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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

The future of squash: Ed Alvarez shows how clubs must be run as a business for our game to recover

Eduardo Alvarez
Eduardo Alvarezhttps://alvarezandpartners.ca/
Eduardo Alvarez is a club owner and health club consultant based in Toronto, Canada.

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‘Hoping that gyms will be loyal to squash is wishful thinking’ 
By EDUARDO ALVAREZ – Squash Mad Columnist

I am writing from the squash ghost town of Toronto, Canada. As COVID-19 continues to keep our sport on pause, and I look at the struggles of non-profit, squash-only clubs, it might be worth taking a deep dive into the health club business.

Let’s first look at the types of facilities or clubs where squash exists in North America. Affordable squash is generally available at three types of venues:

1: Municipal recreational or leisure centers
2: Commercial independent and chain gyms
3: Non-profit, volunteer squash clubs

Other squash venues, like exclusive private clubs and academic institutions, are generally not open to the public at large.

In your local commercial gym and recreation center, squash is a side offering and not typically run as a business with a separate focus on profit and loss. It is also not a huge profit center. In recent history, squash has not had to be a proven business with return on investment (ROI). The sport’s existence has been supported by the more lucrative and universally profitable fitness offerings and sometimes tennis.

In today’s market, we have an assumption that our courts will simply continue to exist in these environments, magically paid for by a third party, and we are stunned when they are removed. As these courts disappear, in ever-increasing numbers, so too does affordable and available squash.

As a side note, there also seems to be no awareness of these closures and court removals. Squash focuses publicity on elite groups, coaching academies, tournaments and talent pathways. But court closures are always accompanied by an embarrassed silence.

It’s the big elephant in the room for nearly every squash federation. The removal of two courts in a commercial gym is a big deal when they are the only courts in the area. This is erosion; quiet and subtle.

Right now, squash courts that are affordable to those on modest incomes are disappearing much faster than the shiny, expensive, bespoke facilities being created for elite college players and small urban academies. 

Hoping that commercial gyms and recreation centers will be loyal to squash is wishful thinking. They are businesses, and will simply respond to market demand in terms of additions or changes to their offering. Squash courts can be removed as easily as dated fitness equipment.

This means that our sport has little control over our fate in these environments. We are merely a side offering that can quickly be replaced for other more popular activities. The addition of squash courts to new gyms and recreational facilities is, therefore, also out of our control.

Our sport is on the chopping block with lucrative, paid-for group training, functional personal training rooms and indoor cycling being on trend. Our beloved squash courts are perfect for these uses.

From the Squash Mad archives in 2018 as the David Lloyd fitness chain closed multiple courts across the UK

In some ways, squash has never really proven to be a successful commercial model, which can be repeated, franchised and copied. We seem to have existed in other facilities, as I say, merely as a side offering.

Our non-profit clubs are often not run as a “business” and are subject to the direction of volunteers, who may have personal agendas or lack experience in the health club space (or any kind of club management skills). Or they treat it simply as a hobby. Or these clubs may be hijacked by parents, whose priorities are to provide benefits for their own children rather than attempting to grow the game or the club.

So, where are we? North American recreation industry insiders like IHRSA and SGB are reporting significant decline in squash participation pre-Covid. This means that investors and municipalities will be reluctant to include squash courts in any new projects and will likely continue removing them.

To add insult to injury, pickleball and padel are exploding and show no signs of slowing down. For those who think this is not a threat, it might be worth thinking of it in these terms:

Casual players keep volume up to support the need for courts. If a club has 200 casual squash players, and 10% decide to switch to pickleball or padel due to injury or age, the club now has to sign up 20 new players just for the membership level to stay flat.

Pickleball will continue to scale and open facilities in every community. These players will create demand in local gyms and public tennis courts, eventually building out their own facilities.

This is already happening, with two distinct business models, one led by commercial chains and the other by community groups providing much of the labor costs for free. And don’t think that pickleball is for retirees in Florida. It has captivated young and fit racquet athletes resulting in a pro tour covered on ESPN and CBS.

