Super Soccer Stars has announced a partnership with the digital mentoring and coaching platform Famer. Together they will bring real-time personalized virtual training to youth sports for the first time. Super Soccer Stars CEO Adam Geisler says that mobile curriculums – designed to supplement live classes – fill a need in the “coaching pipeline” and will help young athletes to reach their full potential. Geisler acknowledges you can never replicate the “touch, feel and impact of a coach physically being there and developing that camaraderie with a child, [but if] kids have the tools to practice skills and drills on their own or with a parent there will be a compounding effect on long-term participation rates.” It’s worth mentioning that while high school sports participation declined for the first time in 30 years this past academic year, the National Federation of State High School Associations reported that both boys and girls soccer added participants; participation in the sport is up +9% since ’12.
Howie Long-Short: Super Soccer Stars is geared toward young children. While the program goes up to age 12, “the sweet spot is ages 1-7”; there are 100,000 kids in that age group participating in classes nationwide. Because of how young the participants are it’s worth wondering if it’s reasonable to expect virtual lessons to resonate. Famer CEO Rich Abend says that conceptually it’s no different than the technological advancements occurring in education. “Everything is now connected between the teacher and parent, so that mom and dad are clear as to what the child is working on and what they can do to help advance those skills – [virtual training] is meant to be an extension of the classroom. Technology helps to close the communication loop.”
The meteoric growth in ‘screen time’ is among the factors contributing to the decline in youth sports participation. Geisler says, “if you can’t beat em, train em; if kids today are going to be consuming media through digital devices, then let’s provide them with media [that can be used in a productive manner].”
Supplementing practice with virtual training will enhance an athlete’s skill-set, but Abend says, “when you’re talking about early education it’s really about [working on] executive functioning – teaching kids how to prepare better.” The goal of the digital curriculum is to get kids to take 30 minutes “of the time they’re wasting on devices each day and to use it to make themselves accountable to the organization.”
Coaches have been building training regimens for athletes for decades. What makes this partnership innovative is that the video component will “utilize coaches that the parents trust and the kids follow.” Geisler says, “there’s a difference between content and content where the viewer feels a connection.” Peloton has proven that who is teaching the class matters.
Fan Marino: A flurry of deals has had Super Soccer Stars in the news frequently of late. In addition to their partnership with Famer, the nationwide soccer organization announced it will serve as the “Official One-to-Six-Year-Old Youth Soccer Program of the Philadelphia Union” and open its first interactive retail store at the Oxford Valley Mall on 9.20. Parents will be able to drop off kids ages 1-7, giving their tykes a place to “get moving and active” while they shop. The company has plans to expand the concept nationwide.
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