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If you think this is an isolated incident or interview, it is not.

I recently interviewed a high school varsity coach. The sport does not matter for this discussion.  Hopefully by now you know my mantra that if it is really true, than it applies to all sports, and life.  I did not tape record this interview because quite frankly, I did not think it was going to be anything special.  I was interested in getting some more background information on the “elite” club team mentality.  Specifically, how it applied to the younger children.

The beginning of the interview went very well.  The coach was quite open about what he thought an “elite” player was and how his club tried to get all the younger players pretty much equal time during the games and to stress fun.

I explained to him that was very commendable because only 1% of the kids going to college play at the DI level and only half of them play for free.  I also told him that human beings don’t physically develop until their early twenties so it was good to get kids as much playing time and fun as possible.

What he didn’t understand or see is that I was trying to plant an idea with him about how he could adapt this fun philosophy to his high school team.

I was struck by his belief in the development of players over winning and that how he understood very few of them would ever get a D I scholarship.

So, I went and watched his team practice and play in two different games.  Stunned doesn’t even begin to reveal how different his approach was with his high school team.  He rarely substituted.  Even far ahead or behind he did not use a lot of extra players unless it was a complete blowout.  I went back to see him for another interview.

I started by asking him about his substitution policy as it pertained to his team.  He said that the reason he rarely substituted was that hi starting players needed to continue to play together so that they could form a more cohesive unit.  When I explained to him that his starters rarely completed more than four passes in a row. These players were all mostly “elite” club players and I wondered how they could be so weak in this department if they played on the same club team all year.

Again, I was stunned at the answer.  He said that kids have to play on “elite” club teams if they want to get the exposure by major colleges to get a DI scholarship.  When I asked how many kids he has sent to a DI college on a full athletic scholarship he could not answer.  When I checked around, I found the answer to be ZERO.

I then asked him why his substitute players, (a term I dislike immensely) should practice hard for him if they knew they would not be afforded a chance to play in a game.  He stated evenly that they were role players and knew their position on the team was to help the starters (I dislike that term also) get better and to push the starters in practice so that they could play better.

When I told him I went to two of his games and saw the disgruntled players sitting on the bench ignoring what was going on during the game he did not believe me.  He said that the substitute players weren’t good enough to play very much and that they had not developed during the year to even suggest to him that they deserved playing time.

When I asked him maybe the reason they had not developed was because they felt helpless and knew no matter what they did they would not get to play.  He got upset and asked me what the purpose of the interview really was?  He suggested that I did not know enough about his team to question him about playing time.  He had won a championship coaching in high school and played at a very high level and knew what he was doing.

Now I could have let it go right there but I figured since I had gone this far I might as well ask one more question.  Did he think playing more players and creating inter team competition would help his team, keep his better players rested and fresh, and foster a greater team chemistry? No he said.  The weaker players would not get better and would just bring his good layers “down” when they were playing instead of them or with them and that would wreck any team chemistry.  The he added the kicker.  Besides, his players wanted him to play to win and they were content to sit on the bench.

If you think this is an isolated incident or interview, it is not.  You want to know why?  This is actually a combination of three different interviews I did with three different coaches in three different sports.  I melded their answers into one.

You can follow VJ on Twitter @VJJStanley, face book frozenshorts, website,, and at his office 585-743-1020

VJ Stanley has written a book called, “Stop the Tsunami in Youth Sports.” Achieving Balanced Excellence and Health while Embracing the Value of Play for Fun. You can follow VJ on twitter @VJJStanley, go to his website to read other blogs and see video interviews of Doctors, Athletes, coaches, and more. You can follow him on face book, or contact him at His book: Stop the Tsunami in Youth Sports is available in E-Reader and paperback through his website

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