Playing time is something that basketball players salivate over. Just the thought of being on the court for extended periods of time, with the chance of being out there in the clutch, gets the adrenaline pumping. With that said, I’m going to show you three tips on how to improve your playing time.

Remember, playing time is a lot like trust — well, it’s actually a derivative of trust. It can take numerous games to build up you getting 25, 30, 35 minutes a game, and five minutes to have it taken all away.

Let’s begin.


There are athletes on countless teams who get all of their minutes because they hustle. Likewise, there are guys on countless teams who could be getting more minutes if they hustled. What’s hustle exactly? Great question and if you want a long-winded answer, check out Toughness by Jay Bilas.

If you want a short answer, hustling is doing things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. Boxing out, taking charges, and diving on the floor for loose balls are three things you can do to help you squeeze into the rotation. What’s listed above shows a selflessness about a player, how he’s willing to sacrifice his body for the benefit of the team. Coaches love that.

This works, and I can attest to it. A majority of my minutes came from doing the things that were just listed.

Talk To Your Coach

It may seem a little intimidating, but a good conversation with your coach can shine some light on where you can improve. A great coach will tell you where you need to improve because they want to see you succeed. Any coach that’s unwilling to tell you how you can get more playing time has no business coaching.

For example, if you’re not getting PT because you don’t know the sets, your coach shouldn’t have an issue explaining them to you.

Be More Confident

Something that plagues a lot of athletes, myself included at one time, is the lack of confidence in their abilities. It’s normal to have a game from time-to-time where you’re missing shots or committing uncharacteristic turnovers — Michael Jordan had 56 games where he shot less than 40% from the field and committed more than four turnovers.

If you have a bad game or a bad practice, shake it off!

“But Zach, how do I shake if off?”

Great question and one answer is to talk to yourself. It sounds silly, I know. But science has backed that a positive self-talk impacts performance — check out What to Say When you Talk to Yourself by Shad Helmstetter, Ph.D., for more. After a bad showing, say something like, “everyone has bad days, I’ll be better tomorrow,” and watch your outlook turn around.

A solution to couple with the one I just showed you is to put in more work. If you know you’re outworking everyone the confidence will come.