Participating in a squash league is one of the best ways to stay in shape and improve your squash game. I personally have participated in both the New York City and Philadelphia leagues. There are also leagues all over the county and around the world. Talk to your local club pro to find out what leagues are available in your area.
Here are some benefits of joining a league, and other details that might be useful.
When you join a squash league, you commit to playing on a regular basis. In my experience, league matches are once a week, on the same night every week. They take place during the Fall and Winter, the usual squash season. Instead of having to proactively set up a match, you know that you have a match on the same night every week. This makes it easier to block off your calendar. Not only is the time slot regular, but you also don’t want to let down your teammates by not showing up, so you will be more consistent about playing.
In addition to having a regular match on the calendar, you also are more likely to practice at least one other time during the week. After all, you want to help your team win and your pride is on the line when it’s an official match! This will get you out on court more often, which is good for you :-).
When you play in a league, you get to face off against a variety of opponents. You’ll play people with different styles, different fitness levels, and different skill levels. Also, the courts you play on will be different from your home courts. When you do this over time, you become a better, more versatile player. Of course it’s nice to play the same people on a regular basis, but mixing it up is good for your game.
When you’re playing in a league you get to meet new people every week. It’s a nice way to interact with other people in your community that you already have a shared interest with. In the cool-down after a match, both players often have a chance to chat and perhaps watch their teammates play. In some cases, people like to go out for dinner or drinks after the match, either with their team or with both teams. While I didn’t do that too often living in NYC or Philadelphia, it did happen on occasion. I’ve also heard that in England, it’s quite common to get a beer after the match. I imagine this is true in many countries (and many US cities too).
A little bit about league organization, for those new two it. Usually you elect a captain to handle the arrangements for each match. The captain’s job is to form the lineup each week, make sure courts are reserved for the match, arrange the times and matches with the other captain, and so on. This is a bit of a logistical nightmare as often people can only play at certain times, some weeks various team members can’t make it, you have to consider whether the lineups are fair, and so on. (I think that in any league, getting to the playoffs is about 50% how good your players are, and 50% how reliably you can get your team to show up at every match!)
I’ve acted as captain for many seasons and my philosophy is to make things as easy as possible for the captains, of course :-). I try to accommodate peoples’ needs as much as possible, while recognizing there’s a limited time available get everything organized. I encourage people out there to volunteer as captains and help their local league team get on court! My advice is don’t worry about trying to make every detail perfect (you will get requests from all sides, both on your team and your opponents’). Just do your best to get everybody out on court for a workout. If you end up defaulting a match because the schedules didn’t work out, it’s not the end of the world. The important thing is to play more squash and stay healthy.