Home Football Parents Equal Playing Time: What to do When Your child is not Starting!

Equal Playing Time: What to do When Your child is not Starting!

by Coach Kurtis

At the development stage, the result should never be the most important thing but unfortunately this is still the case for the majority in grassroots football.

It’s the baseline for measuring all progress for many and it tends to hinder the judgement of many coaches that are involved in youth football.

Most notably, coaches are known for only starting their favored players and giving their ‘weaker players’ minimal playing time.

I can imagine this can be very frustrating as a parent, I too am a parent of a child who plays for a team and fortunately I have never been in this position but if I were there would be several things I would consider.

Normally, the instant response would be to move to a new team but before you do this first consider the following.

What is the Coaching Philosophy?

What Is the goal of the coach? Does the coach use methods that are player centered? Do they just place all their focus on the ‘better’ players in training all do they have a very ‘holistic’ approach?

Trust me I know, finding a good coach in youth football is difficult, so once you do have one you should think long and hard before deciding to find a new one.

I suggest you consider the relationship that the coach has developed with your child, do they work hard to upskill them in training? Is it effective and can you see progress with their development?

If the answer is yes, then maybe moving to a different team might not be the best option at this time because if there is clear improvement with your child then moving them to a different team could set your child back.

As they improve, you would expect to see them get more minutes on the pitch and if this were not the case, I would personally have a chat with the coach to see what plans they have for your child.

Equal playing time on the pitch?

One of my coaching mentors once told me “The game is an assessment of what was previously taught!” and if this is the case, playing time for your child is especially important as you want to see them use what they have learned in the game.

Is Your Youth Football Team offering equal playing time?

Just because they may not be starting every game doesn’t mean they are not getting equal game time to other players. Really take note of the ‘minutes’ that your child is on the pitch and compare it to the other players.

In England, Youth football has a roll-on, roll-off substitute system which makes it a lot easier for coaches to equally share playing time throughout the season, is your coach utilizing this effectively? 

What will moving Football teams teach them?

I would also deeply consider what lessons moving teams might be teaching your child as I personally would like to see them learn that sometimes you have to work harder at your game to achieve what you want.

If I believe that the coach is still developing my child even though they are not starting as much as I would like this would most likely be my approach.

Sometimes experiencing a little adversity teaches them many lessons that help make them an even better player.

It can help them realize that having a desire to improve themselves all the time is an important requisite for a player to succeed and if they don’t change nothing will change for them going forward!

Sometimes as parents (even I am guilty of this at times) we want to always protect our children from pain and disappointment to quickly before assessing what they could learn from it.

In many situations the lessons learned can help propel them to new levels, we must be willing to let them fall and pick themselves back up with a little guidance from ourselves.

Child Relationships?

If your child happens to be anything like my own, then they might find building relationships in their youth football team difficult, to begin with.

I admit, I have moved my son from 3 teams since he has started playing football and, on all occasions, it was to do with the coaching but each time I had to think long and about the relationships he had with other players.

Do they have positive relationships with the other players? If so, how difficult will this make it if you do decide to leave the team?

A child’s friends mean a lot to them, and they may find it difficult to build similar friendships in a new environment.

Honestly, for me this issue is near the bottom in terms of importance as my whole reason for my child to be involved in team football is to become a better player but that might be different for you.


As you can see, there are several things to consider before deciding to move to a different youth football team.

Sometimes taking the time to investigate the reasons behind it and understanding the methods of your coach can help you make the best decision for your child.

Yes, they may not be starting every game but how many minutes do they get on the pitch? Are they developing and does the coach work hard at building relationships with each player?

I am a strong believer in the fact that we can’t shield our children from everything sometimes its helps them to experience a little adversity it can help make them better players and a better person but we must assess the potential impact of it before hand.

Do you believe I have missed something? Is there something that you would like to add to this post?

Join me in the comments below.  

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