How H//T Squash is boosting women's participation in Scotland

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How H//T Squash is boosting women's participation in Scotland

Scottish Squash is raising women's participation in clubs across Scotland through a female-led beginners' squash and fitness programme called H//T Squash.

H//T Squash introduces women to the basics of squash and combines it with the popular fitness phenomenon HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). It is delivered in six one-hour sessions led by specially trained female 'H//T Squash Activators'.

The programme, which was piloted in three clubs in early 2020, has now expanded to 11 clubs across Scotland. Last year alone, over 100 women were introduced to squash through the scheme, which is run in partnership with Scottish Women in Sport.

The ethos of the project is that sessions are fun, friendly and safe for all participants. Each session is broken down into 45 minutes of squash and 15 minutes of a HIIT workout. This ensures every participant gets good physical exercise while learning the basics of the game.

Sessions include learning all the rules, shots and coordination-based drills and finish in week six with a matchplay session.

"H//T Squash is delivered by females for females," said Kirsty Lobban, Club Development Manager (Women & Girls) at Scottish Squash. "The aim is to give women the confidence to join the normal club environment and start playing squash - which in turn supports the growth of the club."

H//T Squash classes were offered for free in 2023 and were promoted by Scottish Women in Sport and on clubs' social media accounts. Scottish Squash supports clubs by training the H//T Squash Activators and providing templates for clubs to advertise the sessions.

Kirsty added: "This is an introductory beginners' course so if you've never picked up a racket before this is the place for you. There are a lot of women out there who have never heard of squash, so this is just about picking up a racket and gaining enough basic skills across six weeks to give participants the confidence to enjoy playing squash."

The process begins by the club identifying a female leader who is keen to deliver the programme to her community. Kirsty then delivers the H//T Squash Award (a four-hour in-person session to learn about the programme, lesson plans and how it should be delivered) which costs £20. That equips the female leader to teach the course which can include up to eight women at a time. The Activators can choose to charge for the sessions or deliver them voluntarily.

The H//T Squash Activators across 11 clubs can run six-week programmes as regularly as they want to. They have became a community between themselves, sharing their experiences and working towards the same goal of boosting female participation and making their clubs more inclusive and vibrant.

One woman who joined H//T Squash at Edinburgh Sports Club last year was Chloe Hockney. She said: “I used to play racketball [Squash 57] with my boyfriend and we had tried squash, but I found racketball easier and tended to revert back to that, so the H//T session was the first time where I would say I played squash properly.

“I thought the sessions were really good, especially the basic squash skills that we learned – it was great for a beginner, and a great way to get more women into squash. I play a lot more squash now than I ever had before, and I would recommend the course to everyone.”

Edith Mackenzie was the Activator who taught Chloe at Edinburgh Sports Club. She said: “After the H//T blocks finished, we started a beginners night for the individuals that had done the course – and that’s doing really well with lots of women coming along regularly.”

This article first appeared on the Squash Facilities Network - a working group of the European Squash Federation

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