The Kids Know

Category: 2013
Published: Monday, 01 July 2013
The Kids know!

 

I was talking with two very nice ladies recently. Both of them had children playing youth sports. We were planning on scheduling a talk about youth sports. As is the case with these pre-meetings, I almost always try to model what I will be talking about in my presentation with these people.

 

Please understand that I also drank the Kool aid, almost everyone has a taste. What I am trying to change is the idea that ordering pitchers and shots of Kool aid is of benefit

 

I told them a couple of stories about my children and what we had gone through as a family.  I give them generalities that apply to most people about youth sports: specialization, entitlement, fun, balance, the journey, injuries, mental health, winning, scholarships, and a better way to do things for the children.

 

 Most parents are well meaning good people and these two ladies had a special desire to get the word out for the benefit of all. These two ladies had been friends for a while and each had a unique story about one of their children that was applicable and mirrored what many parents and CHILDREN were going through in their journey in youth sports.

 

One mom told a story of her son and his friend. Each was athletic and played sports together. One of the children decided to play their sport exclusively and try to live the “dream.”  Now I am all for dreams, but I always try to get people to understand that there is a difference between goals and dreams. It is the parents’ jobs to know the difference. The other children played multiple sports. When it was tine for college each family and child took a different path, based on the child’s wishes, and the parents desires.

 

The first child went on to play college athletics. He went to a non DI school and when the coach left, the new coach coming in hardly played this boy. It happens.

 

The second child, and the child of this lady, who had been exposed to multiple sports, different experiences, and had not participated in "elite" travel sports took an entirely different approach to his choice of colleges. During one visit were he and his family were brought in with other athletes for what I call the “cattle call “ interview process in which many athletes are brought in at once, interviewed but the coach, and then the decision is made by the coaching staff on who to go after, is made. Well, not in this case!

 

This young man, because of his upbringing, told the coach he wasn’t sure he wanted to play sports in college. I would have paid to see the look on the coaches’ face and been there for the meeting with his assistants after this get together was over!

 

 One college down two to go!

 

The next visit was to a campus during the sports season. After attending a seminar on academics, the mom said there was an event going on in the child’s sport and why don’t they go take a look. When they got there the young man commented on how few people were in the stands, and how many kids were on the team.

 

The last college didn’t have a sports team in this child’s area. This is the college he attended.

 

When I mentioned to the mom that the child was sending messages to his parents on what he wanted to do in college, and what he wanted to avoid be pressured to do, by the school that he chose, and the hints that he dropped along the way, you could actually see the light go on for her.

 

This is what we do at Frozen Shorts. We try and get people to associate their experience with the big picture, extrapolate and identify their connection and get them to come to a new enlightenment about their journey.

 

I am just the messenger, the truth is already there!

 

Next week the other child’s journey!

You can follow VJ on twitter @VJJStanley, go to his website frozenshorts.com to read other blogs and see video interviews of Doctors, Athletes, Coaches, and more. You can follow him on face book, or contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  His book: Stop the Tsunami in Youth Sports is available in E-Reader and paperback through his website frozenshorts.com

Waiting Your Turn Part II

Category: 2013
Published: Monday, 24 June 2013
Waiting Your Turn PartII

 

Now let’s address the “waiting your turn mantra.” In a recent radio interview I did in Los Angeles the host told me a story of a girl on a varsity High School Softball team. She was one of two starting pitchers and after about 15 starts she was taken out of the “rotation.” After the season was over in her exit interview, she stated to the coach she was surprised that she was not given a chance to continue starting.  It was not fair and she was upset. He asked me what I thought.

 

I said here is what happened. As this team named starters, substitutes, and role players, she was designated as a starter. It was her turn to start! She, and her family, had waited their turn while others played and pitched the year before and there was no reason why, when it came to be her “turn” this year, which she should not start the whole season. I explained to the host, if you have starting positions ONLY, and not starters, and kids who then fill those spots based on performance, you then have the inter team competition so crucial to a team’s success, development, and dynamics.

 

I could actually “see” the “LIGHT” go on for him.

 

Now, back to our story. The young girl in question was learning a lesson in life that will NOT carry her forward in a positive “light.” She is a player, and players want to play. But it is easy and convenient for a coach to do things this way. By saying to your players that they have definite “roles” on the team from the beginning it makes it so much easier to “coach” as you are failing to do one of the most important parts of coaching , and that is eliminating entitlement. Kids change every day, heck, even from the start of practice to the end.

