How do I know if I should be playing college squash?
Some junior squash players underestimate their ability to get recruited to play squash in college or to have a coach show interest in them. If a player is enthusiastic about the game of squash, has the interest and the drive to improve their game, and is willing to commit time to a team, there is likely a spot for them on a college team in the CSA. Rankings and ratings may not provide the best indicator of a player’s skill level and promise, so it is important to communicate effectively with coaches and research the playing options at the schools where they are interested in attending.
How many colleges have squash programs?
During the 2019-2020 season, 70 institutions fielded men’s teams and 48 institutions had women’s teams. 36 of the men’s teams were varsity teams supported by that school’s athletics department and 31 women’s teams had varsity status. The remaining teams are club teams run predominantly by student groups on campuses.
Where can I get a list of which colleges have teams?
The “Teams” menu on the CSA website (www.csasquash.com) will show the list of colleges and universities that support squash teams each season. Use the dropdown to find which teams have varsity status and which teams are clubs.
How many players are usually on a squash team?
In college squash team matches, nine players compete in individual dual matches to determine the final team score. Teams often play an exhibition match between tenth players on each team. To maintain a full scoring roster in matches and account for potential injuries or other factors, teams often have at least 12-14 team members.
Are scholarships available to college squash players? What other financial aid options do I have?
There are only a few CSA teams who have the ability and capacity to offer an athletics-based scholarship. (By rule, no Ivy League or NCAA Division III schools may offer athletics scholarships.) There are other sources of financial aid, however, which are available to students who are seeking financial assistance to pay for college:
- Merit-based financial aid: this includes scholarships or grants given to students in recognition of exceptional academic or athletic ability or an award won by the student.
- Need-based financial aid: this could be grants, which do not need to be paid back, or loans, which do require a repayment. Students generally apply for need-based financial aid on an annual basis.
To help better understand if a player or their family qualifies for need-based financial aid, they are encouraged to do research using the following sites, as well as information posted on individual school’s websites:
If I don’t get recruited or receive an athletic scholarship, can I still play in college?
Yes, absolutely! Many non-recruited walk-ons have had successful careers playing varsity college squash. As mentioned above, most schools cannot offer athletic scholarships and others do not have the ability to identify specific recruits in their institution’s admissions process. If a player is worried about earning a spot as a recruit but is still keen to play varsity squash, they should discuss what options they have with coaches as part of the recruiting process.
If varsity squash is not right for a player or the admissions process does not work in their favor, collegiate club squash can be an enticing option to consider. Club squash players enjoy the camaraderie of being part of a team and the access to regular competition opportunities, albeit generally with less commitment and resources than varsity players. Some club teams successfully compete against varsity teams every year while others offer a simple introduction to the game.
Can I play in professional squash tournaments in high school and still be eligible to play squash in college?
In short, yes, recruits can play in professional tournaments and still keep their amateur status for college athletics. A recruit who earns any prize money in tournaments should keep detailed records of the prize money won and the expenses paid in relation to those tournaments. As the player gets farther along in the recruiting process, they should share these records with the college coach and, if asked, the rules compliance officer at that school to ensure that everything is permissible. The eligibility and competition rules are different across some CSA member institutions, so recruits should share their professional playing plans with each coach with whom they are having recruiting conversations.
Basic Recruiting Information
What is the general timeline for college squash recruitment?
Although each school may operate differently, there are a couple dates that are standard for all CSA varsity teams:
- September 1st of 11th grade is the first opportunity for recruiting contact with prospective student-athletes (PSAs). This includes phone calls, emails, text messages, video messaging, off-campus contact, and unofficial visits. Coaches use the subsequent few months to begin to get to know recruits personally and explain how their school’s recruiting process works.
