This is a review of Club Ladder within the context of The University of Nottingham Squash Program. Although some of the advantages that are discussed in this review are especially important within a university context many of them are relevant to a significant degree to all community squash clubs.
The University of Nottingham Squash Club introduced Club Ladder in January 2022 and this review is taking place after having club ladder in place for 8 weeks. Over this period 70 players have signed up to the ladder. There have been 168 scheduled matches with 126 of these being played or 75%.
On paper, just over 75% of matches being played does not look like an amazing achievement but compare that to most clubs box leagues. If just one player in a 5 player box league does not play any matches that requires all of the other matches to be played to get to this ratio. When you consider that these are students with the odd assignment, injury and plenty of social commitments 75% begins to look like a miracle.
Club Ladder feeds directly into SquashLevels. Around 50% of the players at The University of Nottingham had not played squash before coming to university, one of the key goals of the club is to spread the word of our sport and try to get new players interested in playing and enjoying it. We aim to make squash a lifelong hobby rather than something that they engage in just while at university.
We hope that through all Club Ladder matches counting directly into SquashLevels players will buy into this rating and be motivated to improve it and their squash standing not just within the club but also nationally. Our hope is that when players graduate from university they will have built up a good number of matches in SquashLevels and will have seen some good improvement. This will hopefully motivate them to continue their squash journey in whatever area of the UK they end up in by joining a local club and becoming part of a new squash community.
Why Club Ladder works well from a community perspective
We found that Club Ladder has several advantages over the traditional box league.
- It brings the community together by pairing people that might otherwise not have met with each other and does this without relying on one of them to be “the keen one” and make the first contact. Both players receive an email to say that they have been paired to play each other. The onerous is then on the top-ranked player to arrange the match or it is their position that will suffer on the ladder.
- Players decide how frequently they want to play. Keen squash players can take part in the ladder every week by selecting “2 matches every 2 weeks” if you do not have this amount of time spare for the ladder you can select “1 match every 2 weeks” and there is an option in the middle of “3 matches every 4 weeks”.
- Club Ladder takes into account when you are able to play your matches and will schedule you against players who have a similar schedule. This is great not only for maximising the number of matches that take place in the ladder but also for connecting you with players who want to play squash at the same time as you on a regular basis which will help you to find those “squash buddies” who always want to play at 12:00 on a Thursday lunchtime as that is their random best time in the week.
- If you are injured or going on holiday you can pause for two weeks and maintain your position on the ladder. This flexibility has been great for university students with assignments but will work equally well in a club environment where players need to juggle commitments of work, family and squash!
- Matches are automatically added to SquashLevels allowing players to compare themselves on a national level and work towards improving their overall squash rating and helping to keep them motivated.
Why Club Ladder works well from a coach and program manager perspective
The benefits to the community are a great benefit to the coach and manager with more matches being played but there are specific benefits as well.
- Club managers and coaches do not have to manage the leagues. Players input all results online.
- It is easy to slot in a new player and does not lead to the disappointment of someone who has fought hard to get promotion in their box only to be put in a lower league. A player might not climb as high after a good win but they will still see that they are above the player that they just defeated.
- Every two weeks Club Ladder produces a report. This contains all of the results of the previous two week round and is in a format that can be easily added to a notice board, club newsletter or email.
We have only run Club Ladder for 8 weeks but already seen the impact both in terms of players in the community getting to know each other but also in court usage and engagement right across the different standards in the club. We have noticed that some of the new players to the club and the sport are actively talking about SquashLevels, how they can improve theirs and what level they hope to achieve by the end of the year. Hopefully, this investment in trying to improve in the game is not only a fun challenge to have but also a catalyst to seek out new squash clubs wherever they end up!
It will be interesting to see how well Club Ladder takes off in the UK, its link to SquashLevels and the positive impact this can have on our national squash community.
Round 1: 40 matches – 10 not played
Round 2: 35 matches – 4 not played
Round 3: 51 matches – 13 not played
Round 4: 42 matches – 15 not played
Round 5: Easter Holiday
Total Matches: 168 matches – 42 not played – 25%
Want to find out more about Club Ladder?
Whether you just started playing squash, or you already play a ‘backhand volley dropshot’, Club Ladder is a fun and fast way to meet new squash players of your level at your club.Find out more