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what do women want from a squash raquet?

Published: 26 Jan 2007 - 04:05 by phate344

Updated: 25 Sep 2008 - 20:28

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im writing a report on why there are not as many women squash players as there are men.
as part of this i need to survey women and find why they dont play as much or at all and what would get them to play more.  It would be great if you could answere a few questions thanks.

1) gender (M/F):

2) current squash racquet:

3)what do you like about this raquet?

4)what would make it better?

5) if female do you think squash is male dominated? (Y/N)

If yes how could this be changed?

Thanks again.

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From Augustine - 13 Aug 2007 - 07:52

1) gender (M/F): Female

2) current squash racquet: Dunlop Hotmelt Titanium

3)what do you like about this raquet? Light weight, good balance, allows me to feel the ball coming off the racquet so I have more control (according to others I hit with a lot of power so this is not an issue I worry about)

4)what would make it better? The only thing I would have liked right from the beginning was a larger grip but this was easily corrected with an overgrip. Otherwise this racquet is awesome.

5) if female do you think squash is male dominated? (Y/N) I'm used to sports being male dominated as I've played sports from the time I was 3 so I don't really notice it. I suppose there are more males playing where I play now (the YMCA) but there are a lot of women too. I live in Canada and have lived in the States and it seems like in North America there are a lot more women involved in competitive sports here, than there are in the rest of the world - why? I don't know.

I would guess that for squash, women are not used to the speed of the game both in reacting to a ball coming at them and in moving their bodies to it. Squash can be frustrating when you don't have these abilities and I think women who don't (in general seem to have as much competitive drive) are more likely to give up on the game and get into something else. This applies for adult women. Because there are fewer women in the game, often in order to get a game, women have to play against men. Men in squash can be quite competitive and elitist and it can make either asking for some direction, or for a game or just a rally way too intimidating for a woman who  is just starting out to begin with and they eventually just give up and move on to something else.

For young girls, particularly from what I see in North America, they are now growing up seeing much more opportunity for women in sports and they are seeing their sisters, female friends and older female mentors all playing sports as a regular thing in their lives. So the opportunity exists for a whole generation of young females to grow up knowing the competitiveness, having the hand eye coordination and having the mind to play the game of squash well. The only issue is that here anyway, most girls playing sports are playing soccer in the summer and hockey in the winter - so making squash attractive to younger girls is a challenge because its competing with very popular sports.

If yes how could this be changed?

A few ways this could change:

1) Coaching/instructor for lessons - I took a lesson from a great gentleman, a B men's player who was patient and didn't mind going over the basics to help me get started with the game. I've seen him coach others and he's wonderful because he has respect, passion and no ego. I happen to play at the YMCA so my lessons with this individual are free and that was helpful too. He also introduced me to a lot of players so now I know a whole bunch of people to play with, both men and women.

2) At clubs, set up some sort of list for players (women in particular since you're asking) where they can put their contact info and times/dates they might be available to play and what level they play at ie) beginner, intermediate, advanced (they can adjust from there). This establishes a network of people who can grow and learn together and people have an opportunity to always have a partner if they don't already know someone who plays

3) Run squash camps for kids. There are tons of soccer/hockey/etc camps. If you want to be competitive with other sports, offer an affordable option for parents to put their kids in.

4) Look to professional and junior women to get out more into the public spotlight, to do camps, to go into schools and talk to phys ed classes about the sport. For that matter, go into the schools and talk about squash - bring lots of videos to show the game and see if you can set up demonstrations.

5) A lot of women are really into "how many calories can I burn in the least amount of time working out because I've got a lot on the go." Squash fits that bill so promote it in anyway you can, women's magazines, newspapers, etc.

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From Daren - 01 Feb 2007 - 09:26

1) gender (M/F): M

2) current squash racquet: Head Intelligence 150

3)what do you like about this raquet? good balance, fairly light. decentish price(now theyre discontinued)

4)what would make it better? stronger, less breakable frame, maybe a touch more power/weight but still retian the same balance

 5) if feamle do you think squash is male dominated? (Y/N)

If yes how could this be changed?

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From gregzilla - 01 Feb 2007 - 07:30

I'll get my wife to fill this in when she gets back:

1) Male

2) Dunlop M-fil Ultra

3) Excellent headlight balance, very easy swinging, very "quick", good power and control

4) Too much vibration.  Not sure if it is the frame or the strings.  Vibration dampener seems to do the trick

5) I'll answer anyway :).  Yes, male dominated.  For some women I think the problem is the very competitive nature of squash. Sometimes there is far too much testosterone on the court.  Your opponent may try to mentally or physically intimidate you.  If you play with someone who is overly aggressive, then it can turn you off squash completely. 
Also women are not "supposed" to be overly aggressive/competitive.  I think my wife is more competitive than me, hates losing more than me, but has almost been brainwashed by society into thinking that this is wrong.
Squash is also less glamorous than some other sports.  By glamorous I only mean that some sports just look more appealing.  Would you rather be sweating like a pig in a dingy squash court or out in the sun on a tennis court?  Tons of female tennis players at my club, far less playing squash even though it is a much more healthy sport.

