Finding Your Role: Get More Playing Time, Win More Games

I have come to the conclusion that only 20% of high school basketball players will average double digits in scoring. (Basic reasoning: Normally, on a 12-man team, bad teams will have 1 out of 12 score 10 points per game, great teams can get 3 out of 12, most average teams will get 2 out of 12). However, I would bet that 80% of of high school players think they have the ability to score 10 or more points per game. It’s time to get realistic. The chances are, 2-3 players on the team will score a majority of the teams’ points. If you are fighting for playing time, you need to come to the understanding that you are not a scorer.

What can you do to find your role on the team? What can you do to earn more playing time? What can you add to your team that no other player can that will help your team become more complete?

Here are a few roles that every team needs, but few have.

1. The complete defender

There are plenty of athletic players who are quick, strong, and might even work hard. The problem is, very few players understand how to play TEAM defense properly. Regardless of your athleticism, if you can learn how to get to the right spots fast enough on the defensive end, you will make your team better.

2. The spot-up shooter

And by shooter, I mean shot maker. This enables your team to spread the floor on offense and keep the defense honest. Great spot-up shooters know when to take shots and when to pass the ball. Also, they know their role and do not try to create shots for themselves (if a good spot up shooter has the ability to create his own shot, he is probably averaging more than 10 points per game). If you can average 7-8 points on 5 shots per game, you will earn playing time.

3. The ball mover

A player who can pass the ball well and knows how to get the ball reversed WITHOUT turning it over is highly valuable to a team. Too many players over dribble, force shots, or keep the ball on one side. Someone who can efficiently run the offense and only turns the ball over once every 5 games will find their way on the floor.

4. The loose-ball magnet

This is the player who grabs every rebound and is in the middle of every scrap for a loose ball. Their points come from creating turnovers and grabbing offensive rebounds. If you can become a loose-ball magnet, you can earn playing time and help your team win.


Now, other factors definitely come into play when you are trying to get minutes. To get serious playing time, you have to be competent at most things. For example, if you are a great spot-up shooter but you can not play any defense, you probably won’t play much. On the other hand, if you can do all four of these roles pretty well, you will probably play a majority of the game.

Stop focusing on trying to “get buckets”. Focus on what your team lacks and what you can best provide. You will earn more playing time, and help your team win more games.

Question for discussion: Who are some of the best players at each role (past or present) in the NBA?