Here at SquashLevels we see lots of clubs running boxes and some are more successful than others. Here are some points to think about when running yours:
- You need to have someone actively driving them. That means reminders and active cajoling throughout each and every period. We see many boxes that simply fade as it's all too easy to not get around to playing your matches - maybe just waiting for the 'other guy' to arrange one - and they don't round to it either.
- Make them fun and visible in the club. You can use 'wall mode' and have them on a tablet on the wall the noticeboard is. That gets lots of attention and it's so easy to enter your results straight away. Talk about them in your club newsletter. They're a great way to get lower level players playing more often and against new opponents and as soon as they play a match they get a level - so they have a number to hang their hat on, a club ranking and even a national ranking instantly!
- Encourage the lower level players to join. They often think they're not good enough but there's no such thing. They just need opponents at about the same level and, of course, we know what level everyone is as soon as they enter a result.
- Don't take too long over each period. The great thing about boxes is they change frequently giving you new opponents and a great sense of achievement - or otherwise - as you go up and down the boxes. Waiting two months rather than one really slows things down and players lose interest.
- Use the levels when adding players. Don't put a 2000 player in the bottom box just because they are new as they will get bored and work out that it'll be 6 months before they get a proper game. Put a new player in the box below where they should probably be. They need to earn their place but not spend forever getting there.
- Match the playing frequency to your player needs. You'll need to talk to your players about this but most leisure players like to play once per week whereas your team league players might prefer less than that - say once every two weeks. You can do this by varying the box size so, for instance the top two boxes could be 3 or 4 players whereas the other boxes are all 5 players. Use a one month period.
- Encourage your better players to join the boxes. You need at least 2 or 3 to make it work so they can play each other but the lower level players will relish the chance to play these top guys and it spices the boxes up. The levels algorithm expects these top guys to play down against lesser players so unless they throw games away, their level shouldn't be affected which is often their concern. We also feel strongly that it is a duty of the better players to play, encourage and inspire the lower level players to play better rather than form a cliquey elite group which happens all too often.
- Be flexible. You can add players halfway through as their box will just increase by one. The more rules you apply, the more off-putting it is. Your goal is to have as many players as possible and for them to play as many matches as possible. You can measure and publish these metrics and turn it into a club challenge!
If you have ideas and/or examples of things that work then do please let us know and we'll add them to this list!