Last week’s US Open Pickleball Championships in Florida attracted 2,600 players and 13,000 spectators. It was promoted as “the biggest pickleball party in the world”. In contrast, I recall the first million-dollar World Squash Championships in 2019 taking place inside an icy-cold Union Station in Chicago with daily images shared around the globe showing rows of empty seats.

At club level, all this means is that squash stakeholders need to start figuring out models that work and perhaps partnering with other sports like pickleball or fitness.

This also means learning the club business. 

On this note, the gym business seems to breed entrepreneurship, with sales staff often learning the club business and then opening their own shop. Our best and brightest in squash seem to gravitate to coaching and the coaching business, but rarely the club business.

Without this drive to open clubs from within the squash community, we will continue to be at the whim of other facilities and continue to see this quiet erosion.

With this in mind, here is a general overview of the club business:

For any club to work, there needs to be significant membership volume to justify the ever-increasing overheads like rent, utilities, wages, repairs and maintenance. This is best achieved through achieving optimal “members per square foot”. To hit these targets, clubs are in a monthly battle of losing members and making up those lost numbers.

To win this battle, clubs need to advertise aggressively and constantly, by all means possible.

Any and all outreach is good outreach. Volunteers often don’t realise just how much constant daily focus and attention must be given to this aspect of the business.

Talking to squash committees, you’ll hear the same old lame excuses trotted out like “We tried a mailshot last fall” or “We went to the local schools”. These statements imply that these outreach efforts were one-offs now and then and not part of a daily, weekly grind. Mailers and targeting schools would be part of any gym’s daily pursuit of members; just another day in the sales office.

Understand this: the club business is an advertising business.

Along with attracting people to the facility it is important to understand the needs and lifestyles of the customers. This is where squash is often off the mark. Here is an example:

The majority of people have very little time for hobbies and recreation.
Many people have health issues like weight problems or chronic joint injuries.
Most people are concerned with weight loss or weight management.
Most people are not able to take on technical or overly athletic sports. If they are, they most likely already have their sport of choice.
People are looking for casual fun and social connection.
People have budget concerns regarding their hobbies.

This is where pickleball has been right on point either by intention or by happy accident. The sport ticks all the boxes. It offers easy to learn, casual fun (not too technical), moderate exercise (resulting in fewer injuries and the happy by-product of weight loss), it is highly social with doubles and round-robin formats, and it is affordable. (The same can be said about padel).

By contrast, squash clubs often focus on competition, leagues, technical training and these buzz words: “academy” and “high-performance”. The high-intensity, physical nature of the sport has been the focus, along with a more technical mindset. New players’ gateways are afterthoughts and clumsy, if they exist at all. Little thought is put into this growth side of the business. Essentially, most clubs appear to be running a technical coaching business.

There is nothing wrong with the coaching business, but it is NOT the club business.

The Forbes article from 18 years ago is often used for marketing material. We sell intensity and brag about our sport being “brutal” and “the toughest game to play”.

Our governing bodies have also bought into a belief that a top-down approach to growth is the best course of action. “Once we are in the Olympics….” or “Once PSA is on TV”. Simply put, it’s all about technical ability and high-performance … exactly what NOT to advertise to the general public who are looking for some fun exercise.

Again, with pickleball we have seen massive growth (even during a global pandemic) with no Olympic exposure, no junior academies and no pro pickleball on mainstream TV (although those TV rights are now attracting the attention of major sports franchise owners as they see the numbers growing phenomenally month by month).

We are even seeing pickleball pioneers building courts in empty shopping malls now that so much of the retail business has moved online and stores are closing. Is anybody doing this in squash? Are any federations looking at pickleball and learning from their astonishing growth? Answers on a postcard, please.

Pickleball courts are being built in empty shopping malls in America. Is anybody doing this in squash?

