Fresh Leaf Forever

Creating Happy Athletes: A Sustainable World of Youth Sports

September 12, 2023 Vai Kumar interviews Kirsten Jones Season 3 Episode 9
Creating Happy Athletes: A Sustainable World of Youth Sports
Fresh Leaf Forever
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Fresh Leaf Forever
Creating Happy Athletes: A Sustainable World of Youth Sports
Sep 12, 2023 Season 3 Episode 9
Vai Kumar interviews Kirsten Jones

Wouldn't it be phenomenal if you could decipher the world of youth sports?
Our distinguished guest, Kirsten Jones, is a hall of fame NCAA D1 volleyball player, amazing book author,  a peak performance coach ,and a motivational speaker.
As parents of collegiate athletes, we address the complex landscape of youth sports, a massive $20 billion industry, & explore the interplay between an athlete's dreams & a parent's aspirations.
Join us as we delve into and passionately co-create an engaging four part discussion on the delicate equilibrium between an athlete's drive and the pressures they face.
We examine :
(1) the role of parents
  -in helping kids' interests align
- exposing kids to multiple sports and why
- preventing burnout and actionable insights
- kindle passion, focus on nutrition and offering support

(2) role of coaches
- transactional vs transformative coaching
- establishing basics, efficacy of rituals
- cultivating an athlete's mindset and steering it thereof
- nurturing talent and facilitating overall player journey

(3) role of athletes
- System overall and overuse
- Affirmations for betterment of outcomes
- Focus on mental health
- Athletes taking a "We" vs "I" approach
- Being a team player and fostering camaraderie
-Handling the recruitment side for college sports, transfers after

(4) Sustainability in athletic journey
-Contributing to team rapport
-Team bonding activities, societal causes
-How better people can make for a better planet

Kirsten lends her perspective on the importance of genuine passion and enjoyment in sports, contrasting it with the destructive effects of forced participation. 
With her wealth of experience, she helps us navigate these subjects brilliantly, offering invaluable insights to parents, athletes, and coaches. Tune in, take advantage of Kirsten's generous offer at the very end of this chat. This episode is not just about sports, but it's about empowering our youth, so let's make it a win-win !!!

Send us a Text Message.

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Support the Show.

Videos available on YouTube channel.
Follow host Vai on socials - Instagram , YouTube, LinkedIn for thought leadership content.
Head to my website for enlightening blogs & service offerings.
This podcast comes to you from Listen Ponder Change LLC, founded by Vai Kumar.
Every support the show contribution is much appreciated !!
Subscribe https://www.buzzsprout.com/1436179/support and help us amplify our voice and reach!

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Wouldn't it be phenomenal if you could decipher the world of youth sports?
Our distinguished guest, Kirsten Jones, is a hall of fame NCAA D1 volleyball player, amazing book author,  a peak performance coach ,and a motivational speaker.
As parents of collegiate athletes, we address the complex landscape of youth sports, a massive $20 billion industry, & explore the interplay between an athlete's dreams & a parent's aspirations.
Join us as we delve into and passionately co-create an engaging four part discussion on the delicate equilibrium between an athlete's drive and the pressures they face.
We examine :
(1) the role of parents
  -in helping kids' interests align
- exposing kids to multiple sports and why
- preventing burnout and actionable insights
- kindle passion, focus on nutrition and offering support

(2) role of coaches
- transactional vs transformative coaching
- establishing basics, efficacy of rituals
- cultivating an athlete's mindset and steering it thereof
- nurturing talent and facilitating overall player journey

(3) role of athletes
- System overall and overuse
- Affirmations for betterment of outcomes
- Focus on mental health
- Athletes taking a "We" vs "I" approach
- Being a team player and fostering camaraderie
-Handling the recruitment side for college sports, transfers after

(4) Sustainability in athletic journey
-Contributing to team rapport
-Team bonding activities, societal causes
-How better people can make for a better planet

Kirsten lends her perspective on the importance of genuine passion and enjoyment in sports, contrasting it with the destructive effects of forced participation. 
With her wealth of experience, she helps us navigate these subjects brilliantly, offering invaluable insights to parents, athletes, and coaches. Tune in, take advantage of Kirsten's generous offer at the very end of this chat. This episode is not just about sports, but it's about empowering our youth, so let's make it a win-win !!!

Send us a Text Message.

Buzzsprout Get your podcast launched!
Start for FREE

Instacart Grocery delivery
Free delivery on your first order over $35.

Enjoy PIOR Living products
Enjoy PIOR Living products at a 20% discount and free shipping on orders over $75 Code FLF20

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Support the Show.

Videos available on YouTube channel.
Follow host Vai on socials - Instagram , YouTube, LinkedIn for thought leadership content.
Head to my website for enlightening blogs & service offerings.
This podcast comes to you from Listen Ponder Change LLC, founded by Vai Kumar.
Every support the show contribution is much appreciated !!
Subscribe https://www.buzzsprout.com/1436179/support and help us amplify our voice and reach!

Vai Kumar:

Today's youth sports experience provokes countless questions for the well intentioned parents. To borrow a few lines from my next guest's most recently launched book "Unaware of any formula to mastery, but determined to see one of his children succeed, immanuel Agassi put a plan in place to create a tennis prodigy. Legend has it that he actually taped a ping-pong paddle to Andres hand while he lay in the crib. In 1977, when Andres was 7 years old, the ball machine, nicknamed the dragon by his dad, had become abject horror to the young boy. Nothing sense my father into a rage like hitting a ball into the net. He wrote in his best seller Open, an autobiography. So whose dream is it anyway? Is it parents or is it the actual athlete themselves? Let's find out more from our next guest, kirsten Jones, on how we can create a sustainable future in athletics. Her book Racing Empowered Athletes is a wonderful read and I sincerely recommend each one of you grab a copy as soon as possible so you can create a better future for your athlete.

Vai Kumar:

Welcome to Freshleaf Forever, a podcast that gives you fascinating insights week after week. Here's your host, vaikumar. Hey folks, welcome to another episode on Podcast Freshleaf Forever. Today I am thrilled to have here with us Kirsten Jones. She is a hall of fame D1 volleyball player from William Mary in Virginia and a 15-year Nike executive. She is now a motivational speaker, writer and peak performance coach. Her clients include teen athletes and their parents, whom she helps learn to reach their goals and release their limitations. Kirsten is yet another podcast host. Like me, she co-hosts the Raising Athletes podcast with Susie Walton on iTunes and is the author of a fantastic book which we see in the backdrop there Raising Empowered Athletes. I couldn't be more happier having anyone that has written anything about athletics, especially empowerment, on the show with me here. Hey, kirsten, welcome to the show. It's with great joy that I am just having you here to talk about this journey of yours.

Kirsten Jones:

This is going to be wonderful from one sports parent to another and I know all the ones listening in between and, in fact, even if you aren't the parent of a sports athlete, take out athlete, put in scientist, take out athlete, put in artist. We're all trying to raise good kids, so thank you for having me and I'm excited to dive in.

