I'M Not That Kind of Parent Part II

Category: 2013
Published: Monday, 27 May 2013
I’m not that kind of parent partII

 

Let me say this to ALL the parents consciously or sub consciously pushing their kids to play travel youth sports. Every team has at least one parent, maybe more, who is living vicariously through their child and justifying it by the “level” they are playing and the money they are spending. If you look around your team and you can’t see that type of parent, chances are YOU are that parent!

 

“But they are telling you he can’t play on this team. Why not find a house team for him to play on and let them play for fun?” His response: “He’s too good for a house team.”

 

Evidently not!

 

So at 18 years of age, when many of the kids and families have already moved on and realize that youth sports is just about playing for fun and learning life skills, you are still pushing for the dream. The child resents it, they are tired of hearing you talk about THEIR life as if it was your own, and they are tired, disillusioned, frustrated, and resentful. Their view of what is right and wrong has been skewed by a make believe existence tied to the dram of scholarships and professional sports.

 

 How do we know this, we talk to kids every day. You know why they play youth sports, to have fun!

 

But the kids don’t quit playing elite travel sports when they realize it is more of a job than fun.  Even though they are tired and tense, they keep on keeping on to please their parents, friends, or coaches. They should be playing with their friends in high school. The families have spent literally tens of thousands of dollars to chase a dream in a nonexistent race. Many children we talk to feel they don’t have any choice but to keep playing. The pressure from within their inner circle is too much. They start to rationalize what they are doing. An then it happens. They get cut from the team they are trying out for, and it’s over.

 

So, I ask him: Seems like there is a lot of politics being played here. In a lot of cases kids getting screwed over, is that what you are saying?”

 

“YES” he says.

 

I ask than why you would spend so much money on something determined by luck and prejudice.”

 

 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

I'm Not That kind Of Parent Part I

Category: 2013
Published: Sunday, 19 May 2013
“I’m not that kind of parent!” Part I

 

The following is an excerpt from a conversation with a hockey parent. As always the sport really does not matter. If it is really true, it applies to all things, including non sport related activities.

 

I was talking with a father of a travel hockey player. After playing just one year at his high school the father and son ( and there is a whole other blog on just that subject coming) decided to forgo the rest of his high school career with his friends, and go off and play ‘elite” travel hockey, in search of the dream.

 

 Now let me say that the H.S. coach, an ex professional hockey player must have had mixed feelings about his players leaving his team and going off to play travel hockey. On one hand, He left home early to pursue a career to play professional hockey, but on the other hand, he knows how hard it is, and how much luck is involved in trying to get to the top level, and how fleeting that career can be.

 

The dad told me that he and his son “just got cut” from a Junior program. When I said to him, “what is the “we” here mean?” he responded with: “As long as I am paying the bills it is we.” I said: “I’m sure your son is aware of that.”

 

He then explained to me how much money he had spent on his son’s amateur hockey career and the ever present line I hear almost every day: “Have you heard of this coach?” (INSERT ANY NAME COACH or any program named after him IN ANY PAY FOR PLAY “ELITE” SPORT HERE)My son made his team, but we decided we weren’t going to have him play that far from home, and besides it was too much money.  They wanted my son so much they offered us a 25% discount, to change our mind. So, obviously, if he made that team, he should be good enough to make this junior team.”

 

I’m not really sure how the parent makes this connection. One team, one organization, can have different goals, different criteria for their players, than another team or organization. Some have trouble filling spots each year so they change who they get to play, how good their team will be, and how much they charge. It is a business. But ALL want you to pay to play. The reality is that they need players to keep the “machine “purring and the cash rolling in. Simple math tells you that there are only so many scholarships, 1% of all the kids who go to a four year college play DI hockey, and only half of them play for free. Each team has only 18 scholarships or points. There are only 700 jobs in the N.H. L. in the world. So to say the odds are miniscule, or even lottery like, for your child to get anything close to a return on your investment, is quite accurate.

 

 So I asked him what happened at the tryout for this last team. He said: “When we got there, there were only a couple of spots open for this team. The coach, (Again INSERT NAME OF ANY WELL KNOWN COACH or organization) wanted to keep his core players together so he could win. The kids had played together and knew his system and each other. (Unless a stud showed up in which case he would have made the team in an instant) My son didn’t really get a fair shake. He was obviously better than some of the kids the coach kept. That’s not just my opinion; another dad there said he thought my son was better than some of the kids the coach kept.” (NOTE: this other dad’s kid got cut also. Misery loves company.)

 

Then he said “One kid, decided not to play so they called back kids to tryout one more time.”My son had another great tryout, but the coach had already decided who the kid was going to be, to make the team, before the tryout even started. My kid got screwed again.”

 

I said “You know we are talking about the final roster spots. Coaches know who the best players are and they don’t have this problem picking them when a team is formed. They are the ones getting the scholarships.” He said: “My son is not a college type kid. The Junior route is the route for us.”

