How can we get more kids to play pool?
This article is courtesy of beyondthepocket.com, the official Brunswick Billiard Blog
Let’s face it – pool is getting older. The average age of pool players continues to climb and today, kids seem more interested in sniping head shots in Call of Duty than making Z-banks on a pool table. To say that this represents a problem for the billiards industry is a fairly massive understatement.
In order for the game of pool to grow and thrive in the United States, we have to capture the youth demographic. This isn’t to say that the older demographic isn’t important, but those folks won’t provide growth in the game – the growth has to come from those who are currently in middle school and high school. Which begs the question: How do we get America’s youth hooked on the game of pool?
The bowling industry is a good example that gets me thinking. The industry has come up with a novel approach to attracting the youth crowd. Give away the product for free. There is nothing more attractive to a kid who relies on their parents for entertainment money, than the word “free.” Hundreds of bowling alleys across the United States have joined the Kids Bowl Free program. During the summer, kids can go to a participating bowling alley and roll two games for free. Every day. All summer long. If I was a kid on summer vacation, I’d be all over this. In fact, my two kids are currently on summer vacation, and are taking full advantage of this promotion. (They frequently head to Chipper’s in Broomfield, CO, to roll a couple games.)
While not all pool halls are kid friendly, many sports restaurants are family friendly, and are a great outlet to introduce the kids to the game. If a child can try pool and get hooked, then they can morph into a loyal customer who is happy to pay for the product and/or service that is being provided. The video game industry does this “try it before you buy it” method the best. The industry puts sample kiosks in every Target, Wal-Mart and Best Buy across the nation, which gives potential customers a “taste” of games like Halo, Gears of War, Madden NFL and Assassin’s Creed. Every day, these kiosks convince more kids to purchase and play the company’s games.
Which brings us back to our initial question: How do we get kids into pool? Could a program like this work for the billiards industry? As my buddy Keven would say, “You Betcha!” Give kids a clean, safe, fun place to go, throw them an hour of free table time, and in no time you’ll have new players getting hooked on pool. Or better yet, put a table in your home and have hours of family fun!
- Patrick McGarity