Vai Kumar:

Absolutely, and your journey and folks, please stay on and listen through this entire conversation. It's going to be fascinating, I promise, and actionable insights, as always, and Kirsten, I know, has something neat and nice to offer at the very end for listeners of the show as well. So just wanted to throw it up front out there. And your journey, kirsten. From your times growing up, I guess you and I perhaps are like very comparable generation to raising three kids playing collegiate sports, and I have one playing collegiate sport as well, my only one. So how do you think that journey has been in terms of all the transformation that you have seen? Because playtime, I thought, was supposed to be fun, right?

Kirsten Jones:

Right, yeah, so you know, I grew up in the 70s and 80s, probably like you, and we just went outside and played and our parents couldn't care less if we were going to play a sport in high school, much less college, and it was just an enjoyable time to learn and grow and you made up your own rules and you figured it out and if eventually you made it onto a team, wonderful, and your parents came into some of the games and didn't come to the others. I was lucky enough to be able to play volleyball in college, as you mentioned. First I started actually at San Diego State and then transferred to William Mary and an amazing experience there, and then moved to Eastern Europe after graduating with my Japanese degree of all things and so much. Yeah, I ended up living in Japan a bit, but realizing being six feet tall in Milan wasn't going to work out for me. So I moved to Eastern Europe and it was over there that I found Nike and it made sense for me because I was an athlete you know, grown up an athlete and so to get to work with and around and for athletes was amazing, and so for nearly 15 years doing that and my favorite job at Nike was.

Kirsten Jones:

I was actually a kind of a. It was like an internal MBA that we had with everybody from, you know, low level executives all the way to senior management, where we learned from each other about what does it take to be a great athlete and what does it take to create great product. It was under the footwear business, the footwear side of the business. So I loved that job and when I came out of that is when I, you know, kind of realized oh, this is something I would like to help others understand, because now I had three kids and as I got to, you know you get the book when you, as soon as you get pregnant, you're like what to expect when you're expecting? And every mother thinks this is the best thing ever because she can read month by month, week by week, exactly how her little baby is developing. And then, three or four years later, you get to the sidelines of kick and chase or your first tennis events and you're like who are these people? They're all asking you know when you're going to get the private coach, right, you're going to go on the tour, right, you're not going to just do this wreck thing, right, you're going to be doing, you know, the bigger, better thing.

Kirsten Jones:

And even as a former D1 athlete, even as a person who had worked around the top athletes in the world, I too started getting this FOMO, this fear of missing out of. Am I doing it wrong? And I looked around for the book that said how am I supposed to navigate this youth sports parenting jungle? You know, it's a twenty billion dollar industry now. It's larger than the NFL. So we parents are all buying into it, right? We're all trying to keep up with the Joneses, whoever they are, and trying to help our kids, because we're all wanting to raise again good kids, good people. And so this book is written from that perspective, which is I'm not, I don't have a PhD in this, you know, but I do have the experience of having lived it as an athlete and now having, you know, raised three athletes myself and now my coaching practice is working with athletes and their parents to help them again. We all have limiting beliefs help them release their limitations and and love what they're doing.

Vai Kumar:

So fantastic and great analogy there with what to expect when you're expecting. So, like the pregnancy book, you know 101 on what to what to do. You know this is a great primer, I should say, for anyone in the athletic journey and, yeah, even in the course of being on the sidelines we all tend to become those coaches right for our children. So writing a book, that's the best thing, because we all have so much to offer. And, speaking developmentally, what's a good rule of thumb in terms of, say, someone wondering, hey, what is the right age for me to just kind of expose my child to a sport, or is it even one sport that they should be not giving?

Kirsten Jones:

And that is, that's the first thing that happens. You get that you know. You get a three year old or a four year old, even who you know. Perhaps you played at some level of soccer or baseball or softball or tennis and you think, oh, let's expose them to it. And I say absolutely, start them young and play as many as you possibly can get your hands on, let them. I don't believe in specializing before the age of maybe 13 or 14, because their brains and their bodies are developing and exposure to as many things and, by the way, to music as well, like what we know is their brains are so absorbent and they're learning it 10 times the pace we adults can learn. So exposing them to language and to music and to art, and then yes, to a variety of sports, starting at whatever age, feels comfortable for your family, like that's, it has to fit in with your lifestyle. But my rule of thumb with signing your kid up for a sport is you sign them up for a season, assuming everything you know coaching staff is good and all of that the only rule is you have to finish the season and by the end of the season if they don't like it, you know what I don't really like. You know soccer. Okay, great, and they, they're allowed to pivot. And now you? Just the biggest question is okay, what else do you want to try? It's not that we're not going to do anything, it's just we're going to try this for a while and if we don't like it, that's fine, we can try something else.

Kirsten Jones:

But before age 13, I say there are really three major F's that you should focus on friends, fun and fundamentals. It's not about running complex offenses. It's not about getting onto the top team. It's not about going to Sweden this summer. It's about are we having fun? Are we learning something new? We're learning the fundamentals and are we making friends, because that's when the kids are going to start hardwiring that and that this is fun. I want to keep doing this, and the most successful athletes that you see all the way through the pros there yes, there's money involved, but they're not playing for the paycheck. Most of them really love what they do and that's how they. That's how it becomes sustainable.

Vai Kumar:

Oh, it's their underlying passion, right? Because a lot of them we see athletes that have called retirement and then you see them after a while coming back because it's like it's too much for them to be on the sidelines, you know, commentating or or just watching others compete. It's that inner drive and passion, that fire that they have and beautifully pointed out there again, the physical, emotional and the athletic side. If we were to look at all those components in a multi sport athlete, what are the benefits and hindrances that you see, kirsten, because you don't want to do too much of anything either, right, we just don't want to kind of force kids back to back on like, hey, okay, we are running from one thing to the other, although their brain is wired to accept all that they can absorb at that age. How, then, do we focus on this aspect of doing it right?

Kirsten Jones:

So yeah, these days rec youth sports is, as I like to joke, 13 months a year. There is no break and they're burning out. You have the benefits of playing multiple sports is avoiding burnout. Again, I've seen a lot of athletes who get to be really, really good and I wrote about it in the book.

Kirsten Jones:

There's a story of a golfer who he got to be very good. In fact he really hit the pinnacle. He got the full ride scholarship to Stanford. His parents thought they won the lottery. He's going to go golf at one of the most prestigious universities in the world. He came to them a couple of weeks before he's supposed to go and he said I'm not going to Stanford and I'm never golfing again.

Kirsten Jones:

His parents were mortified because all they had done was support his journey. They weren't those helicopter parents pushing, pushing, pushing, but they had been just since age five, taken to the driving range, getting on the junior tour, supporting, supporting, until he got to the point where he was like I've been a pro for 15 years and I'm only 18 years old. I don't know what it's like to not have this in my life. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying if your kid shows proclivity for it and passion for it. Don't do it. I'm saying they can't manage that for themselves. That's our role as the parent is to help modify that when needed. That can't be the only thing that they're doing 12 months a year because they can't monitor that. You need to help. One summer I had we went on vacation. We were going to Jackson Hole and going white water rafting. My oldest one, who only wanted to be in Las Vegas at the basketball tournament, sat on the back of the raft and pouted. You don't find I don't care, pout away, but we're going to make other memories.