 

. It reminds me of the baseball manager who says I have this guy for the 7th inning, this guy for the 8th inning and this guy to close in the 9th. But that is major league baseball and not High School or youth sports. AND, even in those circumstances, as many can see this year and last year in MLB, closers are getting changed all the time based on performance.

 

 No one is entitled to a starting spot. When I mentioned this to the parent she said her daughter did get in and did get to play, some. But I could see the questions arising in her mind. The “dimmer” switch for the “light” was being used!

 

Too many times in too many games I see High School coaches ( and youth sport coaches ) leave their best players in with the philosophy that 75% of my best ;player is better than 100% of a lesser talented player. Although true in the very short term SOMETIMES, it has long term negative consequences for the team. It teaches players no matter what they do, they will get to play, and others no matter what they do, they will sit until the score is lopsided, OR they will get a few minutes or innings to play here and there because a coach, without a clue, has decided on a child’s athletic ability, and therefore their athletic future.

 

BUT OH MY, even when they do get this little scrap of meaningless playing time, if they should make a mistake, they will get pulled.

 

This creates a status or tiered hierarchy on the team, and I see it in almost every game I go to, and practices.

 

Remember the old adage “It takes a village to raise a child.” Well the same holds true for youth and high school sports. It takes the whole tam, not just a few players to make a team successful for the long term.

 

We use this rule of thumb in out talks, workshops, and seminars. If a freshman or sophomore is not going to play at LEAST 50% of the time in EVERY game, they should be playing at the Junior Varsity level.

 

This really means they should be so good that they are starting and playing most of the game every game. It should be that cut and dried.

 

Frozen Short’s contact information:

You can follow VJ on twitter @VJJStanley, go to his website frozenshorts.com to read other blogs and see video interviews of Doctors, Athletes, Coaches, and more. You can follow him on face book, or contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  His book: Stop the Tsunami in Youth Sports is available in E-Reader and paperback through his website frozenshorts.com

Sitting on the Bench Waiting Your Turn

Category: 2013
Published: Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Sitting on the Bench Waiting Your Turn Part I

 

This is a story of a young girl. Remember, as always, the sport does not matter. These events happen every season at many high schools across the country. She comes from a very athletic family. She is quite young. She decided to play a new sport in her freshman year in High School. Being a good athlete to begin with, she grasped the concepts of her new sport quickly. She led her team in scoring at the Junior Varsity level.

 

In her sophomore year she made the Varsity team at her High School. Everyone in her family was quite pleased. Once again, the parents are really good people, and they believe in the multiple sport concept and rest.

 

The parents were surprised at how much playing time their daughter got, or didn’t get during the season. But they thought she would just wait her turn.

 

On one hand they believed that playing at the Varsity level was better than playing another year of JV as their daughter had already led her team in scoring at that level. They also thought that while playing on the varsity team she would get better playing with and against more talented players.

 

Let’s break this down. Each year, each team is different. Being the leading scorer one year does not mean you will lead the team in scoring the next year. Also, there are many benefits of playing with your classmates and learning many of the life skills that should be a priority in youth sports. (Yes, High School qualifies s a youth sport)Also, as in life you are going to have to work with and ply with people that are sometimes more talented than you and sometimes they are less talented. It doesn’t matter you still have to learn to get along with different skill levels and different personalities in ALL walks of life.

 

Nobody gets better sitting on the bench. A fallacy of youth sports is that a player gets better practicing against better competition while getting minimal playing time. At the youth sports level this is simply not true. First of all practice rarely imitates a game situation. Sometimes in practice, players that are assured of a starting spot do not put out full effort. When a sub tries really hard it annoys the starter.

 

Also at this level mistakes are so plentiful that rarely does the consistency of play allow for a learning experience on the bench that never comes close to actual playing time.

 

When the sub goes in, and because they are not used to playing at this new level there is a little angst and nervousness associated with opportunity  GIVEN” to this player. If there is no/t than this player should be getting lots more playing time because they now have the mental part of the game in hand. And remember, it is just a game. Sometimes the player will play not to make mistake to try and ensure more playing time without realizing that very thing will slow their development, and that accelerated development which only comes from increased playing time would make the player better, which in turn would lead to more playing time. (Really, think about it)

 

If I give you 30 minutes to figure out a problemm and work on it continuously, and I give another 5 minutes, wont the person I give the more time to get better at solving the problem?