- Starting January 1 of your 11th grade, college coaches, except in the NESCAC, can bring PSAs to campus for official visits (PSAs can take an official visit at a NESCAC institution after their first day of class of their 12th grade year). It can be difficult for coaches to bring PSAs on campus and have students host them during the season. Therefore, most official visits are typically done in the spring or the fall when current student-athletes have more free time to host recruits.
|Recruiting Action||Date of First Opportunity||Notes|
|Send Recruiting Materials||9/1 at beginning of 11th grade|
|Send Correspondence/Private Messages||9/1 at beginning of 11th grade|
|Receive Incoming Telephone Calls||9/1 at beginning of 11th grade||Coach may not speak with a PSA who calls them before this date|
|Make Outgoing Telephone Calls||9/1 at beginning of 11th grade|
|Share recruiting information with PSA’s coach||9/1 at beginning of 11th grade||Club, high school, or personal coaches may not relay recruiting information acquired from college coaches to PSA or PSA’s family.|
|Unofficial Visits||9/1 at beginning of 11th grade||Visits to campus before this date must be coordinated through the college admissions office, like any other prospective student. PSAs may not have interactions with coaches on campus before this date.|
|Official Visits||1/1 during 11th grade||Starting on this date, PSA may take 1 visit per college and a maximum of 5 visits to NCAA Division I institutions.|
|Off-Campus Contact||9/1 at beginning of 11th grade||Contact with PSAs at practice or competition sites may only occur after the PSA has completed his/her competition for the day and has been released from the facility.|
What can I do each year of high school to prepare for college and recruiting?
A PSA should take ownership of their recruitment early in high school if they have any interest in playing squash in college. Successful recruitment and application decisions require a significant time commitment and effort.
- Focus on academics, including earning the best results possible in a balance of rigorous classes
- Behave appropriately in public and private, especially on social media
- Work on oral and written communication skills
- Hone squash skills and plan tournaments and competitions wisely
- Continue strong focus on academic performance and appropriate behavior
- Update public Club Locker profile with correct email address and graduation year
- Research colleges and their squash programs
- Talk to parents, advisors, and coach(es) about college goals
- Prepare for and take standardized tests, if ready
- Visit local colleges to get a feel for what is preferred
- Attend squash camps, if appropriate and accessible
- Consider how and when to reach out to college coaches on or after Sept. 1, and implement that plan to build relationships with coaching staffs
- List and prioritize criteria used to evaluate personal interest in schools
- Construct a concise list of academic and squash accomplishments to share with college coaches, and keep it updated
- Plan unofficial visits and communicate with coaches about the possibility of scheduling official visits
- Narrow down preferred list of schools through research, visits, interactions with college coaches, and meetings with advisors and coaches
- Prepare for standardized tests and schedule them when ready to score well
- Determine the number of credits needed for graduation and the most rigorous course load that one can handle
- Determine schools that are the best fit and focus your efforts
- Update details on Club Locker profile, squash resume, and recruiting questionnaires
- Schedule final college visits
- Approach Common Application, application supplements, and essays with seriousness and diligence
- Retake standardized tests, if necessary
- Stay in touch with top choice coach(es) about application deadlines and materials needed
- Make your college application decision and apply
- Notify coaches of your final decision and thank your top list of coaches for their support and guidance
- Maintain the same level of grades throughout 12th grade and graduate on time!
- Continue to act appropriately, both in public and private
How do I start the recruiting process?
Junior players who are interested in playing squash in college should begin researching schools with teams as soon as they are ready. The more they can prepare and understand what their options are, the more effectively they will be able to communicate with coaches when recruiting can begin after September 1 of 11th grade.
One of the most common ways to start the recruiting process is to send a simple, introductory email to the coach of each team in which player is interested. From there, PSAs should stay in regular communication with coaches, augment their profile using video and match results, and begin to narrow down their choices based on what they learn along the way.
After establishing connections with some coaches, the next step is to ensure you are taking the right steps to ensure that you can continue to be recruited. Asking a coach specific questions about classes that must be taken in 11th or 12th grade, expectations for the rigor of a PSAs high school class load, testing requirements (including the TOEFL exam for non-English speakers), and deadlines for visits or pre-reads can set PSAs on the right path.
How do I get noticed by college coaches?
