How Private Lessons Have Fueled All Lax’s Early Success
Alex Marino did not start playing competitive lacrosse until high school, mostly because her hometown of Freehold, New Jersey offered little-to-no exposure to the sport for young girls.
“We had next to nothing when it came to training, nutrition advice and skill work,” she says.
Even without the training, the highly athletic Marino quickly became a lacrosse star – she still holds her high school’s record for career goals – and went on to play at Monmouth University at the Division I level. While playing club lacrosse growing up, Alex met another budding star, Meg Douty, who blossomed into a world-class defender.
Douty went on to play lacrosse at the University of Maryland, where she led the Terrapins to two national championships. Her career trajectory only grew after college when she became a member of the U.S. Women’s Lacrosse Team. Douty played in the 2017 World Cup where she was named to the All-World team, comprised of the top 11 lacrosse players in the world.
In honor of Flag Day 🇺🇸 and the start of the Word Cup, I am throwing it back to last summer when I had the honor of representing our country at the World Cup and World Games! 🙏🏽 #blessed #lacrosse #USA #america pic.twitter.com/UHlEiXFTrT
— Megan Douty (@MegDouty5) June 14, 2018
While Douty played professional lacrosse, Marino opened a gym right out of college to help train athletes in her area, including Douty when she was home.
Rooted in a love for lacrosse, a passion for developing female players, and an ability to offer complementary skills sets, Douty and Marino’s friendship soon developed into a business partnership. “No one was teaching the girls in our area all the things they needed to do to maximize their performance,” Marino says. “If we wanted them to get the treatment they deserved, we had to make the move for them.”
In January 2017, All Lax was born.
All Lax offers club teams, clinics and camps, as well as resources like help navigating the murky road of college recruitment. Douty and Marino found innumerable benefits in private lessons, which they now offer to girls, typically starting in the 4th grade. Here, Marino shares tips that have made All Lax’s early foray into private training a success.
Dazzle with your resume and offerings
It didn’t take much convincing from Douty and Marino to build a private lesson client base. As Alex says, “[Meg] has a lacrosse resume that is second to none in our area.” Douty’s undeniable success and expertise in athletic performance means kids benefit from not only her talents, but also the years of coaching she received from literally the best coaches in the world.
Marino is also a known quantity in the local lacrosse area and she offers the added benefit of being a training guru. While Douty is a defensive expert, Marino’s experience is rooted in the offensive side of the ball. All Lax is planning to bring in a goalie coach as well, giving them a well rounded training staff to help hone any girl’s skill set, regardless of position.
“When parents meet us they know we are pouring our heart and soul into everything we wished we had when we were growing up,” Marino says. “They know we’re not really in it for the money. We do this because we really want to help the girls.”
Both Marino and Douty earn income from outside sources related to lacrosse, which only augments their “labor of love” message. They do, admittedly, make decent revenue from private lessons, which Marino says is their only “take home pay.” Additional All Lax revenue is used for operating costs and growth.
While they are strategic businesswomen, their passion for lacrosse and helping local athletes is evident. Working in the same county where they grew up adds an extra layer of credibility to their mission.
Make sure you are truly serving the player
Because Marino and Douty built their business on the foundation of giving girls the tools they never received, providing detailed customized instruction to each client is tantamount.
“Ask questions. Ask about their goals. Build programs that are best for them. Not every aspect of their game will be the same as other players, Marino says. “Doing things that best fit their goals will get them excited to come and help you have a long-term client.”
Marino also points out the importance of maximizing each session, be it 30 minutes or an hour. When they arrive for a lesson, the kids know to immediately put their smartphones away, which parents highly appreciate.
Give all players tangible feedback, even if they aren’t a private lessons client … yet
Even for girls in a one-off clinic, Marino and Douty make a point to provide useful feedback they can work on away from All Lax. This process has led to many more private lesson clients because Marino says parents are adept at taking the feedback and seeing the benefit in individualized sessions.
— Megan Douty (@MegDouty5) June 14, 2018
“The parent sees that obviously, it’s harder to attack those skills in a group setting, so they’ll say, ‘Can we set up something on an individual basis so she’s getting the work she needs to improve in that area?’ Marino says.
Private lessons allow Douty and Marino to dive into a girl’s mechanics and fine tune whatever it is that we’re having her work on. Everything comes down to the parents embracing this benefit. “Parents are key. They want to hear that you’re thinking about what’s best for the kid,” Marino says.
Be flexible with location
While Douty and Marino have clients that visit from as far away as New York City (90 minutes away), they typically travel in the local area. They will train on a field, for which they obtain permits, or even travel to a student’s backyard. This malleability makes scheduling much easier for busy parents.
Make your business’s online presence appealing
Before All Lax partnered with LeagueApps, their interface was admittedly not user-friendly. Now Marino touts the brand new site design as a major asset. “We’ve received a lot of compliments on the look,” she says.
More importantly, the back end is much easier to use and make changes. Marino especially loves having parents complete the waiver forms ahead of time. She says collecting them on site was a disaster as parents would forget and kids would lose them. Marino is particularly excited about implementing LeagueApps’ new technology that will allow clients to book lessons online. Currently, parents have to go to a contact page and send an email, which can be an arduous process from inquiry to confirmation. “The online booking will eliminate a lot of back and forth communication for everyone,” Marino says.