Syracuse basketball and the Zen

Category: 2014
Published: Sunday, 23 March 2014
I want to write about the Syracuse Orangemen’s loss to Dayton last night. This really is not about the loss, but the journey that led to the loss. Although he has won far more games than me at the college level, here it comes from me, a small time college hockey coach taking umbrage with the great hall of fame coach Jim Boeheim and his teaching and modeling of young men.

 

First I want to say that college coaching is 80% recruiting. I believe that if Lew Alcindor had not decided to travel 3,000 miles across the country to play at UCLA, we probably would not have heard of John Wooden, and that would have been a shame, as he taught and modeled way more than he coached.

 

Secondly, I want to write this blog because many high school and youth coaches see what these coaches do at the collegiate and pro level and try to emulate them, in all sports. The amount of problems it creates on and off the field, court, or rink, far outweighs and single victory or championship.

 

 I repeat the following mantra over and over everywhere I speak. There is no correlation to what Division 1 and Professional coaches do, how they do it, and why they do, to any high school and youth sports coach.

 

Now for the part that really explains what we are all about at Frozen Shorts. Back in the fall Syracuse traveled to Canada to play some meaningless games. As you know by now, I am not a believer in playing off season, or the new term, “non-traditional season” in your chosen sport. I believe, and we have the scientific data to back this up, that athletes perform better when they are given time off from their sport. Well, while watching one game, I noticed that they substituted very little, even when they were up a bunch.

 

Now I ask you why would anyone practice hard year round knowing they would not get a chance to play. The mantra that “they know their role is simply false.

 

They are athletes, they want to compete.

 

Now I am not saying that this practice was in any way invented by Syracuse or is exclusive to them. Gosh, it surely is not. But what I have seen, after watching well over 300 hundred youth and high school games, is that this practice is being imitated and repeated by these youth and high school coaches to the detriment of the players on the team. No one gets better sitting on the bench.

 

Of course the more you play one kid over another in a meaningless or important game, the better the one kid will get, and the less the other will want to play. You can argue that one kid doesn’t deserve to play for various reasons but since kids don’t develop full y until 23,24, 25, how do you know who is going to be the best unless you keep giving chances to all.

 

When you go buy a car don’t you go to a, lot with a lot of cars not just a few? Exclusion over inclusion is the new norm. There is a benefit to a few at the expanse of many and we talk to kids and parents every day who have bad experiences to tell us.

 

But my last comment is about the ZEN. After the Duke game the Syracuse coach joked about his on court antics. He had a chance to tell every youth and high school coach in the country that they shouldn’t do what he did, because they will never be in that situation. But he didn’t.  Im not saying that this was the only reason, but………..

 

What was their record after that?

 

LAX

Category: 2014
Published: Monday, 24 February 2014
Lax

 

I recently got a call from a Lax coach. He had just finished coaching a game. The indoor game was played on a beardless field and was composed mainly of high school kids. It was a normal off season game in many respects. Except for a stretch were one team allowed a bunch of goals it was a pretty even contest. Final score 9-3 Lots of kids got to play and for the most part good sportsmanship was on display, until the end of the game.

 

The coach of the winning team decided, with two minutes to go in the game that he would play stall ball. That’s right with two minutes to go and a running clock he decided to do everything he could not to lose. I purposely said not to lose instead of playing to win, because that is what happened. So, for two minutes, to satisfy the coaches’ ego, every kid “playing” in that game at that time stood around and basically did nothing. Let me tell you why, on so many levels I disagree with the strategy.

 

First and foremost, no one was improving during the last two minutes of the game. Let’s say the losing team popped in a couple of goals and started to make a game of it. What would be the result? Increased competition and positive stress. Exactly the things you should want your kids to experience when they are playing youth and high school sports.

 

Next what message was being sent to everyone there? In a meaningless game the coach was modeling a behavior that everyone there had to accept. The final score of the game, with him winning was more important, not the most important thing to him on that night.