There are many ways to get noticed by college coaches. Coaches will often follow junior events, high school match results, ranking lists, and attend camps throughout the year to help gather information. However, coaches are often limited in their time and resources to connect with PSAs. Recruits are encouraged to be proactive and to communicate with the coaches as best they can. Every coach has different communication and recruiting styles, so PSAs should take ownership of their outreach efforts.
Another way to help coaches see recruits play is to send videos of matches. Depending on their location and schedule, coaches sometimes struggle to get to a wide variety of junior tournaments. Because of that, sending coaches videos of matches (even ones that the recruit lost) can be very beneficial for their recruitment. It will also enable coaches to see how PSAs handle pressure situations and behave on court.
Players who plan to play in prominent junior events, especially in other countries (for example, World Juniors, British Junior Open, Canadian Junior Open, Dutch Junior Open) should alert college coaches about their schedule. With increased live-streaming capabilities at such events, as well as some local tournaments, coaches may be able to watch their recruits play even if they cannot travel to the event in person.
Does my US Squash ranking and player rating matter?
Yes and no. A player’s rating, ranking, and results may catch coaches’ attention in many cases, but these metrics do not matter an overwhelming amount to coaches. College coaches look at variety of things. Some key things besides squash level that coaches will look at are: academics, work ethic, discipline, behavior, fit with the team, squash knowledge, ability to learn, enthusiasm, love for the game, and sportsmanship.
All PSAs must remember that they are joining a team. Coaches will try to assess how well recruits will fit with the other team members and their vision for the team. The other important aspect to remember is that a recruit needs to feel like a good fit with the team as well. Joining a team and its culture can be incredibly impactful for one’s college experience.
Should a player attend a summer squash camp on a college campus to help with recruitment?
Camps that coaches attend, whether they are on that coach’s specific campus or not, can be very helpful for college recruitment. Coaches are always looking to get to know players and observe how they operate. In addition to showcasing squash abilities, camps allow attendees to demonstrate their work ethic, attitude, and camaraderie and interactions with other squash players. If the camp is on a campus, that can be a great way for camp participants to get a better sense of the facilities and campus life as well.
What do I say in an email to a prospective coach?
An introductory email does not need to be a long essay, but it should not be too short either. PSAs want to give coaches a good idea of who they are, what their academic background is like, a quick overview of their squash ability/level, and why they are reaching out to that particular school. Generally, a few short paragraphs will do. Including film of some of your most recent matches can be very helpful for the coaches, especially if they do not know you or your game well, but coaches are not always looking for a video as part of the initial outreach. Videos can be crucial aids for international students, however, because often it is hard for coaches to be able to see their game in person.
How do I know if the college coach really wants me?
As PSAs build relationships with coaches, they will start to get a sense of who is most interested. This will often get communicated directly in messages, calls, and in-person meetings. Every coach has a different communication style, though, so PSAs should not be afraid to ask where they stand with coaches and their list of recruits. Coaches that are interested will often invite PSAs to campus for an official visit to get to know them better, have them see the campus, and have them get a taste of student life. Official visits are often left to those who are on the coach’s short list of recruits, so if you get invited, there is a very good chance that the coach is interested.
Once I have narrowed down the list of schools I am interested in, what is next?
Keep communicating! A PSA should make known to the schools at the top of their list that they are very interested. If they can visit the school, they are encouraged to coordinate a visit with the coach at a mutually convenient time. Continued research into those schools is important to determine where a PSA will fit both academically and athletically and where they will be happy. Once they have that top school or schools, they should really focus on communicating with the coaches and maximizing efforts in academics, testing, and squash to fit the criteria of those schools.
What if multiple coaches have offered their commitment to me to support my application (verbal offers)?
Do not accept verbal offers from multiple schools; PSAs and coaches must be honest about their commitments. There have been situations in the past where PSAs have accepted an offer from one school and then searched for other offers. In some instances, this led to that PSA having their offer(s) dropped. In the rare event that a PSA thinks they have made a mistake in their commitment, it is very important that they contact the coach and decommit before searching or committing elsewhere.
What grades and test scores will I need to earn an offer of admission?
