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Offering Youth Sports Performance Programs

Take advantage of the popularity of youth sports and sports programming.

Sports performance programs are quickly finding their place in the health/fitness industry. With the expansive growth of youth sports participation, facility operators are beginning to incorporate this new service into their overall programming mix. While there is no doubt that there is enough demand for such programs to justify such a program at your facility, you should understand what is driving the demand.

What is driving the demand?

According to reports provided by both American Sports Data and the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, competitive and recreational sports are a significant industry in the U.S., driving close to 40 million participation days of activity annually. Approximately 74 percent of the 48 million youth between the ages of six and 17 have participated in sports, and 26 million youth indicate that they are actively involved in at least one organized sports activity. Figure 1 shows some general statistics regarding the types of organized sports in which youth ages six to seventeen currently participate. From a revenue perspective, youth sports is a $4 billion industry that has annual double-digit growth.

The past decade of exponential growth in youth sports programming has been fueled by three primary market conditions. First, as sports participation among youth increases, so does the demand from parents for their children to excel in those sports. Coaches and parents realize that specialized training that focuses on improving agility, balance, quickness, speed and strength can help youth perform better. Second, there has been a corresponding growth in sports injuries. Approximately 3.5 million children under the age of 18 receive medical treatment each year for sports-related injuries. Most of these injuries are attributed to collisions, falls and overexertion. Overuse injuries account for nearly 50 percent of all sports injuries at the middle and high school levels (ages 12 to 18). Last, youth sports performance programming has profited by the demand to find a fitness approach that appeals to today's youth.

Figure 1. Youth Sports Participation

Sport Overall Participation Boys Girls
Baseball/Softball 11 million 7 million 4.1 million
Basketball 10 million 6.2 million 3.8 million
Soccer 9.6 million 5.4 million 4.2 million
Football 2.9 million
Volleyball 2 million
Cheerleading 1.8 million

Is there revenue potential?

According to a policy sheet written by the American Academy of Pediatrics, youth sports injuries can be reduced when several steps are taken, including matching the skills of the child to the demands of the particular sport, providing proper physical conditioning for the child before participation, grouping children by skill level and providing a physical exam prior to participation. Sports performance programs can play a critical role with two of those recommendations. First involves being able to match the specific demands of a sport to the skills and maturation level of the child. Second is providing the proper conditioning program that will reduce the likelihood of injury due to inadequate physical conditioning. Another area in which sports performance programs play an important role is in helping children recover from sports injuries so that they can be safely reintroduced to their sport.

By offering sports performance programs at your facility, you can play an important role in helping youth to build the basic components of fitness that allow for enhanced sports performance. By using proven strategies for safely developing agility, speed, strength and core stability, these programs can assist young people in reaching new performance heights in a safe manner.

Next month: How to implement youth sports performance programming

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