A challenge that every player will experience, at some point in his or her playing career, is a lack of playing time. Playing time comes down to a player’s abilities, a player’s attitude, a coach’s tactics, and an opponent’s style of play. When it comes to playing time, the best thing a player can do is to focus on what they have control of, their abilities and their attitude. Here are ten habits every player can use to evaluate themselves and earn more playing time.
- Every day show up with a great attitude, work as hard as you can to improve, and treat your teammates and coaches as if they were family.
- Do not ask your coach how you can get more playing time; instead, ask your coach what you can do to become the best player you can be.
- Coaches give players playing time when they have a player’s trust and the player is coachable. If you show your coach that you know what is going on in training and in a game they will trust in you. Be engaged when the coach is talking. Have strong body language; stand tall; solid eye contact; every now and then give the coach subtle nods when they are giving you information, and mean it. All these habits will show the coach that you are engaged and invested in the team.
- Have a strong positive presence on the field. Develop an aura about yourself when you are playing/training. Focus on your communication by delivering strong, positive, and precise directives. Use a specific teammate’s name when you give instructions. People love to hear their names – they will notice and respond.
- Play with unpredictability. You should not always play at your fastest. Play with starts, stops, and burst. Creativity within the coach’s tactics will help you and the team succeed.
- When you make a mistake, maintain a positive mindset. Everyone makes mistakes. It is your next move that makes the difference.
- Identify one area of your game that is the strongest, and become the best at it. If you are good in the air then focus on winning every 50/50 ball and using that skill to maintain/retain possession for your team; or as a goal scoring threat.
- When you are not in the game, be a great teammate and support the players that are currently in the game.
- When you are not in the game keep a strong connection to what is going on on the field. Identify tendencies of the other team and how they are playing, especially in the area of the field that you will most likely be playing in. Pay attention to details. Is the player that you will be most likely matched up against right or left foot dominate? What formation is the other team playing? Process what you will execute to help your team when you enter the game.
- Always maintain strong body language throughout practice and games. On the bench. On the field. At a water break. When walking to the parking lot after game/practice. Your coaches will notice!
Remember your attitude is a huge factor in determining how much playing time you will get. Work hard for everything you want, be a positive teammate and get better every day. Control your attitude, work ethic, and respect for your teammates, coaches, and the game, and playing time is sure to follow.