Playing to Win vs Playing to Stay in the Lineup

Every team that plays a competitive sport needs to have depth on their roster. Throughout the course of the season anything can happen that teams need to be prepared for, including injuries and illnesses. Depth also allows coaches the biggest leverage point, playing time.

Every player on a roster needs to perform come game time. Players that are on the bubble for playing time often feel as though they need to make an impact on the game in order to have a chance to stay in the lineup. This results in players trying to do too much, playing outside of their ability level, and often playing in an out of control fashion. Rather than doing the little things that will help a team win, bubble players often do things that are harmful to the team in their immense effort to stay in the lineup.

Players who play to win are players who take care of the details. They do the little things that create big results. In hockey, it could be a clear out of the zone or a simple won puck battle. In basketball, it could be a defensive rebound or a great screen. Football, a WR who blocks to spring a big gain. Etc etc. This is playing to win.

Playing to win is doing your job and trusting your teammates to do theirs. Bubble players who play to win are usually the ones who stay in the lineup – few coaches will drastically tweak the lineup after a win. Players who play to stay in the lineup are usually the ones who bounce in and out…their risk is not usually worth their reward.

Players who play well are rewarded with further play.

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One Response to Playing to Win vs Playing to Stay in the Lineup

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