I wanted to wait awhile before I posted these thoughts. Someone began a thread to make Racquetball Great and the thread took off. Almost everyone had great ideas. Before I begin examining some of the ideas I want to explain from my point of view how the crisis in racquetball started. When Racquetball began it was price structured like Tennis. You had to pay for court time. A club would charge a nominal fee for an annual membership and then you had to purchase court time to practice or play. The club pro was an integral part of the club management team because she or he was expected to generate income from those courts. When the 80s came around and inflation hit the economy hard, the payment structure of racquetball began to change. Following the lead of health clubs, sales people were hired, quotas were set, and racquetball was included in monthly dues. When that happened, most owners cut racquetball programmers and pros out of management. Since there was a monthly stream of income, leagues and other programs were not needed. I remember distinctly when the clubs I worked in went from worrying about percentage of court utilization to hoping that usage went down. Why? So they could put in fitness equipment.
At the same time this was happening USA Racquetball proudly announced they were a tournament organization. Other Acronyms sprang up such as WOR, NMRA, MRF,IRF, and most recently the WRT. All of these organizations fed off tournament events. Now admittedly lumping these organizations together is a little misleading as some do more than others to increase participation.
I like to use this analogy. In the 80s organizations were running tournaments to increase play and in the year 2018 they still are. If aerobics had done this there would still be people doing jazzercise in the clubs. Fitness re-invented itself over and over. From step to spin to rumba to yoga to hot yoga they are still re-inventing themselves much to club owner’s delight.
Racquetball has not done its part to help the health club industry. Racquetball is a natural referral activity. Learn to play and bring a friend. Racquetball is also a natural retention activity. Racquetball players stay loyal to friends they make in the racquetball area. Also Racquetball is a fitness activity.
Club managers are not usually racquetball players but are fitness industry people. That lends itself to total ignorance of racquetball and how it can help the bottom line.
The racquetball courts are vacant 9-11am and 1-3:00pm. So are the exercise rooms.
Managers need education and someone to help them promote racquetball to help promote membership.
There is no such place that I know of. There are a plethora of sales/fitness gurus. No such thing in racquetball.
That is the problem in private clubs.
Can you imagine a customer asking the manager if they had a certified fitness instructor and the manager saying no but we have a local weight lifting person who will teach.
That is what you get in racquetball. Hey, I was certified in 1981 so I’m good to go. Worse yet, I am not certified but I play therefore I can teach.
Lack of financial incentive to build racquetball and lack of certified help to build our sport even if the ownership had the desire. That leads to loss of courts and that is a huge problem.