The SHOWCASE MYTH FOR YOUTH SPORTS
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. It’s our job and we like our job, a lot. We want to find you when another coach can’t.
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.
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.
The watching myth:
The advantages of sitting on the bench and watching have been brought up to me on numerous occasions and I would like to address the issue. It is exponentially better to play than to sit on the bench. The example of Aaron Rodgers sitting on the bench learning from Brett Farve was used as an example. Let’s look at Aaron Rodgers stats from 2008 to 2011.
Year Team G Att Comp Pct Att/G Yds Avg Yds/G TD
2011 Green Bay Packers 15 502 343 68.3 33.5 4,643 9.2 309.5 45
2010 Green Bay Packers 15 475 312 65.7 31.7 3,922 8.3 261.5 28
2009 Green Bay Packers 16 541 350 64.7 33.8 4,434 8.2 277.1 30
2008 Green Bay Packers 16 536 341 63.6 33.5 4,038 7.5 252.4 28
G-Games Attempts-Attempts per game Comp.-Completions PCT.-% Completed Att/G. Attempts per game
YDS. Yards gained passing for the year Avg. Average yards per pass YDS/G -Yards gained per game
TD- touchdowns thrown for the year
In the professional ranks there is a lot more to the game than just playing. There are many variables to consider for the athletes. They need to learn, where to live, where to avoid, where to bank, whether to buy or rent, where to eat, where to get dry cleaning, where to buy a car, endorsement opportunities, and who to hang around with, workout partners and schedules, grocery stores, etc. If married with kids what schools are available? I think you get the picture.
Now this has nothing to do with youth sports. A child sitting on the bench during a game gets bored, plain and simple. You could literally turn the child around and not face the field, send the child in to play and the child’s play would not be that different than if they watched the proceedings. Why? Children join a youth sports team to play not watch.
It was mentioned to me that they could learn while sitting on the bench. It is true that coaches will lecture players on the bench as to the mistakes the players are making on the field playing, but that just frustrates the players sitting on the bench. Why correct them, they are doing nothing wrong. At work would you want your boss coming to you complaining about another employee’s work and not let you get a crack at fixing the problem?
It was also brought up to me that coaches don’t put players in games because they don’t want them to fail and quit. Did the coach ask the players if that was the case? NO. Another comment by a coach was that if a player was too small and they put them in they might get hurt. Again, did you ask the player? Did the coach explain that paradigm to the player when they joined the team? No, of course the coach didn’t.
Does a coach ask the players who didn’t play much during the game what they learned after the game was over? Well. I have. Here are some of the answers.
“Learned what?” “From who?” “No, I just want to go home.” “Yeah, a little, I guess.” One boy even told me, “Yes, this is no fun.” Go ahead and ask. Don’t frame the question though to predetermine the answer. Don’t ask leading questions like, “Did you see what Johnny did out there, what did you learn?”
Now ask the kids who played what they learned while they played. I have those answers also, but I think it’s best that you hear them for yourself. Sometimes they don’t even know they are learning when they are playing, and that is when they play the best.
Let’s look at the player’s sitting on the bench a little more closely. If they already played, they are probably tired and need a break. It’s called a break, not a sit and watch. If a player has not played at all his mind has wandered and he is trying to figure out when he will get a chance to play.
Here’s what he does learn by watching. Other players out there are not that much better than him. They are only better because they get to play more. They learn that being a teammate does not mean the same to each player on the team. They learn to get frustrated and tense. When it is their turn to finally get in the game, they realize they can’t make many mistakes for fear of getting pulled out of the game. They learn to be robots doing the coaches bidding. They learn that it is not fun to play youth sports.
One of the most valuable things children can do is play. Do you ever go by a playground and see the joy of the children playing with each other? They don’t need structure or supervision. You can see them hop, skip, and run around just laughing and playing. Just writing this last sentence brings back great memories of my children when they were young. I am smiling just writing this down. Wouldn’t it be great if we could transfer that great feeling to youth sports. I believe we can!
1% of 1% of kids who play sports go pro. Its a race that doesn’t exist. Its like playing the lottery to win! Just heard a kid say he wanted to play for his HS over club team so he could hear the fans from his school and talk to his friends and classmates about the game in school the next day. The kids inherently want to experience life skills! Ever seen a 2nd grade teacher with a Masters degree try to get her kids to line up properly to go to gym or lunch? Now you want to tell me that there is a realistic and not adult made up elite 2nd grade travel sports? Parents: ever had an older child take something from a younger child? Ever had them share? Which do you have to teach them to do more often, to be competitive or to get along? The best learning environment is when the teacher and the student learn together, and both share that knowledge with others who have the same or less ability. It’s called community, and it is very important for later on in life coping skills. Sometimes you have to treat the symptom to relax the patient first. Then we treat the disease. We need more tolerance and inclusion, not eliteness and exclusion