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From rippa rit - 31 Jan 2007 - 08:22   -   Updated: 01 Feb 2007 - 08:29

phate - Hope your project is going OK
Here is a link which might throw a bit more light on this topic - I know there has been research done in Australia and documented about females in sport. -  in fact there was Government Funding for a Female Squash Program, which I thought was called GRASP - especially addressisng the problems of females in sport but I just could not lay my hands on the info.

About your original questions:
I do not think the rackets have anything to do with women not playing squash. Top rackets suit both sexes. Painting a racket pink might make it more female, but will not make it a better racket for male or female.
Squash, and also sport generally, has a greater ratio of males to females participating.
Sport and exercise for the whole population is a proplem to be addressed.
Squash is not a glamour sport, with good hairdoos, high heels, strut ya stuff, and depicted in glossy magazines. 
Squash/sport is a culture/family thing too.  The old stuff, eg girls play with dolls, boys play with trucks, girls cook, boys chop the wood, girls do ballet, boys play cricket, girls wear pink, boys wear blue, girls are delicate, boys are tough - heavens and it goes on.

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From phate344 - 30 Jan 2007 - 01:07   -   Updated: 18 Aug 2007 - 01:05

From phate344 - 29 Jan 2007 - 00:06

thanks guys that info helped loads!!!!

hopefully i can get a few more replises!!

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From rippa rit - 28 Jan 2007 - 09:51   -   Updated: 28 Jan 2007 - 10:04

phate - Good questions for the sport to address.  I can answer this from my years of coaching and travelling around the clubs in the city and country areas.

Q) Females with no sport background
A) Squash is too physical for many young girls, feel faint, too sweaty, cannot hit the ball.

Q) Females with a sports background:
A) Hard to convert from their chosen sport as juniors, but often come into the sport later.

Q) Racket for Females
A) Those with money, will purchase whatever is recommended by coach/club/friend.
     Those on limited budget will use their boyfriend's, parents, demo, hire racket, and               buy from discount warehouses, until they have decided to commit to the game.                  Usually beginners are happy to use cast-offs.

Q) Country females
A) Easier to teach/play generally  as they are/were more physical due to lifestyle, eg ride     bike, walk to school, play other sports at school, and after school sports. Easier to get to the venues for juniors.  More competition from others sports, and the best organised sport usually gets the best response.

Q) Squash a Family game
A)  If the parents play the kids usually learn to play as well, as parents will spend some time with them to develop hitting ability.  The kids tend to go their own way once reaching high school, and drift into areas where their friends are playing or doing.

Q) What can be done to encourage more females?
A) Use the squash venue for other activities for juniors and adults, and mixed programs for adolesence, eg swot, volley ball, squockey,  to develop the skills needed, and gradually bring the participants into squash related social, and coaching programs.  Offer new players a range of balls and rackets to suit their ability, and experience the "enjoyment" of hitting and running.

Q) What racket would I recommend for a new female/male player?
A) Average weight, average price range if purchasing.  Try out a few demos or friend's rackets just for a hitup to see if there is a preference. Honestly, most new players would not know if the racket was right or wrong, and for females maybe the design would be the most important thing and colour of the strings! I know converted tennis players like a heavier racket because that is what they are used to swinging, and then will gradually get into the normal weight range once they have developed more skills.

Q) No of coaches in squash
A)  Coaching is male dominated, and this will reflect in the sport.

Summary - All new players need lots of encouragement to play squash and to practise, especially they love one on one, and females probably need even more fuss and bother generally. 

Vic Health has done some surveys as they too were concerned with Heart Health etc. and the lack of women in sport, and here is some results which might reflect some interesting thoughts.

PS - By the way I think Adz has the right formula!!

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From Adz - 27 Jan 2007 - 20:28

Howdy phate,

I've asked my G/F to answer the questions in the same post as mine so here goes:

1) Male
2) Grays Powerflow Elite
3) Weight, Balance, Sweetspot, Contruction quality (and I admit the colour is pretty cool!)
4) A new bumper-strip and some nice new strings and grip are the only thing that would make it better (oh and maybe having a microchip to re-align the racquet head everytime I mis-time a shot under pressure!)
5) N/A as I'm male!

The G/Fs:
1) Female
2) Grays Powerflow Ultima
3) The light weight and the "effortless power" that the racquet creates
4) Take away the "ping" and "twang" from the racquet (it might need restringing with a softer string)
5) Yes squash is male dominated, but more importantly, there isn't enough done to get any adult players to start. There are usually junior classes available, but nothing for adults. If I hadn't met Adz about two years ago then I'd have never started playing. More should be done to advertise squash as a fast paced and great fun alternative to aerobics, and more should be done to encourage adults into the game.

Hope that helps!!

Adz (& Nin)

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