Back in 2019 I had to relocate my BJJ club so I chose to hire a squash court in the local leisure gym. Then the pandemic forced our doors to close so we took the time off to completely refurbish the squash court and create a fully fitted dedicated BJJ dojo. As you can see from the photos, we’re very proud of how it has turned out.
There are a lot of benefits to using a squash court for BJJ training. The main benefit is the ubiquitous availability of courts – almost every decent fitness and leisure centre hosts a couple of courts dedicated to squash. My enquiries revealed that gym managers were happy to allow hire by the hour even if the purpose wasn’t to play squash.
An associated benefit to hiring a squash court is that you and your students get to use the other facilities too – changing rooms, showers, food and drink etc. Most leisure centres have dedicated parking or are within easy distance from public transport.
Squash courts measure 9.75m x 6.4m in size and for a small to medium sized club, that’s ample room to fit in around 20 adult students comfortably. At our opening seminar we had around 30 bodies on the mat, which was just enough room to perform techniques in pairs. For sparring we had to rotate between groups – generally six pairs can comfortably spar in a squash court sized matted area, 8 pairs would be a bit tight but still feasible if someone was watching over them.
Of course, not every centre will let you block book a squash court exclusively. Our club was lucky as the gym manager was happy to allow us to take over an entire court exclusively. He also gave us permission to customise the interior however we wanted – hence the wall mats and photographs. No one else can use this room, just our club only, yay!
There are of course drawbacks to using squash courts. The main one is finding a place to store your mats if you are only hiring the court a couple of times a week. Prior to making our room into a permanent space, we were allowed to store our roll-out mats under the nearby stair case in the leisure centre.
Another major issue is the danger of students hitting themselves against the hard squash court walls. Before we added wall mats, we had to place jigsaw mats along the walls but it wasn’t a good solution as the mats kept falling down, plus we did not have enough jigsaw mats for entire wall coverage.
One drawback to consider is the noise and the dirt. Most squash courts have open plan ceilings and viewing galleries – the result is that if the leisure centre is busy then it can get very noisy. I am often having to shout to be heard when teaching a class. The other annoyance is that being a space that is frequently used by other people then the floor can get dirty. I would often have to sweep the floor before laying down my mats – which is time consuming and annoying.
Finally, squash courts are by their nature limited in size, so if a club is growing rapidly then it will outgrow the space. That’s a good problem to have!
Other Squash Court BJJ Clubs
Lots of BJJ clubs are situated within squash courts – many of them, like us, are fully fitted permanent dojos. Here are some clubs that were proud to show me their facilities:-
Squash courts can offer a very affordable and accessible space for small start-up clubs or even medium sized clubs with up to 30 students on the mat at one time. You can literally hire a court by the hour and drop down some mats. Squash courts may even offer a longer term solution if centre owners are willing to let you customise and use the room exclusively.
For us here at RGA South Herts, the dojo is a wonderful space to train in and suits us perfectly. Pop down if you are ever in the Potters Bar area.