Depending on how your team is doing at this point in the season you may want to consider shortening or lengthening your bench rotation. This is a delicate subject and requires thought, communication and buy-in from every person within your basketball program. Let's break down my suggested rotations below based on your team dynamic.
At this point in the season, most coaches have had ample amount of time to see their expected top 5-8 players in game action. But most teams are larger in size with other players who haven't seen much floor time.
IT'S WORKING - KEEPING YOUR BENCH SHORT If your team is finding success this season so far, I'd be hesitant to make change and suggest you keep an 8-player rotation. During blowouts, end-of-the-game minutes can be awarded to players that have been working hard in practice or seeking opportunities. Once section/region/playoffs start I would rely heavily on your top 5 players. Your 6th man will get the bulk substitute minutes and players 7-8 will fill gaps depending on game flow, fouls etc.
This rotation will limit mistakes due to substituting too much and allow your main players to have ultimate confidence/rhythm knowing they are expected to produce. Prior to making these changes, I would consult with your coaching staff and also speak to the players this may negatively impact. The message should circle around sacrificing for the team and also being prepared if their number is called. Everyone plays a role on the team including the coaching staff.
OPEN TO CHANGE? LENGTH YOUR BENCH For teams that are struggling, I would recommend evaluating your current team strengths and weaknesses. And see what changes can be made from an overall coaching standpoint. In these scenarios, consider lengthening your rotation a bit to see if new players can promote competition. You’d be surprised at how much some players can develop with practice in several short months. This also gives you the opportunity to prep players for next year if an end-of-the-season run is out of the picture. If you’ve already been playing an extended roster of 10-12 players, adjust minutes and player combinations.
It’s important to see different lineups and what players work well with others. The season may be frustrating but it's a great way to grow your players, give them new opportunities and explore the possibilities.
EVALUATION LEADS TO OPPORTUNITY Understanding your players' substitution patterns and playing time can be frustrating and difficult, but your players' training doesn’t have to be. When you take the time to evaluate where you could change things up, you never know what opportunities could arise.
If you are looking for other ways to motivate your players at the end of the season or into the offseason, consider adding new tech, like the 2023 Dr. Dish CT+ to your program's tools.