How to Get More Playing Time

Warning: This article should only be read by the athlete who is tired of riding the bench.

Parents: “How does my son/daughter get more playing time?” Players: “How do I get more playing time?” The blunt, painful, but truthful answer is – Get Better and EARN IT! Players EARN more playing time by getting better. GBA’s motto or philosophy is – Train More. Play More.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, the reason you’re not playing more is because you’re not good enough yet (in spite of how great you THINK you are). You don’t have the necessary skills to get more time on the court. Coaches want to keep their jobs so therefore coaches want to win. All other things being equal (i.e. attitude, grades, respect, etc.) coaches will play the kid that gives him/her the best chance to win. Rarely will a coach sit the better player just because they aren’t “liked”. The opposite is sometimes true because the win is more important than team/player discipline. Sometimes coaches will play a “great” player even though there are serious issues both on and off the court. What’s the answer? What do you do now? You EARN it!

First of all, dump the excuses. Quit complaining and making excuses for your lack of playing time. YOU are the only one to blame. Get off your butt. Get away from the video games, computer, and TV and begin to put in the time required. While one player is being lazy someone else is training and getting better. Who do you think will EARN more playing time? Most players just don’t have the work ethic needed to EARN more time. Most don’t get serious about basketball until its time for the season to begin and then wonder why they don’t play.

Next, quit focusing on playing AAU (see my article titled, Should I Play AAU?). If you don’t have the skills to play high school what makes you think you will get on a good “exposure” team anyway? Parents and kids put too much emphasis on AAU at the wrong time. AAU is NOT what will improve your skills. AAU allows a player to continue their bad habits. AAU is about the team and running up and down the court, not individual skill development. Increase your skills to the point of making AND playing a lot on a high level exposure team and run up and down the court all you want.

Next, put the time and money into individual training that you might have blown on video games and AAU. Individual training, hard work, and a lot of time are what will correct bad habits and increases skills. Sure, it sounds self-serving to suggest training. But, let’s face it, most kids do not know how to correctly improve their skills, correct bad habits, and stick to a program that will help them reach their goal of more playing time or a scholarship. Good trainers will have the tools and equipment necessary to help.

Lastly, work your butt off with the trainer and while on your own. You may only work with a trainer once or twice per week. That alone will not make you a super star. Put the time in to become more skilled and valuable to the coach and team. To be your very best, you must work and train year around. You must be doing something almost everyday to improve your game (i.e. strength, quickness, agility included). Get with your trainer to discuss and set goals. Even if you play more than one sport you should still be working on shooting and handles several times per week.

Bottom-line, you have to make the decision to get better. To EARN more playing time. If it was easy then everyone would be doing it. Being one of the best at something is never easy and usually very uncomfortable getting there. If being comfortable is your desire then success is not in your future. Success comes to those that work hard and turn the uncomfortable into the comfortable. Are you one of those serious players? If not, keep some tweezers close for the splinters. If you are, you will EARN more playing time. I hope to see you on the court!