 

Each and every kid on both teams saw what was happening and logged it into their brains that this was acceptable behavior and when they got older they could repeat this style of coaching. They would log into their psyche that winning is more important than development.

 

Where had the winning coach seen this style of coaching? Did he see a pro game? Did he coach a youth sports game where the other coach did this to him? Was he watching a game when this course of action took place? A

 

And when he saw it, why did he think it was an acceptable instead of saying to himself”that’s not any fun for the kids. I’m never going to do that.” Why didn’t he look at the kids faces through their masks and see what the kids were feeling.


Wouldn’t it have been great if he went back to his team and said “Guys, I just watched a coach stall for the last two minutes of a game and no one was having any fun or getting better so I am going to make sure we never do that as long as I am coaching?”

Myth #5 personal trainers

Category: 2014
Published: Wednesday, 19 February 2014
Myth #5

 

 Personal trainers are a necessity to be excellent in youth sports.

 

 Play pickup games. Play tag with your friends. Do hop-skip- and jump, hop scotch, or red rover. They are just kids.

 

Think of your top five athletes. Are any of them  12 years old? By putting that label on children at such a young age we certainly have a tendency to believe they are special.

 

 I’m being told there is such a thing as a 10 year old athlete. My definition of an athlete is a person that starts for a varsity high school team in their chosen sport(s). No 10-12 year old does that.

 

 I was once told that my son, at the age of 10, was a good athlete, by multiple people. I didn’t know they were serious. I thought they just wanted me to tell them how great their kid was.

 

Are we now saying you have to have financial resources to play youth sports? Is that not entitlement? How do poor children get to play at the higher levels?

 

 Have we gotten to the point that specialization has robbed the children of the basic fundamentals of running stopping, throwing, kicking, and catching? They now have to be taught by specialists?

 

 I am all for C.A.T. in rehabbing injuries. But let’s be clear. Until you show me a study where an overweight 10 year old was given a personal trainer for 8 years and made into a DI athlete with no baggage, I have a hard time believing.

 

 We have gotten messages from a couple of national trainers and they say it gives an athlete a mental edge and a physical edge, but that applies only for the very top 1% of the athletes in the country.

 

 Go outside or play for fun pickup games. Coping, sharing, playing, socializing, and fun will give you the tools you need to be successful on and off the playing fields.

 

In the last 30 years there is no question that athletes are bigger stronger and faster than ever before. But in the history of mankind this time continuum is about a mili second of a nano second of a micro second. So the increase is from technology not genetics. If this is true, then there must be a cost.

 

I am all for off season conditioning and having children get down time and active ret from youth sports. But I am seeing a disturbing trend where children go from playing one sport in the afternoon a to cross fit training and sometimes doing two sports in one day, multiple times during a weekend.

 

At Frozen Shorts we specialize in balance. It is very important that adults realize that children have a natural pace of development. Trying to speed it up  through a personal trainer or by playing one sport year round to get to the mythical 10,000 hour level of excellence comes at a cost.

 

 We are seeing on children some of the same injuries we see in adults. We are also seeing some of the emotional stress with playing DI and professional sports in young children.

 

If only 1% of all the kids playing sports make it to the D1 level why on earth are we coaching and training these little children like D1 and professional athletes?

Let’s embrace the fact that they are children, not take advantage of it.

Bill Clinton

Category: 2014
Published: Tuesday, 18 February 2014
Bill Clinton

 

A while back Bill Clinton said on national television: “it all depends on what your definition of is, is.” Fast forward to 2014 and I am now hearing “It all depends on what your definition of fun is.” A simple definition of fun is enjoyment or pleasure. Jeez, just about every kid in America knows what is fun and how to have fun. But what is behind this desire to redefine a word that most everyone uses on a weekly basis to describe an enjoyable activity?

