Sunday, September 28, 2014

An open letter to the youth and high school sports world, Part 1

An open letter to the youth and high school sports world,
 Our company is named Frozen Shorts, for all the kids who sit on the bench needlessly, appreciates the opportunity to speak with you about our program and paradigm. (F.S.L.M.) Our services include seminars, workshops, in season mentoring services for coaches, and one on one family and player consulting. We have been asked about putting a certification program together, and we are always open to looking at new ways to do things.
Certification has been happening for a while now. Whether it is a national program, the NYS initiative, or the one this guy is thinking of forming in Los Angeles, they all bring needed information to the process. Keep sprinkling the ground with seeds, keep educating. I’m all for it. But the problem still grows. I am not completely sold on certification. I have been to numerous certification programs and have learned a lot. I still think the classroom is a good start.
 But what we do, by actually going out on the field, court, or rink, and working one on one with these coaches, after our orientation program, or our family and individual player consulting services, seems to be having the most impact. We do workshops, presentations to churches, Pediatricians, Hospitals, Rotarians; youth sports groups, churches, elementary schools, Middle schools, high schools, colleges, and national organizations of surgeons, and USA Hockey. I really enjoy seeing the results, and the “light” goes on when we mentor a coach or program.  Watching that individual take what they have learned and teach and or model it to others and see it continuing to grow is truly rewarding.
We are trying to change a culture. People believe in the win now, play one sport year round at the elite level model, and all its imagery and status. The chase for the extremely elusive almighty athletic scholarship powers this justification and entitlement to behave and train in a certain myopic way. But it truly is a race that doesn’t exist when you have all the facts.
 We feel we have a deep understanding of the problem, the ability and desire to learn more, and the time it will take to accomplish our goals, along with many others to change this culture.
 There is a mental and physical epidemic inherent in this culture that has been cultivated and nourished by television, organizations, mega contracts and people profiting from its existence and enhancement. The culture can and is being measured, analyzed, debated, and changed even as the problem grows.

Type II diabetes is on the rise and obesity has quadrupled over the last twenty years. More kids are playing video games than youth sports, and they are not just gamers. Even the kids playing sports are getting hurt in epic proportions. $2.5 billion was spent last year on youth and high school sports injuries and $1.25 billion was spent on overuse injuries. 40% of that money was spent on kids under the age of 14.  Of those kids who play, 70% are quitting by the age of 13.So I ask parents, coaches, athletes, and organizations all the time,” how is your way working for you?”

Sunday, September 21, 2014

F.S.L.M. part II Rental cars

Watching these kids burn out, get injured, or just quit over the past 20 years has allowed the accumulation of data that supports letting kids be kids. It’s been this way for centuries! (And it worked!)
It’s like loading up a new rental  car for a trip, adding a trailer, and six people to go on a trip. Sure , you are going to get there most of the time, but the engine has been maxed out and worn, The transmission, shocks, struts, tires, will all be worn. It’s the reason people are hesitant to buy rental cars. The thinking is they were driven hard and fast at an early age and are going to breakdown or need a lot of maintenance soon.
We believe in ramping up the completion aspect by using the play by performance model when the kids are 15 and 16 years old. At this time, their bodies and minds have developed to the point where their creativity, learned from an early age where mistakes were not confused with failure, and playing time was distributed equally so that the skill level of ALL was improved and therefore the end result was a larger group of better athletes.
THEN, and only them should they pick one sport and specialize. The completion will be better and more advanced as skill and coping have been taught through repetition, trial and error. These children will be able to compete at a higher level, because their foundation has been set with a program that allows them to be children first and foremost.

