On this page, I’m going to report everything I know so far about squash activity trackers.
I’m going to take a wide-ranging approach to “squash tech” covering both squash-specific options and more generic (i.e. not squash-specific) fitness tracking devices.
As far as the generic options go, there are SO many different ways to track exercise these days, and I’ve only tried a couple of them. This page covers just the stuff I’ve tried so far, and what I think about it today from the perspective of a squash player. As I try anything new, I’ll add it to this page.
|FitBit Charge 5
|Motion-tracking sensor for squash
|Go to the T
|Ghosting app for squash
Generic Fitness Activity Trackers
In this section I’ll quickly recap the two generic fitness trackers that I’ve tested, Whoop and Fitbit. As you’re probably aware, there are tons of different fitness trackers on the market, from Apple Watch to Garmin devices and many more.
Many fitness-tracking devices are geared towards runners or triathletes, and have features to suit, such as built-in GPS tracking for runs. For me, these features are pretty much unnecessary, because I don’t enjoy running. I don’t mind running all over a squash court, of course. Somehow it’s different when you’re chasing a ball.
Whoop is a generic fitness- and health-tracking device. The idea is you wear it 24×7, usually on a band around your wrist, though in the newest version you can wear it in other ways like a bicep sleeve or even in your boxers. It’s not a watch and doesn’t have a screen of any kind, it just sits there collecting data from your body.
The Whoop device monitors your sleep patterns, and gives you a Recovery score based on certain factors like heart rate variability, resting heart rate, breathing rate, and more. It also tracks your workouts, giving you a Strain score based on how hard the workout was. Strain is a proprietary Whoop metric but is basically aligned with how intensely you are working from a cardiovascular standpoint.
The Whoop device then syncs everything with the Whoop app, which you can use to visualize your performace in terms of both Recovery and Strain. The app is nicely designed and acts like a coach, encouraging you to go to bed on time so that you get a good Recovery score, which in turn motivates you to get a good workout (Strain) to balance out your Recovery.
Whoop was actually started by a former Harvard squash player, but it is not a squash-specific device. It’s sport-agnostic.
I’ve been using Whoop since March of 2021 and it’s had a strongly positive impact on me. I get both more sleep AND more exercise as a result of using this. Here’s a review I did of my experience so far:
Whoop is $288 per year. For me, it’s been worth it.
If you’re interested in giving Whoop a try, you can get an extra 1 free month when buying it through the link below.
FitBit Charge 5
You’re probably familiar with FitBit. They’ve been making fitness-tracking devices for over a decade. In my mind, they helped popularize the concept of getting 10,000 steps in a day as a way of encouraging people to get exercise. They’ve gone on to produce a wide range of devices over the years.
I first tested the FitBit Charge HR way back in 2015, and then more recently purchased and tested the FitBit Charge 5.
The FitBit was my first foray into fitness-tracking wearables and I found it useful as a way to see where my exercise was coming from. At the time I wanted to understand where and how I was burning calories, and the FitBit helped me get a better handle on that.
Here’s a review I put together at the time:
After using the FitBit and trying out various ways of getting additional exercise — including trying the famous “10,000 steps per day” approach — I ultimately decided just to play squash once more per week. At the time I was playing twice a week, and after my FitBit experience I upped it to three times per week.
In the video I mention the following criticisms:
- I was tired of syncing the device constantly. Interesting: this does not bother me with the Whoop.
- The watch didn’t always show the time when I rotated my wrist to look at the FitBit. To this day, I still enjoy having a regular watch.
- Occasionally I would clip the watch with my racket when taking a backhand swing. This risk probably still exists.
Since the Charge HR came out, FitBit has released four new versions in the “Charge” line. Their most recent product is called the FitBit Charge 5, which has some improvements, in fact adding some Whoop-like features such as tracking your recoveries.
Here’s a video I did reviewing the FitBit Charge 5 and comparing it to the Whoop 4.0.
