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I have been thinking a lot recently about the amount game time juniors should get in any given sport and where the tipping point is between fostering long term enjoyment and them switching off, changing sports or, even worse, giving up.
I coach basketball (only recently qualified again after 20 years out!) with four quarters of eight minutes each. Given a team of ten how much game time, in your experience, is optimal to maintain the enthusiasm across the entire squad?
I ask this in the context of the numerous remaining key enjoyment factors being in place.
I would appreciate any guidance you guys could give.
Well done for getting back into sport and coaching!
I think you're asking what the least amount of time you can give your weakest players is? If I'm assuming correctly, then my answer would be "roughly the same as your strongest players".
At young age groups, no sport should be about winning and losing. Our job as coaches is to educate players (and those parents who think they know better) that it is a team/squad game and that everyone's contribution is important and that everyone will benefit from the learning gained by playing in games.
Try to put yourself in the shoes of different players and think - 'Would I be happy with the coach's decisions? 'Would I go home and tell mum/dad/brothers/sisters/friends excitedly about the game I just played?'
I hope that helps! And sorry if I've got the wrong end of the stick with your question!
In my own opinion as long as all players are enthusiastic about playing and wanting to spend time on the court then you would be looking at equal game time for all.
I coach football and I am very lucky that my current squad of u10s are all of very similar ability, but most of them do have strengths in very different things. Even though the majority of them are very new to the sport they are all confident and want to spend time on the pitch.
However, coaching other teams this season there has been times where it wasn't appropriate in giving all the children equal playing time as they really were not confident enough to be on the pitch and would voice this or appear upset so we had to build their playing time up more gradually. This kept the kids interested as they wanted to be part of it and still felt part of it but didn't feel quite ready to be playing a full game.
I guess the problem is when you have a full squad of very keen players who all want to play but are of very different abilities and it can frustrate the higher ability players. I like to try give these higher ability players different tasks to keep them enthusiastic and help the other players improve. Such as when its your turn to be sub can you help by talking to 'x' and keeping them right with their position. They normally respond very well to this as they still feel equally important, and now even more so that they're helping you coach!
What do you currently do in terms of playing time?
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