April 10, 2003, Gazette
If you play squash and want to improve your performance you may have
a unique opportunity thanks to the research and creativity of Dr. Leonard
Lye, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, and engineering graduate
Chris Butt. The Footworker -S is a device designed for both novice and
advanced squash players to improve both movement (foot work) around
the squash court and fitness. But be prepared to work up a sweat; this
device is sure to challenge even the best of players.
Dr. Lye said the idea for a similar device for badminton came to him
about 20 years ago. When he started playing squash just five years ago,
the idea came back and so he proposed it as a Term 8 project for the
electrical engineering students in the fall of 1999.
“Chris accepted the project and
went to work right away programming and putting the hardware together,”
said Dr. Lye. “When we had something ready to present, we took
it over to Dr. David Behm in the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation
and asked him to take a look at it. He tried it out, made a few suggestions,
and we have been refining it ever since.”
Since they began just over three years ago, the Footworker -S has changed
from roughly constructed plywood to a real prototype, thanks to the
help of Steve Foster of Memorial University’s Technical Services.
Since then, the device has been streamlined, the electronics component
has been made a lot smaller and been given a more compact design.
“We are still making some minor modifications and are always finding
something that could be slightly tweaked. Having people try it helps
us to make it even better,” adds Chris.
The Footworker-S is designed to help
the player perform ghosting routines more effectively. For those who
do not know, the purpose of ghosting routines is to encourage good movement
with correct footwork in any corner of the court from the T and back
to the T. The Footworker-S is placed at the front of the court. Ten
lights are positioned on the device to reflect the typical positions
from where a squash ball is hit. When a particular light is illuminated
the player moves to that position on the court and “hits”
an imaginary ball. What follows is a properly timed, according to your
chosen level, pseudo-random pattern of flashing lights designed to simulate
According to Dr. Lye, there is no other device out there similar to
this. Consequently, endorsements have been rolling in from those who
have tried it and can attest to its effectiveness.
“The Footworker is a great new tool for coaches and a fun way
for players to improve their game,” said Kathy Lundmark, level
IV coach and former Canadian and World Masters Champion.
Dr. Lye and Mr. Butt have since formed their own company, Com-Adv Devices
Inc. and are now working to market their product to the squash community.
“This device makes you work very hard. It challenges your footwork
technique and improves your overall fitness level,” points out
Dr. Lye. “We know we have a winning product. Now we just need
to show everyone what it can do for them!”
For more information, please visit their Web site at www.footworker.ca.