But, of course, due to bottom-up recreational growth, pickleball has already signed with ESPN and appeared on CBS. Essentially, with mass recreational appeal comes viewership demand for pro pickleball. This is exactly opposite to the mindset of most of those in squash.

If we feel gutted because breakdancing beats us to the Olympics, how will we feel when pickleball or padel are voted in before squash? Pickleball has already beaten us to getting on TV in North America.

So let’s unpack what squash clubs tend to focus on within their walls. The culture of our sport has been focused on pro squash, high-performance, academies, tournaments and league play.

Just look at social media posts to get a feel for the direction of our sport. A pickleball post might be “cowboy hat day at the club” or “sweeping the snow off our courts so we can play” but a typical squash post would be: “train like a pro with our HIIT session!”

The club business versus the coaching business:

A club will hire a pro, often with a base salary and split on lessons and programs. 90/10 or 80/20 for the pro or often 100% meaning zero income for the club that provides the facility.

The pro will often do what they do best and devote the bulk of their time to technical coaching. For example, they may run two nightly group junior sessions a day and private lessons resulting in roughly 25 hours or more on court. Being on court, is the highest revenue source for the pro, especially with more lucrative group sessions. Subjectively, pros tend to like the technical and competitive side of the sport, which is why they became such great players.

Often, the club volunteers will offload the squash program to the pro with some loose or general mandates. The contracted pro will then run a junior academy, offer private lessons, manage teams, internal leagues and do some external marketing.

This is where it is important to understand the difference between “the coaching business” and “the club business”.

The coaching business focuses on a percentage of people, wanting technical training, who usually have some interest in competition. This is especially true for junior academies with eager parents hoping their child will compete and grow through mastery of the sport. This technical need is a niche within the general public and within squash itself.

On the other hand, “the club business” needs a high-volume of casual people playing the sport for fun (members per square foot). The club needs to offer these people low-commitment ways to play and an easy pathway to fun and exercise. The club also needs to offer “non-dues” add-ons that are easy and bolster “revenue per member”.

You can quickly see how the interests of the coaching business and the club business may not be aligned. This is not to suggest that the coaching business is not valuable or needed, but it is not the main focus of the club business.

Let’s look at how some rough numbers might look between a high-volume club with casual players and a club with less focus on volume.

Super Squash Club with 4 courts
Membership rate: $100.00 per month
Junior Membership rate: $50 per month
Running at near full capacity with 360 members

Scenario #1: Revenue from club with high-volume casual members
All courts being used for casual play. (360 members playing an average of once per week or less)
720 available prime time courts
360 members x $100=$36,000 per month
10% taking lessons (36 players): $50 x 36 x 4 weeks=$7200 (net 20% or $1440 to club business)
Non-dues revenue (food and beverage, pro-shop) average $20 per month x 360=$7200
Total gross revenue: $44,640 per month

Scenario #2: Revenue from a club with focus on technical coaching with no focus on external marketing
100 competitive members x $100=$10,000 per month (No external marketing to casual players)
720 available prime-time court slots (120 for lessons and clinics, and lots of empty courts)
60 junior members at $50=$3000 per month
Private lessons x 20 per week: $50 x 20 x 4 weeks=$4000 (net 20% or $800 to club business)
10 junior clinics per week: $100 x 10=$1000 x 4 weeks=$4000 (net 20% or $800 to club business)
Non-dues revenue: 160 x $20=$3200
Total gross revenue: $17,800

This example illustrates that the club business should be focused on volume and not get sidetracked by the lower percentage of people who want technical aspects of our sport.

As well, attracting a customer to do something that speaks to their personal needs should be an easier sell than something more technical that requires more time and financial commitment.

Obviously, there can be overlap and a high-volume club will end up with both types, but the point is that the club business needs volume like a person needs oxygen. Too often, clubs get distracted by the action and successes of the coaching business within the club business.

Junior academies, winning league teams and tournament results are all great but they are not the core lifeblood of the club business. A club may look successful with a noisy junior academy and busy league night, but the revenue might tell another tale.

