There is no denying that the world has thoroughly transformed after the Covid 19 pandemic. Every detail of our lives became affected in some way since we grew exponentially conscious about germs, bacteria, and viruses.
Our wonderful game of squash too has undergone some changes after the Covid 19 pandemic at the both the recreational and competitive levels. Its these changes that have allowed the courts to re-open after lockdown, and allowed the PSA to continue the World Tour. Since we love our squash and loathe life without it, we are more than happy to follow the rules. A small price to pay for our most important reason of existence.
This change has the intention to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. As we play in anaerobic conditions, the chances of viruses lingering in our courts is higher than in outdoor sports. Hence, the PSA has developed smart SOPs for playing squash while minimizing the risk of Covid-19 spreading. The best part is, that you don’t even have to wear a mask.
The good change to squash after Covid: No wiping hands on walls
Traditionally it has been characteristic of players to wipe the sweat off our hands using the court walls. Despite every club having “DO NOT WIPE HANDS ON THE GLASS” signs in their courts, we did it anyways. This hand wiping on walls not only made our hands less slippery and allowed us to grip the racquet better, but also helped us calm our nerves after an intense rally.
We have done this for decades without being bothered about how many players have wiped their sweaty hands in the same areas where we are wiping. Nor do we really know how often and thoroughly our courts have been cleaned.
Ever since “surface contact viral transmission” became a buzz word, we now find this habit of ours pretty unhygienic. As a result, the first major change to our sport is the elimination of hand wiping on the walls.
But we still need to dry our sweaty hands somehow.
If you watch post-covid squash, then you would notice the two containers discreetly placed at the front of the court. Each container contains a towel for players to access between points. The towel can be used for wiping your hands and racquet, and other areas of your body. This is great because its more effective than wiping our hands on a wall, and reduces the amount of sweat falling on the floor.
However, players are discouraged from using the towel too frequently as this disrupts the game’s momentum. Refs have called out Players for taking lengthy breaks with the towel in an attempt to catch their breath after a hard rally.
Although sparking some controversy between players and referees, we can agree that this change has made the courts cleaner and more hygienic as compared to before Covid. Squash World No. 1s Ali Farag and Mohammed El Shorbagy have expressed their preference for the new towel facility, while acknowledging the controversy surrounding it. Controversy, as Ali argued, is good for the sport. It makes things interesting and produces material for discussion. You can watch the entire conversation surrounding this topic here.
As I return to court, I now prefer playing at a club where the walls are not smeared with people’s sweat. I will have to resist my temptation to touch the walls, which may take time. But I would be happy to develop this habit for the sake of playing.
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