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Three Steps to Take Right Now if You Aren't Getting Enough Playing Time

Every player wants to get as much playing time as possible, but sometimes you fall down the depth chart in the coaches eyes. If you’re not getting the playing time you want, you need to figure out why.

There are several steps that you can take to figure it out. One, you need to talk to your coach. Two, you need to take responsibility. Three, you need to adopt a mindset that will get you more time. Lets dig into each step.

Talking to your coach

First, approach them either before or after a practice, not a game. Typically, after a win, your coach wants to celebrate with the team and then start thinking ahead to the next game. After a loss, your coach can’t stop thinking about what they could have done better, and not on your playing time (trust me on this).

When you talk to your coach, speak like an adult. Explain that you aren’t getting as much playing time as you would like, but that you are willing to do what it takes to earn more. Ask them what specifically you can do to get more minutes. Are you not putting in the effort? Do you not know the plays? Are you making bad decisions? Are you a distraction during practice?

Once you speak with your coach, you’ll know the reasons that you’re not playing. Believe me, your coach will be honest with you. They will be glad that you asked, so listen to what they say, and don’t take it personally, just use that information to start to formulate your plan.

Take responsibility & adopt a “get things done” mindset

The second and third steps go hand-in-hand. If you’re not putting in the effort, accept it, and decide that you will give it 100% for every minute of every practice until you start to get minutes! Do not sulk or pout, just go do what you need to do to get more minutes. If you don’t know the plays, start studying them. I’ve always thought it helps to draw them on a clipboard or paper.

If you’re making bad decisions, you need to work harder to understand what the coach is trying to do, so you operate within that plan. I’ve always thought that spending time with an assistant coach will usually solve the problem, because they have a great sense of the coaches philosophy.

If you’re a distraction in practice or during games, it’s simply time to grow up and be serious about the game.

If your coach doesn’t think you have the skills to get minutes compared to the players above you on the depth chart, you have a problem, and there is only one solution. Simply work on your skills every practice. I’ve seen the most success from players who stay after practice to work with the coach, an assistant, or other players to get better.

If you work really hard at it, you can improve tremendously during the season. Typically, coaches offer a “Most Improved Player” award at the end of the season. Make that trophy your goal, work hard, and you will get more playing time before the end of the year.

If you feel that you aren’t getting the playing time you deserve, follow the above steps and give yourself the best opportunity to play more. 

About the Author

Brett Cavalieri CSCS, is a basketball coach at Westbrook High School in Westbrook Connecticut. He has coached both boys and girls of all ages at the Rec., Travel, AAU, and High School level. He is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist from the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He believes that sports teach all players the life-long lesson of how to be a good teammate, and creates a love of exercise, improving health.

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