Again, the club business needs to appeal to the widest demographic possible to attract the highest member per square foot count. Knowing the needs and habits of the average consumer, the club business needs to appeal to casual players looking for low-commitment fun and weight loss. The club business needs to offer secondary, easy, low-commitment, casual non-dues revenue streams.

The technical coaching business can certainly and should exist within the club business, but it is not the core engine of the club. It may feel like it, but it is a secondary revenue stream which can often distract from the task at hand, which is relentless marketing and appealing to volumes of casual players. Furthermore, a healthy club business will fuel the coaching business as a larger base of casual players will result in a few venturing into more technical and competitive play.

Expecting a technical coach or club pro to run the club business may not be the right solution, although it seems so on the surface. The pro is passionate about and knows the sport! But, considering 25 plus hours on court, management of parents, a technical mindset and coaching at events, it may be tough to focus on relentless external marketing to add casual players. As well, there is a mindset of a coach who is often looking for results, technical improvement and mastery.

Yes, some coaches may only care about casual players or some may do both, but the club business requires complete focus on volume and casual play. The pursuit can’t be a side aspect of the club business; it IS the business!

Are you running a coaching business or a club business? This may help thinking about your club in a new way:

Step #1 Get a handle on all numbers and monitor them weekly. Don’t be distracted by how the club feels. A busy league night does not tell you that your club is healthy in terms of revenue. It “feels” busy is not data:
How many members per court?
What percentage of members take private lessons or group clinics?
What is the net profit for these programs after coaching costs (base salary and coaching fee)?
What percentage of members play competitive squash?
Average weekly court bookings per member
Current membership count number of junior members versus adult members.
How many players canceled?
Why have they left?
How many new members?

Is your club at maximum members per square foot?
Where is the club energy focused: junior academies, tournaments, league teams?
How many courts are used for technical training versus casual play?
What gateways and programs are there for new casual players?
What relentless daily advertising is being done to attract new players? (Social media ads, cold calling, corporate and community outreach, mailers etc)
What extra activities (and potential revenue items) are available for casual players?

If clubs focus on external marketing, they should be able to grow membership. I also believe that if some pros moved from the coaching business to learning the club business, we might see some resurgence.

This is largely how so many gyms open up, with gym sales people learning the marketing and sales engine of the business and venturing out to open their own club or chain of clubs.

This could happen in squash if our pros shifted to learning the club business, as many of them are smart, passionate, engaging and high-energy people. There have been a few examples of this and there could be more.

Perhaps the time is now, to shift focus and build our club businesses.



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  1. Excellent article on real issues with so many good points…..just like Alan Thatcher’s recent article on the pro ball. The loss of courts is the largest challenge the industry faces and we’re seeing that happen. Life Time built two facilities in our area 15 years ago, both with courts that energized our local squash scene. However a recent third facility in the same area has no courts. They are very close to trends and this is extremely disturbing.

    The question of whether it’s a coaching business or a club business is valid. Unfortunately too much focus is on juniors, elite juniors and competition although I certainly understand that is where the $$$ is for pros. Facilities are very busy 3pm to 7pm which are the after school hours for junior programming but often that’s it. Many traditional tennis and racquets players have scorned pickle ball but the numbers can’t be ignored and now the clubs and pros are finally waking up and starting to embrace the opportunities with new courts, clinics, lessons, and equipment sales. Squash is a wonderful but difficult sport to learn for racquets players, and extremely difficult for non-racquets players, largely due to the pro ball. Pickle ball is booming because it is easy and has attracted former racquets players plus people who have never picked up a racquet. The answer is in front of us and unless the squash community wakes up, I’m afraid the sport will continue to decline. At some point you lose enough courts that you lose critical mass which will accelerate the decline. We need to broaden the appeal of squash by embracing alternative ways to use our courts. That doesn’t mean current squash players have to change, just that clubs and pros should work to bring in new players. We need bolder alternatives than advertising and marketing the existing sport. We need to actively embrace ball alternatives as an option. Personally I think Squash57 (UK racquetball) is the true answer to broaden the use of our courts and save squash. I’ve been drawing skilled tennis and platform tennis players to the squash court with Squash57, no way that would have been possible with traditional squash. I’ve seen people buy equipment to play with spouses who have never been on a squash court before. It’s hard work to start up something new but rather than just focus on the next clinic or tournament or ranking system, it needs to be done, and sooner rather than later. Checkout squash57usa.com

