This article was written by Eric Werntgen who is the head men's basketball coach at the University of Maine at Fort Kent. He has been with the program since 2004 and has acquired a wealth of basketball knowledge over that time span.
One of the most, if not the single most issues between coach and player is, PLAYING TIME. Players want to know why they are not playing more, and what they can do to earn more playing time on the court. Here are 10 areas to look at when trying to earn more time on the court, and less time on the bench.
The most effective, coachable players are humble in victory and gracious in defeat. They don’t have to earn respect, they demand it by their actions on and off the court.
2. The Perfect Balance
School work, work-study job, off campus job, practice, games, travel. College level players are called “student-athlete” for a reason. They must be able to balance multiple daily tasks while still improving upon their game year in and year out. The college players that are able to find the perfect balance in their everyday daily lives, are the most effective and ones that coaches look to reward.
3. Knowing and Accepting your Role
Coaches will ask players to sacrifice for the betterment of the team. The players that embrace their roles and flourish in them, are the ones that coaches want around and on the floor. Players that second guess and constantly revolt against change, are the ones who will be riding the pine or shown the door.
4. Ability to Defend
Defense wins championships. Players who can score at will, but consistently let their man do the same are not as valuable as a defensive stopper who really isn’t needed to score.
Recommended: Defensive Basketball Drills
5. Taking Care of the Ball
Coaches hate careless turnovers. Players that feel the need to go between the legs, spin twice and make an around the back pass that sails off the wall, will surely hear the horn and be replaced by a less flashy, but more fundamentally sound player.
6. Accept / Follow-Though on Criticism
Players will be given areas to improve upon during all stages of the year. The ones that act upon recommended weaknesses by following through and showing results will be noticed.
7. Teammate 1st
Players that pass up a good shot for a great shot, encourage teammates in workouts, practices and games, and go out of their way to help teammates in all situations, are the ones that make a program run on all cylinders. Players that demand the limelight, preach about individual stats, brag about their value to the team and isolate themselves from the group, are going to suck the energy from the program and are in fact, better off on their own.
8. Ability to Make Others Better
Similar to a great defender, a player that can make the four others around them better by setting up teammates to score, are much more valuable than 1-deminsional scorers. Coaches will take a 2-1 assist-to-turnover guy any day over a double digit scorer. First off all, they are going to set up teammates for great scoring opportunities and secondly, they’re going to take care of the ball.
9. Hustle Stats
Floor burns, drawing offensive charges, diving into the crowd, offensive rebounds, deflections, 5-second calls, sprinting in-between the three point lines. What basketball coach doesn’t love these intangibles in a player?
10. 1st to Show, Last to Leave
The guys that are in the gym before the coaching staff and then have to be kicked out following practice, are the ones who coaches want to be a large part of their program. Gym rats will almost always be rewarded for their commitment to the program, and their uncanny work ethic.
There are other things that players can do to earn more playing time in any given program, but if players follow these 10 tips to earning more playing time, they will be well ahead of the game, and will no doubt be hard to remove from the rotation.