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Equal Playing Time: Should It Be the Rule, Not the Exception?

Why The "Best" Players Don't "Deserve" More Playing Time

Giving the "best" players more playing time than the so-called "weaker" or "less talented" players may help a team win more games, but at what cost? Some boys never missed practice, yet only played the minimum. Others hardly ever, or never, came to practice, yet were "rewarded" for their lack of commitment with extra playing time because the coach wanted to win. A major league superstar earning $10 million a year and leading the league in batting and home runs deserves more playing time than a kid fresh up from the minors with a batting average less than his weight. Saying that a player deserves more playing time because he is leading the Little League™ Majors in hitting simply doesn't wash. Every child deserves an equal chance to play and learn new skills. 

Coaches: Don't Put All Your Eggs In One Basket

Playing the stronger players more isn't necessarily a surefire recipe for future success either. In Nick's case, it appeared he played Ricky 100% of the time at the expense of the other players in the hopes of developing him into a top-notch player for the town's soccer program. It didn't work out as he planned: The next year Ricky quit soccer to play football!

I have seen the same thing happen in other sports. One spring, a JV lacrosse coach used one player exclusively on the power play all season, presumably to groom him to play for the varsity the next year. He clearly was building the team around this boy's strength. Problem was, the player transferred to a private school the next fall and what could have been a stellar varsity lacrosse team fell apart. Too bad the coach hadn't given some of the players who were returning a chance to develop more as a powerful and cohesive team they had promised to be before a coach zapped their spirit. 

Many high school freshman and junior varsity teams that adopt a win-at-all-costs approach may win more games but end up hurting the varsity in the long run. Those that put player development before winning end up doing what they are supposed to do: develop the largest possible player pool to "feed" the varsity.

How many times have you watched as a starting player suffer an injury during a tournament and is replaced by a player that hasn't had any playing time? Chances are the new player won't perform as well in such a pressure situation than had he had more playing time during the season.