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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A new app called MOJO has arrived to bring the magic back to youth sports through better coaching and a greater emphasis on fun.

Why it matters: Youth sports participation in the U.S. is declining at an alarming rate, thanks largely to poor coaching.

  • Only 38% of kids aged 6 to 12 played team sports on a regular basis in 2018, down from 45% in 2008. And parents say a lack of fun and bad coaching are two of the main reasons their kids quit.
  • COVID-19 has made the situation even worse: Three out of 10 kids who played a sport prior to the pandemic are no longer interested in participating, according to an October survey conducted by The Aspen Institute.
Courtesy: MOJO

How it works: With the MOJO app, which has free and paid ($19.99/year) versions, a coach can run a practice from the palm of his or her hand.

  • The app builds personalized practices customized to the age, skill level and preferences of each team — based on a curriculum developed by top coaches and experts in the fields of youth sports and child psychology.
  • Instead of boring diagrams, MOJO is full of fun instructional videos produced by Mandalay Sports Media, the company behind "The Last Dance."

What they're saying: "Youth sports is broken," says MOJO co-founder and CEO Ben Sherwood, the former co-chairman of Disney Media Networks. "So much of the attention and money goes to elite teams, leaving the rest with very little."

  • "For most families, the experience today is luck of the draw. If you get a great parent coach, you're in luck. But most of them don't know what they're doing, so it ends up being a crummy experience."
  • "We've built an app that takes the stress out of coaching and brings the magic back to youth sports. ... We want to build a brand that targets that particular time in life that's so important."

The state of play: Most new coaches today will search "youth sports drills" online to get started. And while there's plenty of content available, it varies in quality and it can be difficult to find age appropriate material.

  • "We're trying to set the bar for youth sports educational content," says co-founder and CPO Reed Shaffner.
  • "Because parents aren't going to watch videos if they don't enjoy them. And if they aren't engaged, we've lost any hope of changing the way they coach."

Details: MOJO is launching with soccer, and will be available to hundreds of thousands of coaches through a partnership with US Youth Soccer. From there, the plan is to expand to all sports.

  • Target demo: "We're focused on under-13, when about 80% of coaches are moms and dads," says Sherwood.
  • Athlete investors: Russell Wilson, Brandi Chastain and Julie Foudy, all of whom have coached youth sports.

🎥 Watch: MOJO on "Good Morning America"

Go deeper

Feb 10, 2021 - Sports

Tennessee governor says transgender girls shouldn't play on school sports teams

Photo: Houston Cofield/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tennessee's Republican Gov. Bill Lee said Monday that transgender girls should be banned from playing on middle and high school sports teams, claiming trans athletes will "destroy women's sports," AP reports.

Why it matters: His comments come as the Tennessee GOP attempts to pass legislation requiring student-athletes to provide "original" birth certificates in order to participate in school sports. They argue that trans girls have an edge in athletics because they were assigned male at birth, but research has shown there is no automatic advantage.

1 hour ago - Technology

3D printing's next act: big metal objects

Chief Scientist Andy Bayramian makes modifications to the laser system on Seurat's 3D metal printer. Photo courtesy of Seurat Technologies.

A new metal 3D printing technology could revolutionize the way large industrial products like planes and cars are made, reducing the cost and carbon footprint of mass manufacturing.

Why it matters: 3D printing — also called additive manufacturing — has been used since the 1980s to make small plastic parts and prototypes. Metal printing is newer, and the challenge has been figuring out how to make things like large car parts faster and cheaper than traditional methods.

Rising rates may hammer the stock market

Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios

Stocks are much more vulnerable to interest rate swings than they used to be.

Why it matters: A sharp rise in rates in early 2022 is the key reason the stock market is off to an ugly start. And with the Federal Reserve making noise about trying to keep inflation in check, rates could go higher.