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Getting The Most Out of Your Reserve Players

November 10, 2016

Andrew Howard


Almost every competitive sports team has reserves or players who are not part of the starting lineup. While this doesn’t typically apply to youth sports, reserves are a major part of game-time play for high school, college and pro-level competitive sports.


Second String

When discussing reserves, some people may label these players as second or third string which may have a negative connotation, but as a coach, it’s your job to prove that each of your players, reserve or not, are valuable members of your team. It’s your job to impress upon your reserves that they are just as important to the team and should be ready to perform if one of your starters is unable to play due to a foul, injury or even while they rest.


Treat Everyone Like Starters

Although your starters tend to get the most reps during training, receive more one-on-one coaching time and are the focus of team practices, it is to the team’s benefit that reserves get just as much practice time as the starting rotation to ensure they’re able and ready to take the place of starters at any given point during a game.

It may be easy to pair starters with starters and reserves with reserves during practice plays, but it’s a good idea to give each reserve player the opportunity to practice with a starter. Allowing members of your reserve to play with the starting lineup gives them a feel for what they would be up against during a real game.


Practice Makes Perfect

Even when your reserves are practicing with other reserves, it’s important to make sure every member of your team gives their all during practice. While they may not feel like they need to practice as hard as their starting counterparts, you should stress the importance of their practice play for real game scenarios, and if they show real strength and commitment during practice, it’s likely they’ll get more playing time during a real game, especially when starting players aren’t playing to their full potential.



The most challenging aspect of coaching reserves is keeping up their motivation. You can’t guarantee that they’ll get playing time during every game, which can be frustrating for both them and you, but it’s important that you stress their value as members of your team. Your reserve players can truly make or break a game and need to stay motivated, well-rested and aware of what’s going on so that they are ready to jump in at a moment’s notice.

Keep your reserve players motivated and committed by striving to make sure they feel just as important and valued as your starting players. Making sure your players stay motivated, even if they don’t get to play, can be extremely challenging, but making sure your reserves feel like they are an integral part of your team during every practice and game will go a long way in keeping them motivated and ready when their time comes to play.


SquadLocker is First String

SquadLocker gives your entire team, regardless of their starting position, the chance to purchase the coolest sporting apparel and gear from some of the most respected brand names such as Under Armor, Adidas, Nike and more. Easily set up a Team Store and invite coaches, parents and families to select sports gear and apparel, customized with your team’s logo! SquadLocker keeps your whole team motivated and ready for game-day with the best sporting gear around.

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