Want More Playing Time? How to Get Kids On the Court

Dealing with kids that are feeling a little (or a lot) disappointed can be very challenging as a coach. We can instinctively know when the player sitting on the bench is feeling down in the dumps. However, at the same time, we must walk a fine line – judging between what is best for each player and our team as a whole.

This is the part of your journey where you have to ask yourself why you are in youth basketball? Are you in it to win it… or are you in it to ensure that all your players are seeing court time?

Do you play only the vast majority of your best kids most of the time or do you have a level of playing that you simply must keep up? Do you switch out your best 4 or 5 kids as the point guard or do you stick with your very best ball handler? We know that we are not dealing with pros here. We are dealing with kids.

In deciding all of this, there are not going to be easy answers. Nevertheless, there can be lessons that are learned either way. Isn’t that the whole idea of youth basket all anyway? Learning. However, sometimes when there is a lot of talent on the team, it can be hard to find that playing time all on one team. Today we are going to talk about how to get more kids on the court for more playing time in a way that is productive for your team…

Here are three ways to support your child when they are disappointed in their playing time:

#1. Encourage your little one to find something that the team is missing and then work hard to specialize in those areas.

– Have you noticed that rebounds are tough for your child’s team? Encourage your child to work on their rebounding techniques.

– Have you noticed that your child’s team struggles with loose balls? Hustling to get those loose balls can get your child extra time on the court. It does not take a lot of talent. Just focus and effort.

– Do they struggle to break the press?

– Do they have trouble with communicating?

Each of these working areas are very important to a team’s success. These are things that great coaches will recognize in their players. No coach, youth or otherwise, will bench someone who is going to help them to win the big game. It just does not happen. Thus, if your son or daughter can prove over and over that their help is there for the team all the time, then the coach will find the time to give them court time – not bench time.

#2. Encourage them to contribute from the sidelines.

Coaches are not perfect people – but I am sure that you already knew that. They do not notice every little thing. Sometimes they rely on their benched people to notice things going on during the game. Personally, some of my favorite things that I remember from my playing years come from watching teammates from the bench as a young player. By learning to be an encourager from the sidelines, it helped me to learn to never be a sore loser and to realize that even as I was screaming from the sidelines… I was contributing to a winning team – I just did not know it yet.

I remember it being fun and how it actually took a lot of stress off of me. Now, you also have the opposite spectrum. Players that are not happy about the bench typically have bad body posture and language. Meanwhile, encouragers, are motivating other players and look happy to just be there. The happier they are to “just be there”… the more court time your kid will eventually see. Even if not, this platform is used to teach kids something very important which brings me to point 3.

#3. Help your kids learn to drop their ego.

Who gets the credit in the end really does not matter. What really happens is that, together, you accomplished something great. Helping your child to put aside their ego can make all the difference not only on the court… but also off the court and this lesson will carry them along into life in the future.

Helping your child get more time off the bench may be important… but in the end what is more important is learning how to sit on the bench with pride. Players on the bench help the team in ways that they will never know and learning how valuable they are… can make a world of difference in their life and the game too.


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