If you’re like most players, you think scoring points is the key to earning more playing time. The problem with this thinking is that if you focus only on scoring points, you really limit yourself. You will miss out on so many other chances to get more minutes and ultimately help your team win more games.
Although the average fan might not notice these things, your coaches and teammates certainly will. They will recognize that having you on the floor increases the chances of the team winning—which translates to more playing time for you. So if you are truly interested in earning more playing time, here are 10 things you can focus on.
1. Have a Good Attitude
You are not always going to be able to control how well you play in a practice or a game, but you can always control your attitude. Bring a positive attitude to every team event and be an energy guy or gal who always encourages the team. A player who mopes or complains lowers overall team energy. You must be able to stay positive and realize that you may not have the minutes that you want right now, but that you are working toward your goals.
“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” —Thomas Jefferson
2. Put in Maximum Effort
Effort is another thing you can always control, and it is important that you bring maximum effort in everything that you do. If you make sure you are always giving your best and encouraging your teammates to do the same, your coach is going to notice.
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3. Buy Into Your Role
Not every player on the team is going to have the same role. So whether your role is to be a scorer, a hustle player, a distributer, etc., it is important to buy into that role and do it to the best of your ability.
If you aren’t exactly sure of your role on the team, talk to your coach. Ask him or her to explain what they want from you. Not only will it help you understand your place on the team, but your coach will appreciate your effort to understand your role.
4. Learn and Improve
If you can prove to your coach that you are consistently learning and improving, it’ll go a long way. This means that when the coach is talking, you are locked in and engaged with what he or she is saying. It also means putting in extra time before and after practice doing basketball drills and working on your personal skill development. Believe me, coaches know who is putting in the extra work. Coaches also love a player who learns from his or her mistakes.
“I always thought that if you get a little better every day, why is there a ceiling? So I always kept at it every single day. I didn’t take any days off and stuck with the plan and a vision.” —Steve Nash (2-time NBA MVP)
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5. Play Defense
Coaches are always looking for players who can play solid defense. If you can commit yourself and become a lockdown defender, your coach will use you in that role. Becoming a defensive stopper is not the easiest thing to do, but if you are serious about wanting more minutes, it’s a great way to get them. So much of playing great defense is about effort—and, as stated previously, you can always control your effort.
6. Take Care of the Ball
Turnovers can kill a team. If you are able to take care of the ball, and your coach can trust you to be on the floor in pressure situations, you are going to get more playing time. Even if you aren’t scoring a ton of points, if you’re playing hard and playing smart, your coach will be happy.
7. Be a Great Teammate
Be willing to cheer when a teammate does well, or run over and help up a teammate who took a charge. Don’t be the player at the end of the bench with the towel on his head who is only worried about himself. Coaches are much more likely to play a player who is a good teammate and is staying engaged in the game. You’re also more likely to develop good chemistry with your teammates when you’re being supportive, which can help the team play better.
8. Work Hard
Don’t let anyone outwork you. In every drill, in every practice, in every workout, in everything that you do, always be the hardest worker. Again, this has nothing to do with talent. This is something you can always control, and if you really want to be the hardest worker on the team, you can make it happen.
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Communication solves a lot of problems on the basketball court, and players who are able to communicate at a high level are always needed.
At the end of a close game it almost always comes down to execution. The coach knows which players he or she can trust to execute when the game is on the line. If you want more playing time, show the coach you can execute your team’s sets and that you can follow instruction in pressure situations. This is huge for earning your coach’s trust, which in turn will earn you more playing time.