Remember, every institution’s standards and evaluation criteria are different. Reaching specific grade, test score, or AI thresholds is not a guarantee of admission to any institution. Admissions offices review many factors as part of recruit’s application, including high school course load and rigor, academic history, extracurricular activities, essay strength, and personal story. Scoring as high as they can in these areas will improve a recruit’s chances of admission greatly.
What is the ideal parental involvement in the college squash recruiting process?
During the introductory phase of recruitment, coaches are interested in getting to know the players, not their parents. Parents should empower and encourage their children to take ownership of the recruiting process, especially direct communications with the coaches. Parents should use their experience and instincts to get involved later in the process, if necessary, but they should also keep in mind that over-involved parents can be a deterrent to their child’s recruitment in the eyes of some coaches.
College Team Expectations
How many hours are devoted to playing college squash?
Being on a college varsity team is a big commitment. Depending on the time of year, the number of hours dedicated to squash and training can vary due to league rules; however, coaches do expect that you are committed year-round to bettering yourself and improving your game. Expect that you will be having daily practices and/or strength and conditioning sessions in addition to your matches throughout the year, in some cases having multiple sessions a day. Team captains will run captains’ practices prior to their official practice start dates. When in the playing season, expect to have several weekend trips where you will play 2 matches or more, depending on your team’s schedule.
How can I make up classes or work that I miss due to away matches?
It is often difficult to make up classes that are missed for competitions, but professors and teaching assistants are often willing to spend time outside of class to review the class material. The key to setting up this arrangement with teachers is clear communication. Letting professors know ahead of time which classes students expect to miss will set clear expectations and open the door for helpful review sessions outside of class or during professors’ office hours.
Where can I get academic help?
There are many options for student-athletes to get academic help, and they should never hesitate to ask for help from the resources available, especially before they really fall behind. Almost every campus has a general student help center. Many academic departments also have designated tutoring sessions and study hours. Some athletics departments provide academic support services tailored specifically to their student-athletes’ needs. These services could include tutors or designated study hall hours with supportive proctors, among other options. Teammates can be a source of assistance as well, but students must make sure to maintain high academic standards while doing their own work.
At some institutions in certain cases, there may be additional programs or classes available for students who are transitioning to college for the first time or have other challenges, like English not being their native language. If PSAs are concerned about challenges like these or others, they should raise those questions with the coaches during the recruiting process.
What should parental involvement be once a junior player transitions to college?
Very little. College student-athletes are adults now and need to be able to handle most aspects of college on their own. Parents who inject themselves into their child’s business on the team can only lead to unneeded challenges, just as in the recruiting process. The best thing parents can do is to reach out to their coaches and find out how best they can support the program and the players as a group.
Choosing a Pathway that Works for You
What do I need to know about myself in order to choose the right college for me?
Every student places different value on the various aspects of a college experience. Evaluating multiple criteria in different categories will help students assess their personal priorities and find the school that fits the best. Here are some questions to consider as part of the selection process:
- Campus Criteria
- Is location or proximity to home important?
- Do you prefer an urban, suburban, or rural campus environment?
- Does weather or experiencing different seasons matter to you?
- How important to you are other campus activities and student groups outside of squash?
- Did you get a good vibe from the students on campus when you visited?
- Does the size of the undergraduate population matter? If so, what size school do you prefer?
- Does the campus have the living accommodation options that you would prefer?
- Can my family afford the tuition and room/board? If not, what sources of financial aid are available?
- What extra resources are available to support me if I am coming to school from a foreign country or an underrepresented group?
- What about other items related to campus experience that you value: quality and variety of food? Distance from dorms to classes? Opportunities to meet and socialize with new people?
- Academic Criteria
- What majors or fields are you interested in? Does the school offer classes in those areas?
- What majors and subjects are well-regarded and supported on campus?
- Are there special programs for incoming first-year students?
- What is the average student-to-instructor ratio? How big (or small) can classes be?
- What does the academic calendar look like?
- What are the graduation requirements?
- What academic support programs are in place, both generally and for student-athletes?
- Is studying abroad an experience you want to prioritize in your college experience?
