3 min read

How to solve the big problem in squash

Squash has a problem

There’s not much data available for squash membership, but read the (squash) news and you can see that the game is facing challenges. Members clubs are closing, leisure centre courts are being converted, and the average age of members is increasing. The game itself hasn’t worsened in this time, if anything it has improved. Squash TV produces exceptionally high quality coverage of tournements. Squash Skills provides world class coaching online for a low fee. Squash Levels produces fascinating ratings of players according to their match results. So what’s happened?

Before I played squash, I worked at a squash club. Attracting new members was hard. Keeping them and developing them was very rare. Most advanced squash players start at a young age. There isn’t a pipeline to develop adult beginners to a good club level. I think this is a gap most clubs don’t address. Here I propose how it could be addressed, why it might help, and how to measure it.

The Problem

Whilst most clubs have a junior program (to varying success), there is little support for adult members joining the club. These adults members often join but struggle to engage with the club through a variety of measures (entrance into leagues, skill, frequency at club, skill/development). The onus is left to the new joiner or their referer to teach them the basics, introduce them to other similar members, get them into the leagues etc. This is a common problem for all new joiners, and the solution could be centralised scheme provided by the club. The club is better placed to provide this, getting efficiency (teaching 5 new members only a little more than teaching 1), and aligning incentives (the club wants more, better members)

The Solution

Provide a template scheme for Clubs, similar to Squash Girls Can, to make it easy to implement a new joiners session. It should be easy for one (or a small group) of club players to run this scheme regularly in the year, requiring only: * time investment, * backing of the club * enthusiasm to grow the game

This framework would contain: * Lesson plan (Concepts to teach, suggested routines) * Advertising * Scheme structure * Ways to measure success: * # of Starters * # Completing * # Playing one year later

Summary

Declining membership in squash can be reversed. The conversion funnel of new players to life long members has many opportunities to improve. Doing so will enhance the experience for new squash players. A better experience for new players will attract more new players. Boosting memberships and engagement will support clubs for the future.