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17 Ways to Earn More Playing Time

Would you like more playing time?

Of course, who wouldn’t? Everyone wants to play more.

But there are only so many minutes in a game (see below in the PS).

Therefore, coaches play the players they believe give them the best chance to win.

How do you prove to your coach that you can contribute? You do it through your performance in practice and through your performance in games (no matter how limited that is).

Playing time is earned, not given. That is a key distinction that most players (and many parents) don’t quite grasp.

Here are 17 ways you can earn more playing time towards the end of the season:

1) Maintain a great attitude at all times. Remember, your body language speaks volumes about your attitude.

2) Put your team first. Don’t be the player who pouts when your team wins (because you didn’t play as much as you would have liked). While that behavior is understandable, it is 100% unacceptable.

3) Be ready. When your number is called, whether in practice or in a game, you don’t have time to get ready… you have to be ready. You need to ‘be in the game’ even when you’re not in the game.

4) Make your teammates better. You do this by playing as hard, as smart, and as well as you are capable of every day in practice. Trust me, your coach will notice.

5) Maximize every opportunity. If you get to play for 2 minutes at the end of a blowout game, make the most of it. Take it seriously and play hard! Those 2 minutes may turn to 4 minutes the next time.

6) Do your job every day. Coaches appreciate, respect and notice consistency… even from the ‘15th man.’

7) Don’t be too cool. Casually going through the motions, during drills at practice or during pre-game warm-ups, is the quickest way to stay at the end of the bench.

8) Come in early and stay late. There is nothing more impressive than a player going the extra mile to develop during the season… especially when they aren’t playing much. This is the most effective way for you to get noticed.

9) Be coachable.

10) Showcase your specialty. What is one skill you believe you have that can help your team win? Rebounding? Defending? Shooting? Make sure you showcase this every day in practice.

11) Make free throws. Do you think your coach isn’t watching when you break to shoot free throws during practice and you aren’t taking them seriously? Think again. And every team needs a clutch FT shooter. Here is how you become one:

12) DEFEND! Play solid individual and team defense every rep of every drill of every practice. This alone will help you earn more PT.

13) Be an energy giver. Raise the level of those around you during practice and from the bench during games with your enthusiasm and positive energy. If your teammate takes a charge during a game, stand up and cheer!

14) Be likeable. Why would a coach play someone who acts like an A-hole? They won’t…

15) Embrace your role. It’s not everyone’s role to play 30 minutes or take 15 shots per game. If you want your role to expand, you need to take pride in the role you have. If you aren’t sure what your role is… just ask your coach.

16) Protect your locker room. Don’t let any outside influences disrupt your team. And certainly don’t take part in conversations from whining, complaining, disgruntled teammates that undermine your coach. If you can’t influence them to stop, distance yourself from them. Better yet, print this blog and tape it to their locker!

17) Be patient. Seniors aside, if you are an underclassman, you still have the opportunity to earn more playing time next season. Do the 17 things on this list now… to lay the foundation for next year. And then plan to put in serious work this off-season. And if you are a senior… this is the year that you will be remembered for. Playing time aside, go out with class…

If you found this blog helpful, here are two other recent blogs that emphasize similar thoughts:



Play hard. Play smart. Enjoy the ride.

Alan Stein


PS: Exercise for coaches:

Before your next practice, hand each player an index card and a pen. Ask them to write the number of minutes they would like to play in your next game. Collect the cards and add up the numbers from each card. The total will usually exceed the total player minutes available during an actual game (for example, a high school basketball game is 32 minutes long X 5 players on the court = 160 total player minutes… yet I have seen totals that nearly doubled that!). This will clearly illustrate to your team that everyone wants to play more than is actually possible.



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