Now you have my attention for real truly high level competition, not entitlement.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

F.S.L.M. Competitive Paradigm Part I

 F.S.L.M. Competitive Paradigm
I was speaking with a person in youth sports, and it doesn’t matter what sport it is, about our paradigm. He was saying that it seemed like we were not encouraging competition at the higher levels.
Let me state for the record: The Frozen Shorts Learning Method (F.S.L.M.) is a very competitive model for children’s long term athletic and cognitive development. I have used this method for all age groups and travel programs for over 30 years with great success. There is a process that should be followed to get to a high level of competition based on Science, Psychology, and data, not “tradition,” theory, and hunches.
(This current tradition is only about 40 years old)
We disagree with the current model on many levels. With obesity on the rise, Type II diabetes becoming more prevalent in our children, and kids quitting youth sports at an alarming rate, I am bemused by the forces defending the current paradigm model. The solution is simple, it is just not easy. It is a holistic and organic approach to childhood development.
The more fun you have, the more you will want to do that event. The more relaxed you are, the better you will be able to perform. The better you perform, the better the ensuing competition. This takes time, lots of time.
We want competition. We think completion is a good thing. True inclusive competition at the highest levels will only become a reality when a significant fundamental base is established that embraces the fact that they are children, and not mini adults, and not micro professional athletes. Children are not remote controlled objects attached to adult’s personal joy sticks and status mechanisms.
My son as a Kindergartner was not half a 6th grader, and when he was in 6th grade he was not half a senior in high school or a 12th grader. There was a process that that whole time continuum was sometimes he progressed quickly and sometimes he did not.
What we don’t want is winning and losing getting in the way of a Childs learning and growth curve, and that is what is happening on many fronts. Winning and losing are being used as an excuse for entitlement. Coaches are going to play the “best” so we can win today. We want the pool of talent to be bigger, longer, that ensures real competition when it matters.
Over the last 3 decades that I have been involved in youth, high school, and college sports, I have seen a remarkable transformation in the athletic model at all levels. Let me explain.
At the youngest level, and I am talking about 6, 7, and 8 year olds, I am seeing All Star travel teams. There is no medical data that supports this as a healthy program for six, seven, and eight year olds. On the other hand, there is plenty of Psychologists, teachers, and Doctors who state that the cognitive ability of these children to understand what they are being told to do on an athletic field, rink, or court is not up to the level they are being pushed to execute. We say, let them have fun. The more fun they have the better they will play.
Their self worth is being tied to an extrinsic force based on small myopic sample of their athletic ability instead of an internal realization of life lessons. This culture is ripe for stress and angst.
 Ever seen an older sibling take a ball away from a younger sibling? Watch the process that goes on. Now watch what happens when you step in and explain to both kids how playing together will help them both. See the interaction between them. Changes as your guidance gives them the necessary tools to cope and learn.
Yes, sometimes it does not go well and the older child just bullies his or her way. But that is where the parenting or coaching guidance comes in. Convincing them both to help each other, initiates a process more conducive to mutual growth, and growth is what leads to excellence. We believe in the power of inclusion, not the specialization of exclusion.
Take the example of an 8 year old soccer player. He or she is way ahead of the other kids. He or she can do things with the ball that the others can’t. People see this and start to anoint him or her as the next star. But what isn’t seen or talked about is the 8 year olds cognitive ability to handle this needless outside pressure. They are encouraged by extra playing time or status to believe they are better than the other kids. When, actually, they just have a head start in a race that doesn’t exist.
Only about 10% of all the kids that are considered the best at that age are still the best at 18. In many cases the natural progression of a child’s development is fast forwarded and causes long term physical and mental harm to the child because they are doing too much too soon.

 Sometimes, they are just closest to the cutoff date for their age group and have a 10 month age differential fueling that difference or advantage. Sometimes they have a little more advanced eye hand coordination at an early age from a genetic gift. BUT they are still just kids.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Today's thoughts Fun, Fat and Stress

In our book Stop the Tsunami in Youth Sports we try and explain why Kids are quitting youth sports and the correalation to obesity and Type II diabetes.FUN, it is essential for kids to be creative and play. When that is taken away by adults you have a whole new generation that can equate activity and play with stress. thats why they walk away, and most never run back.
Play for fun with balanced excellence.Its so much easier to be active with someone than by yourself. Free play in parks with friends, pick up games with friends, and made up games with friends of ALL levels of talent and ability welcome are great. BUt an underlying problem is that we are bombarded with winning and being the best as an individual. It tears apart our sense of community which could be an essential part of a healthy life style. I dont want to be yelled at.If we are having fun together, we willl all feel good together, and for each other, in a positive way.We are having fun without stress.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Ray Rice et al

