Every player wants to be on the floor during a game, but unfortunately their are only so many minutes available. That means that there are going to be players that have to sit the bench, and this can be a very frustrating time for those players. However, this position doesn’t have to be permanent, but it is essential that the player stays mentally engaged and is ready to go when their time comes.
There could be plenty of different reasons as to why the coach may be choosing to not play you, and the reason could be completely out of your hands. I was fortunate to play college basketball at Liberty University. During my freshmen year I wanted to play so bad every game, but there were a lot of upperclassmen that played the same position as me, and the coach chose to play them over me. Even though I felt like I proved myself everyday in practice and thought that I could add value to the team, I rarely got in the game.
I would like to tell you that I got a chance one game to play, and came in and proved myself and then started getting minutes every game, but that never happened. I did however use this to motivate me during the upcoming off season, and the next year I was the 6th man on my team. I even started some games towards the end of the year. My point is this, you can only handle your side of things. Everyday you need to prepare and do your best, regardless of your playing time situation.
I also have stories of players that weren’t playing at the beginning of the season, and then worked their way into the rotations. So don’t think it will take an entire season to earn playing time.
Every situation is different, and there are no guarantees to getting playing time. However, here are some things that you can do as a player to give yourself the best chance to earn more minutes.
Stay Mentally Engaged
No player works hard in the gym to sit the bench and cheer for their teammates. So it is understandable to be frustrated, but that doesn’t mean you can check out. It is important that you stay dedicated and mentally engaged. Don’t let yourself start to feel sorry for yourself, and think thoughts like, “the coach doesn’t like me” or “I am not going to keep working hard if I am not going to play” These negative thoughts will destroy you as a player, and will put you in a hole that is very hard to get out of. Stay positive and look for a solution to the problem, rather than looking to put the blame on something.
Figure Out What the Coaches are Looking For
Basketball coaches are always looking for players to fill specific roles on their team. So if you want to play more, figure out what your team needs and what the coach is looking for. It may be better defense, rebounding the basketball, etc. Just go up to the coach and say, “coach what can I do to earn more minutes? I am willing to do whatever you need.” This will one, show the coach that you are making an effort, and two give you something to aim for and try to do every practice.
Prove it Everyday in Practice
You should treat every practice as a tryout for more playing time. Give your absolute best effort each practice and prove to the coaches what you can do, and why they should be playing you more. This does NOT only mean trying to score more points. It means doing those things that the coach told you he/she was looking for. For example, if the coach said that they were looking for better communication on defense, then be the loudest person in the gym. Whatever it is, be the best at it. Trust me, your coaches will notice.
Continue to Develop your Skills
You may not want to hear this, but maybe there are just better players ahead of you that are getting all the minutes. That doesn’t mean though that you can’t improve and develop your game, so that you are as good or better than them. Not playing on game day gives you an entire day advantage over the players playing to work on your game. Don’t just see gameday as a day off if you are not playing. Before or after the game spend time working on your game. You should be doing some kind of personal skill development or basketball training on your own everyday.
Always be Ready to Go
If your time does come, and you get called to go in the game you need to be ready. So whether you played the last game or sat the last 5 games in a row, you need to be ready to go when your number is called. You may only get one chance, so make the most of it.
This article was written by Kyle Ohman. Kyle Ohman was a thousand point scorer at Liberty University (div. 1), was ranked the 19th best shooter in the country by Fox Sports his senior year. Kyle has also played professionally in Spain. Most recently he coached a high school team that played on a national level and beat the 12th ranked team in the nation. Coach Ohman is the Co-Owner and founder of BasketballHQ.com