Regardless of a player’s level or team sport, there is one thing that everyone trains and competes for thru their season. And that’s playing time. All players want to play during games and showcase their skills and hard work. Depending on the level of play, there are different rules on how much time players should be able to play during games. For example, if you play town soccer, everyone would play at least half of the game at a minimum. Of course, there are some players that sometimes don’t come off the field unless they are hurt, need a quick break or have to get tactical advise. Ultimately, the coach of the team decides how much playing time the players get.
At the premier or academy level, playing time is usually not equal and players need to work really hard and sweat for each minute they get on the field. You can take anything away from players, but not playing time. That’s what they all care the most about and they don’t want to waste any time.
At the high school or college level, playing time needs to be earned and sometimes is not guaranteed. Just because you put your uniform on and warm up, it doesn’t mean you will be play a lot or even get the chance to play for a few minutes. It does happen and it’s part of life. We need to prepare our players for moments like this. At the PRO level, only the best players play and the coach has the ultimate say.
Each coach, program, club, high school or college is different but I will share with you four tips on how players can get more playing time. I will explain what coaches are looking for and how you can earn more minutes on the field. You need to believe in yourself and persistently do the hard work while you wait patiently for your chance to come so you can take it and shine.
Please, don’t worry about what other players get for playing time, don’t compare yourself with them and don’t complain. This will only hold you back and take away your focus. Compete against yourself and see how much better can you get.
Your chance will come but will you be ready to take it and make the best of it?
If you are a serious and dedicated player, you need to commit yourself to your team or program. There is no coach in this world that I know of, that could help you get better without you being at his or her practice. It’s impossible. Over the last 10 years of my coaching career, the players I have seen improve the most, were those who were the most committed.
If you are a student, you need to go to school and study. If you are an athlete you need to go to practice and train so you can compete. In the real world when you will get a job, people will depend on you and you will need to commit to the company in order to help those around you. It’s a very simple concept that goes a long way.
When it’s practice time, make sure you don’t skip it unless you are sick, you have a family emergency or something of that nature. I had a player once who never missed a training session during the whole fall season. His attendance was 100% which is very unusual. Commitment is key to success in anything you try to do in life.
The effort you put into training is fully up to each player. Effort is something players can always control where the outcome is not. Just because you run more and worked harder than your opponent, it doesn’t mean you will win. Effort has to come from inside each player, it shows how hard are they willing to work and sacrifice for their goals. Always remember the saying: Hard work beats talent any day, if talent doesn’t work hard.
It helps when talented players work hard and put in the effort because they can truly help make a difference. The reality is that coaches love players who work hard and put in all they got into training regardless of their talent.
Attitude will often show how far a player can go in their sports journey. It’s also important who you look up to and hang out with, because attitude is very contagious. My advise for players is to make sure you are surrounded by a great group of friends and coaches who support you and want to bring the best of you. It’s hard to find such people but it’s not impossible.
Ultimately, you are responsible for your attitude and how your react and treat others especially in difficult times. Coaches like players with good attitudes who are willing to listen, learn and follow instructions. When players don’t have the right attitude, their mindset shifts and they slowly lose their focus and energy on what’s important.
A player who has the right attitude is not looking to become ordinary, s/he is looking to be extraordinary. Their destiny will take them different places but their attitude will guide them in the right direction. Those are the players who don’t look for excuses or complains but rather they come up with solutions. It doesn’t cost players anything to have the right attitude. But they can lose tremendously when they approach things with the wrong attitude and focus solely on themselves.
Your attitude defines your character and the way you deal with adversity. It’s doesn’t matter if you are the best player on your team or not, everyone will like you and respect you if you have a great attitude.
When players are committed, they put in the effort, have the right attitude it will surely come down to their performance in training and games. If the player is not performing to his or her best ability, depending on the level this could cost them playing time. Players need to be able to deal with the mental pressure in games, have confidence to try, courage to fail, and the strength to do it all over again till they succeed.
When players are well prepared and perform well in games, I am sure your coaches will allow more playing time for you. Players need to learn that playing time has to be earned and not given to you undeservingly. At the younger ages, playing time should be equal so everyone can play and develop at their own speed. As players get older, the competition level increases and only those who are really determined to master all the four points outlined here, will succeed at getting more playing time during their game competition.
A friendly tip for those players who don’t see much playing time will be to kindly ask their coaches the following questions:
A. Coach, how did I play?
B. What can I improve on?
C. Any advise on how I could improve?
Coaches will love if they hear those questions coming from the players themselves rather than the parents. I am referring to players who are 13 years old up and want to improve so they can get more playing time. I am sure the coaches will advise you and be more than happy to share their feedback with you. This will show the coaches that you have the courage to speak up and seek for help so you can truly improve.
Follow those tips consistently and I am positive your playing time will change and you will see more of it. One thing to keep in mind as you go thru this process: It won’t happen over night so please be patient and persistent. Don’t give up because great things will come your way. It may just take a bit longer but you are an athlete and you have the power to overcome any hardships along the way.