- Squash Criteria
- How competitive is the team you would join? Does that match your level of competitiveness?
- What is the time commitment for that team? Can you commit that amount of time?
- What are the in-season and off-season requirements and schedules?
- Would you have the opportunity to develop and improve as a player in that program?
- Where do you see yourself fitting into the lineup?
- How do you see yourself fitting in with the other players on the team?
- What is the coach’s background, history, and coaching/teaching philosophy?
- Would you still want to attend the school if the coach left the program or retired?
- Is the coach supportive of players’ academic needs and conflicts?
- How do you feel about the quality of the facilities you will use regularly: squash courts, locker room, strength, conditioning, and fitness areas, athletic training room, etc.?
- What other support services does the athletics department offer: nutrition guidance, sports psychology, mental preparation, leadership, etc.?
- If you are interested in playing outside events, will your coach and teammates support that interest?
What steps should I take to help me make a decision?
Every person approaches the recruiting and decision-making processes differently, but there are some key steps that everyone should take along the way to successfully make a final decision:
Additional Useful Resources
CSA Recruiting Presentation Videos
Recruiting Rules Comparison
Helpful guide for communicating with coaches
Ivy League Prospective Student-Athlete Information
NESCAC Prospective Student-Athlete Information
Academic Index – This is a term only used within the Ivy League schools. The Academic Index – or AI – is a number calculated by the admissions office for recruits and used by the athletic departments to determine a Prospective Student Athlete’s (PSA’s) academic strength. The AI is calculated based on your GPA/grades and standardized test scores. Ivy League teams must reach a certain average number between all their recruits each year. Every school has different averages and often the schools will give teams different AI targets to hit each year.
- Early Decision – application deadline is in early or mid-November and is a binding admissions decision. If you are admitted via Early Decision, you must attend that school. You may only apply to one school via the Early Decision application process.
- Early Action – application deadline is also early-to-mid-November, but it is not a binding decision. A student is not required to attend that school if they are accepted. Admissions decisions for early decision and early action arrive around mid-December.
- Early Decision II or Early Action II – same expectation as their namesakes, but later in the academic year (usually December or January)
- Rolling Admissions – Admissions offices will accept applications at any time during the rolling admissions window, and applicants will be notified of the admissions decision a certain number of weeks after the application is received.
- Regular Decision – application deadline is usually in early or mid-January with decisions arriving in mid-to-late March or early April. Students can apply to as many schools as they want via regular decision and admission is not binding.
College Squash Association (CSA) – The CSA is the official governing body overseeing men’s and women’s intercollegiate squash in the United States of America. While the CSA works very closely with US Squash to administer squash in college, the CSA is an independent entity with direct management over the national collegiate championships, regular season operations, and rankings.
Likely Letter – This is another term only used within Ivy League schools. An Ivy League admissions office may send a letter to a recruit who has already submitted their full application if the admissions officer confirms that the recruit is more likely than not to be accepted, assuming the student maintains the same level of academic performance and acceptable behavior throughout their senior year. This letter is sent only as early as Oct. 1 of a PSA’s 12th grade year. It is another very positive step in the application process, but it still doesn’t not offer a 100 percent guarantee of admission.
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) – The NCAA is a membership-driven organization that governs many sports across three divisions (I, II, and III). College squash is not an NCAA-sponsored sport, which leads to the CSA’s existence. However, all CSA member institutions are also NCAA members, so the CSA relies heavily on NCAA legislation to guide its rules compliance efforts.
Pre-Read – A pre-read is a quick, general overview by a school’s admissions office to give an indication of how a recruit would fare if their credentials were to be reviewed by an admissions committee. It gives the coaches and office of admissions a better understanding of a recruit’s academics and shows how their academic profile will look in an application if they are to apply.
Pre-reads normally occur after PSAs have completed a significant portion of their 11th grade year (no earlier than July 1 in most cases). A positive pre-read is a significant step in the recruiting process, but it is still not a guarantee of admission.