Ray Rice et al:
Let me first start out by saying that with Ravens releasing him from their squad and the NFL suspending him indefinitely after the release of the elevator video, a clear statement has been sent. This kind of completely unacceptable behavior will finally, at least in this league, at this level of professional sports, will no longer be tolerated in any way shape or form without severe consequences.
In the coming days, and rightly so, many people will speak up and condemn these kinds of action against women. But I would hope that this kind of abuse would be condemned against all beings. Some child abuse, male, and female,  including animal abuse, and even racial abuse, from both sides, needs to be brought out in the open and discussed. Fingers will be pointed at this person or that organization for what they did or didn’t do. And the momentum gained, and possible lessons learned, will be stunted.
In Rochester N.Y. a young policeman was gunned down by a person who had just been released from prison two weeks ago. He leaves a wife, a young son, and a 3 month old baby. Instead of concentrating on the racial aspects as the cause and effect of this terrible tragedy, we should be discussing why we are producing, as a society, the kind of person who feels, not necessarily thinks, when in trouble that a solution is to take another person’s life? What has happened to them on their own personal journey to allow them the mindset that this kind of behavior is an alternative?
These acts of senseless violence have been occurring through time, I am well aware of that. But the increase in their propensity and extremism must be examined closely so that not only can a meaningful dialogue take place as to the root cause of these acts, but a plan, starting with parents and children to honor the sanctity of human life and to reintroduce the feeling of community for, by, and to each other.
And that people brings me to my point. In this day and age, with the me first, and the haves and haves not, tension has become a daily fixture in our lives. Whether it be driving down the road, fans “getting into it” at a sporting event, or our politicians and leaders modeling  a confrontational approach to life’s problems, angst and its long term devastating effect on people has come to the forefront of our society. Not telling the truth, or telling a lie you know to be a lie has become accepted in many circles. And then, a person sees this and repeats this negative behavior because they feel righteous indignation or justifiable entitlement and the problem intensifies.
Yes, here is a root cause of our problems. Escalation. When an irrational behavior is performed, do people really think that the behavior will curtail all by itself? On the contrary, it gets worse, because it is irrational and has no fundamentally sound base. It becomes like a snowball that turns into an avalanche encompassing all within it.
 The ability to share, sacrifice, and feel contentment has been replaced by criticism, stretching of the truth, entitlement, and  lack of acceptance, and not listening with an open mind, to contrary points of view.
How did it get this way? Why? How do we stop this version of the “Tsunami?” I certainly do not want to state that I have all the answers. Actually, I have way more questions. What I do want to say today is that as long as that kind of behavior exists, and it has existed in this way in one form shape or another, the time has come for a simple stand against it. I do not want to over simplify my suggestion or the problem at hand. But as the Chinese say, “A 1,000 mile journey begins with one step.” So too does my solution.
Simple manners. Opening the door and holding it for someone and putting on your directional when you are going to turn. Saying “please and thank you” ramps down the tension and angst. We want to calm people down. It is something we all can do. Be appreciative. A person can never be happy with what they want until they are thankful for what they have.

Thank you. I appreciate very much you taking the time to read this.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Swinging on a swing


