Friday, February 12, 2010

I Just Want to Play – An interactive, Practical Guide for Parents and Coaches by Debbie Lantz

Anyone who has experienced organized youth sports knows how crazy it can get, so millions of copies of Debbie Lantz’s book, “I Just Want to Play” should probably be dropped from airplanes over every American suburb!

Lantz has been coaching business leaders at Fortune 500 companies such as Hitachi, Nokia, and TI since 1991, has a master’s degree in exercise physiology, and is the single mother of a teenaged son actively involved in sports, so she has credentials. Check her out at

She says that she wrote “I Just Want to Play,” “…to help parents and coaches reclaim the culture of Youth Sports in leagues and schools from an overly competitive adult culture.” Although that sounds mighty lofty, I think this may very well be the “little book that could.” Click on "Read More" to see why.

Here’s why:
  1. It is very short and to the point. What parent, especially a parent with kids involved in sports, has time to read a book, much less a long one. Debbie breaks it down into simple, specific nuggets of information, i.e., at this age your kids can do and understand these concepts and can learn this way, at another age, it’s more like this. Want to know how to teach a kid to throw a ball in five words? Read the book. 
  2. It is interactive. The trainer in Debbie apparently subscribes to the old Chinese Proverb, “Tell Me, I'll Forget, Show Me, I'll Remember, Let Me Do It, I'll Understand.” I found myself really getting into her exercises. Answer these two questions in writing, and be honest – you might be surprised:
  • Are you willing to accept the current level of physical and mental development of your child?
  • Are you willing to accept that level as being OK and trust that he/she will progress naturally? If not, why?
Here’s another armor-piercing little quiz called the “Five Question Test.” Fill in the blanks.
  1. Why do I want my child to play this sport? Because________
  2. Why? Because________
  3. Why? Because________
  4. Why? Because________
  5. Why? Because________
Where I came from, you played sports because it was fun and there wasn’t anything else to do in a town of 1,500 people. The parents really weren’t that involved. But just “up the road” in the big city of Odessa, TX, where my sister’s family lived, it was a completely different story. I spent three nights a week for several summers watching my nephew play Little League Baseball, and it was cutthroat! Actually I was there to watch the cute guys, but I saw a lot more than that. It was tragic when a kid didn’t make the team or get to play, and the games were like a good day on the Jerry Springer show. I saw fistfights between fathers, dads cussing out their kids in front of everyone, and mom’s calling the coaches words I didn’t know, but was pretty sure weren’t nice. I’ll just bet you’ve seen and heard plenty yourself, and it hurts kids.

I took so many notes in the margins of my copy of “I Just Want to Play” that it looks like a 2-year-old with a pencil got hold of it. So I could spend more time raving about how practical this book is, but I’ll take a cue from Debbie Lantz and just get to the point. Go to Debbie’s website Crazy Sports Mom, (Debbie Lantz, shown right) and buy a copy for yourself, a copy for each of your child’s coaches, and one for the grandparents too if they embarrass you at soccer games.

Oh, and be sure to check out the two Hockey Canada videos on the Crazy Sports Mom home page. They’re priceless.

 Continuing adult education is a good thing.



  1. Love the videos.
    Love the review.
    Love Debbie Lantz' insightful book!!! I've read it numerous times.

  2. We loved Debbie's book so much we gave a copy to each family in our baseball organization. The culture of youth sports has changed over the years and so many times it seems it is no longer about the kids....Debbie's book is written for the adults but it is like a gift to the children, restoring the fun to youth sports.

  3. Great book for parents and coaches! Who knows, with this knowledge bestowed on the adults, they might liberate themselves to have as much fun as their kids have! Imagine ;-)

    Thanks for the reminder, Debbie.

  4. Thanks Lori, thanks Jerry. Loved your comments and couldn't agree more!