In 31 years of coaching, I have been directly accused of this by parents. And, to be honest, they are right.
I do play my favorites.
My favorite players:
* show enthusiasm,
* look at me when I talk,
* show up on time,
* put in extra effort,
* always do what I ask,
* help teammates,
* tell the truth,
* never say the word “can’t”,
* never give up,
* have no fear of making mistakes,
* maintain a positive attitude at all times,
*say "please" and “thank you”,
* show respect ("yes, sir/ma'am, no sir/ma'am"),
* routinely show acts of kindness,
* commit to excellence,
* lead by example,
* treat others the way they want to be treated,
* enjoy practices,
* show character on the court,
* show character off the court,
and so on.
Those are my favorites and I play them more. And I should.
If I didn’t, I would be reinforcing bad behavior.
I, of course, want every single player to improve, have fun, and learn life lessons.
So, I try very hard to get every player PLENTY of opportunities and
help every player develop those positive qualities.
But if a parent or player accuses me of playing favorites, they are right. I do. And I should.
I will constantly try to encourage the intangibles - the positive character traits. One way to do that is through playing time and by communicating with players.
These are not the only factors to be considered when it comes to playing time, but they certainly are factors. And my players should know that — otherwise I’m not doing my job.