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Let the kids play

Stop yelling at them during games

Stop yelling at them during games

I am not sure why this has become so prevalent. Last Sunday I was at a youth sports event, and as always, the sport does not matter. There were 6 year olds playing. One coach yelled at his player: “If you don’t want to be out here, I’ll get someone else in who does.”

I am not sure what bothered me more: the fact that nobody on this team thought this should be stopped, or more precisely, that this was obviously an every game occurrence.

Let me explain a couple of things about kids that I have learned from being a parent and a coach. Kids trust adults. Especially adults put in a position of authority. Trying to teach kids by yelling at them makes them feel awful. They live in the moment. When they feel hurt, they rebel, ignore, and/or shut down.

They are kids. The younger they are the harder it is to teach them “plays”. Just let them play everything and love to be active. You know how many times kids change their minds in a day? Besides, it’s like trying to herd baby kittens and puppy dogs when they are that age.

If you want to see kids playing well with no yelling, go to my website and click on videos. Scroll down to the Pop Warner video. These kids were given one minute of instructions and allowed to play. The officials were a high school volleyball player and a high school soccer player. They were out there for safety and to blow the whistle when the play stopped. These kids were averaging between nine and sixteen plays in a 20 minute half under their coach’s tutelage. In the second half they will run 21 plays! Watch them do cart wheels and summersaults.

fde9ebb451bc1ebb0a6827382fb01532They do not perform their best when they are constantly being told what to do either. Ever hear a two year old say this: “I can do it by myself.” When is the last time you were at a playground and you heard the children stop what they were doing to ask an adult to give them more structure?

Coaching is a very important part of youth sports. A wise man once told me, “Coach the kid, not the sport.”

Or, Coach Molly and Bo, not the x’s and the o’s.

This is what we do at Frozen Shorts. We use science, psychology, and data to teach all who will listen and want to learn that a safe, healthy, and happy child will play all day if you let them play for fun.

You see it’s not my job to decide when or even if the light goes on for those associated with youth and high school sports. My job is to just keep flipping the switch.

I am just the messenger, the truth was already there.

You can follow VJ on twitter @VJJStanley, Please like him on face book at frozenshorts, sign up for his weekly FREE newsletter at, or read other essays from VJ and watch related videos at

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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