Kirsten Jones:

We're not only going to go to every basketball event that is offered. When I asked him about it now he's like I did. He doesn't even remember how he behaved because at the time it was just that was what was important to him. But giving them the opportunity to try multiple sports helps. Like you said lack of overuse, injuries they become better athletes. Over 80 percent of Division I football players the best Division I football players they've shown played multiple sports. We can train. If you're a good athlete, a coach.

Kirsten Jones:

When they get to the recruiting level, parents get really nervous and we're not winning. The coach is going to be looking at whether they're winning or not. No, they're not. They're looking at how well your kid moves. They're looking at whether they're a good teammate. They're looking at if you're picking up the water bottles, if you're high-fiving your teammate, if you're sitting slumped over in a heap when you lost. They're looking at body language and attitude and all of that. So it's so much more than just how hard you can hit the ball or how many kills you have or whatever stat you're trying to go for. They're looking at that whole package and in order to do that, we've got to help them temper that whole process, because it's a marathon, not a sprint, and we treat it like a sprint.

Vai Kumar:

Totally, totally in line with your thought. There's some marathon, for sure. And yeah, how many summers? It's a question of, hey, you know what happens if I miss that tournament in Macon versus hey, do I just go on a vacation for like five nights? Right, and it's funny.

Vai Kumar:

You said how your son felt and my daughter asked us six months ago. She was like laughing about it, saying hey, so when I was like nine years old and you needed us for something and dad and I were at a tournament, gosh, what all did we do for the sake of this tennis? Not that she doesn't care about the sport. She's so passionate about it and there are times when she's even on a break or on like safe foes to break, because of some recuperation time period, whatever it may be, from like any injury that she may have sustained. She is desperate to go back and hit tennis balls, trust me. But on the same token, I think it's a balance right, Pressure versus support. So you outlined that beautifully in your book again. So why don't we have you talk about the need for periodic check-ins to assess the fun element and the passion, versus doing it out of compulsion, Kirsten?

Kirsten Jones:

Yeah, one of my chapters I think it's chapter two is whose dream is it? And what you do see, and definitely in my experience, the higher the level of the athlete, the parent was as an athlete, the more they lean back, the more they. Okay, if they wanna do it, we'll let them do it. And what I see is a lot of parents who never competed don't understand it, not sure what it's about. So it's not out of ill will, I don't think anybody parents out of trying to screw up my kid. But what they don't understand is it's gotta be intrinsically motivated and helping them. If they've got that fire, manage that again. Give them time off.

Kirsten Jones:

That's another one of the outcomes, I think, a lot of sports, what sports teaches us is the discipline and the understanding of how the world works, and even part of that is self-regulating. How much I'm gonna do so that I can again pace myself? I have a client right now who is getting heavily recruited in D-Women Soccer and she's the mom said that we were on vacation last week for a whole week in a cabin and the whole time the only thing she was saying is I'm gonna get behind, I'm gonna get out of shape, I'm gonna not be able to play, I'm not gonna get recruited. But to this point where you can't even go out, take five days off because your self-talk is I'm gonna get so far behind, I'll never play Like. That's not healthy, right? That's just not good for our kids.

Vai Kumar:

Yeah, yeah seems like a familiar conversation because I'm sure you have heard it at some point. I've heard it at some point. That's where the moderation aspect comes in right. We just need to let them see the positive, not just keep saying, hey, you know what, that's true, you ought to have hit 10,000 more tennis balls or go practice several more hoops on the basketball court. And there's this book toward a general theory of expertise where there's this thought that 10,000 hours of practice makes you good in anything. Right, and yes, I'm very aware of it, having heard about it in the past. And you again bring that up in your book. And it's so good that I happen to chance upon your book and read it upfront and thank you for letting me be a part of it. But it's just interesting how the theory is not necessarily so true to be generalized with every sport right. So right there we contribute to overuse.

Kirsten Jones:

Yes, and it really got twisted. It was some research that had been done I think it was in the 60s and then Malcolm Gladwell reported on it in his book a tipping point. And when he did that, then that became like ooh, it's gospel, this is how I'm gonna reach the pinnacle, in fact, to the point where one guy decided an adult decided I'm gonna test this theory, I'm gonna take up golf, I'm gonna play 10,000 hours of golf and I'm gonna be a pro golfer. And of course, the answer is it's not about time, it's about dedicated, disciplined repetition too. It's not just about spending the time, the hours and the amount of time done.

Kirsten Jones:

And what they've also found is for piano, it may only take 4,000 hours, and for tennis, it may take 6,000 hours. It depends on the sport, it depends on your interest and your ability to learn. It depends on a lot of different factors. But of course, as we're raising athletes, if that's the only goal, the burnout factor again, maybe have the next Tiger Woods on your hands. But if they hate the sport by the time they hit anywhere near those hours, does it matter?

Vai Kumar:

Yeah, you clearly pointed out that kid who was so good and got a D1 offer to Stanford didn't really take it up, ultimately just days before it was supposed to go through, or happen like days before he was supposed to be at college. So it's a matter of allowing kids to learn and grow and not short circuit their chances of success. So what else are we missing when it comes to this piece of puzzle, kristen? How else, as parents, can we make sure that we are doing this right, say, nutritionally and physical rest and several things right? There's several components to it. So what else would you just say? Or like factors, because I'm just trying to channel this discussion in terms of how we handle as a parent and then we'll move further on. So there's several parts to this conversation as I see it. So what else would you say from a parent's angle that we should be doing? So the athlete is not pressured. The athlete has all the resources and support that they have.

Kirsten Jones:

I think some of the best parenting advice I've ever heard that I really took to heart was have 91 minute conversations with your child. Not one 90 minute conversation, and so by that, of course, just a metaphor. But the checking in are you still loving this Like gosh? You remember at five and you just love to hit the tennis ball. Is this still your passion? And at 13 it may be, and at 15 it may be.

Kirsten Jones:

I also have a story in the book of a woman I met, actually at Target. I was checking out with my umbrella because it was raining sideways and I was going to watch my son play soccer. And the checkout woman said, oh yeah, I remember with those soccer days. And I said, oh, did you do that? For a long time. She said, yep, I did that all the way through my son's senior year and finally I said to him gosh, did you just enjoy? You know, aren't you sad that soccer is over? And he said, gosh, mom, I haven't really liked soccer for like four years, but I didn't want to quit because I knew it made you happy. Oh, my, so are they doing it? Because they feel like, oh, I need to do this to make mom happy or dad happy, or they still in love with the process. And if they're in love with the process, then again that's what we're looking for and if they're not, that's okay, we'll find something else.

Kirsten Jones:

But to your point about what are the things from their side that we need to be focused on? We know in brain development and adolescence the frontal lobe is wide open for women into their early 20s, for men all the way into mid to late 20s, 25, 26, 27. So what does that mean when the frontal lobe is on online? The decision making, the understanding of what consequences are down the road, the understanding of how to stay to stick with things Like? There's a lot of things that we get frustrated with our kids because they don't remember to pick up their socks, or they left their keys, or they they did something what we would consider silly or stupid, but the brain hasn't caught up. It starts at the back of the head and it grows. The connection to the corpus callosum grows as they get older, not to your mid 20s. So a lot of what we're teaching in sports is just helping that brain development and when we focus on that and not get mad at the whatever.

