HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — For about a year, the COVID-19 pandemic halted youth and recreational sports for people of all ages.

Athletes across the world — with fields closed and sporting events canceled or postponed — were forced to get creative when it came to practicing on their own. In some cases, that meant using technology to their advantage.

What You Need To Know

  • The Skills is a platform that creates video lessons and courses from some of the world's greatest athletes

  • The first six athletes to launch their lessons are Larry Fitzgerald, Megan Rapinoe, Shaun White, Maria Sharipova, Kerri Walsh Jennings, and Michael Phelps

  • In addition to video learning, memberships also feature downloadable workbooks and community boards to track progress

  • The platform utilizes technology to expand access to sports and sports coaching for communities who might have been priced out under normal circumstances

Former college volleyball player Kendall Mency and her friends often head to social media or YouTube to find tips and tricks from some of their favorite athletes.

"Once you see it and you study how they practice in their craft, it’s good to learn," Mency said. "You can study, memorize and replicate that in your own game."

While there are many instructional videos available online for the sporting community, one new platform is betting on its ability to provide unique lessons from the world's best.

Launched in September 2020 and founded by Omer Atesmen, The Skills is an online learning community that brings unparalleled access to lessons from athletes like Michael Phelps and Kerri Walsh Jennings.

Dan Goldstein, the company's vice president of marketing, said the goal behind The Skills was to create a platform for elite athletes — thereby democratizing sports education for the masses.

“We believe in building a platform that’s affordable gives back to the next generation of athletes and also gives our athletes a place where they can leave their legacy and share their secrets," said Goldstein.

To Walsh Jennings, whose course is one of six starting footprints for the brand, the platform is unique to others working in play equity and accessibility.

"When I think of The Skills and what sets it apart, it’s so high level and high quality," she said. "I mean you think of Masterclass and the incredible icons they have, this is that with only sports.”

So far, The Skills features six primary footprints in soccer, swimming, tennis, snowboarding, beach volleyball, and football with over 100 lessons from Walsh Jennings, Phelps, Maria Sharipova, Larry Fitzgerald, Shaun White, and Megan Rapinoe. 

Their courses are meant to help provide direct insight on getting better in their respective sports, but also dive deeper into things like mindset and routine.

"To be able to open up the behind-the-scenes is one thing," Walsh Jennings said. "Then it’s your job to put it to use because words don’t teach, experience teaches. The Skills hits that on a next level way."

"They believe athletes have a role that’s more than just playing on the field," Goldstein added. "We’ve really made it an initiative to bring on new athletes and to go deeper into those sports that complement some of the world’s greatest."

In addition to access, the company is also hoping to make an impact. As part of what is called "The Skills Scholarship," for every membership purchased, an unlimited membership is donated to a young athlete.