Verbal Offer – Many coaches and programs have the ability to provide extra support for an application in the school’s admissions process. A verbal offer of support is a coach’s commitment to the recruit that they will support the recruit’s application throughout the rest of recruitment and the application process. Some teams, including NESCAC schools, may not be able to make an official offer of support until after academic pre-reads are available after July 1 before a recruit’s senior year.
IMPORTANT: a verbal offer is a non-binding agreement that does not guarantee admission; however, it is on good faith that when a coach verbally commits to a PSA, they are confident that the PSA will get accepted during the admissions process. Players accepting a verbal offer are committing to apply to that institution and to enroll if they are accepted.
Visits – Coaches may extend invitations to PSAs for unofficial or official visits, but PSAs should also not be afraid to contact coaches if they are planning to be in the area and want to see the school.
- Unofficial – An unofficial visit is one that is not paid for by the school, and PSAs have to pay their own way to visit campus. Generally, unofficial visits are quick stops to campus. They can be great ways to have that first initial contact with coaches and to see the institution on your own. It can be a good opportunity for a campus tour or an information session.
- Official – An official visit is one that is paid for by the institution, and may cover travel, lodging, meal tickets, and on-campus entertainment. Official visits allow you to get a fuller sense of life on a campus over a 48-hour period. You will likely attend class, shadow team members, and do an overnight. It is also the time when coaches will see how well you blend with the team. Coaches extend the invitations for official visits and will often save them for those who are high on their recruiting list. PSAs traveling from farther distances, including from overseas, who are invited to multiple visits can work with all coaches involved to see those schools in one trip.
PSAs must behave appropriately during their visits! One of the worst possible things they can do is something that they are not supposed to do on their visit. There are a lot of liability issues when visiting a college campus, and PSAs need to make sure they stick to the guidelines and not cause trouble for themselves, coaches, and team members. It is a privilege to be able to visit, so PSAs should make sure to put their best foot forward and show how they will be a positive member of the community and team.
Quick Tips for PSAs
- Communication is critical. Do not be afraid to communicate openly and honestly. Coaches are looking to build relationships with recruits, and they appreciate good communication. This does not mean bug them all the time with messages, but don’t be afraid to check in and ask for updates occasionally. Let them know where you stand with them and they will do the same.
- Ask questions. The process can be confusing sometimes and often misinformation is shared. Ask college coaches or the CSA your questions to get the best answers.
- Be authentically yourself. Match results, test scores, and grades are not everything. Coaches want well-rounded people who will bring the most to their teams and communities. They will try their best to get to know you and see what you can bring to the table. You should be honest with them about who you are and show why you could be a valuable member of their team.
- Challenge yourself as best you can. Coaches will want to see how you handle pressure, whether that be on the court or in the classroom. Life as a student-athlete can provide challenges, and you need to be equipped to handle those challenges. Those tools come from experience and putting yourself under that pressure.
- Your opponent on court today could be your teammate in the future. Play with respect toward yourself and your opponent. College coaches talk to their players for tips on upcoming recruits. The last thing you want is someone speaking negatively about you either because you behaved poorly or weren’t polite to someone. Reputation is significant in the small world of squash.
- Coaches want players that will make the most of the opportunities given to them. To play squash in college is a great privilege, and coaches do not want to see the player they have recruited “flatline” in their development. Show that you are serious about your development as a player and continue that through your college career.
Quick Tips for Parents
- Be realistic and help manage expectations. College squash is currently the largest driver for the sport in the world. The popularity of the sport continues to grow around the world, and more and more students are looking to play college squash. Things are competitive, and it is important to grasp where one stands in terms of academics, athletics, and behavior. There is a plethora of great opportunities within college squash. Do not fixate on a select number of schools if they are not realistic for your child and help manage those expectations.
- Be supportive. This time can be very stressful for your child. It is important to be as supportive of them as you can.
- Coaches are recruiting your kids, not you. Often over-involved parents can be a major turnoff for coaches and can actually hurt your child’s chances. Allow your child to take ownership of their recruitment and only get involved when needed. Use your parental instincts to step in if things feel “off” but encourage your child to take the lead early in the process.