Kirsten Jones:

You left your cleats at home. And now we're five hours away from home and you don't have them to play at your soccer game. True story, right? Like happens all the time, right, but how do we stay in the moment to be like, oh okay, so how can we pivot and put it on them? So now, what would you do? Well, is the Dick's Sporting Goods open? Can we go buy a pair of cleats? Right, can you borrow a pair? What are we gonna do? But those are the lessons that they're gonna get out of it. Probably won't remember the score of the game that day, quite honestly, but there we go. Remember that one day when mom, we got all the way to Pittsburgh and I didn't have my cleats and we had to run to the Dick's Sporting Goods, and we're standing at the door until it opened, right, those are the lessons that are gonna help us and help them learn about life.

Vai Kumar:

And it's really interesting. You pointed out that conversation at checkout at Target, right? Yeah, a lot of times it's not, that kids yeah, they form their opinions thinking oh, am I going to disappoint my parent by not doing this, by doing this some other way or whatever it may be. Right, there is a red flag, right? So for us to have that open conversations and the need for us to kind of exchange thoughts and views, be it at the dinner table or whatever it may be, or in that car ride, to practice, just throw in some subtle hints or subtle questions in there. That will just prompt them to kind of open up to you and talk all about it. Right, and I guess it's a question of, okay, making them understand that I'm in your corner, not like I'm forcing you to do this. This is not anything. Yes, I love to watch you play, I love to watch you compete. So I guess the magic six words, right?

Kirsten Jones:

Yes, the only six words they need to hear us say are I love to watch you play. Everything about that match doctor, it was too hot, or that coach was bad, or whatever playing time or whatever is not relevant and it's not helpful. And then, in speaking of the larger picture, I think one of the best tools you can do and what I mean by leaning back is to say gosh, you just don't seem as into it anymore as you are. Is something going on? It's asking better questions? And even though we are so invested no, I've spent all this money and we've given up this vacation and we're. You know she's got the full ride or she's got a partial ride, or this coach is interested in her.

Kirsten Jones:

We get so invested in it that we're not allowing for any space to be between the the you know her opportunity and what's going on in her mind. And when we say, gosh, if this isn't your thing, you know if you'd rather pivot away from this. All they want to know is I am enough. And the only thing your child cares is that you value them for who they are, not what they can become. And I like to say parent the child you have, not the one you wish you had. Of course, it's easy to stand on the sidelines and see the all American or the Hall of Fame or the whatever, and it's oh, wouldn't that be great, wouldn't that be nice if my kid was that good. But there, everybody has a gift. Every single human being, I believe, is here for a reason. It may not be on that soccer pitch or tennis court or volleyball court, but something they may learn from that process, from being an athlete, I guarantee you will ignite for them a dream that does take them down the path that they're meant to be on.

Vai Kumar:

A lot of life lessons there. And, yeah, very well said as far as the interest commitment, everything that you know. Both sides need to kind of show what about nutrition and its importance.

Kirsten Jones:

So at that age they don't see consequences right. And kids metabolisms are fast, they're still growing, they heal much faster. So what we are seeing is a lot more overuse injuries. So nutrition has become that much more important. Hydration most of us are dehydrated to the point that then you can't even tell if you're hungry or tired or what. Stand there.

Kirsten Jones:

She threw Lisa Lewis's great book on sleep, the sleep deprived team. You know she talked about the Stanford study and I mentioned it in my book as well. When they had the Stanford men's basketball team. Just try to sleep eight hours a night. They did a free throw experiment with them. So, shooting with lack of sleep, how many do you make? Shooting with having slept just eight to nine hours, everybody's percentages increased by 10%. Like that's huge right. Just even thinking about making the shot and then actually practicing the shot, and then adding sleep to that, sleep is a superpower and I think it's very underrated.

Kirsten Jones:

And unfortunately, with cell phones being in everybody's hand 24, seven and the kids are sleeping on them or with them and waking up and scrolling and going to bed, scrolling sleep is going by the wayside. And when you are exhausted you don't make good decisions. Like it nobody does. And if you're not, if you're putting, you know, all the crap in your body of fast food and junk food and sugar all the time, it's just the compounding effect in a negative way around performance. So I'm actually doing that exercise with my oldest. He's just graduated college but he's got another year to play at a grad school and he wasn't feeling well. I said, well, let's strip everything away, get off of sugar, get off of the caffeine, get off of things that aren't helping your brain, and give me eight to 10 hours of sleep at night and let's talk in a week.

Vai Kumar:

Yeah, yeah, it's very important for us to kind of role model, like you talk about in the book again, as to what habits you know we demonstrate. That's what is going to kind of sit with them, gel with them, more than just preaching. So you practice what you preach and that really helps them.

Kirsten Jones:

They're listening to almost nothing of what we say, or we.

Kirsten Jones:

It feels that way. Yeah, they're listening to whatever. They're, of course, taking little notes and they'll regurgitate it back to you later. So they are listening, even when you know sometimes you get the eye roll and they're walking out when you're still talking to them. They're paying attention, but even more they're watching us, you know.

Kirsten Jones:

Are you getting good sleep? Are you reading? Are you trying new things? Are you failing at new things? Do you have dinner table or car rides where you go? Wow, they tried this and it just didn't go well. Oh, that was interesting.

Kirsten Jones:

You know, I went to Dallas a couple of months ago to do a speaking event and nobody showed up. Wow, that was crazy, right? So what am I going to do, mom? How are you going to respond to that? Are you going to do another one, or are you going to be in the fetal position, because I don't feel very valued by my coach right now? Huh, that sucks. I get it Right. They're looking for empathy, not sympathy, and empathy means listening, asking good questions and listening, and not trying to fix it for them, and that's what we do. Oh, I know the answer. Oh, I'm going to tell them what to do, and it's hard because you've been through it, so you feel like I've got the manual, I can give them the best answer. But until we humans go through it and learn from it ourselves, it just doesn't compute. It doesn't sink in.

Vai Kumar:

So it's very important for us to just not be that helicopter parent or snow flower parent that you talk about all these things wonderfully in the book, and just be of support, make them realize that we are there for them, but on the same token, just not be unduly in their way in terms of them developing themselves and helping them face the world Correct.

Kirsten Jones:

And it goes beyond sports. Right, I mean, I wrote about it in the book too the college cheating scandal. It's the same issue parents feeling not enough or wanting their kid to get into whatever you name the school. And if you start doing things for them and taking over for whether it's, you know, rescuing for the shoes, or rescuing for the homework, or rescuing for the application to college it's partnering with them and demonstrating and then allowing them to do it and allowing them to learn from it. And it's hard, it's really hard.

