The Alaimos subsequently signed up their only child for another package and are committed to that coaching track for the time being. "It was something I never thought I'd do, but I've seen the results myself," Christine said.
Private coaching for young athletes, from age 6 through high school, is the latest trend in America's evolution of sports for kids. Sports coaching, including one-on-one tutoring for kids, was a $6.3 billion industry in the U.S. in 2013, according to an estimate from IBIS World.
While the industry keeps growing, so too do concerns that this is another have and have-nots scenario, where kids whose families can afford private lessons will have an advantage over those who can't.
"Over that last two to three decades, we've seen the professionalization of youth sports," said Dan Gould, director of the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University. "It used to be a neighborhood, local, informal thing. Now it's modeled after what you see in professional leagues, with travel teams, more practices, and younger kids specializing in just one sport. Kids see players on the Yankees or the Patriots with personal coaches and say, 'So why don't I have one?'"
That's not what inspired 28-year-old Jordan Fliegel, CEO and founder of CoachUp, to launch his burgeoning venture, though he declares that "personal coaching changed my life" when he was growing up in Boston, loving to play basketball but not being very good.
"A coach offered to work with me one-on-one. I made the varsity team as a sophomore in high school and got better every year." He made the team at Bowdoin College, rising from backup player to team MVP his senior year, then played professionally in Israel and Europe.
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It worked so well, Fliegel became a private hoops coach himself, teaching kids and adults part-time for eight years while working—for an online marketplace, no less—and eventually going to business school. His entrepreneurial lightbulb switched on after he created a personal website to market his services but found it difficult to manage sessions, payments, reviews and other business tasks while trying to focus on his primary coaching duties.
Pondering a solution, Fliegel noticed the huge population of former collegiate and pro players who didn't retire with millions yet did possess potentially marketable coaching skills.