 

“Us” I Said, what is the us?” He said: “My son wants to take this as far as it will take him and he has my total support. I’ve paid this much so far, and I’ll do whatever it takes to help him reach his dream.” (Now again, whose dream is this?)

 

 What, really? “Your son did not make even  this local Junior program, that was going to cost you $5,000 plus, and you are saying he can’t even make this team and he is going to “go as far as it will take him?”

 

 It already has. Time for house league.

 

“Did you ask him about this?” he pulled his phone out and said let’s call him right now.” Well, it takes a little while before a kid trusts us when we talk to him to tell the truth. First he may be so conditioned by everything and everyone around him that he does not even realize what is happening and how it is affecting him. Also, he may afraid of the consequences. Parents, friends, coaches, and other kids swept up in the TSUNAMI and have become preconditioned to accept this life style in the hope of the nonexistent full ride scholarship.

 

 “WE DON’T WANT TO FALL BEHIND!” We must keep going!

 

Then it happened. I heard the mantra, the pre scripted response that I hear over and over, and one of the main reasons Frozen Shorts was created and we work at changing this youth sports paradigm every day. “I am not that kind of parent. If my son wants to quit today he can and it won’t bother me a bit.”

 

 

 

 

 

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 CONCLUSION

Category: 2013
Published: Sunday, 12 May 2013
THE CONCLUSION:

 

I’d like to be able telling you that this story had a happy conclusion but as in life things aren’t as cut and dried as Id like them to be. In many instances the answers are straight forward, black and white. This is how I like things to be. I don’t like entitlement, politics, or prejudice.

 

I did not hear from this coach for a couple of weeks. As the “zen” of life would have it I called on by a parent to come look at his daughter’s modified team. He was not trying to hang the coach or get his daughter more playing time. She was playing a lot and the coach seemed to be, according to my client, a good, competent coach.

 

What he wanted me to see were the parents. He had read my book and wanted to know what he could do to help the situation. I told him the lollipop story. A friend of mine, you will see her interview soon, tells a story of how her sister brought lollypops to  her children’s soccer game and whenever a parent started yelling at their kids, or the ref, or the coach, she would go up and give them a lollipop. It got to be quite an accepted practice and most people got a kick out of it. I suggested that he try it, or have his wife try it. But first, he should talk to the coach and have a team meeting with the other parents.

 

So we get to the game and the parents start in right away. Let me explain to you that children do not like their parents giving them instructions when they are playing and they certainly don’t like it when their parents start coaching or yelling at the refs. It is one of the reasons 80% of the kids questioned in a national poll by Michigan State University of over 28,000 kids said they don’t even want the score to be kept in the games they played. (We did our own poll at Frozen Shorts and the numbers were even greater, and with some very insightful comments from the children)

 

I’m watching the parents, actually sitting right in the middle of them and I am embarrassed as to what was said to these young girls and the referee while the kids where playing. It was awful.

 

But then I heard a parent from the other team yell at the ref on a close play. I knew that voice. I had heard it before. I looked down the bleachers, and there was the coach who I had been mentoring. It was his voice. I immediately looked to find out who his daughter was on the floor. They did not have names on their jerseys, so I looked for the girl who cringed when this guy spoke. Then I saw him start to mouth directions to his daughter when she was sitting on the bench

 

She looked at him, shrugged her shoulders and then looked away, disgusted. She had had enough of the” butinsky” from her father. She just wanted to be left alone and play. I watched bemused as he basically coached the game from the stands telling his wife and those around him what should and shouldn’t be done on the court. He had on his schools colors and was being such a jerk that I immediately knew why he had such a hard time implementing the F.S.T.M. with his team for any length of time.

 

I left with my client, went to a diner and met with him after he dropped his daughter off at home. We discussed the game, his daughter, what I thought she should work on, and other sports she might want to try, and the fans that were there. He thanked me, paid me, and we parted ways with a very nice compliment on my suggestions.

 

Well, unbeknownst to me during the game the other coach who I was working with wife saw me at the game. She called me the next morning and asked if she could speak to me about a problem. Seems her husband was having trouble with his job and sleeping at night, especially after games he coached or watched. He wanted to have his games taped and the kids watch video. She said it was also causing problems at home and her daughter wanted to quit playing.

 

She asked if I would talk to him for her. I said sure. I am still waiting for that call.

 

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..  Hiss book: Stop the Tsunami in Youth Sports is available in E-Reader and paperback through his website frozenshorts.com

Starting Positions Part III

Category: 2013
Published: Sunday, 05 May 2013
To say that I had gotten over what I saw unfold during that game yesterday would have been untrue. I was troubled the whole day. I began to realize if I wasthis upset, how this must affect the children, coaches, and parents attending and playing in these events on a regular basis.

 

 How, even subconsciously must this wear and tear at them beneath the surface and then come out in some other time and place where they do not even realize the connection to what goes on in these games and to the angst and short term hair trigger outbursts of negativity that, seemingly to the outsider and uninformed, have no basis for such a reaction?

 

Or even worse, since most people connected to, or associated with, this kind of regular youth sports event, have become numb to its long term effect on their lives, they see it as status quo and just part of their youth sports experience.  