Vai Kumar:

Yeah, I mean, raising them to be good people is very important. I guess the undue pressure that we put on them contributes to them making bad line calls and cheating. And so what are we? You know, what values are we just modeling for our children? Right, they are just at the end of the day, you want them to be better people, not like, known for their legacy, has to line what they do with their sport and, most importantly, not just with the sport, but what kind of a person they are. Right, that's what you want them to be remembered for and appreciated for.

Vai Kumar:

Mental health, such a pivotal aspect Any day, and more so these days and when we talk about our future, sustainability, our planet, I think mental health is a very, very integral part to that piece of the puzzle in all of us having a sustainable future. How do we raise happy, brave, resilient kids, like you talk about? Because your, your book slogan is that raising happy, brave, resilient kids, raising empowered athletes is the title, but how we make them happy, brave and resilient. So what do you see are the mental health challenges and how do we handle them?

Kirsten Jones:

Well, so many things happened in the last three to four years, right Starting with COVID, and with COVID it really cut all of our kids off at the knees. They experienced something we had never gone through. Well, you know one, my one son was on on laptop for 18 months in his pajamas, every day, you know, like when they come out of that, even if they are getting to play some sports, even if they are getting to do other things, so what they're already finding is socially, developmentally, mentally, academically, kids are behind. You know, they don't have the skills and because of the cell phones you combine that with social media and the cell phones they're also. You know, nobody asks each other out or goes out, it's only, you know, over a text, it's only a DM, it's only a chat that they're having. So they're not learning face to face communication. They're not learning how to to, you know, decline, you know nicely. They're not learning how to accept positively, they're not giving back to each other.

Kirsten Jones:

And in order to, to really be fully human, it means to get outside of yourself. And I think one of the best, one of the best tips that I've ever, when I am not feeling well, give like go, do something else for somebody else, and that's what the planet needs right now is us all thinking beyond our own front doorstep, even right, like and it can be small, I mean I talk about random acts of kindness and it can be within your house, like I tell the teenagers that I work with, like go bring your mom that cup of coffee in the morning and watch her completely transform. Like, oh my gosh, you did not without taking out the trash once, walking the dog, making the bed. It doesn't have to be life changing, but you're showing them that, oh, I'm paying attention and I and I want you to be happy. And when you're doing something that's giving to others, the universe rewards you tenfold. And then that opportunity happens. And then that you know smart kid sits next to you in class and says can we study together? And then you get the better grade on the test. And then you like, it's all compounds in how we, in how we do life. So it isn't. Yes, there is an element of luck, but I also believe we create our own luck by how we show up, and that's the whole section in the book around.

Kirsten Jones:

Mental toolkit is how do you start your day? What do you do every morning in service of whatever vision you have. You know, I meditate, I pray, I journal about my day as if it's already happened. I get to go on this amazing podcast today and share what I've learned. What a gift. Now I'm just repeating what I already created and when I work with athletes and parents talking about that, we either have life you ever have that day where you're like I don't even know what I did, but I was busy all day and I don't think I accomplished anything, but it happened at me.

Kirsten Jones:

Or do we create a life, that we create the life, we create the vision and the pathway. And we, you know, doesn't mean everything goes perfectly. I'm not saying that. You know you're going to get cut off in traffic, somebody's going to honk at you, somebody's going to be rude to you, but you're going to respond differently to it Exactly.

Vai Kumar:

At least you know you're prepared. You have just kind of programmed yourself to channel your energy in a very positive way, Correct?

Kirsten Jones:

Yeah, and when your kid flies off the handle because they're frustrated, because you know they lost the game, you don't go. Well, you know you should be more grateful. You say, oh, I'm so sorry, you feel that way.

Vai Kumar:

Yeah, empathy. Right Back in a moment with our guest on Fresh Leaf Forever.

Kirsten Jones:

But when we're all wound up, and then they well, he's not even grateful. I drove, you know, two hours to get to his game, and then he's yelling at me in the car and I yelled back. Oh, he's stressed and frustrated.

Vai Kumar:

Or that's one side or the other side to it could be you joining hands and pointing fingers at, hey, yeah, that coach was really bad, wasn't he? Or that ref was really bad, or whatever. Help them see light at the end of the tunnel, help them see something positive out of that whole experience. Yeah, after all, where humans exist, everyone, all of us, make mistakes, and probably that ref clearly made a mistake or a bad call, right. But on the same token, out of that overall experience, how you make it transformational for them. And right there, it leads me to this topic that you discuss in the book Transactional versus transformative coaching. Right, we talked all about parents. Definitely, I think it's very significant for us to segue into what role coaches play in the life of an athlete, right? So why don't you talk about that, kirsten?

Kirsten Jones:

Yeah, as much time as our kids are spending, starting in middle school all the way through high school. You know 10, 12, 15 hours with a coach. It's huge as to what messages they're giving, how they're being treated, whether they're being challenged or demeaned or belittled you know those are again can be either transformative in a way of you know I will, I have belief in myself to go do whatever I want to do or transactional means. What are you going to do for me? I'm the coach, I'm here to give you the instructions, you're here to listen and take notes and you should be grateful you're on the team. I'm exaggerating a little bit, but there are many kinds of transactional coaches that are literally just there to get through the day and get through the practice, and I've already decided who the best players are. I've already decided who's how we're going to win or not win.

Kirsten Jones:

I don't leave any room to listen and to understand what do you need from me? What do you need to be a better player? What are you open for? And, of course, I use, I believe, the most transformational coach. You know one of the most, which was John Wooden.

Kirsten Jones:

He was all about and my co-host on the podcast, susie Walton's ex-husband, bill, played for him and John Wooden and, of course, when she was raising her, what's that? Ucla, right? Yeah, ucla exactly. And they won 10 national championships in 11 years. And he tells the story that the first practice of every year, these are the national champions.

Kirsten Jones:

You know what they would do? They would have him sit down on the floor and take off their socks and shoes and teach them how to put their socks on properly so that they didn't get blisters, because if you got a blister, then you weren't going to be able to play well, you know, then you weren't going to be able to perform at the right level. I mean, I don't think even eight-year-old coaches are doing that anymore, right? But that tells you the level of detail that he focused on while he was developing athletes, which was all about who you are and focusing on. If you master the fundamentals, then the rest the outcome will come will show up at one point, and right now we're so focused on the outcome I'm going to win the medal, I'm going to be on the top team?

Kirsten Jones:

Am I going to win the award? Am I going to get the scholarship? The process has been lost and really we should be focusing on what am I learning in the process and what's the curiosity? And why am I doing this? Because when you focus on that, ooh, that's when you get into flow, that's when you get to experience another level of joy, contentment and, again, peak performance.

Vai Kumar:

Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. And interestingly, you pointed out about John Wooden at UCLA, a very, very famed coach. What about certain coaches? When they tend to be transactional, they contribute to perhaps overuse injuries. They contribute to, say, sleep deprivation for the kids because of some outrageous demands out of the kids, right, in terms of hey, okay, come to practice at like 5.30 or whatever it may be in the morning, not understanding the pressures of hey, okay, one day in a week, okay, this team of mine comes the other day, this team comes, so you all get to at least. Like one day in a week, you just to get to rest longer, type of thing. I guess it just has become so transactional these days. What are your thoughts on that?

