Hiveclass Rolls Out Youth Sports Training Digital Platform for Libraries

Hiveclass, a startup company building a “digital encyclopedia of youth sports training,” has been partnering with libraries throughout the United States to offer teens and youth access to its mobile-friendly database of professionally shot, athlete-led instructional videos on soccer, basketball, tennis, dance, self-defense, volleyball, and more.

Hiveclass logoHiveclass, a startup company building a “digital encyclopedia of youth sports training,” has been partnering with libraries throughout the United States to offer teens and youth access to its mobile-friendly database of professionally shot, athlete-led instructional videos on soccer, basketball, tennis, dance, self-defense, volleyball, and more in both English and Spanish. Created with a curriculum-based approach, each sport and activity features a tiered, multi-part series of short videos designed to teach users the fundamentals of the sport at their own pace, motivating them toward more advanced concepts as they progress. Patrons at subscribing institutions can access the content with a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or PC anywhere outside the library with an Internet or mobile data connection by linking their Hiveclass account to their library card number.

Several consortia and library systems have made the platform available to member libraries and patrons in recent weeks, including Califa, the Connecticut Library Consortium, the Sacramento Public Library, the U.S. Department of Defense’s libraries for servicemembers and their families, and more.

When asked whether health and physical fitness programming is becoming a trend for public libraries, Elizabeth Lee, library business manager for Hiveclass and former children’s librarian, said that in the wake of the COVID pandemic, many kids have gotten in the habit of spending a lot of time passively watching content on screens, “cooped up inside,” she said. “I think that libraries are naturally leaning toward physical fitness to engage with young patrons and their families…. Online usage [of library resources] surged during the pandemic, but now we need to flip it back and get people in the door, and an easy way to do that is to really encourage kids to use green space if they have it, or some kind of physical [activity], so that you’re meeting the parents’ needs. We’ve had a handful of library systems that we’ve met with…and they specifically mention their local parks department or their YMCA or Boys & Girls Club chapters as potential partners.”

For libraries where sports training is an unfamiliar area of coverage, Lee created programming guides “specifically geared toward middle grades—nine to 10 years old—because those are the ages that I worked with the closest,” she told LJ. These include multiple different activities, from active programming—such as balloon volleyball to familiarize kids with the concepts of volleyball in a library space—to tabletop soccer as STEAM programming. She has also created guides for teen and young adult librarians to use that emphasize the mental health and confidence aspects of participating in sports, partly because mental health is currently a focus of the Young Adult Library Services Association. Hiveclass “is a new resource…I’m hoping people can use these as a guide,” Lee said. “You can adapt them and make it work for your system and your kids.”

Patrons with dyslexia, ADHD, or visual impairments can also enable a variety of accessibility features on the Hiveclass platform, including pre-set profiles that make it so that users “just click a button, and it will automatically choose [accessibility] options for you,” Lee explained. In a brief demo, she showed how selecting the dyslexia profile switched the entire platform to one of two dyslexia-friendly fonts that users can choose from, for example.

Hiveclass also includes a “Reading Hive” built into the platform that libraries can use to showcase relevant book titles for users who are learning about one of the sports. The goal is, if a kid or young adult is becoming interested in a sport, a parent or librarian could easily find a book for them that fits with their grade, reading level, or age, Lee said. “It’s a little easier system of recommendation [for youth sports content] than just going to an online catalog,” she said.

Ellen Paul, executive director of the Connecticut Library Consortium (CLC), first learned about Hiveclass after visiting their booth at the Public Library Association's national conference in Portland this spring. She was initially skeptical of the concept, thinking of all the free training videos that are available on YouTube and elsewhere on the internet. “But I continued the conversation with them, and I have been super impressed with them at every turn,” she told LJ.

Paul played field hockey in high school, and reviewing the platform’s field hockey instruction videos helped change her mind. CLC was opening an RFP process for digital resources, and Paul encouraged Hiveclass to apply. The bid was awarded in the summer, making the platform available to Connecticut libraries. “The videos are so high quality,” she said. “They’re taught by a diverse cast of coaches…. I went to YouTube, and you don’t find that quality of instruction. You can find things…but you can’t find this type of curriculum-based physical education—step one, here’s how to hold a [field hockey] stick, step two, here’s how you dribble, here’s how you shoot—in these short, bite-sized videos.”

Joe Titus, cofounder and CEO of Hiveclass, described the approach as pedagogical and “scaffolded. It’s a way to teach something…. You likely won’t see us ever using the word ‘coaching.’ We really take it from an educational or teaching standpoint. Scaffolded: building certain skills, and then building on the next skill. Giving kids a choice—if they get into basketball, and they want to work on shooting, they can go work on shooting. If another kid wants to work on passing [they can do that]. But it’s giving them a self-guided way” to learn all of the fundamental skills involved with each sport.

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Matt Enis


Matt Enis ( is Senior Editor, Technology for Library Journal.

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