On the whole, I find that the premise of the FitBit is pretty much the same as it ever was: an affordably-priced fitness tracker that is a good introduction to fitness wearables.
Squash Specific Activity Trackers
Racketware bill themselves as the “world’s only motion tracking sensor for squash.”
This company is based in the UK and they sent me one of their devices to test out. I put together a few videos, which you can watch embedded here, and I’ll also give you a quick summary write-up below.
Note: I tested the original version of the Racketware. They’ve since come out with a newer version, which I haven’t tested yet, but they’ve made the device 41% smaller and 21% lighter, and they’ve made some updates to the app as well.
The basic idea of Racketware is you attach the device to the end of the handle of your racket, and then you link it to a companion app on your phone. The technology inside the device tracks various aspects of your squash swing and squash workouts.
The device hangs off the end of your racket like this:
You can use it to keep track of your practice sessions, to analyze your swing and compare it to some pros like Nick Matthew and Laura Massaro, and to analyze your matches.
It’s impressive the amount of things the app tries to track. There are 15 different aspects of your swing that it keeps track of in practice mode, from racket preparation to impact to follow-through.
In match-tracking mode, it will track your total number of shots and calories burned and overall stats like that. More impressively, it tries to pinpoint the areas of the court where you are strongest/weakest, by dividing the court into quadrants (front left, back left, etc.) and then reporting metrics back to you on which quadrants you are most likely to win or lose a point from.
The device knows whether you have won or lost a point by looking to see if you bounce the ball just before the point starts. Most people bounce the ball a few times before they serve, so if it detects a few ball bounces, it can work out that you’ve just won the previous point.
One drawback of this device was just having a “thing” on the end of my racket. As I think back on it now, when I was testing out this device in December 2019, I was playing in a league match and I had the Racketware device attached. I found myself down in the match, and it was a match I felt I should have been winning. In frustration, I removed the device just so I could go back to my usual racket feel. It’s not a particularly heavy item — even the original model was only 12 grams — but it’s just “there” and it was sometimes a distraction, rightly or wrongly.
I had been meaning to go back and test the device further once the league season ended, but a couple months later Covid-19 came through and put everything on hold.
Despite Covid, Racketware has continued to improve. As I mentioned, they came out with a new version of their device and app. They also inked a multi-year deal to become an Official Partner of the Professional Squash Association. So they are continuing to cement their position as a leader in the space.
Now that I’m writing this article, it’s a good reminder to go back and test this device anew. I know from looking at the stats and comments that many Squash Source readers and YouTube subscribers are still interested in learning more about this device, so stay tuned.
Racketware costs around £160 and they ship internationally.
Go to the T
Go to the T is a ghosting app.
Ghosting is a common way for squash players to get fit. You run to different parts of the court in a controlled manner. It’s a good way to build your squash fitness and also to improve your movement patterns.
You certainly don’t need an app to start ghosting. You can divide the court into sections and just run to those different sections in whatever order you want, trying to develop a smooth technique in the process. You can ramp up the intensity by having a coach or training partner call out random locations on the court, and you have to react as quickly and gracefully as possible to their commands.
If you’re looking to go further, check out Go to the T. The way it works is you lean your phone against the tin at the front of the court and the app calls out different locations on the court. You can set up a predetermined series of movements you want to work on, or you can have the app send you to random locations, so you don’t need a coach or training partner to get a high-quality ghosting session in.
What sets Go to the T apart is it actually tracks your movement. It knows where you are on the court. The benefit of this is it will wait until you have actually reached your last target before sending you to the next location, making the workout more challenging, and also more realistically squash-specific.
A Go to the T Pro Subscription with all the features described above costs €4.80 per month. Martin at Go to the T recently sent me a code for a free year of Go to the T Pro, and I plan on reviewing it more in-depth over the coming weeks. If you want to get my full review when it comes out, make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel.