A recurring bone of contention and one that causes much angst in junior sport is how much court time players should receive.  Player and parent perceptions about court time can often differ from the reality of the time the player has been on court.  Sometimes, the issue isn’t court time but timing; the player never gets an opportunity to be in the starting 5 at the start of the game or half time or never finishes the game.


All coaches should set and communicate rules and guidelines around team expectations at the start of the season to both players and parents.

Basketball Victoria’s Coaches Code of Conduct states “give all players a reasonable amount of court time”.  Our club strongly encourages our coaches to aim to keep court time relatively even.  One of our objectives as a Club is to promote good sportsmanship, a love of the game and inclusion of all players.

Coach Mac’s Equal 5 is a good option.

Court time

  1. Be consistent in your approach to court time and application of team rules around court time and attendance.  If one of your stronger players misses training before a big game, the same rules you have applied to the rest of the team also applies to them.  No player is above the team rules.
  2. If every player is working hard on their game at training and doing what is requested, then they all deserve the opportunity to prove themselves against strong opposition and in important moments or games.  All players need to be given the chance to prove themselves.
  3. If a player is receiving less court time consistently, they need positive and constructive feedback on how they can improve and what they need to do to improve their court time e.g. regular attendance at training, arriving on time to training and games etc.  It is best to include parents in these discussions.
  4. A coach may enlist the help of a parent to help with player rotations.
  1. Be at training and make a positive contribution and work hard on the skills and structures set by your coach.
  2. Be realistic.  Not every player is of equal ability, and some seasons there will be stronger players.  No team gets through a season or reaches the finals with only five players contributing.  When you are given an opportunity, play to the best of your ability.
  3. Practice away from training.  Work with your coach to develop a plan for the skills you should concentrate on.
  4. Support the coach.  Coaching a team and all the players is challenging.  Parents should not attack or undermine the coach either directly or in the background.  If players or parents have questions, they should ask the coach politely, listen to their response and take their feedback on board.  The player then needs to be positive and proactive in implementing the feedback at training and games.
  5. “Show appreciation for volunteer coaches, officials and administrators.  Volunteers are necessary for the functioning of sporting activities.  Without them, your child could not participate.  Whilst many are parents of people involved in the sport, many are also people dedicated to the sport and its development.  Show them the respect and appreciation that they deserve.”
Before a player/parent questions a player’s playing time, consideration should be given to how much court time has been received over several games.  A player receiving a questionable amount of court time for one or two games should not cause to raise a concern.  A valid reason for this may be due to team balance, player discipline, injury or other factors.

If a player feels they have not received reasonable court time over a prolonged period, they should raise this with the coach or team manager who will discuss this with the coach.

Avoid raising issues with a coach on game day.  The coach may be under immense pressure before and after a game, so this is not the ideal time to raise issues or concerns with them!  It is better to wait 24 hours and then send an email to the coach and team manager outlining your concerns so that they have time to consider them before any discussion.

If an unsatisfactory response or no improvement to the situation occurs the committee can be contacted through the relevant co-ordinator.
There is often a higher emphasis in finals to win.  Some coaches opt to give more court time to the players they believe will give the team the best opportunity to win.  If a coach is going to deviate from their normal court time rotations, with some players potentially getting less opportunity during the finals, this should be discussed with the players and / or the team before the finals series commences.  

Some coaches will continue with normal rotations during the finals working on the premise that a whole team effort got them there!  Sharon Fellows has coached from the littlies all the way to state level in netball and draws a distinction between an elite senior competition and juniors.  “At junior and intermediate level, I would go for fairly even court time – I can remember how I felt as a player when I did not get any court time in a grand final,” she said.  “With younger players the most important aspect of playing is to gain experience, winning must be secondary.  Then, of course, you have parents to consider.”  

Our club recommends that in finals, Coach Mac’s Equal 5 is used.
Coach Mac recommends even playing time until the last 5 minutes of the game.

With 5 minutes to go, if your team is:
  • winning or losing by a significant margin, then continue with even playing time; or.
  • in a “close” game with less than 5 minutes left then play the 5 players who give the team the best chance of winning the game.
  • What is deemed as a close game will depend on the age and skill level of the team’s competing.
Coach Mac found this to be the best method to find the happy medium between:
  • Giving all players an opportunity to improve and have fun; and
  • Playing to win

Coach Mac advised that every coach who has used this method with their team has experienced very few complaints from parents.  He noted that those who do complain are usually only concerned with their child’s performance rather than the team’s performance.

“When you combine even playing time during games with great practices, you’re putting your team in a position for maximum development.  They get better during games AND they get better during practices!”