  2. Hi David, Great points. Yes, the LifeTime observation is key. These chains may easily pull off squash. IHRSA is showing a 13.9% decline in participation, pre-covid. SGB, around the same number. I believe we need to address the equipment. Squash57 is a good start, but squash can retool in its own right. The people have spoken, they want easy-to-learn and fun. Let’s give them that with easy equipment.

    To me, Squash57 evolved out of people wanting an easier version of squash. (customers sending a message to everyone in the game) Essentially, we borrowed a racquet from another sport, made British Racketball or Aussie Racketball; a new game. It is at this moment, that squash should have said, “hang on, let’s fine tune this to be more like squash, but easier to play. Our players are telling us something”. Instead, it just let it continue as another sport, without seeing market demand spelled out and retooling squash and our equipment. Now we have two sports.

    It’s like when kids started taking Schwinn-Stingray bikes and doing jumps and modifying them. The brands said, “ah, BMX!”

    I think there is a version of squash like BMX, Mountain biking that is more suitable. Anyway, thanks for your insight….

  3. I love squash. It will die fast without a huge infusion of Saudi cash around the globe or a miracle of an Olympic inclusion. Pickle ball is kicking our ass. We have 12 maybe 18 months to change course and it’s over. I started playing tennis during the pandemic. It’s so much harder than squash. Sorry. But Roger Federer is 100 times more talented than than Jansher Khan. It’s not even close. This sport needs to wake up or it will go the way of the dinosaurs.

  4. Good article and a lot of common sense in it. I am trying to find a piece of land in my area of Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland to build a not-for-profit squash complex and if I can source some land any complex I build will have other facilities in it to ensure traffic (fitness studio, gymnastics facilities perhaps etc), a bar and cafe etc and it will be open to all (annual sub or pay-per-play) and will be marketed to the local schools for day use and will look to earn additional income from hiring it out for exhibitions, shows, children’s parties. There will be a large monitors on which to watch Squash TV. A sports complex centered on squash has to be an attractive venue to lounge around, spend time it, meet friends. That’s the plan anyhow………….

  5. Hi Eduardo, a very timely article. Our tennis & Squash club has four squash courts but only 11% utilisation from over 50% of players aged over 50 and playing racketball (Squash57). No teams, No Juniors! There is little or no new blood. It is not sustainable and if it were a business we would be closing and repurposing the space.

    However, there is clearly an opportunity to promote and attract indoor “bat&ball” activities in a fresh and attractive way. 1. Get people in the door 2.create a memorably great experience 3. give people of all ages; choices for fun versus personal development and life skills not to mention the health benefits.

    I’ve just submitted a strategy paper to my general committee to this affect, with #interactiveSQUASH at the heart of being ambitious and adventurous by thinking about; the business of it and the fun of it, in the same breath.

    Lee, Sussex UK

  6. Hey Ed,
    One piece I would add is using the same adult model of casual play with Juniors. I watched this first hand at a club in SW Ontario. Went from 10 juniors to 100. It was not about technical/High Preformance, but inclusion and fun. Atmosphere is key. The model could not be accepted or understood as it flipped everything anyone knew about a club. The struggle with balance as adults thought “juniors” were getting all the courts and could not adapt to the new model. Not seeing that this was an amazing way to keep the club prospering.
    Anyway, I could go on forever at how I marvelled as it grew, but in the end fell apart as it couldn’t get the support as it was Juniors, not the adult model you speak of in the article.
    This is a strong article and I agree on many levels. Just open the model a little wider and understand juniors can drive a club as they come in groups and only a small portion want HP. Most just want a place to feel comfortable and belong, same as an adult


