Get In the Game with Kids' Sports Education Youth sports is a huge market, and this hot business idea could help you join it.

By Nichole L. Torres

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Kids' sports--from baseball and soccer to basketball and volleyball--are hot, and entrepreneurs jumping into the sports education field are scoring big. With so many parents wanting to help their kids excel in their sport of choice, there's a big market willing to shell out good money to train young superstars-to-be. Just ask Ivan and Sherri Shulman, 44 and 46, respectively, who founded The Sports House in Houston. The all-inclusive sports training company boasts two facilities with camps, clinics and daily sports classes. It even hosts parties.

"[There's] something about sports I learned a long time ago," says Sherri. "A plumber is going to spend the same amount of money as a cosmetic surgeon to make [his or her] kid better." They're spending so much, in fact, that 2006 sales for The Sports House are projected to hit $1 million.

Getting into the market takes skill, notes Sally S. Johnson, executive director of the National Council of Youth Sports in Stuart, Florida. She's noticed an increase in sports interest across the board--especially in organized youth sports--and suggests startup youth-sports trainers get training. NCYS offers administrative courses for youth-sports professionals, while the American Sport Education Program offers specialized coaching training as well as many other online tools for coaches.

Getting Started
Ready to jump into kids" sports education with your own business? Consider the following before getting started:

  • Get the requisite training. If you want to start educating youngsters about sports, you have to be a master at it yourself. You should be well versed in your sport of choice, and if you lack coaching experience, be ready to bring someone in who has a background in it. Also consider sports management training and sports administrative courses, notes Sally S. Johnson, executive director of the National Council of Youth Sports in Stuart, Florida: "That type of education is imperative."
  • Assemble a great team. If you plan to open an entire training facility, make sure your entire staff is top-notch--like Ivan and Sherri Shulman, 44 and 46, respectively, did with their business, The Sports House in Houston. Make sure to conduct criminal background checks on employees, as they'll be working with children, suggests Johnson.
  • Pick a welcoming location. If you want parents to drop off their kids at your facility, you need to make it as inviting as possible. Choose a safe neighborhood and make sure every floor, window, wall and piece of equipment is shining clean, notes Ivan Shulman. Those little touches of comfort and community make parents eager to return over and over again for year-round activities.
  • Put safety first. Sports and physical education are fraught with risks, so you need to bone up on your safety and first aid training. "They don't need to know how to handle dislocations so much as they need to know the emergency first aid response," says Johnson. And don't forget insurance: After researching the type of insurance he would need, Ivan Shulman found a broker who specialized in youth and batting cage businesses.
  • Treat every kid like the next superstar. Keep it positive as you encourage kids in their particular sport. "Every parent thinks their kid is the absolute best in the world," says Sherri Shulman. Your treatment of both the children and their parents should be over-the-top enthusiastic and encouraging, making every client feel special. Why? Because it's all about building self-confidence--not just in sports, but in life.
Wavy Line

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