Myyr Squash: Finns foil falling figures by breaking down barriers to welcome new players
By LUUKAS RAATIKAINEN – Squash Mad Correspondent
Squash needs to be affordable, visible and welcoming, break down any perceived or real barriers to entry, and reach out into local communities to attract new players, according a Squash Club Development Day held in Finland.
Finnish Squash Association had a seminar and learning day directed to all clubs in Finland last weekend. During the seminar we discussed about how we can, as a community, make squash easier to approach and available to everyone.
I’m personally running MyyrSquash (check out our website) and we’ve almost tripled our headcount within the past two years. We have expanded from 37 old white males, to 90 people, including juniors, females and recreational players. This is basically all thanks to making us more easily approachable.
After having presentations about different subtopics around making squash great again, we had discussions among the participating clubs. The size of the clubs present ranged from clubs with 25 members to those 250 strong.
We all had different kind of battles to be won, but the basic things were identified by all clubs, and those are some of the things I want to share with the squash community.
Make yourself more approachable, available and break down barriers
Squash is basically in the same business as Fortnite: we are trying to grasp people’s leisure time. And people are lazy. You absolute have to make starting squash as easy as possible and chop down as many hurdles as you can along the way. Don’t make people join your club in order to try the sport.
Don’t make it hard to find information about your club’s schedules and mark all the times beginners are welcomed to try to sport out. Make information widely available, and make that info spread like wildfire.
Be active on social media (TikTok, Youtube, Instagram for kids | Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and even Pinterest for older segments) so people know you have a thriving club!
Schools are the best way to introduce kids to squash
Kids don’t know what squash is these days. Why? Because they haven’t tried if before. So we must introduce squash via school gym classes to new potential player! Kids tend to like squash given the proper equipment (the red large ball, and short kids racquet), so be also prepared to offer a flyer to all interested parties. The flyer should definitely have ALL the basic info about upcoming practices which the newcomers are welcomed.
And remember: it’s the gym teachers’ goal and highest wish to make their kids more active. Give them a call and offer an introductory class! They will most likely be even more happy than the kids! I actually made a video about this some time ago, please check it out!. This video also has been made as available as possible with multi-language subtitles!
Utilize coaches more
I’ve been running MyyrSquash and also being the head coach for several years now, and that has been really wearing me out. We hired one of the best female players in Finland last year to start taking some responsibilities off my back, and that has improved our club in several different way.
Sanna Koivumäki returned to Finland from her commitments in the US College league for the duration of the current coronavirus situation. As a result I’ve had more time to devote to marketing and running the club.
Squash is a comparatively cheap sport in Finland (in comparison to ice hockey or soccer, the two most popular sports) so you definitely have a chance to pay coaches decent pay and have them absorb some of that responsibility as well.
I think that is it. I felt like the whole community could use tips like these during these interesting times. I would love to hear what kinds of things and tools other squash communities think are essential in order to make our sport grow more and more
I am grateful to Squash Mad, as always, for providing an independent platform where squash lovers from across the world can gather to share information and ideas.
Thanks for reading and stay safe!
Meet Luukas Raatikainen
The author of this article is Luukas Raatikainen, the current showrunner of MyyrSquash. He likes to write, design and create innovative marketing “stuff”, and do marketing consulting whenever he finds time for that besides playing squash!
Luukas Raatikainen, MyyrSquash Managing Director / Coach