  7. Thanks Eduardo for your reply.

    The primary stake holders in squash are club owners/managers, pros, associations and equipment companies. Regarding equipment companies, squash is such a niche sport that I don’t think we can expect much leadership from them. Pros go where the opportunity is and in the USA, that is the juniors. It’s hard to imagine them dedicating a lot of time to build a business that might pay off in 2-3 years. Club managers/owners have a large stake in this discussion because it’s their business, but it’s a very fragmented group and squash is often just a portion of their business along with fitness. I think the driver has to be the player associations at the national and local levels.

    I view the US and UK markets similar with the exception of college squash. In the US, so much of our focus is junior squash as an opportunity to play in college and to a lesser degree national teams. Unfortunately it is fraught to build a business where the majority of your revenue is based on a sliver of your membership, those that are 10 – 18 years old. I don’t see any stats on adult play but my guess is it’s extremely limited. And that includes all those juniors that stop playing at age 22. Adult tournaments and leagues were way off prior to Covid and I doubt they will return to even those very reduced levels. I’d love to see a graph of the breakdown of players (or association members) by age. College squash is now cutting back on teams and at some point parents may decide that jetting around the country trying to collect ranking points as a way to possibly boost a college application is a mission that isn’t worth it. If we see a pull back in the juniors with no adult squash to lean on, you can say good night.

    Without college squash, the UK has faced these challenges already and one solution to boost participation has been Squash57 (UK racketball). I admit it’s a bit of a bastardization of a sport, but so was pickle ball. I’d love to hear some real stories, positive and negative, from club owners or pros in the UK or elsewhere where an effort was made to boost play from Squash57 or from alternative balls or whatever other efforts they are trying to increase court usage.

    Personally, I love Squash57. As a former A, I can still beat 95% of the squash players in my club but at 60 years old I enjoy Squash57 because it’s new and doesn’t beat up my body as much. I’m done with deep lunges to retrieve drop shots and then racing to the back corner. One thing I have found is that Squash57 also is more accommodating when playing different levels. I can have a fun game with long rallies and burn 400 calories with a C player. In squash if I do that, they tend to just shoot drop shots to try to win points which kills the rallies and the enjoyment. Plus you can play doubles!

    We need a more active effort to change the ball from the double yellow for adult and recreational players and that needs to come primarily from the associations. I don’t know if World Squash is pushing other balls or considering other ways to boost squash, but I know they are promoting Squash57 with Patrick Osborn leading the charge in a range of countries. Canada Squash has a new initiative to promote Squash57. The World Squash Squash57 motto is “lifetime sport, easy to learn, hard to stop” which is exactly what we need to increase number of players and court usage. We need all the stake holders and especially the associations, to get on the same train.

  8. Hi Dan, Yes, recreational juniors is just fine. Agreed. It is more about the idea of recreational squash and casual participation that drives numbers. This is most people; doing a recreation on a casual basis, including kids. As long as the number of players per court is high, the sport can survive at a location. The only thought is “revenue per member” might be lower with juniors depending on the split between the club and pro and if there is a lower junior membership rate.

  9. Brilliant write up Ed.
    This is what I’ve been saying for months now – squash has no business sense and it’s frustrating. We always hire ex-pros instead of business men. Obviously a combination of the two would be perfect.
    Also, I’ve been saying we do not know how to use marketing and the media properly, or even try half the time.
    You’ve nailed it with this write up Ed. Nice!