What the heck is this essay about? Where am I going with this one? What does this have to do with youth or high school sports, or sports injury prevention? Glad I asked!
For those of you who have not had the pleasure of swinging on a swing, and even for those who have, I present an essay on the “Zen” of swinging.
Remember that feeling when you get to the apex of the swing and seem to be floating? The risk involved at that exact moment, seemingly suspended in mid air, and the drop after that was so cool. There is the exhilarating feeling at that pinnacle of height that gave you a mental and physical adrenaline rush. It made the whole swinging experience awesome. Well, the journey to that apex and the ensuing feelings were quite revealing and lots of fun.
A long time ago when my children were little we used to go the playground often. Our children would meet new kids, interact, and play for an hour or so, or until tired. The social aspect of this time was intriguing to say the least. My wonderful daughter Molly would go up to other kids and simply ask them: “Would you like to be my friend?” Clayton, would find another kid and they would just horse around and play. Kids chased each other and laughed while having a really good time being kids.
Sometimes, a child would trip, or fall or a problem would ensue between a couple of kids, but, for the most part the children would handle all the issues themselves. If it got to rough a parent would intervene, but mostly the children learned all on their own to play socialize and learn life skills by themselves without any input from adults.
But the swing was a little different. Because our kids were little they would need a little help to get started. Sometimes, we would hold onto the swing and push the child and the seat forward and run right through the push and out the other side. Great fun.
But what I want to talk about today was the feeling the kids had doing this. A constant refrain, of “more please”, “Higher please” could be heard each and every time they were swinging. We would watch the children trying to compete with the child next to them to see who could go the highest.
They learned to kick their feet and pull on the chains in unison all on their own. You could see their faces as they got high higher and higher on each successful pass.  They loved the risk and reward. The enjoyed pushing the envelope of their ability and fun. Children figured out their own boundaries. It was exhilarating to watch them master this event.
Of course being kids, you had to sometimes tell them that was “high enough” or to not jump off the swing when they were too far back in the pendulum or too far forward.
You could watch their faces as they learned the feeling of accomplishment and gratification while they were swinging. It was a great fun workout.
Swinging on a swing. What a great metaphor for their lives. Give them a little help, keep them safe, and let them learn and grow at their own speed. Watch them push their abilities, all the while learning how to cope and adjust in a safe healthy environment. Just like sports, and all activities should be encouraged at their own pace, on their own path, what fun it was!
 They got exercise in a fun and strengthening environment. They learned balance, co ordination and enjoyed some friendly competition. Children  learned to push their boundaries and limits.
It seemed like so much fun that it brought back memories of when I used to swing.  So, one day, my wife and I got on the swings, and had a blast.

 Maybe you should too!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Adult Scheduling Olympics

Adult Schedule Olympics:
For those of you who have followed my blogs you probably saw this one coming a mile away. In the course of my attending over 2000 youth and high school sporting events, a constant theme has started to emerge. Parents are complaining about their hectic youth, club, and high school sports child delivery service. Some combination of all four mixed together has produced a new psychological status paradigm.  I call it the “My schedule is so much tougher than yours Olympics.”
I have written and talked about the “keep up with the Jones mentality pervasive in youth and high school sports. ( and society) There is an idea and strong belief that if I don’t do all these things for and with my children they will fall behind the other kids, and then there life will somehow be change dramatically for the worse, forever. (Or at least the parents and coaches are convinced of this)
Nonstop, at almost every single event that I attend in my “fly on the wall” mode I hear this refrain constantly. “My son/daughter has to be at this event at this time or another. Then I have to go take them to another one the same day in another city, or hurry back from there to play another game in their hometown. Next weekend I have to be in three places at once, so my spouse and I won’t see each other all weekend.” Whoa is me. Look at all I am doing for my kids, Not to be outdone, another parent chimes in with their schedule, and it is ALWAYS more hectic than the first parents lament. And when the schedules can’t be ramped up any higher the amount of money is brought up. They never say exactly how much they are spending. A simple statement rattled off listing ALL the places, equipment, and teams that they are involved in so you have no doubt that they are under a lot of stress and financial burden.
Then the Gold medal entry comes in. “Well I wish that was all WE had to do for our son. We had to take him to a Sports Orthopeadic surgeon (Insert Dr. name for status purposes only.) Then we had to take him to a personal trainer (insert first name ONLY of trainer for status purposes) and then he went for Physical therapy.
Well it does not have to be that way. The race they are being told that they are falling behind does not exist. In actuality, all that running around, is probably causing their child to be fatigued. This fatigue actually hinders a child’s development and makes the child more susceptible to injury. Also, psychologically, when a child feels the pressure to do all these things because they HAVE to and not because they want to, their desire and passion fade, it becomes a tedious job.
 Lastly the data points to rest being a crucial part of a child’s athletic development, and all the travel, multiple teams, and multiple events tires children out.
The very stress that the parents are complaining about for them is actually happening to their children on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. How ironic. The idea that you can try and mimic what you THINK top athletes are doing and have your child become an elite athlete and not be just a weaker copied version is inaccurate. While expecting professional results from this process is misguided at best and certainly has the potential to be very unhealthy children are not being allowed to be children.
At Frozen Shorts our organic holistic balanced way for a child to develop is less costly financially, physically, and mentally. The journey taken through the F.S.L.M. is more long term lasting, healthier, and of course my favorite, more fun!