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.