  10. Ed. Extremely thought-provoking and comprehensive presentation. I would add that it might be we should think “racquet sports” and not try to engage in fratricide by playing the game where for one sport to gain another must lose.
    Racquet sports – all of them – teach, promote and maintain hand-eye coordination and dexterity/mobility- both upper and more importantly lower body. These are capabilities everyone needs for a full and enduring life. And they support World Champions and enthusiasts who value fitness and fun alike

  11. Excellent points, Ed. I would add that we all need to think “racquet sports” and not engage in fratricide wherein we treat sports like a limited pie where one must lose for the other to win. How many times have you observed two people meet and one says “Do you play squash?” and the other responds “No, I play tennis.” We would be humored if one said “Do you eat chicken/” and the answer was “No, I eat steak.” Most people eat chicken AND steak, and perhaps most people could play tennis AND squash – or pickleball or badminton or padel or table tennis …….

    In point of fact racquet sports are developers and promoters of hand-eye coordination and physical dexterity/mobility, both of which are key elements of a happy, healthy and long life. A long life that is enjoyable and productive, and not simply a function of years passing. They are skills that once incorporated into one’s life are like breathing – they provide great benefit without stress, anxiety or even thought.

    Without any negative connotation related to the typical North American squash pro paradigm you have so accurately outlined, we need to pivot to a model where the squash – or racquet – director is a proverbial Pied Piper. Squash needs coaches for whom the goal is pleasure on the court and not a championship or a leg up on entry to an Ivy League school. Those latter events will come, but I think given the burn-out we have seen – how many 25-year-old former college players are still enjoying the game on the court? – it suggests we need to focus on how much fun playing squash can be, and what lifestyle benefits emanate from participation.

  12. Olympic illusion unfortunately. Let’s be positive : It’s still time to react. What we all know as passionates is that squash is mad ! It’s now a question to make it happen for every level of familiarity with rackets.

  13. Hi David, I think Squash 57/UK Racketball is a more playable sport for most people. We do have an issue with players over 40 (even 35) fading away from squash. This is a large demographic. As per Andy’s article, I think we also need to look at the squash ball in general. Agreed. The pro double yellow is not that playable for injured or older players. But, it is tough to admit defeat and switch to another ball. Perhaps if it was endorsed by former pros, it might be ok. This has to come from the top down. The progressive line of balls, is really a mirror of the progressive tennis line, based on mini tennis. It is a “learning” range of balls. “Progressive” not being a word that world beating former A players want to switch to. Squash needs to get sorted out, over and above Squash57. I believe that sport is a good way to solve court usage problems, but it does not solve squash’s issues.

  14. Hi Andy, I’m actually surprised that more teaching and playing pros don’t want to open clubs. Perhaps they don’t see it as a good business. And to your point regarding the ball, that is a huge problem that is not being addressed. Thanks for the comment.

  15. Hi David, Yes, I think we need to really just understand that we are selling a product with the benefits you outlined. It is really about shifting focus to recreational enjoyment of racquet sports. Our sport needs to find that again. Ed

  16. The discussion here is so valuable. I agree wholeheartedly with the need for new approaches to recruitment and retention, and with the vital distinction between the coaching business and the club business. Back when I did it, I was astonished that one could go through 3 levels of coaching certification in Canada or the US and never learn how to administer a program, prepare a business proposal, or talk to a club manager about how to improve a program’s profitability. I think that if coaches were exposed to this, a lot of them would be perfectly capable of creating more compelling cases for their sport within the context of a multi-sport facility.

    At Open Squash (formerly Manhattan Community Squash Center) we have reached capacity in our first club (5 courts, 500 members and a waitlist), and will be opening another location in the Financial District in 2023 with 8 courts, including an exhibition court.

    So, yes, we are intentionally focusing on squash as a standalone activity. Granted, there are probably more squash players per square foot within a 10-mile radius than just about anywhere else on the planet, but we have challenged ourselves to create new squash players as well. We are doing this in two ways: advertising and promoting a junior program for total/near beginners, then inviting them to bring friends while we work to get their parents involved; and, second via lots of social media to attract adult who are looking for a new sport – supported by beginner clinics, round robins, box leagues, etc.

    I hope to keep up with comments and new articles on this topic, as we have an opportunity to innovate here, and to learn from those newer sports that have taken off recently around us.

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