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Implementing Youth Sports Performance Programming

Facility managers have a few options for tapping the youth sports market.

A strong indicator of youth sports activity participation can be traced to population demographics. The parents of youth who are engaged in organized sports are more likely to have a college education, be white-collar professionals and have two family members in professional careers. In essence, youth sports participation is partially a result of an affluent, competitive and results-driven adult population that seeks to provide its children with experiences that simulate their competitive and results-based world. Interestingly, these demographic characteristics strongly parallel those of the fitness facility industry, where, according to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association's 2006 Profiles of Success, more than 50 percent of facility members have household incomes in excess of $75,000 annually.

According to more empirical data, the primary participants in sports performance programs are youth between the ages of 11 and 16, with those between seven and 11, and 16 to 18 representing the next attractive market segments.

One of the great predictors of success in the youth sports performance market is having a sufficient student athlete population within a 20-minute radius of your fitness center. One well-respected franchiser of youth sports performance programs says that the hurdle for success is having at least a few thousand student athletes within the market (this can be determined by taking approximately 30 percent of the total student population into account).

Is there a profit to be made?

A well-operated youth sports performance program can generate revenues in the neighborhood of $100 per square foot for a facility of 3,000 square feet or less. With margins for youth sports performance programming similar to those found in personal training, fitness centers can generate a reasonable return on their investment. Total revenues of $200,000 to $350,000 are common, and there are some large-scale operators of youth sports centers that generate in excess of $1 million annually.

What are your options?

There are three basic options when considering a youth sports conditioning program:

Franchise/license programs. With a franchise or licensed program, you can purchase a franchise or license from one of several organizations that offer them. In most cases, these agreements require an upfront fee (which ranges from $7,500 to $30,000), and a monthly fee that is either a flat fixed amount or a percentage of the revenues (typically 4 to 8 percent of program revenues) generated from the program. In addition, there are, in many cases, additional costs for equipment. As with any franchised or licensed program, you'll need to determine whether the strength of the brand, the training provided by the parent company and the marketing support are worth the initial and ongoing investment. Some players in this segment include Velocity Sports, Parisi Speed School, Frappier Acceleration Sports Training, Competitive Athlete Training Zone (CATZ) and Centers for Athletic Performance (CAP). To learn more about franchising in general, go to www.entrepreneur.com/franchises/ index.html.

Strategic partnerships. With a partnership, you can outsource, sublease or contract an established sports performance company to provide these services at your facility. This may involve finding a local operator who has already entered the market and is looking for a new outlet in which to deliver their services. In many instances, these local companies will have franchised or licensed all or part of their program.

Facility developed and operated programs. Finally, there is the option of creating your own program. Taking this approach may be the most challenging, since you would need to develop your own protocols, hire appropriately trained specialists and develop a successful marketing effort.

Get to know the business

The market for youth sports performance programs is enormous and continues to grow. Capitalizing on that market demand requires an understanding of the young athlete market, and the sports performance industry itself. By performing the proper research and talking to others who have already entered this arena, you should be better prepared to make the right decisions.
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