Playing time is a topic that frustrates many coaches, players, and parents in any high school sports program. The amount of game time is dependent on many factors that include:
What is the state of the program? Is this program a state champion contender? Is this a first year program? Is the program somewhere in the middle range?
For higher level programs, playing time is not equal and the best players will play. For first year programs, playing time will be equitable so that players can develop. For mid-range programs, the best players will get the majority of the time with role players doing their part.
How are the games going?
Universally, when your team is blowing another team out, a coach will empty the bench and get everyone on. The same is true for getting blown out.
Does the player have a good lacrosse IQ?
Many athletes have all the attributes a coach could ask for and lack the IQ to implement that athleticism into a game or even lack some skills. Some players even have all those skills but are unable to implement those skills on the game field. There is a certain amount of risk and reward to be considered while creating the depth chart when a coach has players that are very athletic or skilled but lack the IQ.
What offensive or defensive scheme is the other team implementing against your team?
There are times when another team implements something your team is not ready for and a coach is forced to rely on their highest IQ players to execute game time changes. For instance, an offense that is not prepared to play against a zone and cannot rely on its 2nd or 3rd line midfield units to beat that zone, the man-up unit is normally called on to break that zone. Another instance could be that a player's athleticism is not needed to implement a zone defense because a less athletic defenseman has a higher IQ to implement the zone in a game.
Has the player worked hard in practice and been coachable? Do they retain information?
There are players that have all the skills and athleticism but do not stick to the game plan or trust what their teammates and coaches are able to do. Lacrosse is a team sport with 10 players. Each player plays a role and has equal value on the team. No ONE player is bigger than the team. Be a part of the team, don’t try to be a one man show.
At the end of the day, playing time is earned.
As a player that feels like you deserve more playing time, GO TALK TO YOUR COACH. Ask them what you can be doing to move up the depth chart, then shut your mouth and listen.
Then go do that.
As a parent that feels like your child deserves more playing time. GO TALK TO YOUR CHILD and tell them to GO TALK TO THEIR COACH.
If a coach is willing to discuss this with parents, then make sure both parties have enough time for level heads after games/practices and let the coach explain their decision making process. Then echo what the coach is telling your child because they are likely already telling your child the same thing.
Sports are supposed to be fun. Concern yourself less with what you think you deserve and enjoy the experience of being on the team, learning life lessons, and building relationships. Having playing time conversations with your coach is all a part of that.
“I think that from the time you start playing sports as a child you see that your responsibility to your team is to play the best that you can play as an individual ... and yet, not take anything away from being part of a team.” - Wayne Gretzky