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Friday, August 19, 2022

Lee Witham Part 3: The challenges of encouraging younger players and retaining seniors

Lee Witham
Lee Withamhttp://www.squashmad.com
Lee Witham is Company President at ProSportCourt, using his experience as a professional squash player and coach in his new role as inventor, lighting expert and court designer to create solutions to enhance and improve multiple sports.

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‘Let’s raise the tin to 36 inches to make court games more fun for players of all ages’
By LEE WITHAM (Squash Mad Special Correspondent)

How do we keep all ages engaged in squash? Introducing youngsters to a sport is not always an easy task, because more and more kids are glued to phones and tablets. And how do change an image of squash that the game’s detractors say is too middle-aged and middle class?

When talking squash, let’s be very clear, a squash court is not always very welcoming.

White walls with red lines? I believe we can do better. However, the benefits of introducing agility at an early age is paramount.

Colourful rackets and balls are a start. Making it fun can very often mean playing fewer demanding games on a court and instead find some enjoyable alternative games played inside the court. We need kids to associate visiting a squash club with having a good time, then the challenge of taking up the sport becomes a natural development.

Once the kids become comfortable entering a court on a regular basis they can start with some basic techniques. Serving, connecting with forehands, working towards backhands, eventually volleying, and starting to rally.

The real issue is the court dimensions: 32 feet x 21 feet is quite a large space to cover for a 5–8-year-old. The solution is either to make it smaller or give more time to retrieve a ball.

A simple solution is introducing an extended, adjustable tin. The current 19-inch tin could adjust to 36 inches and effectively shorten the playable area of the court. By increasing the height of the tin, you allow for more time to cover the court.

All shots can still be played, including drops and boasts, and because the ball is hit higher it encourages volleying. Combine this with a smaller, colourful racket and lighter, slower ball and we have a rally!

Racketball, also known as Squash 57, is keeping more senior players on a squash court who enjoy a far better workout with longer rallies than they are used to in squash.

Again, I believe raising the tin on a squash court will work as an ideal solution for senior players, too.

This would mean fewer long-distance movements and no need for deep lunges, something older players struggle with (including myself!).

Watch any senior match on a cold court in-winter, with them still choosing a double yellow dot ball, and two or three-shot rallies will be the norm.

The ball never gets properly warmed up, and of course it never bounces, meaning injury-inducing lunges into the front of the court.

However, with a little innovation resulting in a higher tin, I see this as the best way to encourage play to keep the young and old in the squash community engaged and smiling.

Part 4 Tomorrow: Changing the view of competition in sports

 

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2 Comments

  1. Raising the tin is actually something that surprised me because I thought I thought of everything. This is a hugely powerful option that can be easily implemented at little cost, and the benefit is huge.

  2. Cheaper option is the game we use with all our juniors who are starting out on their Squash journey. Playing all the whole game above the service line and adapting the serve to make it easier to start a rally. It can also be used for more senior players as it gives much more time to get to each ball.

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