to make a return on your investment, it makes no sense to compete for customers against non-profits and not-for-profits who will always be able to operate at a loss and therefore will always be able to charge lower prices or offer higher levels of service than for-profits.

From time to time, a group of players from the non-profit and/or not-for-profit world will get together and try to open a new for-profit facility. Usually, this group of men (and they are almost exclusively men) will find an investor (often a landlord) and generate a great deal of excitement as they work toward the goal of opening a new facility. More than half of the time, this group will fall short of their goal immediately after the would-be investor does his due diligence and realizes that there aren’t enough players in the non- and not-for- communities willing to pay enough to make his proposed new facility profitable.

Sometimes, though, the investor fails to understand this or fails to believe the numbers and the new facility opens anyways. In most cases, these facilities limp along for a few short years before failure. In a few, they limp along for a few more years as somebody pours money into them. But eventually, the vast majority close forever and somebody learns an expensive lesson about the business of racquet sports.

What is this lesson? It is this … When every competitor in your category falls to the left of you on the businesslike spectrum and when those business are not required to be profitable, invest your money elsewhere. No matter what you do, you will not be able to overcome their competitive advantage. Therefore you will not be able to make a profit that justifies the risk of the investment, which is precisely why more racquet sports facilities are closing than are opening.

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Yonex Arcsaber 11 Racquet Review

This racquet is right for me right now. Six months from now, who knows?
As my readers already know, I have returned to badminton recently after a break of several years. Over the first month, I experimented with an number of Yonex ™ badminton racquets before finally settling on the Nanoray GlanZ as the best frame for my game at that moment.

That decision was made a month ago. At the time, the GlanZ offered me exactly what I needed. After a long break, my timing was off and I was not hitting the shuttle directly in the center of the string bed. Since the GlanZ is a forgiving racquet with a large sweet spot, it was perfectly suited to my game at the time.

Now, a month later, my game has progressed and it is time for a new frame. So last week, I tried a variety of Yonex frames including the Arcsaber Flash Boost, the Voltric Z-Force II and the Nanoray Z-Speed.

Racquet Selector For a full list of racquets in this category, please check out our ONLINE RACQUET SELECTOR. You can sort by sport, gender, brand, size, weight, balance and more.

The Flash Boost I tried was a 5U weight, which was far too light for me. The Nanoray Z-Speed was heavier (4U), but still wasn’t heavy enough. As with the GlanZ, my clears with both of these racquets were not deep enough to push my opponents back. Instead, they were dropping five to six feet inside the court, which was setting up too many successful smashes for my opponents.

My experience with the Voltric Z-Force II was the opposite. Instead of dropping inside of the court, I was actually hitting the shuttle out the back and sides of the court. (To be fair, the Z-Force II I played with was a 3U, which is quite heavy and which may be the reason I was hitting out. I did not try the 4U or the 5U.) The head heaviness of the frame coupled with the 3U weight was just too much for my stroke. This racquet is too powerful for me right now.

Much to my surprise, the Arcsaber 11 turned out to be perfectly suited to my game at this moment. While it is a 3U like the Z-Force II I was using, it is not head heavy. In fact, it is evenly balanced. Strung at the bottom of the tension range (for maximum power), my clears with this racquet were dropping about four inches inside the baseline whenever I hit them cleanly. My drops and net shots were exactly how I like them and the racquet was much better for smashing than the lighter GlanZ.

One of the major features of the Arcsaber series is versatility. I am playing in a drop-in group where some of the players are better than me and some are not as good. So every game is a little different. Sometimes I am on the attack; sometimes I am on the defensive. The Arcsaber series is designed for exactly this scenario. While the Voltric series is designed primarily for offence and the Nanoray series is designed primarily for defence, the Arcsaber series is balanced. It is a compromise that allows for a little bit of both.

Right now, given the state of my game, the Arcsaber 11 is the perfect frame for me.

Racquet Selector For a full list of racquets in this category, please check out our ONLINE RACQUET SELECTOR. You can sort by sport, gender, brand, size, weight, balance and more.
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Dealing with Common Injuries – Bursitis

Battle Creek Ice It Shoulder SystemBursitis (bur-SY-tis) is a painful condition that affects fluid sacs that cushion the bones, tendons and muscles near joints. It occurs when these sacs become inflamed.

The most common locations for bursitis are shoulders, elbows and hips. However, it can also develop in knees, heels and at the bases of big toes. Bursitis often occurs near joints that perform frequent repetitive motions, such as the hitting/serving shoulder in racquet sports players.

Treatment typically involves resting the affected joint, icing it and protecting it from further trauma. In most cases, bursitis pain goes away within a few weeks with proper treatment, but recurrent flare-ups of bursitis are common.

For racquets sports players, especially tennis, squash, pickleball and badminton players who play frequently, bursitis is a common injury. If left untreated, it can also become a debilitating injury that keeps players off of the court for weeks at a time.