 

The last two times I heard people question what the word fun means, they were both making money off of families by providing a service for children that was adult orientated. One was to get kids to go to a personal trainer, and the other was to promote a program that stresses structure. They wanted children to redefine fun so that they could provide a new service that describes fun as a goal orientated adult supervised activity.

 

 They now say because a child is doing an activity year round and they enjoy doing it, the fun they are having can have side effects that include, overuse injuries, fatigue, frustration, rehabilitation, and of course and end game financial result.

 

 In the never ending “ I must keep up with the other guy or fall behind” ( in a race that does not exist) people are being led down a path in youth and high school sports that is not supported by science, psychology, or data. The idea that you must play a sport year round to get good at it, must involve some kind of sacrifice, therefore to justify that new mantra fun must be redefined to fit that criteria.

 

 Fun has been and always will be to me, something that brings a smile to my face and fond memories later when recalled. When I watch children free play on a playground or just horsing around with their friends in a pickup game, I am struck by how free they are in their play. Without a coach or parent yelling at them they are having a great time.

 

 Children learn to share, they enjoy being active, and they learn and grow all on their own. They are having fun. The joy of having fun puts them in a place where they are free to try new things and not have to worry about getting yelled at if they fail or make a mistake. Just play on.

 

 There is no control and therefore a need for self importance by adults in what is supposed to be learning and growing experience of joy and pleasure for children.  Having fun and playing is an integral part of being a child. When you take it away, or try to redefine it for personal gain, there are consequences and we see these consequences every day a Frozen Shorts.


Maybe that is the real reason behind the desire to redefine a word that children and adults know so well. As an adult, if I dictate what fun is, I can then justify the control and entitlement issues without feeling guilty.

Myth #4 Shocases lead to D1 Scolarships

Category: 2014
Published: Sunday, 09 February 2014
Myth#4

 

Showcases are there as a big step towards your scholarship goal;

 

 Here is my definition of a showcase. An elite, truly elite, program sends out specific individual invitations for you to attend. The event is only for children above the age of 15. The coaches just let the kids play, minimal instruction. The parents of these children playing pay a nominal fee. The showcase is not there for the main purpose of funding a team, program, or organization.

 

I understand that college coaches sometimes get paid a fee to attend these showcases. They also get an advantage watching a lot of kids in a short time. They can only attend these showcases at certain times of the year according to the NCAA. Because of the plethora of these money making showcases, there is a  watered down aspect starts to arise at these showcases. Many may not have the talent you think there is.

 

 Lastly, in some cases, kids go to these showcases, tired, not at their peak and try to impress the college scouts with their “stuff” and they can get injured. 80% of a college coach’s job is recruiting. If you have talent we will find you. Its our job and we like our job, a lot. We want to find you when another coach cant.

 

Let me relate to you the last showcase I went to for my 15 year old son. We traveled six hours by car to Virginia. He played four games against the same level of competition that he normally played against in his ‘elite” travel league.

 

 After the first game when everyone was headed back to the hotel I told my wife I was going to hang around for awhile. I watched every team I could get to, a total of about 600 kids. I saw two children that I considered to be D1 material. So, in essence, the other 598 families were paying for these two kids to be seen.

 

I then went and found the person running the tournament. I told him I was a college hockey coach and would like to meet some of the other college coaches there scouting. He immediately asked me to sign in. There were six other coaches on the list and I did not recognize any D1 schools.

 

He played in four games against four teams with about the same scores as there was in his normal league. We paid $600.00 to go to Virginia and sit and watch soccer for the weekend. I understand that some people refer to this as their social lives and have and maintain friendships after the children stop playing. But the point of this article is this was supposed to be a showcase for college coaches and perspective student athletes for college bound children.

 

 It was not. It was the last showcase we went to. As a side to this story it was also the last season my son played travel soccer, and he still played and started for his high school team his senior year.

 

He chose not to play soccer in college when he was handed a 7 page work out list for the summer before college started. I agreed with his decision

He no longer plays soccer of any kind.