SkateStart owner Patrick O'Toole started his skating career as many people do: by falling down constantly while skating a faulty board. He wanted to spend time with his skateboarding cousins, so his father bought him a generic, unresponsive deck from a big-box store. It barely rolled and always cancelled their playtime last minute to watch soap operas. His junky equipment and lack of knowledge kept him from keeping up with his peers. It wasn't until his father surprised him with a safe, professional skate set that his cousins finally slowed down and began teaching him the ins and outs of thrashing cement waves.
Now in his 20s, Patrick makes it his professional mission to teach the next generation of skaters the proper techniques they need to enjoy the sport. He and his team of certified instructors use his patent-pending skateboard system that shows beginners where to place their feet to push off, perform an ollie, and avoid tripping a board's self-destruct countdown. In addition to imparting fundamental skills, their lessons also build up the confidence necessary to tackle more complex maneuvers.
Designed as one of the tallest, steepest man-made climbing destinations in the Rocky Mountain region, ROCK'n & JAM'n challenges climbers new and old with a medley of nook- and cranny-laden walls. During the two-hour introductory lesson, ROCK'n & JAM'n's full-time, web-slinging instructors teach aspiring mountain goats the basics of belaying (a term used to describe rope management between climbing partners), safety, and how to avoid rookie climbing errors such as ignoring gravity and walking vertically up the wall. After two hours of training, you'll be free to spend the rest of the day taking on challenges such as Boulder or the neck-craning Front Canyon.
The enthusiastic coaches at Soccer Buddies educate youngsters on the value of physical fitness and impart much-needed confidence through drills and practices that refine fundamental skills. Lessons aim to build on the foundations of balance, agility, and coordination for budding athletes as young as 10 months old. As kids get older and their skills begin to mature, they’ll also have the chance to advance through age- and skill-appropriate classes, which increase the chance that students will be fully prepared for advanced moves such as bicycle kicks and the act of kissing a World Cup trophy. Youngsters will find new physical, cognitive, and emotional challenges at every leg of the training track, and those who excel will be eligible for an invitation to the Soccer Buddies Select class, a higher-level learning environment for competitive-minded players younger than 12.
A South Suburban Parks and Recreation course, Family Sports Golf Course showcases a nine-hole, par 31 layout that loops around a two-tier driving range. True to its name, the course caters to all members of the family, including seasoned adults practicing their short game touch, beginning juniors making a smooth foray into the game, and grandmothers looking to back up claims of 350-yard drives. Renovated in 2009, the two-tier driving range invites players to hone their stroke on one of 25 grass tees or 30 tees that are covered, lighted, and heated year-round.
Though they operate more than 200 locations in upwards of 30 states, the team behind U.S. Baseball Academy aims to make each young athlete's experience a personal one. Their four- or six-week camps are taught by local instructors who are current or former coaches at the high school or college level, and typically offer a 6:1 or better player-to-teacher ratio for intense, professional-style training. The Academy's proven itinerary of hitting, pitching, fielding, and baserunning drills was developed by an advisory board of college coaches and Major League players, including Cy Young Award–winner and ace pitcher Brandon Webb.