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National Racketball Report

June 2010-October 2011
Matt Baker, ESR Racketball Lead

Recreational

Once again progress in this area has been hugely successful with over 4000 NEW users to Racketball since data collection began, with the North East and London areas showing particular improvement this year. Activities such as the Court Challenge Series in addition to 5 for £5 and Age UK programmes have yielded excellent success. The overall aim is to now increase fun and recreational activity with all regions looking at ways to increase off peak and weekend usage in particular. Recreational Racketball activity is some of the hardest to measure as much activity will be occurring away from the gaze of traditional audiences, however, it is the intention of ESR to work closely with Clubs and Leisure Centre facilities to engage a wider network of coaches and more importantly activators and key volunteers.

Club

There are now over 250 clubs and centres in the country equipped to deliver and promote the game of Racketball. These hub sites are able to offer all of the recreational activity listed above but also facilitate things such as, Open club sessions under supervision in addition to a variety of events ranging from fun team festivals through to County and Regional Championships. It is estimated through intensive research and canvassing of key individuals that the total number of people engaged in Racketball in this setting is nearly 12,000

Coach Education

This year has seen the biggest throughput of established Squash coaches choosing to up skill via the ESR Racketball coaching award since the qualification was introduced over five years ago. From Sept 2011 a new two day course will be in operation, this will offer non Squash coaches and those wishing to focus solely on Racketball a chance to do so ,whilst already qualified Squash coaches can simply attend day two. In addition to the 16 hour qualification ESR has recently developed a workshop designed to engage and refresh general leisure activators and staff, it is anticipated that this will be a two hour course aimed at teaching the very basics of the game with a heavy emphasis on organising and structuring large numbers on a limited number of courts, it is hoped this will allow many more smaller pockets of activity to occur across the country. This workshop along with the popular T club concept is currently being delivered to receptive tutors via four training days across the ESR network.

NRR10-11-1Competition

The competition structure for Racketball is truly remarkable and is a testament to all involved.

The current framework is detailed below

Club

Of the 250 clubs that have Racketball specific objectives all will run an internal league, fun festivals and a club championship.

It is hoped in 2011-12 that more clubs will enter the ESR National Clubs Competition to give a real flavour of the success of the sport. (This year the champions were Edgbaston Priory)

County

Over 50 % of counties now run a separate Racketball Championship usually occupying the allocated ESR window for senior county activity.

Once again over 50% of counties also enter the ESR Inter-County Racketball competition which is run over two separate weekends and utilising two divisions. (This year the champions were DEVON)

Regional

Each Regional Manager and their team are charged with running an annual Regional Racketball Championship.

This year the success has been exceptional with all areas organising and supervising a fun but competitive weekend. The entries totalled over 30 per event which whilst impressive many feel could still be improved. It is planned for next year that all events are run on the same weekend if possible to give a positive emphasis on the National Championships soon after.

www.UK-Racketball.com

This has been one of the major success stories in the competitive journey of Racketball across the country. Under the stewardship of founder Mark Fuller the UK Racketball series and its associated events have grown from strength to strength. The tournaments act as the circuit for players of all standards and have created a Racketball community that few could have imagined. UK Racketball is now averaging over 70 at each event with results and reports listed on the fantastic website listed above. Most importantly ESR and UK Racketball are key partners and are working closely to ensure competitive Racketball reaches “far and wide” and to all abilities .

NRR10-11-2National Doubles 2011

This year the event was held at the popular Thame Racquets Health & Fitness Club with a record entry across three categories. The club provided entertainment and promotions all weekend and offered accommodation at discounted cost.

This year the champions were:

Men’s: Christian Turner & Rob Watkins
Ladies: Bev Vatcher & Vic Jarvis
Mixed: Julie Lawton & Jim Lord

NRR10-11-3National Championship 2011

This year the event boasted without question the most competitive and quality based open men’s tournament on record with no fewer than ten PSA professional Squash players in attendance. The Edgbaston Priory club and Birmingham University hosted the showpiece which attracted 180 players from all over the country.

This year the champions were

Ladies: Laura Hill
Men’s: Tim Vail

Whilst the event was a heralded success a number of improvements are planned for 2012 via discussions with the focus group

Equipment

A consistent and standardised stance has now been taken on the correct ball to be used across all levels of activity All manufacturers have been offered the opportunity to have their Racketball balls tested against the correct BSI standard, so far four companies have done this, one of which is our development partner Dunlop.

The recommendation to County leagues has been for the local governing body or County Association to decide on the correct and appropriate ball for their structure depending on court temperature etc....however, in most cases the default ball has been the Dunlop or Price BLUE ball. Racket sizes remain consistent and Racket ball specific string is becoming popular.

Summary

In essence the sport of Racketball is rising and growing in popularity utilising the framework above, whilst this is only the beginning of the journey it is firmly believed that although Racketball has a competitive element that should never be lost, it is at the recreational level that the focus should remain by providing everyone a chance to enjoy this great game!!

Matt Baker
ESR National Racketball Lead 2011


 

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