Playing Time Policy -
The Truckee Tribe has developed and adopted an “equal effort, equal play” foundation for its program. What this means is that, at the outset, players who exhibit equal effort in practices and in games should be rewarded with equal playing time.
Implicit within the words “equal effort” is the issue of conduct. That includes the degree to which a player hustles, listens, cooperates, assists others, is properly equipped, attends practices and games, is prepared when asked to enter a game, and demonstrates respect for the sport.
While the Tribe playing time policy is purest at the introductory level of 8U, it is a core belief that continues through all age levels, modified to adapt to the growing competitiveness of the sport at older age levels. In that sense, it is an ideal against which we inform our decisions on assigning playing time as other factors, such as years of experience; demonstrated skills; and individual aspirations, emerge as key considerations.
Playing Time Goal -
At all levels, the ideal situation is where all players get an exact equal amount of playing time.
In reality, that is not possible. Substitution rules make it virtually impossible to precisely control playing time. Similarly, different positions are substituted at different frequencies. And, depending upon which team is controlling the game, time on the field may not equate to actual “play”, i.e. in any given period, different positions will experience varying degrees of activity.
Additionally, there are a number of more controllable factors that may result in a player receiving more or less playing time than others:
- Safety concerns created by an imbalance of size of players
- A gross imbalance of skills that would potentially humiliate a player
- Failure to be ready when it is time for a substitution, as a “line” or as an individual
- Misconduct or poor attendance at practices and/or games
- Fatigue, illness or injury
To help players understand how to earn more playing time; to guide coaches in allocating playing time; and so that parents can appreciate the challenges of ensuring playing time, the Tribe has developed the following guidelines:
8U through 14U -
Under normal circumstances, all players who attend a game should be given the opportunity to play.
The playing time ratios provided for each age division represent minimum acceptable playing time ratios, i.e. no player should play less in a single game than the minimum time defined by that ratio. The goal is to provide a more equitable playing time ratio over the course of a season, where the competitive situations will fluctuate to allow coaches to bring all players closer to the 1:1 playing ratio the club has set as its ideal.
8U - 1:1 playing ratio
At this age level, the goal is to have all players receive equal playing time, regardless of experience, skill level, or the player’s impact on the outcome of the game. The ratio of playing time between the player with the most time and the least time is targeted at 1:1. In other words, if one player gets 15 minutes of playing time, the goal is to have all players receive 15 minutes.
The exceptions are those that relate to issues of health, safety, behavior and/or attendance. Additionally, all players should play all positions during the course of a game, if possible.
10U - 4:3 playing ratio
By 10U, more emphasis is placed on winning, so a player’s likely impact on the outcome of the game will start to factor into a coach’s decision regarding playing time.
Again, while the ideal situation is a 1:1 playing ratio, achieving this ideal ratio would require all players to be of the exact same skill level and have exhibited the exact same level of effort. However, to acknowledge the growing competitiveness of the sport with age, and to acknowledge that some players may have applied themselves more diligently in refining their skills outside of team practices, some players may see more playing time. At 10U, a target of a 4:3 playing ratio has been set, which means one player may see 20 minutes of play while another may see 15 minutes.
Note that this does not necessarily mean that the player with the more advanced skills will always see more playing time in any given particular game. The coach(es) may attempt to achieve a more equitable ratio than 4:3 by balancing playing time over the course of the entire season rather than focus on a single game.
For example, in a highly competitive game with an uncertain outcome, a coach may use that 4:3 target ratio to play more advanced players a greater amount of time. However, in games where the outcome is far more certain at an early stage, less advanced players may see a greater amount of time to gain experience and to compensate for games where they played less.
At 10U, players may begin to specialize by position, but it is encouraged that all players play all positions during the course of the season. This is to help each player to better understand the interaction of all positions and to build depth at each position.
12U - 2:1 playing ratio
Competitiveness of the sport is even more intense at the 12U level and the 2:1 playing ratio is intended to provide coaches with greater flexibility to: 1) account for varying skill levels of competing teams, and 2) to acknowledge that players who are brand new to the sport will require time to catch-up to the overall caliber of play at 12U.
Nevertheless, the 2:1 ratio is established as a target to provide flexibility. It is still the goal to create opportunities where players can achieve a more equitable ratio over the course of the season. So, while a coach may be within the 2:1 ratio if the player with the most time during a game receives 20 minutes of play and the player with the least amount of time receives 10 minutes, the goal is to keep that differential smaller.
Players at the 12U level have likely picked a position in which they would like to specialize, but some rotation through the various positions is strongly encouraged during the course of the season. It builds better all-around players and ensures they are making the best choice when selecting a position.
14U - 3:1 playing ratio
The 14U bracket provides an interesting challenge for two reasons: 1) because of HSLL rules that limit age-eligible players to only those still attending middle school, 14U’s are all within a very narrow age range, and 2) because they are about to enter the far more competitive High School environment. For these reasons, even greater flexibility is given to coaches during a specific game. Under this guideline, the player with the most time on the field may get 30 minutes of play while the player with the least receives 10 minutes.
And, as with the 12U’s, new players to the sport are going to be even more challenged to catch up with the average caliber of play, so small doses of playing time are likely to be to the new player’s advantage early in the season.
Again, the goal is to offer the most equitable ratio of playing time reasonable, which may occur over the course of the season, not within a single game.
At the 14U level, players will almost certainly have specialized and rotation through the various positions is likely to be minimal.
JV and Varsity -
High School play is at a far higher level in terms of competition and playing time reflects that fact, particularly at the Varsity level.
JV - 2:1 playing ratio
The Tribe’s JV program is considered the “developmental” program. It is for Freshmen and older players have not yet developed the size and/or skills to compete at a Varsity level. To encourage player development, it is the goal to have all players participate in all games, assuming they have adhered to other requirements to earn that time. Nevertheless, the JV team will strive to be competitive and coaches may choose to weight playing time in favor of players with the most advanced skills.
As with guidelines for the Youth divisions, coaches may also strive for a 2:1 playing time over the course of a number of games rather than through strict adherence to the guideline in all games. However, in no JV game should a player be denied reasonable playing time if he/she is in good standing with the team.
Varsity - Coach’s Discretion
The Tribe’s Varsity program is the most competitive level of play and, as such, will allow coaches full discretion in determining the allocation of playing time among team members.
This does not, however, negate the requirements that the players be in good standing with the team. In other words, players who repeatedly flout team policies on attendance, behavior, attitude, sportsmanship, and similar principles, should not be given much, if any, playing time until the situation is corrected.
Additionally, it is still the Tribe’s objective to allow all players the opportunity to participate in games, so if the outcome of a game is not likely to be impacted by playing team members of varying degrees of competence, coaches are strongly encouraged to more evenly allocate playing time.