Parents are already thinking about summer, and you should be, too--particularly if you’d like to offer programming for young athletes when school is out. Here are some tips to help you strengthen your marketing, planning and program offerings now. The early bird gets the summer-camp attendees, so don’t delay.
Develop programs for individual youth athletes (one-on-one training), small groups (five to 10 athletes), and team training sessions.
*Offer as much variety as you can manage, keeping in mind whether you will need additional staff or employees.
* Decide the length of training sessions as it relates to your time, the clients’ time, parents’ drive time, and how many sessions you can handle during the day and evening. Most training sessions last 1 hour.
* Offer diverse programming and costs. Offer pay structures that encourage clients to register and pay for more sessions. Make long-term programming attractive. Offer 1- to 3-month packages (remember, families vacation in the summer).
* Determine the best times to train according to the age of the athletes. When will the same-age athletes train together? Determine what time you want to be working. When is the best time for the clients (and the parents who drive them) to train?
* Secure space at an appropriate facility. It does not have to be a gym. Many trainers rent warehouse space or meet at a field or park. Ensure that you know who owns the field and find out if you need to file paperwork or pay a fee to use it.
* Consider providing a mini-presentation (15-30 minutes) to the parents, athletes and coaches during a springtime sports practice.
* Some suggest offering a free “introductory” session, while others recommend against it, so think about what might work best for you.
* Develop a website with key words used in search engines such as: “sports training for kids” or “sports training for soccer/baseball/ice hockey/basketball/etc.” or “soccer/baseball/ice hockey/basketball/fitness training in ‘Your City.’”
* Develop a Facebook page, as well as Twitter and Instagram accounts.
* Create colorful paper posters and hang them at athletic facilities.
* Leverage your network, colleagues and friends to build relationships with coaches, parents and leaders of youth sports organizations.
* Charge what you think the market will bear--and what you think you are worth. Charge what you think clients will pay. Consider all of your expenses and how to make money.
Session Start: Day One
* Be sure parents have signed a liability waiver and provided relevant medical information. Review it before the first session and address any concerns.
* Implement comprehensive risk-management and child-protection programs.
* Be sure you have an adequate supply of easy-to-transport equipment such as medicine balls, agility balls, Lebert Equalizers, rubber bungee cords, rubber tubing, BOSU and mini-hurdles.
* Put safety first: Walk the entire play area and eliminate or tape off tripping hazards such as holes, rocks, logs, pipes, etc.
* Test for athletic ability. Consider a time-efficient test that measures fitness, such as the running multistage “beep test.”
* Understand you have two clients: the athlete and the parent who pays for the training. Both have to be happy. If they are, they’ll be more likely to sign up for another session or spread the word about your program, all of which will make you happy, too.