My Turf is Yours

Senior Creates Personal Training Company, Works With Youth Athletes


Photo courtesy of: Eric Skinner

Coaching the Cedar Park Bulldogs, a youth football team, senior Eric Skinner discusses the plays with the team. As part of his training company, Skinner Elite Training, Skinner develops the skills of the next generation of football players. “‘Next play’ mentality means if you make a mistake that’s okay,” Skinner said. “The play is over and move on. It’s not about if you make a mistake or not, it’s about how you react and recover from that one mistake.”

Rachana Kommineni, Reporter

Playing sports from fifth grade through his freshmen year, senior Eric Skinner has gained a lot of real world experience to become a coach, ultimately leading up to the creation of his company Skinner Elite Training.

On Nov. 12, 2020, Skinner started his personal training company, where he takes any skill level of kids, ages first grade through high school, and tries to take them to the next level, whether that’s becoming the star player on their team or, if they are just beginning, trying to get them on their feet. They also do speed explosiveness and universal footwork that the kids can use for all kinds of sports. Additionally, it’s $25 per person for group, and $35 for individual sessions. 

“I started coaching a little league team for the fun of it and because I was missing playing football a little bit,” Skinner said. “My brother and I were the coaches for a third and fourth grade team and enjoyed ourselves, so I took it to the next step and decided to start my own company that not only involved coaching kids, but also taking their game to the next level and helping kids see the ways they can grow on and off the field.”

When Skinner was in fourth grade, he had a personal trainer, Patrick Gambles, who took his and his brother’s game to the next level, and one thing that Skinner said he will always admire about his coach is that he truly cared about each individual player.

“He would show up to our games and when my brother had surgery he was at the hospital with him and it was always more than just training for him,” Skinner said. “It was always about becoming part of a family and that really inspired me to be able to create a similar atmosphere for the kids that I train in hopes that I am able to pay it forward and they are able to have a similar effect as they get older, as well and possibly create a similar outcome that happened with me.” 

By the many coaches and the amount of experience Skinner has in playing football, Skinner said that he felt he had enough knowledge to be able to coach others, and has gained a lot of real world experience throughout the years that he can apply to coaching. 

“I was lucky enough to have a really great personal trainer that helped me learn that athleticism and what you have right now is not always the most important thing, but what’s instead the most important thing is to learn how to play and use your brain, and use your head, and your smarts to become a good football player,” Skinner said.

About a year ago, Skinner coached a team of football players, so he started off by messaging or emailing the parents of the players about his company, and that if they are interested, to go ahead and contact him, which helped him gain his first clients. A normal workout for a student at Skinner Elite consists of a warm up (stretches and eye coordination), then going over their quote of the week, and then the actual workout itself (scrimmages, foot work like ladders, etc.), and finishing off with some competition time, or scrimmage time, which especially works well in the group sessions. Lastly, they go over the homework for the week. 

“We make it our personal goal to give each parent and player the same high level experience that we are aiming to go off of a referral only, because we know that when my company gets enough referrals and what we are doing as a team, as a whole, in Skinner Elite Training, is up to par, and doing well enough, word of mouth will get around and referrals will start to come in,” Skinner said.

What Skinner said he likes the most about coaching the kids is seeing them grow on and off the field, whether that is through their skills training and seeing them succeed in football or whether it’s off the field, seeing them become better people through their life lessons program that they implement with their training sessions. 

“One thing that a coach has said to me that I have really taken to heart and tried to make it the underlying purpose of why we do this, is that if one or two players make it to the next level with a high school football, college football, or the NFL, then those are great players, but if there is a coach that can make every person in the room a better person, that is a great coach,” Skinner said. “That is the difference that I have been able to see personally, first hand and second hand throughout my life, and that way I am able to translate it toward the business.” 

One thing that a coach has said to me that I have really taken to heart and tried to make it the underlying purpose of why we do this, is that if one or two players make it to the next level with a high school football, college football, or the NFL, then those are great players, but if there is a coach that can make every person in the room a better person, that is a great coach.

— Eric Skinner

It is important to balance school and coaching according to Skinner, especially when he is not only running training sessions for himself, but for the other people that work for the company. He has to set up schedules for them, as well as himself, and then actually do the training sessions himself that he has for himself.

“Probably the best way that I am able to manage it is that I have a calendar that is very detailed and has time management basically written all over it because I know that if I don’t manage my time well, there is no way I will be able to succeed,” Skinner said.

According to Skinner, he is inspired by coaching or helping young athletes improve their skills because he has had coaches that have been there as more than coaches, like as family and that has been a tremendous experience throughout his life that he has been graced with.

“I want to be able to have that same impact or at least a similar impact on the kids I coach and train, so that they are able to have that kind of experience throughout their playing career,” Skinner said. “Even if they don’t continue to play football or stop at some point, I want them to be able to have those kinds of lessons and experience that they are able to look back on, and one day, replicate it for the next generation themselves.”

Patience is one of the many life lessons throughout coaching that Skinner has learned. Patience, he said, is so important, especially with younger age groups, because they don’t really think the way that adults or just the friends around him think. 

“It takes time and has to be a thorough explanation just for them to understand a certain concept,” Skinner said.

The life lessons program happens every Monday night and it is where Skinner finds quote for the weekly message, and he uses the quote by implementing it into each player’s life in a different way. According to Skinner, as a trainer, he gives a personal example or a famous example of big name athletes like Michael Jordan, Lebron James and Tom Brady, that have really succeeded for a long time.

“We get examples from them, and then we also want to make sure we apply it to the player’s perspective because a lot of times people will hear things and don’t know how to apply it to themselves, so we help them with the application process which is a really big part in making sure that they understand how this can apply to them and that it is not just something that you have to wait till you get to a certain age before it applies to you,” Skinner said. “At the end, their homework is usually to find one or two examples during the week of how that quote applied to them.” 

A more important life lesson that Skinner learned through coaching is that winning is not all about having a winning mentality. Skinner said that it is all about the drive to improve and get better that will make all the difference in their success.

“Whether it be championship or a big rivalry game, those types of games are the ones that will really make a person dig deep, and if they have nothing to dig deep to, then they will lose, but if they build themselves on a good foundation and make sure they see the steps of improvement before them, then they are able to pull out those wins and kind of look back on ‘I won not because I was so focused on winning, but because I was so focused on my improvement and growing as a person instead,'” Skinner said.

Skinner said that he feels a feeling of success when he sees kids gradually improving, but most of all he is happy for them because he knows that when they hit that breakthrough of success, it is a feeling like no other. The best feeling  Skinner has ever had, he said, is seeing a kid improve not with their skills, but with their leadership. 

“Very rarely do you see a kid have a type of quality that can be considered leadership, especially at the ages that I coach,” Skinner said. “Whenever I see that type of improvement, that’s truly the best feeling you could ever have as a coach because you know they are going to be successful no matter what they do in life, whether it’s football or a different sport. If they pursue something through school or whatever career they choose, they will be successful just because they will lead by example and be able to help others around them.”

Skinner hopes to go to Clemson University and major in kinesiology with a minor in athletic coaching. Clemson University has a specific program that is taught for young coaches, so  Skinner said he will be able to learn underneath some of the best coaches in the country and hopes to one day land a coaching position at that school.

“To put it in perspective, the experience that I have in coaching transformed my life in such a way that I want to make an entire career out of it and take this to the highest level I possibly can,” Skinner said.