 

Almost a badge of honor to say I have it worse than you. You have no idea how bad my kid got screwed, so I have no problem with entitlement, of course, as long as me and my kid are the ones receiving preferential treatment. But if it is entitlement for you, or just call it “politics” I’m even more indignant.

 

If your kid has to sit so that my kid plays more, tough, deal with it because it happened to me too! And what you are seeing because of this mind set is a devaluation of the journey, fun, team work and community.

 

College coaches see it and are talking about it more and more. Go ask them, I do!

 

 There it is, just like in everyday life. Whether it is at work with jerk boss, on the commute where the idiot cuts you off or cuts in and doesn’t wave thank you, or the lack of a directional signal, too bad, I got it worse!

 

Then I see it in the homes I’m called into consult. The parents so want what’s best for their children but are overzealous and sometimes abusive. Or to the parent who thinks their child is the next big thing and over indulge the athlete with everything except discipline and the importance of sharing in the journey, and balance. And on and on it goes.

 

My day was long an arduous. I made and received calls at my office and sent out some more of the Ryan Callahan video interviews I had done to various outlets in the United States and Canada. But I did not have any fun that day. None, Zip, Zero. Just writing about it makes me feel uncomfortable all over again. One of the reasons I love my job so much is that I get to work with kids, keep my hand in sports, and hopefully, make a difference in people’s lives. And I hope to leave this place a little better than when I got here.

 

But I digress.

 

The phone rings. It’s the coach. He wants to talk. Seems he got more complaints after he went back to playing the best players. The kids on the team who didn’t get to play any more were very unhappy, and so were their parents. The game stopped being fun for the kids.

 

The next thing he told me was really troublesome. His best player and I use that term loosely, had complained to him after the game about his playing time. He stated that the score didn’t have to be that close, if HE had been playing the whole game. His parents agreed he said as they had texted him from the stands during the game and the text was waiting for him when he got back to the locker room.

 

I said did you see any indication that this player was unhappy during the game? He shook his head no. The he said” it doesn’t matter what I do, someone is always unhappy.

 

 It seems to me that the boy was o.k. with the way things went, but once he got his father’s text, he knew he better say something or feel the wrath of his father on the ride home.

 

The very next game he went back to his old ways. He ran up the score, yelled instructions to his players constantly, even getting a technical foul. It was sad to watch. I left at half time discouraged. Two boys had not gotten to play in the first half and they sat at the end of the bench dejected and angry.

 

The parents in the stands were yelling at the referees and yelling instructions to their children while they were playing. I watched this and thought, really?

 

Next week: the conclusion!

 

 

 

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..  Hiss book: Stop the Tsunami in Youth Sports is available in E-Reader and paperback through his website frozenshorts.com

F.S.T.M. in action Part II

Category: 2013
Published: Sunday, 28 April 2013
Starting Positions II

 

 

 

Well here is what happened. The top player was put into a rotation just like everyone else. In this particular game the team they were playing was not very good. The score was going to be lopsided in his teams favor. You could see it from the start.

 

 

 

He came up to me before the game started and asked what I thought. I said why don’t you make two equal teams of five and just rotate them evenly through the game. Maybe by keeping your “team” into two equal teams it will keep the score closer. He seemed uncomfortable with that notion so I explained further.

 

 

 

If you have all your best players play together they will get a big lead most assuredly. They may even start to pick up some bad habits along the way. They might get selfish, hot dog, or worse try to pad their stats by shooting and driving to the basket with reckless abandon. All those things you will have to try and correct after they happen, when you could have prevented them from happening by implementing the F.S.T.M.

 

 

 

He agreed. I could not help notice the curious smirk on his face as he went back to the bench. During the game he rarely stood up in front of his kids

 

 

 

It has always bothered me when coaches walk up and down in front of their team all the while telling the kids on the bench to watch the game. How would the coach like it if he was trying to watch a game and someone kept walking in front of him all the while yelling out instructions to the team? He let them play.

 

 

 

And then it happened. The score started to get close. The coach got a little nervous and called a time out. He subbed in his best players so that the five kids he had on the floor were clearly better than the other teams five.

 

 

 

Now I want to say that before this substitution, the game was going along just fine. Sportsmanship, good defense, nice passes, and generally excellent teamwork were on display. But after the substitution, and the score started to get lopsided all the things I warned him about started to happen/ Fouls became harsher, words were exchanged between the players on the floor and the yelling form coaches and parents picked up. To say that it was awful would be an understatement. Nobody was having FUN; nobody was learning and what had been a competitive fun game turned into a blowout.

 

 

 

I felt terrible, and disappointed.

 

 

 

After the game was finished, I left. I had failed to convince the coach to stay the course regardless of the score. I had not explained clearly enough to him to have registered internally that this course of action that I had laid out was in his and his teams’ long term best interest.

 

 

 

But the next day something happened. NEXT WEEK!

 

 

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 I available in E reader and paperback through his website frozenshorts.com