Meet: V.J. Stantley
V.J. Stanley is an ex Division 1 recruited athlete and a 21 year head coach in college hockey, who formed Balanced Excellence (formerly Frozen Shorts). He has also coached youth, Middle School, and High School sports. He has presented nationally to numerous organizations including USA Hockey, NSCA Regional, National PE Institute, NYSPHAA Physical Education conference, NYSHS football coach’s’ annual conference, and many more
V.J. has been on WFAN in NYC and Toronto, The Wease Show 95.1 and WXXI in Rochester New York, and Connect FM in Dubois Pa. His most recent appearance was on 570AM The Mission in NYC.
He has published three books. His research and presentations on the connection between the mind and body for both physical and mental health are being recognized and used by experts on a national level as an integral part of long term athletic development and life skills. The balance between the two is integral for long term performance and Holistic Long Term Athletic Development.
His latest presentation, “Creating the Championship Mindset”, has been endorsed nationally by Lou Vairo, the 1984 US Olympic Men’s Hockey Coach and USA Hockey Hall of Famer.
2 ) How would you define a parent(s) role within the youth sports?
A parent should be positive with their children. They should let the children play and try new and different activities while they are growing up. It should not be about the end game or winning until they are post puberty. Watch them play, cheer for both teams, and make sure fun is the utmost priority for your children when you talk to them about their journey.
Many parents are significantly involved in their child’s youth sports’ journey. They do it for one of three reasons. 1. They want to help their child reach their potential. 2. They failed at sports and are now partnering with their child so what happened to them doesn’t happen to their child. 3. They see many things happening that are political and not performance based and they are standing up for their child so he or she will not be left behind. I understand that and sympathize with the parents. I’ve been through it with my kids.
3) What are the benefits of being a positive youth sports parents?
The benefits of being a positive youth sport parent are the same as being a positive role model for your child in life. The children need that positivity to feel free to try, fail, and get back up and try again. The more positive you are the more they will learn. Sports are just a microcosm for life.
4) Tell us a bit about how your parents supported you through the journey into becoming a player/coach/teacher?
My parents were quiet. I played hockey which was a sport they knew little about. BUT when I played football, basketball, baseball, and soccer they were still the same. They stayed by themselves during games and practices.
5) What advice would you give any youth sports parents, with a talented son/daughter and ambition also drive to reach the highest level?
Advice to the player:
Have fun. Try different sports. Get great grades in school. Get plenty of rest.
Advice to the Parent:
Let your child dictate his or her journey. Don’t push them. Be there for them in a positive way.
6) In your experience as a coach, how can uneducated and unsupported parents, effect player(s) (short & long term)?
ALL parents, whether educated or uneducated can have a short and long term effect on their children in sports and life. A negative parent can be different than a non-supportive parent. The effect whether it be short term, yelling in a game or practice, is remembered by the player, and not in a positive way. With all the players I’ve worked with, coached, mentored, and taught, not one has said “Gee, I wish my parents would yell at me more while I’m playing.”
7) What advice would you give coaches/clubs regarding youth sports parents?
My advice is much different than most coaches. Have one meeting with the parents before the season starts, one in the middle, and one in the end. The first meeting, if you are coaching U-10 and under, is to explain and model how equal play benefits every child on the team. If you are coaching 12 and over, explain how play by performance is in the best long term interest of all the players on the team. The middle season meeting would allow them to ask questions INDIVIDUALLY to you and to your staff with the player present. The last meeting would be to say good bye.
8) What advice would you give youth sports parents for the car journey to and from youth sports practices and/or games?
Unless the player talks about the event, you don’t mention it. On the way to the game “I hope you have fun” on the way home “I love you.” That’s it.
9)What types of behaviours/mannerisms/comments would you encourage parents to demonstrate?
Be positive. Cheer both teams. Don’t go to every game or practice if you think you need to coach your child. Spend more time with your child on academics and life skills then you do on sports.
I am in the minority with my next opinion. I do not think parents should be involved in their child’s youth sports journey other than to pay for it. Drop your kids off, stay in the background, don’t criticize the coach, your child, or other children playing. You have great intentions for the most part.
Many parents don’t want to get caught up in all the hoopla and expenses, drama, and long travel seasons. I am here for them. Our program, which we present all over the country, gives these parents an option to participate in their children’s youth sport journey in a different and still very effective way. There are plenty of organizations that guide the parents that want to get involved. There are plenty of people who can guide parents through this journey. They do a great job educating parents on how and why to get involved in a positive way. I am not one of them.
Our program is not for everyone, we know that. BUT, more and more parents are coming to us with questions, fears, hopes and dreams. They ONLY want us to reassure them that they are doing the right thing spending all the time, money, and coaching on their child’s youth sports journey. We explain it all to them.
10)What is next for you as a coach / club / organization?
I am half way through writing my fourth book. I am mentoring a youth soccer organization. I am continuing bookings and speaking engagements.
My second book, “Less is More: The Truth About Youth and High School Sports” explains in detail what is really going on, how to deal with it, and what the realistic expectations should be for parents and children through the youth sports journey. We tell the parents that want to listen; we understand your fears of backing off. We sympathize with you and your worries about your children being left behind or boxed out if you don’t stand up for them. We have an alternative plan and are willing to explain it to you.
We have multiple presentations that lay out the science, Psychology, and data to support our program for parents who are constantly worried about their children’s youth sports journey. These parents have had enough, and they want to know what to do, why to do it, and how they can make sure that staying out of “adulting” will help them and their child.
The Sporting Influencer