 

Next Week Part II

 

 Frozen Short’s contact information:

You can follow VJ on twitter @VJJStanley, go to his website frozenshorts.com to read other blogs and see video interviews of Doctors, Athletes, Coaches, and more. You can follow him on face book, or contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  His book: Stop the Tsunami in Youth Sports is available in E-Reader and paperback through his website frozenshorts.com

A Compilation of Articles: FUN and Less is More!

Category: 2013
Published: Sunday, 09 June 2013
" Coaches -- I can't imagine how Mike Singletary could've abided by the new safety rules if were coaching the 49ers again. You must reduce your OTAs. You can't have back-to-back padded practices. There are no two-a-days in training camp. Players get more time off. Finally, finally, finally, someone gets the idea that maybe, just maybe, less is more when it comes to player safety.
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According to Michael Pfahl, executive director of the National Youth Sports Coaches Association, "The number one reason (why they quit) is that it stopped being fun." With figures like these, it's time we rethink how we present youth sports to kids."
 
"Twenty million kids register each year for youth hockey, football, baseball, soccer, and other competitive sports. The National Alliance for Sports reports that 70 percent of these kids quit playing these league sports by age 13 -- and never play them again."
"A recent study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine showed that as many as 15% of all injuries that occur in high school sports are concussions."

Hundreds of college athletes were asked to think back: "What is your worst memory from playing youth and high school sports?"
"Their overwhelming response:" "The ride home from games with my parents."
The book was dedicated to improving one’s performance by reducing the effort to 50%, enjoying the process, and not focusing on the result. The author cited a University of Texas in Austin study of goal-oriented and process-oriented people in the workplace. Unexpectedly, it was not the hypercompetitive Type “A” people who were doing more for the company, making more money, getting more raises and promotions. It was the folks who were enjoying their job."
Ironically, not getting wrapped up in the result may deliver higher gains. I had heard that before. One of the best pistol shooters in the Russian armed forces made a breakthrough in his accuracy when a coach told him, “You know, you have the right to miss.”
"One of Douillard’s techniques was practicing a competitive sport without keeping score." “Focusing on the score attaches you to the result. Focusing on the process lets you access your greatest skill and increases your fun.” That rang true.

 Frozen Short’s contact information:
You can follow VJ on twitter @VJJStanley, go to his website frozenshorts.com to read other blogs and see video interviews of Doctors, Athletes, coaches, and more. You can follow him on face book, or contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  His book: Stop the Tsunami in Youth Sports is available in E-Reader and paperback through his website frozenshorts.com

The Ultimate Pond Hockey Game

Category: 2013
Published: Friday, 07 June 2013
Dear Mr. Bettman

 

Re: NHL All Star game

 

Here is my idea for your future NHL All Star game.

 

Since hockey is the fastest game in the world and the only game that has artificial extensions of all four limbs that talent should be showcased. Speed, skill and team work. As it stands now the N.H. L. All-Star game is like having thoroughbreds moving like they were plow horses. They go so slow during he game that any resemblance to the great speed showcased every night in the H.H.L. is lost on any viewer just turning in for the first time

 

As for those of us who watch the N.H.L. on a regular basis, we have ALL played pond hockey. When our competitive playing days were over, we longed for the days of the purity and FUN of pickup games.

 

So my suggestion to you, is to embrace the beauty, grace, and speed of playing hockey into something all of us can relate to and even the professional athletes  I have interviewed smile about, pickup games are the best. Here is what I call the future of the N.H.L. All-Star game.

 

The Ultimate Pond Hockey game. The game would be played 3 on 3. There would be no penalties called that would be served. Any penalty would result in a penalty shot. There would be 21 skaters on each team and three goalies. There would be two forwards and one defenseman on each “line.”They would rotate equally throughout the game.

 

The game could be played outdoors to make it even more like a pond hockey game.

 

In return for this idea I would the NHL to arrange to have Wayne Gretzky and Sidney Crosby, through video tape endorse my book: Stop the tsunami in Youth Sports, and my project, bringing Fun back to youth sports. I would like to be interviewed before the ALL Star game starts from our local NBC affiliate here in Rochester N.Y. about my idea for this game and my book.

 

Ryan Callahan and Brian Gionta have done videotaped interviews with me.

 

 

 

                                                                                                                        Thank you

 

                                                                                                                        V.J. Stanley

 

My website is frozenshorts.com (for all the kids who sit on the bench needlessly)

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