We all want to get on the floor come game time. After all, that’s why we play, right? It can be frustrating to not hit the floor on game day, especially if you feel like you've been doing everything right. Not only can sitting on the bench affect your confidence, but it can also affect your love of the game. Here are 10 guaranteed tips that will help you get on the floor:
Earn it - Nothing of value comes without being earned. If you want to get more playing time, there’s no better way to earn it than by putting in the work. Be the hardest working player on the floor, show up early to practice, get in the gym on the weekend and get extra shots up. By putting in the extra work, you are not only showing your coach that you're serious, but you are making yourself better in the process.
Be coachable - Having an open mind and positive attitude is something all coaches look for. Be a good listener and be engaged when they are speaking - eye contact is important. Coaches want to coach players that are willing to learn! Also, make sure to remember plays, listen to instructions, and be helpful around practice.
Know your game - It’s very important to know your strengths and weaknesses as a player. Knowing what you are good at and what you are not so good at will help you make better decisions on the court. For example, if you are not a great 3 point shooter, it's probably not a good idea to be launching 3's when you get into the game. Be aware of what you are good at, and what still needs work. Play within the means of your game - stick to the things you are good at, and continue to work on the things that you are not.
Do the little things - Doing the little things is something that can separate you. Do the dirty work, the non glamorous jobs, the stuff others don't always want to do - boxing out, diving on loose balls, taking charges, getting deflections, taking pride in not letting the person your guarding score. Coaches not only notice these things, but they pay attention to them. Doing all these little things can make you just as valuable as the person scoring 20 or 30.
Be consistent - At the end of the day, coaches want to win and put players on the floor they have trust in. A big part of that trust comes from being consistent. The more reliable you are as a player, the more consistently you will notice your playing time going up (side note - everyone has a bad game every now and again, but strive to always remain consistent in the things you can control - ex. your attitude, effort, and work ethic). Consistency is key.
Talk to your coach - This may sound simple, but ask your coach what you can do to get more playing time. Pull them aside before or after practice, or set up a meeting with them and ask them what you can do to help the team, or what they think you need to improve on. Having an open dialogue with your coach is healthy and leaves no room for confusion.
Be a team player - Being a good teammate is a really important part of the game of basketball. Encouraging your teammates, adapting a team first mentality, passing up a good shot for a great shot, cheering from the bench. Even when things are not going your way, don’t be an energy sucker - always bring positive energy and make those around you better. Having a good attitude and being a good teammate will give you a much better chance of getting in the game over a player with a bad attitude.
Show your commitment - Show up early, stay late, ask your coach for extra workouts, find ways to constantly improve. Coaches notice who is putting in the extra effort, and it's no coincidence those are typically the teams best players. Push yourself to get extra work in and be committed to getting better.
Don’t make excuses - What will not get you more playing time is by complaining or feeling sorry for yourself. Even though it can be easy to do this sometimes, challenge yourself to take the high road and focus your energy into things you can control - ex. your effort, your attitude, how many shots you are making every day, your work ethic. Staying positive even when you're not playing much will show your coach (and yourself) how much character you have.
Stay ready and stay positive - If you are doing all of the above, trust that your opportunity will come. And when it does, it’s up to you to make the most of the opportunity and prove to your coach that you deserve to be in the game. Be patient and trust the process!
Understand that getting the playing time you want might not happen overnight - it may take time - but if you follow the above steps and keep a positive attitude, your playing time will come. Stay patient, stay determined, and be ready when it’s your time!