Kirsten Jones:

It's crushing the kids' mental health Because of COVID. Then you're adding on top okay, it was already crazy. And then you had COVID and like, if you're getting up to the college level, you now have the transfer portal where parents are like, well, he's not playing enough, we're going to transfer. You have NIL, this name image likeness. So now athletes are getting paid to play, making more money. They announced yesterday Eli Manning's son is going to make more money than one of the NFL quarterbacks, right, like just making two and a half million dollars. He's not even a starting quarterback for Texas, he's a backup, but because of the name he's going to make all this money and I'm sure on the outside that sounds great. But my question as a sports psychology, my interest there, is how does he feel about that pressure that he feels and same even D1, d2, d3, down to high school the pressure that these coaches are putting on the kids because they got to win and they got to win.

Kirsten Jones:

Now it's not about developing the kids over four years anymore, it's about I need the results. In fact, my middle son, we were going on some recruiting visits and we were at a PAC-12 school, or now formerly PAC-12 school, big time program, basketball program and we met with a coach and this I guess this was during COVID but he said why would I recruit you right now? I need somebody to help me win immediately. So I'm sure you're a great player. Talk to me in three years when you want to transfer from wherever you are.

Kirsten Jones:

It wasn't about the kids aren't having these experiences of getting to go to a place and again have the sports experience, but also have this college experience where you're going to go through four years together. There's so much pressure and the mental toll it's taking on the parents and the athletes is devastating. And at your seeing kids, the transfer portal. Last year, I know for basketball it ended up being over 12,000 athletes. I think it was 20,000 all sports and about 12,000 athletes in just basketball. Only little under half actually found a home, so most of them aren't even playing anymore. So this idea that, okay, I'm just going to transfer and it's going to solve all my problems, that's another part I mean you don't really solve all problems right.

Vai Kumar:

It has to be one year fit two, in terms of both academic and athletics, and then you want to get the chance to play. Most importantly out of all of these, you want to develop your game right. Whatever sport you're playing, you just want to develop yourself, both as an athlete and as a person, more importantly. And so where then does this mind-body connection, the role of sports psychologists and all of that? How does that come into the picture in terms of resolving or kind of modulating whatever we are seeing on this front?

Kirsten Jones:

Yeah, it's. We only can control ourselves. We only have you know. We can't control how a coach is going to behave or perform, and to the point of negative coaching I think this is one of the hardest things is when somebody wants you, they're going to show you one side of who they are and then, once you get there, there might be a jekyll and hide, and I've experienced that a couple of times.

Kirsten Jones:

So how do you screen for that so that you're getting what you think you're getting? And I think the only answer for that is asking the current and former players who have played for that coach Okay, this is nice, he's, he's, or she's telling me everything. I want to hear what's it really like? Because when we're in that you're asking about mental health, it's coming up with a I have a daily ritual. It's coming up with rituals that, again, aren't focused necessarily on the outcome. Of course, we want the happiness, the resilience and the grit, but what we're focused on is controlling what we can control and letting the rest go.

Kirsten Jones:

As a parent and as an, as our athletes, and if we can, if my, if I could wave a magic wand and say what I would love for every athlete and their parent to get out of this book. It would be a set of tools to be able to, to check in with yourself every day and have have a like and you know your own little brand of this is how I do life, and it doesn't mean that everything goes perfectly. But what it means is, you know, I I love to think of the matrix and you know, when the bullet was coming at him it was coming in slow motion and you could just dive by it. And right now, when you have the fire hose and it's just streaming at you so fast and you're just trying to figure it out. But what the tools do for mental health helps slow things down. So when you see the, you know the bad person coming at you, the negative coaching the, you kind of watch it go by and you can be empathetic.

Vai Kumar:

Oh yeah, empathy for coaches, empathy for parents. That way the kids know to demonstrate empathy amongst their team and build team camaraderie and things like that so significant. I wish every program would focus on having a sports psychologist. And when it comes to athletes, kirsten, what about their role in taking a methodical approach to sport? We said we want to build gritty, resilient athletes. Right, when you talk about the five C's in your book and you say, if not any other chapter, at least read this one out of the book, because you'll get the essence of it almost. So just why don't you help us walk us through that?

Kirsten Jones:

Yeah. So being being a resilient athlete means having tools that help you, that you have on board I mean, algie, I like to live uses. You can't put out the fire when the house is all engulfed in flames, so you need tools so that. And tools are a daily practice that you use, and a lot of what I use with clients are, again, meditation, mindfulness, affirmations, journaling, tools that lower. You know, either have a thermostat or a thermometer. A thermostat, you set it 72, maybe it goes up to 73, maybe it goes down to 71, and you're able to control the flow. The thermometer, it's 105, it's 55, it's 110.

Kirsten Jones:

And when we live like this, the up and down, the yes, the no, it's, it's chaotic, it's stressful, it's all the vacillating, right, it's all the vacillating. And so what we're trying to do again and I'm not expecting you to have a flat line, but the one story I love to share, which is Patrick Mahomes, the quarterback for Kansas City, a couple of years ago they were playing the bills and the playoffs to the Super Bowl and the lead changed five times in the last five minutes. And they're winning, they're losing, they're winning, they're losing. And afterwards Mahomes, trainer the next day, posted about it and said here's my heart rate from yesterday's game, and it was going up and down, and up and down, and up and down. And he goes, and here's Patrick's.

Kirsten Jones:

It was just gently undulating we're winning, we're losing, we're winning. He didn't just decide in the game oh, I'm going to be calm. He's been training and using tools long before he got to that point, so that when you're in the lion's den, you're not reacting. You're oh, this is interesting. Okay now, what do I need to do next? You're making a decision in the moment because you're not feeling the pressure.

Vai Kumar:

It boils down to the rituals again. It cannot come out of the blue, it just has to be something that you have methodically practiced or have an approach to it. Yeah, it's very interesting. You talk about Patrick. I watch the Netflix documentary and it just talks about it. It takes you through in one episode how he approaches his whole game style, how his whole training and all of that. That's just fascinating for any athlete to just watch and emulate avoiding burnout and building this V versus I mindset in children, or in kids in athletes. How do we do that? How can we better address that aspect, kirsten, when it comes to athletes, that there are two self-centered.

Kirsten Jones:

You're saying or.

Vai Kumar:

Yeah, one, yeah. How can we just raise better athletes in terms of okay, you touched upon the burnout aspect earlier, but in terms of also making sure that their effort is sustained and also their effort is channeled towards a team mindset, not just me, me, me, I, I, I.

Kirsten Jones:

Yes. So it goes back to what we've been talking about all hour, which is what are you modeling? Are you cheering for everybody or are you only cheering for your child? Are you only happy when your child plays or are you happy when the team wins? One challenge I love to give to parents when I speak to them is, after the game or match or whatever, go up and give the other person and, even if they didn't win but hey gosh, I saw that hit down the line. That was amazing, right? You, putting the goodness out into the world again, is helping everybody. You're helping the whole ecosystem. Talk about sustainability and positive parenting, or what are we doing to help each other? And when your child sees that model, though, that's okay for me to say something to the other team, and in a positive way. Yeah, now I'm gonna say it to my teammate.

