I have been going to athletic events regularly for the past five years. By regularly I mean at least three practices or games a week for at least 40 weeks out of the year, sometimes two or three in a day. What I saw, which used to only be seen at the collegiate and professional ranks, was so constant and so overwhelming that I decided to write a book about youth sports and what could be done to change the paradigm back to play for fun with balanced excellence.

 

I have heard coaches say that they coach to win and they do that because that’s what their kids want them to do.  I hear coaches saying the game is too important to play certain children, even five minutes in a contest. Athletes are saying they only play to win when they don’t even have a solid definition of the word and its consequences and ramifications. However, most of the children we talk to and most of the national polls say that kids just want to have fun and play. Seventy percent say they don’t even care if the score is kept.

 

Technical fouls, ejections, suspensions, coaches constantly yelling instructions to the athletes playing, players mouthing off to officials and coaches, coaches berating players and officials for losses, fights in the stands and on the field, and parents blasting their kids before, during and after games on the ride home all add up to a cauldron of abuse simmering, and sometimes exploding, during youth sports games. At least, that’s my opinion.

 

The belief that the more you ramp up the pressure, the more you specialize, the more you play on an “elite” team, the better these little guys and girls will perform, is counterproductive to every professional’s opinion that we have talked to in Stop the Tsunami in Youth Sports (the title of my book).  Elementary teachers with a decade of experience, physical education instructors all with Masters in Education, certified athletic trainers, sports psychologists, college coaches, and professional athletes all say that this is not the way to raise our children, on or off the playing field.

 

Since puberty changes everything, and only about 10% of the children who are “good” at the age of 10 are “good” at eighteen, it is amazing how many kids sit on the bench to massage the coach’s ego. Combine this with the fact that the male and female bodies don’t fully develop until the children are in their early to mid-twenties, and you have more ingredients for this recipe of disaster in youth sports.

 

Most coaches have little or no formal training when they agree to coach in youth sports. They are going to be coaching their kids and they volunteer, sometimes reluctantly, to coach. The only real tangible model they have to follow is on television in the collegiate or professional ranks. These highly paid professionals are not in any way, shape, or form in a parallel universe from which these coaches can emulate their behavior. There is no relationship between what is going on and what needs to be taught at the youth level, with college and professional sports.

 

Some of these well intentioned coaches get an eyeful as to what they are getting into when they go to the first “draft” or tryout. Behind the scenes deals are being made, upfront manipulations of rosters are being handed to them as they sit confused and bewildered about the proceedings. At the first practice, new kids are not given the same chances as returning players, as coaches, parents, and organizations maneuver to put a “winning” team on the field, court, or rink.

 

Most everyone gets caught up in this vicious cycle of more is better, my kid is better than your kid, and specialization, not balance, is the key to children becoming D I athletes. This cycle is really disingenuous to the process of children growing up to be productive adults.

 

With the average professional athletes’ life expectancy playing at that level being about 4 years, and the average salary being about $80, 000, a new breed of athlete is being groomed that feel they are entitled and deserve the accolades and trophies they receive. The reality of the situation is that they are not the “best”, they are just the “best” of those who can afford to pay and want to go through the hassle to travel all over in hopes of gaining the mythical DI athletic scholarship and pro career.

 

Video after video on our website, frozenshorts.com, debunk the myth that more is better. Athletes and coaches from college and the professional ranks continually and repeatedly shoot down the specialized “elite” travel model as being injurious, both mentally and physically to our children’s long term mental and physical health.

At Frozen Shorts we have instituted the frozenshorts training method (F.S.T.M.) where we put fun back into youth sports and into everyone’s journey through this time in their lives. We have just rolled out S.L.F.F. a new basic fundamental philosophy applicable to parents, players, and coaches of all ages and backgrounds, where Safety, Love, Fun and Friendship are the key building blocks to long term success.