Functional Training Zones

Best Practices in Youth Sports Performance Programming

By Bill Parisi, Founder & CEO, Parisi Speed Schools

Strategies and programming ideas to get the youth in your community more active and engaged to help grow your business.

If you want to grow your book of business or want more youth in your club, I assume you want more ways to make more money.  Strong youth programs are a great way to drive adult business and overall club membership because they bring parents into the fold.

Most people believe that if a youth sports performance program is located inside a large family based club, it automatically will guarantee success.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The paradox here is that youth memberships drive adult memberships, not the other way around.  I built a successful chain of three health clubs in the 1990's and early 2000's, all averaging over 20,000 Square Feet, 6,000 members, and over $6 million in revenue, ($2 million per club) originating from having a strong youth sports performance program.

So, what's the secret to having a strong youth program within your club? First, you have to be a coach, or find coaches that love youth.  One way to start this process is to call your local town recreation department and ask the recreation director if he/she has any volunteer coaches that;

1. Love working with kids
2. Are honorable with a great reputation in the community
3. Are physically active and make fitness a part of their lifestyle
4. Would like to coach kids professionally, either part-time or full-time
5. Are in a financial position to help kick-start a youth program for minimum pay, but has the upside to be part of something special that can grow

You can also inquire within your current trainers and club members. Most club owners already possess the personnel network to fill this position; they just need to work it.

I know it may not be easy to find someone to meet the above criteria, but these people are out there.  You always have to be looking. At the Parisi Speed School we tell our licensed partners that they should always have a slate of people they are interviewing or meeting for possible positions.

Growing a youth program is not much different than growing your personal training department.  It is a "Supply Driven" business.  Add quality supply to your market and guess what? Demand will grow!

Once you find the right person or people, you then need the right strategy to build a long term successful program. There are over 70 million kids under the age of 18 in the United States, of which 75% are between the ages of 7-14 and play at least one or more organized sports. My marketing professor in college once told me that if you want to be successful in business, you need a narrow niche. Youth and organized sports are a great niche but not narrow enough.

Parents are obsessed with helping their children reach their athletic potential. Take this a step further and bring it down deeper. The most important aspect of all sports is speed.  Parents see with their own eyes that the fastest kids on the field almost always prevail. Hence, your program fills a need they did not know even existed - Speed Training. By performing a speed training program a child not only improves their athletic speed, but they also improve their strength, endurance, overall athletic performance and most important, their self-confidence.  Remember, competence builds confidence!

Offering a program that clearly helps improve a child's self-esteem will capture the parent more quickly than anything else you could provide. This is literally the most valuable service you could offer and the parent will deeply appreciate it. As a result, the parent will pay you back 10X over in goodwill throughout the community.

When putting together a speed training program for children it is important to follow these three simple guidelines:

Programs need to be safe for all ages – At the Parisi Speed School we work with children ages 7 through professional athletes. The program is founded on "Movement Mechanics", virtually no different than a martial arts program.  Think of martial arts training for athletic speed development.

The program needs to be progressive and get results – Parents and kids want to see improvement, so your program needs to be based on proven science that can show results.  At Parisi we have routine "Performance Evaluations" that measure a child's physical attributes, which we then compare with their previous scores. This keeps the child engaged and motivated to continue their workouts throughout the year, even during the in-season.

It needs to be fun - Your program should not be Fun-Fun, like a trip to the Water-park, but neither should it be Serious-Serious, like the professional sports or Division 1 College Model. Instead it should be a balance of the two, which I like to call Serious-Fun.  The program needs to yield results, but the kids need to enjoy the process.

For more information on how to start a youth program at your facility check out our 3-minute video at

(February 2015)