Kirsten Jones:

As I say to going through the recruiting process, the coaches watching whether you're picking. I've had multiple coaches say I'm recruiting that kid not because in fact, she didn't even get to play the day that I came to watch her, but did you see her attitude on the bench? Gino Ariyama, who has coached 10 national championship women's basketball team, says I go back and I watch every single game. You know what I'm watching. I'm watching our bench and if our bench isn't cheering, I don't care. If you're a four-time All-American, you're not gonna be playing in the next game. So we have control over 10 things that require zero talent. They are your attitude, your energy, your effort, your body language. Body language is huge right. Are you standing on the side and slumped over and head slumped over? Are you engaged? Are you happy? Are you supportive? I have an athlete right now. She's sprained her ankle. They were getting ready to go to a tournament.

Kirsten Jones:

I said your number one job is to be the biggest cheerleader. Find one person who needs you during each match and be there for them. People are noticing that. There'll be college coaches there. They know you can't play right now. They'll be taking notes on your attitude and they've got to deal with you. They want to deal with you for the next four years because of your attitude and you have 100% control over that.

Kirsten Jones:

A lot of people. Well, it's not fair. I'm not as athletic. I don't joke as high. Are you a hard worker? Are you energetic? Are you kind? Are you supportive?

Kirsten Jones:

And when we and that's when I work with teams like we do exercises around, helping them get out of their own head and into their teammate's mind and start sharing and realizing oh wow, I didn't realize you were struggling with that and you're struggling with this. Oh, it's not just me. Oh, I thought I was the only one because I'm injured. No, you know, her mom is sick or heard you know whatever. She flunked this test or this class or whatever. Everybody's got something going on. But what do you have control over? And parents you modeling that as well.

Kirsten Jones:

I had one college coach called me when he was recruiting my son and he said wow, you're one cool customer. I said what, like? How did you even know who I was? He goes oh, we figure it out pretty quick. I had no idea I was being watched. You're being watched too. So if you don't think that, your antics on the sidelines, you know you jumping up and down and yelling at the ref. I know coaches who just cross your kid's name off the list, like I don't need to deal with that for the next four years. There are so many other kids, and wouldn't that be just? Wouldn't that just devastate you if you thought my kid didn't get an opportunity because of how I behaved?

Vai Kumar:

Oh, yeah, yeah. And so it all boils down to the body language, the camaraderie that one is able to demonstrate and the work ethic, right? So sportsmanship, work ethic, all these matter a lot. And if you were to give athletes, like, say, a couple of I know you talk about affirmations in the book, you have given several there If you were to say, top two, when they get up in the morning, sit and meditate, whatever, just, or at least kind of calm themselves down, just allow your mind to roam, not that you just have to be super focused into one thing, because that's where we all fail. Right In meditation, we tend to think, oh, I'm supposed to just sit super still, without just ruminating. Just it just has to be this one point or one thought that I'm supposed to focus on. So, in terms of helping athletes and giving them a couple of affirmations as, like, say, actionable insights from this program, what would those be, kirsten?

Kirsten Jones:

So one caveat, and for us adults, morning might be the best time to meditate and pray and journal for teens, because their brains are shifted and they usually kick into money. Many of them kick into overdrive at 10, 11, 12 PM. Sometimes I encourage them it's finding your time, what time is right for you? Because Dr Serini Pala, who's a Harvard researcher and brain doctor he talks about what we put into our brain right before we go to bed is so powerful, and so I have athletes work on that too, so it could be something that you're doing as you get ready to go to bed. I have one athlete who loves to just visualize his game the night before. I call it remembering the future. What's the match I'm going to play tomorrow and how do I want it to go, and how does that racket feel in my hand and that ball. I just hit the baseline and I hit that one hand at a backhand and oh, it's so easy. So I am.

Kirsten Jones:

Statements to your question are a big thing. I have them right. I am strong, I am powerful. What are the things that resonate for you? It doesn't really matter what I think, but coming up with things that get you excited. I like Montras too. I've got a tennis player that I work with and she liked to play up, so she was playing against. She was 14 at the time and playing against 18-year-olds and she said this one girl I play against, she hits the ball so deep, heavy, high and hard. I said, oh, that's kind of an interesting mantra. I said what does that make you think? She was like well, she's really strong, she really hits the ball hard and she gets to everything. I was like OK, so how about that for a mantra?

Kirsten Jones:

Deep heavy high hard, deep, heavy, high hard. Because here's the thing If you're saying that to yourself, you can't be saying, oh, I hope I don't miss it, oh, I hope this doesn't go, oh, I don't want to miss my serve. Deep, heavy, high hard. I am in the flow, I am going for what I want, because we can't live in love and fear at the same time. We have to choose. It's not possible to have those two be happening at the same time. So when we choose love and we choose what we want, like with my volleyball athletes, I'm like I serve bases. Well, none of you are a good server. Well, if that's what you're saying to yourself, what are the odds that balls go into the net versus?

Vai Kumar:

What is going to stay right. What you're telling yourself is how your brain is going to wire that future for you.

Kirsten Jones:

We focus on expands. And some of the athletes will say I don't think of anything, and that's OK too if you're really just in the moment. But I say, as a muscle, I would be using the time in the morning or the evening whenever is your right time to visualize what it is that you want to create, writing it down. If you can write something down, I can't believe that I made it to the state championship. I was playing against the number one rated player in the state and I crushed her. I mean, maybe that's a pipe dream. Your brain doesn't know that. Your brain is like, wow, ok, this sounds like fun. Ok, so what do I need to do to get there? And again, maybe you go from number 50 to number 25. Maybe you don't make it to number one, but you definitely won't make it there if you don't try and if you don't visualize yourself being there. So it starts with the inner knowing and the inner belief of what's possible and once we believe enough in ourselves, we'll watch out.

Vai Kumar:

Oh yes, yeah, right there, the five C's come in right. Yes, care or self-care contribution create capabilities. You offer that in the mindset toolbox chapter there. Any further thoughts on that?

Kirsten Jones:

We're better as humans. We're better when we're creating. Right now we're living in this and I'm watching YouTube and I'm watching a video and I'm absorbing TikTok. When our kids say they're depressed, it's because they're not doing, they're just absorbing. Or when we feel are worse.

Kirsten Jones:

When you say that well, she went on this nice vacation and she gets to go there and he's doing that, we're put that aside and I say what are you creating? What are you working on? I don't care if it's your own video game or your own YouTube channel or your own, even if you're just creating things to share with friends. But what happens when we start creating? Then ideas start popping up and then you get the next idea oh, I'm gonna try this. No, I'm gonna try that, like right now. The idea came to me this morning on my hike that I really would love to do an online course. I'm like, okay, I've never done that before, I have no idea how to do that, but success leaves clues. I found a woman who does teach online courses. I bought her $49 course. I'm gonna start doing it. You know, like we're just, we've gotta just keep sampling, keep trying things, and when we're creating, good things happen.

