Toronto’s Granite Club recently implemented two youth sport clinics to help engage and develop younger members’ athletic skills.
As a marketing and management strategy, getting kids more involved in the various sports that a club has to offer is a no-brainer. It gives Mom and Dad yet another reason to use their club, it benefits the health and wellness of those children, and for clubs that have child athletes who are particularly skilled, it can add recognition to a property’s sport-specific programs.
With 10,500 members (only 4,800 of whom are adults), Toronto’s Granite Club recently implemented two youth sport clinics to help engage and develop younger members’ athletic skills. The Long-Term Athlete Development Model (LTAD) was developed as a framework for optimal training and competition for each stage of a child’s development after age 10. And Active Start was developed to help the younger kids prepare for a life of athletics.
“Our goals with these programs are two-fold,” says Gary Caron, Athletics Director/Head Professional at Granite Club. “First, we want to develop athletes who can compete at an elite level as amateurs or professionals. Second, we want all of our members to be active for life. These programs help kids of all ages develop physical abilities such as agility, balance, strength, coordination and speed, along with sport-specific fundamentals.”
The Active Start programs, geared for 2 to 6 year olds, are not sport-specific. Instead, making the most of underutilized space on the club’s property, these pint-sized members do all sorts of activities, from obstacle courses to jumping rope to fine motor skill development. “Active Start helps to prepare younger kids for the various sports we offer once they become juniors,” says Caron. “It gives them a better foundation for the next stage.”
Within the program—which is broken into smaller classes that run for three-month sessions—there are certain measurements that children much reach. Regular report cards are issued, which also let their parents know how well they are progressing. Each class lasts about two hours and so far, the program has been hugely successful, with lots of growth on the horizon.
“For the first session, we had about 60 kids in the program with 12 classes,” says Caron. “We start a new session in January and we will go up to 22 classes, because the demand is so high.”
As part of each session, the kids get a special t-shirt which, according to Caron, helps to create something of a team atmosphere, even at such a young age.
“Active Start and LTAD not only help kids as they grow up in sports and athletics, but they also help to further cultivate the culture of the Granite Club as a family-oriented club with active members and active families,” says Caron. “As a result of these programs, we see more kids on the golf course or tennis courts with their parents.”podcast