Hiveclass Makes Youth Sports Training More Accessible for Everyone

Youth sports and fitness play a central role within communities—and so do public libraries. Now, an online platform from Hiveclass aims to bring the two together by helping libraries become a hub for kids and their families to learn how to play a sport, keep fit, and otherwise remain active.



Youth sports and fitness play a central role within communities—and so do public libraries. Now, an online platform from Hiveclass aims to bring the two together by helping libraries become a hub for kids and their families to learn how to play a sport, keep fit, and otherwise remain active.

Promoting ‘active screen time’

The “Digital Encyclopedia of Youth Sports Training” includes more than 1,500 brief, skills-based videos that teach “physical literacy” and build competence in a wide range of sports, says Hiveclass Co-Founder and CEO Joe Titus. For an annual subscription fee, libraries can give their patrons free, unlimited access to the site’s instructional content.

The service could help libraries address what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies as a growing problem in America: Not enough kids are physically active. Nearly half of U.S. youth ages 12-21 are not vigorously active on a regular basis, the CDC says—and about 14 percent of young people report no recent physical activity. Participation in all types of physical activity declines as children get older.

Hiveclass launched in 2020 during the height of the pandemic, when Titus realized there weren’t a lot of services providing physical education and youth sports training remotely.

While we were researching this service, we discovered there are very few low-cost ways for children and teens to learn how to play a sport, period,” he notes.

According to the nonprofit Aspen Institute, families in America spend close to $700 per year, on average, for each child to play a sport. For some sports, the annual costs total well over $1,000. In 2015, about a third of parents from households making less than $50,000 a year told researchers that youth sports cost too much for their child to continue participating. Additionally, when caregivers work full-time with limited availability to take kids to various activities, Hiveclass provides a solution that brings access to instruction anytime and anywhere!

Hiveclass helps libraries fulfill their mission of making opportunities widely available to everyone, says Library Business Manager Elizabeth Lee, who is a former children’s librarian. “Sports shouldn’t be for just the wealthy, but for everyone,” she says. “We believe this is one way to accomplish that goal.”

The Digital Encyclopedia of Youth Sports Training includes videos in several categories, including basketball, dance, field hockey, fitness, lacrosse, self-defense, soccer, tennis, and volleyball. Additional content in yoga, mindfulness and pickleball is also now available, with other topics to follow in Spring 2023.

In keeping with the company’s focus on making youth sports more accessible for everyone, the videos were created with maximum accessibility in mind. Most of the skills require only a beach blanket of space and very little equipment to practice, Titus says. All the videos are available in both English and Spanish, and customizable settings allow users to turn various accessibility features on or off, such as captioning, screen reading, and dyslexia-friendly font.

Although there are instructional videos about youth sports available on YouTube and other sources, these often don’t cover skills training in a lot of depth. “It’s easy to find the first video about a topic on YouTube, but very hard to find the 30th video,” Titus observes. “Also, our service is ad-free.”

And unlike YouTube videos, which are non-participatory in nature, Hiveclass content promotes what Titus calls “active screen time.” While the first half of each video features instruction on a particular skill, the second half challenges viewers to try out the skill for themselves—encouraging kids to play, run, and jump while learning new techniques and having fun.

Helping libraries meet emerging needs

Designed with libraries in mind, the Digital Encyclopedia of Youth Sports Training is being used in all Department of Defense libraries and in six states, including California and New York.

“We collaborate with libraries to deliver relevant content and features that are important to libraries and their patrons,” Titus says. For example, Hiveclass has compiled suggested reading lists for each sport, and these lists—which are continually evolving—are available to librarians at subscribing institutions at no additional cost.

“We have consistently heard from librarians that sports are among the most popular children’s book topics,” Titus says. “We want to make it very easy for libraries to engage with their users through sports.”

When children and teens are looking for sports-themed reading content, librarians can share recommendations from the Hiveclass “Reading Hive” and also show them the sports skills videos, which could encourage youth to take up a sport or be more active for themselves.

Lee says Hiveclass is helping libraries meet emerging needs within their communities—which is a key reason why Hiveclass recently received a prestigious Gold Award in the 2023 Modern Library Awards from LibraryWorks Inc.

“We’re giving libraries an opportunity to connect with patrons in a way they haven’t before,” she says. “We’re helping them meet kids where their interests lie and become an important part of a child’s whole development.”




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