As a coach and player who is frequently on court for twenty or more hours per week, I can speak from personal experience regarding the consequences of leaving bursitis untreated. In my younger years while teaching and playing racquet sports, I estimate that I missed several hundred matches and lessons.

Since then, however, I have developed a very effective strategy for preventing the development of bursitis and for healing it quickly once it occurs. In fact, I now rarely miss matches or lessons due to bursitis.

My strategy is very simple. I keep a freezer full of ice packs and I use them every time I get home from playing or teaching. Specifically, I keep three shoulder packs and three general purpose rectangular ice packs in the freezer. I use the shoulder packs after every match regardless of whether I am feeling pain or not. The shoulder packs help me cool the shoulder joint down quickly and prevent inflammation from developing in the fluid sacs.

The other, rectangular ice packs I use only when I am feeling pain in a particular non-shoulder joint, such as my knee or the base of my foot. At the first sign of pain in these areas, I ice, ice, ice until the pain goes away — because this is the best way I have found to prevent inflammation from settling in and becoming a longterm problem.

Top 3 Tips for Dealing with Bursitis

Here are my Top Three Tips for players who want to treat or prevent bursitis:

1. Keep at least three ice packs in the freezer. The trick is to rotate each one 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off. A single ice pack is not enough because it takes six hours to freeze again after you use it. Having three allows you to ice for about 60 minutes after every match.

2. Large ice packs are better than small ice packs. I look for ice packs that are long, wide and thick — about twice as big as I think I need. The small ones melt too quickly and don’t provide penetrating cooling. This is especially important in the shoulder where the fluid sacks are deep in the joint below several layers of muscle. Small ice packs will cool the surface, but the cooling will not reach the joint.

3. Shoulder systems are extremely convenient because shoulders are difficult joints to ice. Using a harness system like the one in the image above allows me to ice my shoulder while moving around. In fact, I am wearing one now while I am typing this piece. If I wasn’t wearing it, this would be difficult to do.

Preventing Bursitis

Preventing bursitis is infinitely preferable to treating it. An hour of ice after every match is simple and effective but allowing it to develop and settle into your shoulder may result in weeks of ice, drugs and physiotherapy. My best advice is to avoid getting it in the first place.

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What’s in Your Bag?

Tecnifibre Air Endurance Rackpack
Tecnifibre Air Endurance Rackpack
Last night, my squash team (Extreme Slammers) played our last match of the regular season. We beat the other team 5-0 and, as a result, are now moving on to the playoffs. This means that I will be playing the two most important matches of my season next week.

My tradition at this time of year, is to go through my squash bag in order to A) make sure that I have everything I need for the playoffs and B) to get rid of the extra weight that I no longer need.

So since I have to do this project tonight anyway, I thought it would be a good idea to create a list of what is in my bag insofar as it might be helpful to new players who are trying to decide A) what they should have in their squash bags and B) what size bag they will need to purchase to get through their squash season.

Without a word of exaggeration, this is what I find in my bag as I empty the contents on the floor.

Racquet Compartment
– 3 squash racquets
– 1 i-Mask squash visor

Central Compartment
– 1 pair squash shoes
– 1 pair running shoes (explained below)
– 1 three ring binder (my training log)
– 1 shower kit (containing body wash, hair gel, brush and hand sanitizer)
– 1 first aid kit (they are not always around when you need them, so I carry my own)

Clothing Compartment
– 4 pairs black shorts
– 2 face towels (for sweat management)
– 1 shower towel

Accessories Compartment
– 12 new squash balls
– 5 used squash balls
– 11 head bands
– 1 wrist band

Side Compartment 1
– 1 pen

Side Compartment 1
– 7 quarters (for coin-op lockers)
– 3 loonies (for coin-op lockers)

I should mention at this point that my squash bag doubles as a gym bag, which is why I also have running shoes in there. Rather than carrying one bag for squash and another for indoor/treadmill running, I just carry everything in my squash bag. That way, if I show up for a match and my partner doesn’t, I have the right shoes to do a 5K on the treadmills upstairs.

Do I need to carry all of this stuff? Yes, I do. I often go straight from the store to the court, so I need shorts in my bag. The same is true for towels and headbands. I keep a stack of towels and headbands in my closet and fill my bag with extras as needed. Since I am usually going back to work after playing, I need to be reasonably clean.

The only thing I consider optional is the first aid kit. However, I am around squash teams a lot and we seem to have need of the kit once a month or so. Without fail, the kits at the facilities are either behind locked doors or out of the essential stuff, so I choose to carry my own.

What you will not find in my bag is a full shower kit. After a match, I will wash what I need to wash and I will usually fix my hair, but I don’t work in an office environment and I don’t wear a suit and tie, so I don’t need a full shower kit like many squash players.

Every player, of course, has their own circumstances that will determine what they need to have in their bags. What I have learned from being around squash players for the past 30 years, though, is that most new players carry bags that are too small. They think they can save $10 or even $20 by buying a smaller bag. Then once they start playing regularly they realize that they have to throw out the one they just bought because it’s not big enough. So they end up wasting $75 or $80 instead.