How to Respond to a Loss of Playing Time

benchedkidIf you play a team sport it’s inevitable that there will come a point in your career where you are unhappy with the amount playing time you’re receiving. This is true at all levels, from youth sports all the way to professionals. How you respond to this adversity can end up costing you even more playing time. Alternatively it can be used as an opportunity to prove your coach wrong, have him realize his mistake and ultimately win back your minutes.

The first thing you want to do is speak with your coach. You need to be careful with your approach and intent. Wait until the end of practice when your teammates are not around, which will allow the conversation to be more candid and open. You want to be frank with your coach and tell him or her that you’re disappointed with the amount of playing time you’ve been given recently and you want to know what you can do to change that. This accomplishes two things: it lets your coach know that you care about playing and also shows him that you are motivated and willing to put in the necessary work to develop your skills. Listen to your coach’s suggestions with an open mind and make a point to work on those skills at practice as well as on your own time.

It is important not to sulk; nobody likes losing playing time so it’s only natural to be disappointed, but do your best to act positive around your team. During games you want to be the loudest player on the bench, and in practice you want to be working the hardest and always looking to get that extra rep in. Your goal should be to demonstrate that your lack of playing time won’t stop you from being a great teammate and that you possess the mental toughness to ignore distractions and are able to rise and meet any challenge.

The worst thing you can do is to feel sorry for yourself and start acting angry or defensive; this is a surefire way to ensure you don’t win back your lost minutes. Attitudes are contagious and you want your positive spirit to be infectious to the point that it elevates your teammates’ play, allowing your coach to realize that you make the players around you better. Being unhappy at practice will only make your play suffer and in the end you’ll probably lose even more playing time. You need to stay positive and be confident that you are capable of helping your team win by demonstrating your worth in practices and games.

Dealing with losing playing time is a difficult challenge for any athlete to overcome, and it can cause you to start doubting things about yourself that you previously would never have questioned. It is important that you keep a level head and stay positive throughout the process. Just because you lost your starting role or you’re getting less minutes does not mean you can’t turn things around. All it takes is one big play and your coach’s perception of your image can change dramatically.