At some point in their soccer journey, every elite player experiences sitting on the bench. It can be one of the most difficult things to manage, and if you’re competitive and looking to improve, you’ll likely be wondering what you can do to secure more playing time for yourself.
Here are some tips when it comes to getting more playing time:
- Focus on becoming a better player. It’s easy to blame your coach or to consider if the player(s) on the field while you’re on the bench are actually better than you, but those are not very productive thoughts if you want to play more. The bottom line is, the more you can offer your team and the more skills you have to bring to the field, the better your chances of playing will become. So, as you follow the rest of these tips, don’t forget, the most important thing you can do is to make a plan for your training and get to work. Spend time every day on your own getting better, both with and without the ball at your feet. Here are some way to know if you are getting better at soccer as you train.
- Understand why you aren’t playing as much as you’d like. If you aren’t clear as to why you aren’t getting as much playing time as you’d hoped, the best thing to do is simply ask. Try not to make assumptions as to what your coach is thinking. Ask to speak to the coach about it directly. The best time to do that is in a planned time to meet, maybe before a practice session. Try not to approach the coach directly after a game or catch them off guard, but instead plan to speak when you and the coach have had time to gather your thoughts, so it’s not an emotional conversation. It’s important that you respect the coach’s decisions, and ask questions geared towards what you can do to play a bigger role on the field.
- Maintain your confidence. It’s easy to lose confidence if you aren’t getting much game time. The most important thing you can do to maintain this confidence is to make sure you’re improving and working hard in training, both physically and mentally. Be sure to attend to your mental training and mental health as well as staying fit and continuing to get better technically and tactically. This is not an easy thing to do, but the effort will pay off in discipline and personal improvement.
- Do the best you can in your current role. Although you may not enjoy being a sub, it’s vital to maintain a good attitude and be a good teammate. You don’t have to be happy with the situation to act positively around the team. Encourage your teammates, and be ready and grateful for the opportunities you do get.
At the end of the day, playing time is not something directly within your control. By shifting your focus to the things you can control, it will not only make the experience more positive and enjoyable, but you will continue to improve individually. Even if you are not able to change your role on your current team, remember that you will likely play for many teams and different coaches over your time as a soccer player. Each experience offers a unique opportunity for you to learn and grow, both on and off the field.
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