Will I be ready for spring ball? Am I doing the right things for my college basketball recruiting? Am I prepared for the high school season? How much playing time will I get?

We love to hear from our readers and these were the most popular questions that we’ve recently been hearing. We wanted to take a look at these and provide some context and an overview of things we think you should be considering this high school season.

This is the first part of a two part series where we look at some of the bigger concerns that players and parents have heading in to the high school season. Part two will cover recruiting and spring ball and the roll they play during the high school season.

The High School Season

The most important thing you are doing is what you are doing right now. That is where your focus should be. There are a lot of variables during a season so we advise you to worry about what you can control.

For all high school players, you are currently in your high school season. Whether you’ve had your first game or are just starting practice, you must keep your focus on your high school team. Your biggest role right now is making sure you give that team everything you have to make them better. If you are only concerned with winning and building team chemistry, you are on the right path for success.

Making Varsity, Playing Time and Injuries

These are three topics that always come up regarding the high school season. So we break them down from the player, parent and coach’s perspective.

Making The Varsity Team

At this point, players have probably been assigned to a specific team whether it is Varsity, JV, etc. This can come with excitement, disappointment, pressure and other emotions. It may raise questions as to why one player made a certain team and another didn’t.

We are not seeking to answer that question. We are providing a little context based on our experience. Our hope is that this perspective will help the player and parent focus on the season and make it a great one regardless of your situation.

The most important thing you are doing is what you are doing right now.

No matter the team that a player made, this is just the beginning. The work continues. Because as a player, if you are just accepting where you are at, you are going to get passed up for the next thing.

Here’s what we mean.

Players

If your goal was to make varsity and you did, congratulations. But keep in mind there are 12 players on the JV that are working and scrambling to take your spot so you better keep working.

high school playing time

Regardless of the team you make, your job is to give that team everything you have.

If your goal was to make varsity and did not, then your next step is to work toward making that team on your next opportunity. That could be next season. It may be during the conference tournament. Or it could be if there is a freak injury, suspension, etc. You never know when the chance will come so you better be ready.

Coaches

Coaches don’t have goals when it comes to who they want to make a team. Their goal is to win games and develop players. If a player can help them win at a certain level, the coach will put them on that team.

A coach’s concerns are doing what is best for their program as a whole. If a player didn’t make a varsity team, the coach probably has a really good reason. If a parent / player and the coach disagree on what team the player should be on, the coach is probably trying to do what is best for the player AND the program.

Parents

Parents, if it was your goal for your son to make the varsity team, quickly check yourself.

If you are setting your son’s goals for him and he doesn’t share those same goals then this is a good sign that you are living vicariously through him, not for him.

Remember, a coach’s job is to do what is best for the entire program, not just your son.

Of course your son may be disappointed. But there is still an entire season ahead. Set the tone for a great experience by comforting him and then helping him get ready to make it a great year.

Playing time

We can probably all agree that playing time is a big part of being on a team. But here’s the reality: not everyone deserves to play the whole game and not everyone is going to play equal minutes.

Coaches are the only ones that have been at every practice, watched game film and scouted other teams. So what may not be obvious to us is a no brainer to them.

Players

Simply put, you get what you earn.

The minutes you get are based on how productive the coach thinks you will be when you are in the game. Are you the best at running the offense or getting rebounds? Can you lock down the opposing team’s best player? Will your team be better when you are in the game or is there another player that is a better fit at that time? In other words, your fair share of minutes are determined by you.

Playing time is earned, not given.

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Parents

As parents, we want to watch our kids perform. We love cheering them on and seeing them compete. But when they are not in the game, what goes through your mind? Do you still cheer on the team and other players? Or are you bashing the coach? And if you think your son should be getting more playing time, do you complain in front of him at the dinner table? Remember, while your son may have just come out of the game, someone else’s son just came in.

As a parent, support your son, your team and your coach. A little constructive conflict is fine, maybe even healthy. But there is a fine line between being constructive and undercutting the chemistry of the program. Make sure you don’t cross that line.

Set the tone for a great experience and help him make it a great year.

Coaches

Playing time is a coaching decision. And generally it is based on performance of the player – at practice and in games. If a player is competing at practice and producing in his role during games, he will get the playing time he has earned. This, of course, requires trust in the process.

Regardless of program, coaches want to win games this year, next year and every year they coach. They are balancing what is best for today with investing in the program’s future. So when we see one player sub in for your son and we question why the substitution was made, keep in mind that the coach probably has a reason. That reason may only be apparent to the coach and his staff. They are the only ones that have been at every practice, watched game film and scouted other teams. They have a deeper understanding of what is going on. So what may not be obvious to us is a no brainer to them.

Injuries

We can confidently say for all players, parents and coaches that no one wants to see an injury. Injuries will certainly happen and sometimes they are unavoidable. Rolling an ankle on another player’s foot or catching an elbow to the head are things that happen in basketball.

However, if a player is playing to not get hurt then they aren’t going to reach their maximum production. There are always risks involved in physical competitions. As soon as that becomes a factor in how you play, you are limited to what you can do.

Players

You absolutely must take control of and know your body. It is one thing that you completely control. You have the power to work it, rest it and rebuild it.

*Previous injuries – if you have a previous injury like torn ACL, sprained ankle, etc. that is still nagging or limiting what you can do then be sure to follow the advice of your doctor and athletic trainer.

Prevention

Some teams will do pre-season conditioning, lifting and work to get in to shape and build the athlete’s bodies. Some will also cover pre-workout stretching and warm up. This is important for injury prevention. However, if your team isn’t doing these or if you want to go deeper, it is your responsibility to educate yourself and take action. 

Recovery

If you are working out as hard as you possibly can, your recovery is crucial to your future performance. This means post-workout stretching, consistent hydration and getting plenty of rest. This also lends itself to injury prevention. Competing while overly fatigued, tight and cold or dehydrated makes you more susceptible to injury. If you are serious about your performance, recovery needs to be a piece of your overall workout.

Nutrition

While all players vary in the amount of nutritional needs (such as calories and specific macros), the kind of food you eat matters. Just like an injury, sickness can also keep you from performing at your best. Everybody needs a good mix of vitamins and nutrients. And eating high doses of sugars and bad fats can negatively affect how your body works. Be smart about what you eat. It may not last as long as a bruised rib, but being sick can still keep you out of action.

You absolutely must take control of and know your body. It is one thing that you completely control. You have the power to work it, rest it and rebuild it.

Parents

You are probably going to be one of the biggest influences in your son’s off the court activities. You can really help by supporting their prevention, recovery and nutritional efforts. Encouraging them to educate themselves, helping them with recovering and providing nutritional meals will go a long way in helping their performance.

Coaches

Most coaches will provide as much support as they can with regards to injuries. They usually work closely with a school’s athletic training staff where ever they think it will help.

Coaches are again playing the balancing game. They want to push their players through tough drills and physical practices. At the same time they are controlling the type of contact that has a higher potential for injury and monitoring the chance of player overdoing things with their bodies.

Final thoughts

There are a lot of variables that determine what team a player makes, how much they play and whether they get injured. This season, our suggestion is to focus on the things that you can control today.

Players don’t control what team they made but they can control what they contribute to the team they are on. They can always control their attitude and effort.

Players don’t decide how many minutes they play but they can influence a coach’s decision by being productive at all times.

Players can’t always avoid injuries but they can give themselves the best chance to stay healthy and make the choice to not worry about what could happen.

Follow these guidelines and you are sure to find success.

Part 2

Coming out next will be a post on the role of high school basketball in college recruiting and spring ball.