There is so much changing in Ohio soccer right now from new league announcements to club mergers it looks like we are on the verge of another big shake-up. I have spent the first part of this week talking with clubs about their plans (exciting stuff happening!) and parents about their plans (stay calm parents everything will work out). One of the big questions this week has been about play time.
Now, I am not going to tell you that your coach should be playing your player more or that a coach is managing their games incorrectly. What I am going to give you is my philosophy on playtime, encourage you to develop your own and ask prospective clubs and coaches what theirs is to see if it aligns with yours and your player's needs.
My philosophy is based on several factors and will vary from player to player, coach to coach, club to club and league to league. Coaches have a lot to deal with when it comes to their personnel. They might have a team full of midfielders and everyone has to share those positions or play somewhere they don't like. They might have an entire bench coming off of injury or no goalkeepers - coaching is not easy.
In general centerbacks and goalkeepers will play more than the rest of your roster. If you have multiple goalkeepers or goalkeepers that also play on the field then my calculations will be off slightly. Generally speaking (very generally speaking) every players should play at least 1/2 of each match (now if you are playing MLSNext, in a regional championship or coming off of injury this might not be the case) but if a player is not at the level to play at least half of a game then they probably should be playing at a different level and that is a conversation the parent and coach need to have.
At younger ages where development is the buzz word and we are all working to get better and implement what we know, game speed experience is vitally important. This chart shows a percentage of the game time players should be playing, this chart isn't showing what would be equal playing time but what would be a fair amount of playing time based on a 5% margin.
Where this all gets tricky is in our full sided older age groups. High school age players in particular. During your high school season coaches are expected to win every game and play the players that will achieve that result. Parents and players may not agree with the playing time received but lets be honest, high school seasons are for winning and not player development. When those players get back to their club teams things can get dicey. Some of the higher level teams playing in top leagues are carrying more players than they can fit on a game day roster leaving players without game day playing time at all or sharing with a lot of players off of the bench. Leagues like E64,National League, PRO, MLSNext, GA and ECNL you have to earn every minute you play. If this is not in line with what you want for your player then these leagues and teams are not right for you. You may not play at all. Or you might play a lot.
In all other leagues players should be getting "Fair" playing time. The purpose of playing club soccer when you are in high school is still about development but it is much more about having fun and/or being identified by colleges. If you are not getting meaningful playing time then you are not fulfilling either of those purposes.