The three most common questions we get asked prior to the high school season

by Transition Hoops Report

Playing Time

Each year around this time, our staff fields all kinds of questions that range from playing time to college recruiting. Some players are great about focusing on the task at hand. Others get a little too spread out. 

The bottom line is this: if you want to make varsity, earn it. If you want to play more, earn it. If you want to stay healthy, earn it. 

Here is how you can approach this season. 

The most important thing you are doing is what you are doing right now. That is where your focus should be. Stay focused on what you can control.  

For all high school players, you are about to enter your high school season. You must keep your focus on your high school team. Your biggest role right now is making sure you give your team everything you have to make them better. If you focus on winning and building team chemistry, you are on the right path for success.

Making Varsity, Playing Time and Injuries

These are three topics that always come up about the high school season. So we break them down from the player, parent and coach’s perspective.

Making The Varsity Team

Coaches are about to assign players to a specific team. That team may be Varsity, JV, etc. This can come with excitement, disappointment, pressure and other emotions. It may raise questions about why one player made a certain team and another didn’t.
We are not seeking to answer that question. We are providing a little context based on our experience. Our hope is that this perspective will help the player and parent focus on the season. It will help make the season great regardless of your situation.
No matter the team that a player made, this is only the beginning. The work continues. Because as a player, if you accept where you are at, you are going to get passed up for the next thing.
Here’s what we mean.


If your goal was to make varsity and you do, congratulations. But keep in mind there are 12 players on the JV that are working to take your spot. You better keep working.
If your goal was to make varsity and did not, your next step is to work toward making that team on your next opportunity. That may be next season. It could be during the conference tournament. Or it could be if there is a freak injury, suspension, etc. You never know when the chance will come so you better be ready.


Coaches don’t have goals when it comes to who they want to make a team. Their goal is to win games and develop players. If a player can help them win at a certain level, the coach will put them on that team.
A coach’s concerns are doing what is best for their program as a whole. If a player didn’t make a varsity team, the coach will have a reason.
What if a parent / player and the coach disagree on what team the player should be on? The coach is trying to do what is best for the player AND the program.


Parents, if it was your goal for your son to make the varsity team, check yourself.
If you are setting your son’s goals for him and he doesn’t share those same goals then this is a good sign that you are living vicariously through him, not for him.
Remember, a coach’s job is to do what is best for the entire program, not only your son.
Of course your son may be disappointed. But there is still an entire season ahead. Set the tone for a great experience by comforting him and then helping him get ready to make it a great year.

Playing time

We can all agree that playing time is a big part of being on a team. But here’s the reality: not everyone deserves to play the whole game . And not everyone is going to play equal minutes.


Simply put, you get what you earn.
The minutes you play depend on how productive the coach thinks you will be when you are in the game. Are you the best at running the offense or getting rebounds? Can you lock down the opposing team’s best player? Will your team be better when you are in the game or is there another player that is a better fit at that time? In other words, you determine your own fair share of minutes.
Playing time is earned, not given.


As parents, we want to watch our kids perform. We love cheering them on and seeing them compete. But when they are not in the game, what goes through your mind? Do you still cheer on the team and other players? Or are you bashing the coach? And if you think your son should be getting more playing time, do you complain in front of your son at the dinner table? Remember, while your son just came out of the game, someone else’s son just went in.
As a parent, support your son, your team and your coach. A little constructive conflict is fine. It might even healthy. But there is a fine line between being constructive and undercutting the chemistry of the program. Make sure you don’t cross that line.


Playing time is a coaching decision, usually it based on performance of the player. This includes his performance at practice and in games. If a player is competing at practice and producing in his role during games, he will get the playing time he has earned. This, of course, requires trust in the process by both player and coach.
Regardless of program, coaches want to win games this year, next year and every year they coach. They are balancing what is best for today with investing in the program’s future.
We even heard this dilemma from Paul Rush, the head coach at NNU. He spoke about the balancing act and the important factors he considers. Click here to watch the interview. At the 3:05 mark you'll see what we mean.
So when you see a player sub in for your son and question the substitution, you know that the coach has a reason. That reason may only be clear to the coach and his staff. They are the only ones that have been at every practice, watched game film and scouted other teams. They have a deeper understanding of what is going on. What is not obvious to us is a no brainer to them.


We can confidently say for all players, parents and coaches that no one wants to see an injury. Injuries will certainly happen and sometimes they are unavoidable. Rolling an ankle on another player’s foot or catching an elbow to the head are things that happen in basketball.
But, if a player is playing to not get hurt then they aren’t going to reach their maximum production. There are always risks involved in physical competitions. As soon as that becomes a factor in how a players plays, there is a limit to what they can do.


You absolutely must take control of and know your body. It is one thing that you completely control. You have the power to work it, rest it and rebuild it.
*Previous injuries – if you have a previous injury like torn ACL, sprained ankle, etc. that is still nagging or limiting what you can do then be sure to follow the advice of your doctor and athletic trainer.
Some teams do pre-season conditioning, lifting and work to get in to shape and build the athlete’s bodies. Some will also cover pre-workout stretching and warm up. This is important for injury prevention. But, if your team isn’t doing these and you want to, it is your responsibility to educate yourself and take action. 
If you are working out as hard as you can, your recovery is crucial to your future performance. This means post-workout stretching, consistent hydration and getting plenty of rest. This also lends itself to injury prevention. Competing while overly fatigued, tight, cold or dehydrated makes you more susceptible to injury. If you are serious about your performance, recovery needs to be a piece of your overall workout.
All players vary in the amount of fuel they need (calories and specific macros). And the kind of food you eat matters. Just like an injury, sickness can also keep you from performing at your best. Everybody needs a good mix of vitamins and nutrients. And eating high doses of sugars and bad fats can negatively affect how your body works. Be smart about what you eat. It may not last as long as a bruised rib, but being sick can still keep you out of action.


You are one of the biggest influences in your son’s off the court activities. You can help by supporting their prevention, recovery and nutritional efforts. Encouraging them to educate themselves. Help them with recovery and provide nutritional meals. This will go a long way in helping their performance.


Most coaches will provide as much support as they can with regards to injuries. They usually work closely with a school’s athletic training staff where ever they think it will help.
Coaches are once again playing the balancing game. They want to push their players through tough drills and physical practices. At the same time they are controlling the type of contact that has high potential for injury. They are also monitoring the chance of a player overdoing things with their bodies.

Final thoughts

There are a lot of variables that determine what team a player makes, how much they play and whether they get injured. This season, our suggestion is to focus on the things that you can control today.
Players don’t control what team they make. But they can control what they contribute to the team they are on. They can always control their attitude and effort.
Players don’t decide how many minutes they play. But they can influence a coach’s decision by being productive at all times.
Players can’t always avoid injuries. But they can give themselves the best chance to stay healthy. Thay can make the choice to not worry about what could happen.
Follow these guidelines and you are sure to find success.

About this article

This article originally appeared on the Select Basketball website in December of 2016. It was reposted with some modifications with permission from Select Basketball. Click here to see the original post.