Over and over I hear from parents and coaches that winning for little kids is an important part of growing up. “Survival of the fittest”, “that is how life is”, “the kids want me to win”, “they need to learn about winning and losing at a young age”, “You were probably picked last for gym class”, and my favorite “V.J., you are mamby pamby about winning”.

 

 These statements are false, all of them.

 

What we believe in here at Frozen Shorts and teach every day is that winning is, as Nick Saban says, “a destination”, or as we say a result. How you get there, if you get there, does not, has not, and will not happen based on a  non scientific belief gleaned from watching sports on television, or going to a clinic, and applying it to children works long term for the kids. And that benching kids under the age of 10 teaches anything positive long term for children.

 

Greg Norman, at one time, the number 1 professional golfer in the world, was interviewed after a loss at the Masters Golf Tournament, where he blew a lead on the back nine on the final day of the tournament. His reaction, when asked about the loss was very telling. He said, “I try and put myself in a position on Sunday so that I am in contention to play for the championship.”

 

 Greg, considered one of the best to ever play golf, did not know how to win, no one does. He realized that the key was to embrace the journey. He knew that by staying in the moment, and being fundamentally sound, he could compete to the best of his ability, and gave himself the best chance for the long term victory.

 

 Bringing the whole team along, and giving them each repeated chances to play after they made mistakes, was paramount in getting us ready to play for the championship.  A short term victory was never assured unless we were playing a far inferior opponent, which I tried to avoid whenever I could.  Heck, I’d bench my mom in the last five minutes of a game if she wasn’t playing well and it wouldn’t bother me.

 

I wanted those kids to be so psyched to come play for me, because they knew they would all get a chance to play. They knew they would have fun. I knew engaging their minds as well as their bodies would allow them to help themselves and their teammates get better. If their minds weren’t engaged, their interest and what we were trying to accomplish, would wane. They would get bored, and not try their hardest, and that goes for ALL the kids, not just the stars.

 

The result or the destination was always on my mind. How could I get my team to play at their best at the best time of the year? To think that they could play at their best all season long is a pipe dream. You never know when suck is going to happen, and it happens to all of us at some appropriate time during a game or season, most seasons. We tried to get better every day.

 

That is how I have coached for the last 40 years. A meaningless win early in the season, where I would have to bench my lesser developed players (and note that we might not win the game even if I did that, which I never did) at the cost of splitting the team apart, was never worth it, ever.

 

A teacher, and that is what a true coach of children is at his or her core, not a game manager, does not spend more time with the kids who are getting “A’s” in the class than they do with the kids who need and want extra help.

 

Game after game, and I have watched well over 1,000 youth and high school games, I see coaches strutting around after a victory in their team “gear” looking for self adulation, all the while ignoring the kid on the bench who did not get to play and no longer wants to give his best effort. That kind of winning is not for me, you can have it.

 

The coaches, parents, and organizational egos were not in play for me. I wanted to win, not for my ego, but for the team’s long term success.  I knew there was a formula for this process. I honed and crafted this idea for 30 years as a coach and teacher.

 

I wrote a book about it, and put a put a name to it. We call it the Frozen Shorts learning method. It embraces long term athletic and academic development as the key to victory.

 

We believe strongly in balance and that the journey will reveal itself over time. Inter team completion, not specialization, or playing weaker opponents is a key to success. We learn so much more from failure than we do from cheap meaningless wins. That education then allows the children to build a base where adversity is just another building block, and that failure does not mean we are failing, but a chance to learn how to execute better as a team. Trying new things on their own, and the ensuing self discovery or internal realization is better than any intrinsic force a coach, parent, or organization can apply.

 

Only one team wins the last game of the season. I want my team, like Greg Norman says, to have a really good chance to play in that game. Then let’s see how the lessons learned during the journey play out in that crucial critical contest.


Now you have my attention.