Vai Kumar:

Yeah, that also can serve as a distraction or diversion from your totally being immersed in this pool of whatever you're doing. Right, that can help alleviate burnout and it's kind of like, okay, just try and channel your efforts in whatever positive ways you can, and that's going to help you build your capabilities as well, both as a person and in sport. And yes, right.

Kirsten Jones:

I was listening to so the author of Atomic Habits, james Clear. I don't know if you're familiar with that book. It's sold 15 million copies, right Like it's phenomenal. And so I went back and listened to it this morning. And he talks about success in creating new habits, isn't you? Don't start by asking yourself what do I want to achieve? Start by asking yourself what kind of person do I want to become? So I'm the kind of person that gets up and goes to the gym. Or I'm the kind of person that gets up and writes 15 minutes in the morning. I'm the kind of person. And when you start proving to yourself that I'm the kind of person that does X, why will appear eventually. But what we do is we say, oh, I would like this I would like to lose 10 pounds.

Kirsten Jones:

I would like to make a million dollars. I would like to. Whatever habit it is that we think we, oh, if not, all you have to do is work every day. Don't focus on the outcome. Focus on who, what kind of person does that, which is what we want our kids to do. Right, if they're getting up in service of themselves, picking one or two things that they can do today to help them in their goals, the outcome will happen.

Vai Kumar:

Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Very well said. And for a sustainable future, how resilient kids and positive outcomes matter. You have outlined it so well all this time, but again more emphasis on it. If we can focus on the health, safety and still keeping it fun right In turn, hopefully we can pave the way for sustainable societal causes for them to be sustained in their efforts in athletics, and obviously that's going to elevate their performance as well. Your thoughts, kristin.

Kirsten Jones:

So sports, everyone has to pivot at some point, even the most elite athletes, the Tom Brady's, the Serena Williams, the LeBron James. His time is limited, but the tools that we learn along the way and we share with others in a way that's just giving, I believe the pie is infinitely big and I can share with you and you can share with me, and because yours being successful, takes nothing away from me and my success isn't a threat to you. But to be sustainable as a human race, we need to stop worrying only about ourselves and only what will I get out of it? And me, mine, you know, and only when we open up that aperture of wow. I wonder what would happen if I just today and again, I just did something without even expecting anything in return, and see what happens.

Kirsten Jones:

So that's what's happening Like and for your athlete. Do that in practice. Go talk to one teammate, go chair, go sit with one teammate before practice and ask them how their day was, watch them fall off the chair. Oh, wow, she asked me what. I think Something as simple as just engaging somebody else beyond your you know what affects you or how we're gonna get something out of it can be completely transformative.

Vai Kumar:

Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. What about the coach's angle? What would you suggest to coaches that? Hey, you know this intern can help better the state for players, parents, whatever it may be like based on your journey, kirsten.

Kirsten Jones:

You know, coaches like parents. I think we need to ask more questions and ask better questions. You know, the truth of the matter is kids are being parented a lot differently than they were in the 70s and 80s. Right, Some of it's better, some of it's worse. Right, You're dealing with some parents who are way more intense than they were when we were being raised. That's a fact. At the same time, I think you have this opportunity for these kids, who they're getting exposed to a lot more things a lot earlier because of technology, because of their environment, and you could completely 10X what they get out of that sport, and it doesn't mean because they're the best athlete.

Kirsten Jones:

Again, I think the best coaches are asking the right questions, and maybe it is hey, Julie, you know what? I don't really. I don't see that you're a basketball player, but you keep doing dancing over there. Maybe you should join the dance squad. What do you think? Oh, gosh, you think I'm a good dancer? Yeah, oh, and I know somebody you could talk to, or like helping them figure out what's good for them versus. Oh well, you signed up for this and you're not one of my better players, so sit on the end of the bench and be happy that you're here. No, like I believe, every coach brings the best. Coaches bring everybody up two or three notches from whatever level they start at.

Vai Kumar:

Yeah, developmentally, one can make or break right, and so be the coach that makes their day, makes their life, makes their development bigger and more pronounced right. That's the message there and in terms of racing athletes to be good people and their spearheading efforts towards the causes for this planet, I think you and I have seen a lot of plastic water bottles and things out there, so any message for them there. Yeah, I mean again, we get to make a choice every day with.

Kirsten Jones:

What are we buying? What are we who are where are we shopping? What are we gonna vote with our dollar and how we decide to support the environment and our kids? And we've got the whole jar bin of bottles water bottles that you fill up and take with you to practice. So making those kinds of choices trying to pack lunches when you can it requires planning. But if you have the Tupperware or you have the sustainable products that can help plan that, they're gonna eat more nutritionally while they're at that all day tournament and they're gonna hydrate better, and when they do that then they're gonna feel better.

Kirsten Jones:

When they feel better, they might play better, right, like so. It's a big ecosystem that it seems small, but if they're eating junk food the whole day and they're using drinking sodas and doing things that aren't helping their body become healthy and trust me, I'm guilty of it, like I'm not perfect at this either, but we all need to do it a little if we can do a little better in that area, I think it can help everybody.

Vai Kumar:

Oh, even clean up activities after every practice and any other efforts towards society can be great team bonding activities as well. Right, so we are empowering athletes to be great people in sustaining their enthusiasm, helping them realize their full potential Say coaches, being transformational, not transactional. Also helping them become great human beings. So as parents, coaches, teammates, we all have our role to play in racing empowered athletes. It's the biggest message that I've derived from this conversation, kristin, and I know you have something to offer listeners and also your contact information and all about the book, the forum.

Kirsten Jones:

Yeah, thank you. Yeah, so you can find me. I'm on all the socials of Instagram and LinkedIn and Facebook. Kirsten Jones coach. And if you go on to raising athletes podcast on Instagram and like and then DM me a little message about your athlete like what your athlete does and what help you would love or what you're excited about this season just send me a little message. I would like to give somebody a free autograph copy of the book. So, and when you hear this message, just jump onto Instagram and go on to raising athletes podcast, jump, like and share and jump into my DMs and drop me a message and I would love to connect with you.

Vai Kumar:

Oh, perfect, and you are also a coach peak performance coach so people can go to kirstenjonesinkcom and get in touch with you to avail your services. Is that right that?

Kirsten Jones:

is correct and you can find the book anywhere. Books are sold, but you can go on to my website. You can find the link there too.

Vai Kumar:

Okay, awesome Listeners as always, follow the podcast, rate the podcast and leave a review from your podcast app of choice. Follow @vaipkumar on Instagram That's V-A-I-P. Like Paul K-U-M-A-R. And like Kirsten said, that's a wonderful offer. It's a great book to read and it would be really nice to get a signed copy from her. So please jump up on that offer. And until I get back with you again with yet another interesting guest and yet another interesting topic, it's me Vai saying so long, we shall see you next time.

Youth Sports and Parenting Perspectives
Balancing Passion and Pressure in Sports
Parenting and Supporting Youth Athletes
Youth Sports and Parental Pressure
Transactional vs Transformational Coaching in Sports
Rituals, Training, and Building Athletes' Mindset
Empowering Athletes and Coaches for Sustainability