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The first rule is making sure your kids always know your rule for playing time.  It doesn’t matter if you are only going to play the best or if you are going to try to play everyone the same amount.  As long as the kids know your rule that is what matters.  Make sure they know before they sign up and on the any time you talk about playing time. 

This year the approach I’m going to take is varsity team is the best are going to play.  We want to win games, I know there will be some games when we are winning or losing by a lot and that is when I will get others playing time.  But, the overall varsity team philosophy is to win so; I’m going to play the best in order to make that happen.  But, the guys that will play have to be at practice if they want to see they field. 

On the other hand JV is about development.  I think we are at a stage where if the kids get good enough we need their help on varsity.  In the next two years we hope that will be our middle school team.  But, for now it is the JV team.  We try to get all the boys that practice equal playing time, so they can develop.  This helps making them the best they can be.

Is this the best way for your program?  I don’t know but sit down with your coaching staff and talk about the way you are going to approach this year’s playing time.  Then you can let the boys know and it will make everything run smoother when the season starts.

Now, I feel that players at the varsity level should be able to substitute on their own.  The great teams don’t need help they just play.  I’m going to set up a way I want my team to substitute and they should be able to do that on their own.  An example would be middies; it should go lines 1, then line 2, then line 3, then back to line 1.  If they kids can’t handle that we have other problems.  After we got that under control in practice, with scrimmages then we will add in LSM and offensive and defensive middles.  This way I can focus on the game and just coach.  And if the game gets out of control we can make the rotation go line 3, 4, then 5 (middie lines).  Then sub in the backup attack and defense. 

I wanted to tell you about this because last year I spent so much time with the JV on subbing that I didn’t get to coach as much as I wanted too.  The other way is to have another coach handle the substitutions and you can coach the game.  How ever you approach it have a plan.  Have a passion about the way you want to deal with substitution and it should run smoothly in future.

Check out more at www.coachgafner.com

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