Case Study: Squash Girls Can at Grove Park
Back in the summer of 2017, Grove Park Squash Club in Cheadle Hulme introduced Squash Girls Can sessions in order to boost female participation. Chris Sargent, the club's Junior Co-ordinator and Committee Member reveals how they went about attracting women and girls to the sessions and how the programme's become a real hit...
As the club approached the summer of 2017, we recognised that we had to encourage more ladies to play squash. Our club was typical of most, dominated by male members. It was proving difficult to attract ladies to the game.
The Squash Girls Can programme, led by England Squash created a great framework upon which to base our efforts. We believed it was important to create a sustainable pathway into the sport. Squash by nature is not easy to get into as the learning curve can be steep. But, once you start, it's hard to stop!
We planned to hold a Squash Girls Can afternoon with a six-week follow-up course consisting of one hour’s coaching per week. We felt it was important the coaching was fun, structured, ladies-only and to get the basics in place. The afternoon consisted of five hours free coaching to anyone who wanted to give it a go. The follow-up coaching was flexible and allowed players to either pay-per-play or pay for a block of six sessions at a discount which included a free trial membership. We felt this was important to allow potential players to experience and get full use of our facilities and build a relationship with the club.
We promoted the afternoon using social media via both Twitter and Facebook, and created specific and session-specific posts to grab attention. We also encouraged our members to ‘like’, ‘retweet’ and generally help spread the word about the sessions to their followers, friends and colleagues.
The afternoon was a great success with 12 ladies in attendance. Some had played before but the majority were new to the sport. The session was full of fun, games, basic squash coaching and generally getting to know the sport and each other.
We now have a successful Squash Girls Can programme at Grove Park with eight ladies attending on average each week. We structure each session to focus on a specific aspect of the game. We recently crowdfunded a squash ball machine which is proving invaluable to our group sessions and allows the coach to spend more time watching and focusing on technique rather than feeding. It also helps add structure to the sessions and means players get a consistent ‘feed’ which could be an issue if there are two beginners on court.
We celebrated our Squash Girls Can one-year anniversary in June 2018 and have acquired seven new female members since the programme launched. We have an active WhatsApp group for the sessions to facilitate communication, and host regular socials and private games. We are even at the stage of looking to field a second ladies team in the Cheshire Ladies!
The creation of the Squash Girls Can programme has proved a big success for the club. So much so, we have taken the same approach with other initiatives. We recently started a 'Get (back) into squash' initiative aimed at prospective players who wish to give the sport a go or who have drifted away and want to play again.
For the club, Squash Girls Can has allowed us to increase our membership, increase our club income and spread the word about what a fantastic sport squash is for fun and fitness - what else could we wish for?
"Squash Girls Can has been fantastic. Started a new, exciting sport, made lots of friends and I'm getting fitter by the day. What else could you possibly want?" - Jen, Squash Girls Can Grove Park attendee
If you've been inspired by Grove Park's story, why not start a Squash Girls Can session of your own? Access our Squash Girls Can toolkit featuring images, videos and a tweetsheet to help you get started.