This question is maybe the most important one when it comes to coaching a basketball team. Coaches all around the world have definitely heard this sentence over and over again and even the best ones sometimes have difficulty answering this one. The greatest coaches also perform the role of a teacher and , in addition to the knowledge of the game, have to have social skills in order to manage different personalities on the team. That means that difficult conversations have to happen and they need to be prepared to explain to the athlete why they aren’t getting more playing time.

These social skills have become increasingly important in coaching because of how sports are perceived nowadays. These skills are largely at work when dealing with, not only players, but their parents as well. Modern sports show trends of parent involvement in the coaching of their children. Nevertheless, a coach should always be prepared to assess the situation objectively and rationally explain where the problem is. Usually, the reason can be found in two areas: a problem with the personality of a player or the player’s tendency to hurt the team when he/she is on the floor.

Personality problems affecting playing time

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how good a player is on the court if the game is played the wrong way. Coaches put a lot of emphasis on the personality of a player, sometimes even more than on the talent. Relationships with the teammates, body language, and other off the court stuff greatly affect what coaches think of a player and how much playing time he/she will get. If the player is immensely talented but goes about his business in a cocky and demeaning manner towards the teammates, coaches will most likely give somebody else the time on the court. Greatest coaches understand “the secret” to winning. Basketball is a team sport and in no way can one person win on its own. Coaches also look for players that can understand their weaknesses and understand that they aren’t earning the desired playing time yet.

On court problems affecting playing time

With that being said, what happens when all the players are pretty good people who love being a team and respect the coaching staff? Well, coaches can start identifying the quality of players and try to implement an effective bench rotation that maximizes the potential success of the team. However, it is not all about who scores the most points. Coaches love players who do the little things like never missing a defensive rotation, talking on defense, setting screens, etc. In order to improve playing time, the player needs to keep bringing some type of an advantage to the team and minimize the bad habits on the court.

Coaches can also use statistics and analytics to back up their decisions. Numbers can help explain why a player isn’t getting much court time and coaches need to possess the ability to present this to the player. The social part of coaching comes into effect here as well, as the player needs to leave the meeting with a clear sense of why he/she isn’t playing and what they need to work hard on. Ultimately, for coaches it is important to know how to approach every player and what words need to be said in order to come to an understanding. Given the development of modern basketball, this is a hard task as there are more and more players with big personalities that need to be handled. However, it is the coaches job to figure out these personalities and make them work together in order to lead the team to success.