It’s such a common conversation that in each instance, I really work hard to not get fired up. A player (or a parent) will complain to me about the fact that their coach is not playing them for __insert reason here____. Usually it is some combination of “playing favorites” or “doesn’t know what he/she is doing”. The reason why these conversations are so difficult is that the player almost invariably refuses to see that they are choosing the bench. That sentence and the title of this post must sound ridiculous but I’ll do my best to make my argument for its accuracy.
The player who is complaining about playing time is almost always ignoring the fact that they have control over the key component to their PT, themselves. When people don’t get what they want, the easiest thing to do is blame someone else or circumstances. While this is the easiest thing to do, it rarely has positive results. In these situations of complaint, I usually direct the player’s attention to how much extra time they’re putting into their skills, fitness, tactical awareness, relationship with key players, etc. Upon asking about these things, I usually get a blank stare or a halfhearted explanation of their “extra” work.
In all of my years of playing and coaching, I’ve never met a coach who kept talent on the bench without a reason. Therefore the equation of playing time becomes quite a simple one. GET SO GOOD THAT YOU CAN’T BE IGNORED! The truth of most of these situations is that the player only wants to do enough to get what they want. They do not truly want the playing time because if they did, they’d be doing all of the work to get it and a ton extra. The obstacle of the coach is just an excuse for them not to do the work.
“Thumbs before fingers!” has been a mantra of mine for years. It simply states that you need to acknowledge your contribution to any challenge before you blame someone else. By seeing your faults first, you have the power to change them. If you ignore the fact that you have any fault, you become powerless. You are completely at the mercy of the person or situation. So I implore you! Don’t put yourself on the bench! Become so good that you can’t be ignored! Give so much effort that the coach has to feel guilty about taking you off the field! Then other people can talk about you being “the coach’s favorite” but you’ll know the truth of how hard you worked to get there.
Go get your goal today!