September 25, 2022
In the 35 years between 1987 and 2022, the worldwide number of squash venues/clubs dropped by 17% (7,812 > 6,484), and of squash courts by 62% (35,164 > 13,493).
But like any “good” statistics, the devil’s in the detail, so please do read on…
Before we get started, a big “thank you!” to Andrew Shelley of the World Squash Library for sharing the data that made this analysis possible. This is the link to his excellent Facebook page: www.facebook.com/SquashLibrary.
The data in question is a copy of the International Squash Rackets Federation’s (ISF) 1987 report on the number of Courts and Clubs, reported by its member nations, which is reproduced at the foot of this article.
We’ve compared the numbers in the 1987 report with the latest per-country squash data contained in our Squash Players App (SPA), free for Android and iOS.
The SPA contains the largest and most accurate database of squash venues and courts on the planet, largely thanks to crowdsourcing, i.e. thanks to forward-thinking squash associations, and community-minded squashies, constantly improving the data via the app on their smartphones.
Here’s a link to the latest near-live data on squash venues & courts by country: squash.players.app/reports-and-charts/#squash-venues-courts-by-country-dependency
Click here to view the detailed analysis in the form of a Google Sheet titled “Change in Squash Venues/Clubs & Courts between 1987 and 2022“.
Here are the disclaimers and caveats:
- The ISF data is of member nations only. Doubtless there would have been non-member nations in 1987 with squash courts & clubs.
- How accurate is the ISF data? How rigorous were individual member nations in painting a complete picture? Especially prior to the internet, data collection would have been more time-consuming and expensive. Were there any incentives to under or over-estimate?
- The member nations themselves may only have included their own members, i.e. fee-paying affiliated clubs.
- How accurate is the SPA data? It’s the best global squash venue & court data we have, and are ever likely to have, thanks to combination of human crowdsourcing, plus Google Map data, plus some other ‘smarts’. But an educated guess suggests that the current total of nearly 6,500 venues is probably missing about 1K-3K venues. The true total of squash venues on the planet is therefore likely to be around 8.5K.
- The ISF report counts “clubs”. The SPA counts “venues”. We’ve crudely compared the two as if they’re the same, which they’re not. Here’s an article called “The different between Squash venues and Squash clubs, and why it’s important“. For example, there’ll be plenty of venues without any squash clubs; there’ll be some venues with more than one squash club, and some squash clubs are associated with multiple venues.
- For 31% of the 6,484 squash venues in our database, we don’t yet know how many squash courts they have. Therefore the SPA count of 13,493 is a significant under-counting courts. If 4,460 venues have 13,493 courts, this means an average of 3 courts per venue. Which means that, for the 6,484 venues we do have in our database as at September 2022, the likely total of courts in those venues is 19,616. And if you increase the number of squash venues to the estimated total number of 8.5K, now we’re up to 25,500 squash courts worldwide.
To summarise our disclaimers and caveats: we don’t know by how much we were (probably) under-counting squash clubs and courts back in 1987, but we have a better idea of how much we’re definitely under-counting in 2022. Which means that the headline decline in squash clubs/venues and courts probably isn’t quite as bad as suggested.
At the Squash Player App, we believe that what you can (better) measure, you can (better) manage. To help towards this goal, get yourself a copy of the Squash Players App from the Android and iOS app stores. Find your local squash venues (it’s the first thing the app does!), and see if you can improve (add, update, delete) the data, particularly the number of courts. Better still, add a squash venue – anywhere in the world – that we don’t yet know about. We’ll plant a real tree when you do. THANK YOU.