If you plan to start a soccer academy but don’t know where to start, you’re in the right place. While soccer may not be the most commonly played sport in the US, it has recently started to receive much more attention than before.
Right now, many soccer lovers in the US want to express their love of the game by actually playing it rather than just watching professional games. And this is precisely what soccer academies are meant to provide: a proper climate for soccer players to practice the game as a hobby.
This guide will sift through the main things you should do and pay attention to start a successful soccer academy.
Learn About The Soccer Industry
The first step of any successful business is market research. You have to keep in mind many aspects before starting a soccer academy. In comparison to Europe and South America, for example, the soccer industry in the US is not as robust.
The period between 16 and 20 is critical for any young player to develop the skills necessary to play at the club level. Still, in the US, most players enter professional leagues after college at 21-22, when most European players are already playing in professional leagues.
This is one of several challenges you might encounter, but if you want to stand out among your competitors, the best way is to figure out the reasons behind their success and spend time planning on reaching and even exceeding what they have.
Here’s a list of the best-known football academies in the US:
- FC Barcelona Football Academy
- FC Dallas
- LA Galaxy Football Academy
- Real Saltlake group
- New York Red Bull
- Seattle sounders
- Vancouver Whitecaps
If you tried but couldn’t compete with them, you can specialize in one aspect of soccer, like a strikers academy. This way, you will attract young strikers who perceive your academy as an authority to practice their favorite soccer position.
After achieving success by specializing in only one position, you can expand your business into midfielder and defender training. And don’t be intimidated by the abundance of strong competitors. You know it’s a healthy industry when you see them thriving!
You have to decide whether you want to build an academy that raises strong youngsters to compete internationally or you want to coach them and get paid.
Starting From Scratch vs Franchise
Starting a football academy from scratch and establishing a name for it is far easier said than done. However, if you already have a name in the soccer market, starting your academy will be easier since you already have a name to leverage.
Regarding soccer academies, there are few opportunities for franchises; thus, starting from scratch looks to be the best alternative for someone who wants to get into this industry.
Invest Available Fields
As we mentioned before, research is key when it comes to starting a soccer academy, and a part of it is finding out the available training spaces or fields.
We recommend you make a list to know exactly how many are available. You may want to inquire with the recreation authority in your country or city to know the availability of these spaces.
Ask if any teams or groups receive preferential treatment, as this could affect your field time. For example, if there are any semi-professional or top competing teams, they may bump your field time if their games or practices were to be rescheduled.
If the fields get busy more often, or you risk being bumped sometimes, you will need to schedule training away from the field.
Look for places where you can do some creative exercise, such as hill jogging or practicing footwork at a local beach. It’s crucial to know what’s accessible as a plan B.
Pick a Strategic Location for Your Academy
A soccer academy is one of those businesses whose location is crucial to their success. Setting up a boarding facility away from the city hustle is one option.
The business office can be located in the city, while the training sessions can be held elsewhere. If you don’t want to manage a boarding facility, a location that parents can access would be ideal.
Your academy can also be placed near a school, which is another excellent option to strategically place your academy because that way parents can easily reach you.
There are some other elements that you should keep in mind concerning the place, like security, accessibility through multiple road routes, the demographics of the whole area, and the laws and regulations that govern it.
How To Choose a Name for Your Soccer Academy
You can do several things to get your academy’s name out there, and among those things is to rank on top of the search results in search engines. One of the easiest ways to do that is by opting for a strategically chosen name.
Giving your soccer academy a proper and unique name can drastically benefit your business, not just because people will recognize it easily but also because they will find it more easily on search engines.
Otherwise, your academy will have to rely only on word-of-mouth and pay to advertise to be noticed in your local area and beyond.
Make sure to incorporate your local city or county name into your soccer academy name. This way, you will set yourself up for search engine success.
For example, if you give your academy the name “Salt Lake City Soccer Academy for Strikers”, your website will contain the words “Salt Lake City Soccer Academy,” a typical phrase someone would type if they’re searching for a soccer academy in Salt Lake City.
These keywords indicate to search engines that people looking for a soccer academy in Townsville could find your website and services useful. Thus, you will be increasing the chances to gain higher rankings by search engines such as Google.
Below is a list of possible soccer academy names to give you some inspiration (just make sure to incorporate your country name in it):
- Premium Football Academy
- Future Football Academy
- Alliance Football Academy
- Optimum Football Academy
Choose a name for your academy that is in line with your future aspirations, but if you’ve already chosen the name and started to grow, stick to it.
Since it takes time for a website’s domain authority and social media profiles to be established and grow, it’s possible that changing your website URL will confuse both your customers and search engines!
Licensing Your Academy
Now that everything’s set, the next step is to get insured and licensed, which will put your soccer academy under the aegis of the government in case anything happens.
The first step towards this is to learn more about the competitors’ certifications or licenses. Then, research to determine which license(s) would fit your academy.
Don’t forget to inquire about any complementary liability insurance that sometimes comes with certification or licensing.
It’s also important to list any certifications related to training, safety, or health on your academy website to convey your quality and safety standards.
There are some soccer organizations that you want to look to for certifications like those. In the United States, look to US Club Soccer, US Youth Soccer, SAY Soccer, and The American Youth Soccer Organization.
In Canada, you can look to Canada Soccer or Provincial & Territorial Soccer Associations.
Work on Protecting Your Intellectual Property
Apart from some items, such as the coach’s playbook, running a business like this is possible without having to file for intellectual property protection.
The playbook lists the many formations for which the team has prepared. Some of these plays may have been passed down from one coach to another since the institution’s inception.
Imagine how disastrous it would be if this fell into the hands of a competing academy. Therefore, when such works are copyrighted, the information contained within them is protected by law.
If such things are discovered in possession of an unauthorized entity, or if the formation in the playbook is used, the team that uses them can face criminal charges.
Diets and training routines are examples of items that intellectual property laws can protect because they are the intellectual property of the institution that made them.
Increase Brand Awareness
If no one knows about your business, it’s not yet confirmed. There are many things you can do to boost your brand awareness.
You can, for example, put together a local soccer league for your academy’s surrounding community and allow plenty of youngsters to participate.
This way, parents and youngsters will learn about your football academy and enroll.
Joel is a seasoned soccer journalist and analyst with many years of experience in the field. Joel specializes in game analysis, player profiles, transfer news, and has a keen eye for the tactical nuances of the game. He played at various levels in the game and coached teams - he is happy to share his insight with you.