McLean Youth Basketball
Minimum and Maximum Playing Time Regulations
The primary goal of McLean Youth Basketball (MYB) is to encourage Coaches, within the parameters of a competitive game environment, to make every attempt to ensure that playing time is spread equally among all the players of the team. Based on that philosophy, the most important rules developed by the League are those rules governing player participation. These rules, however, are intended for the protection of those players that abide by the MYB Code of Conduct, attend team practices, show up on time and are available for the entire game. The most severe infraction of MYB rules any coach can commit is the intentional manipulation of these rules to limit the participation of any player on his or her team. Coaches are expected to abide by the letter of the rule, as outlined below, but more importantly, they are expected to abide by the spirit of the rule, which requires them to treat all players equally and to balance the participation of all the players on the team. These rules are included in the MYB Intramural Basketball Rules and Regulations posted on our website, MYAthletics.org, and explained in more detail below.
Minimum Playing Time
Each player must play a minimum of two unbroken, but not necessarily consecutive, quarters. An unbroken quarter is one in which a player starts the quarter and is not substituted for throughout the quarter. Two “half” quarters do not equal one unbroken quarter.
The minimum playing time rule does not apply to any player who shows up late, after the tip-off of the game, leaves any time prior to the end of the game, or is disqualified during the game (five fouls or ejection by the referee). Players that need to leave the game early should alert their head coach prior to the start of the game and the head coach should then alert the referees and the head coach of the other team
This rule is the most important rule adopted by MYB, and violations of the rule, except as permitted by the exceptions discussed below, will not be tolerated and will result in the forfeiture of the game by the team violating the rule and potential additional disciplinary action against the coach. The rule is clear in both its intent: each player on the team will play at least half the game (two unbroken quarters); and in its application: an unbroken quarter is one in which the player starts and finishes the quarter without being substituted for. Two half quarters are not the same thing as one unbroken quarter. The player can play any two of the four quarters in the game. The quarters do not have to be consecutive, and there is no guarantee that a player will play any particular quarter (i.e., either start the game or play in the fourth quarter).
That said, Coaches should make reasonable attempts to give every player the opportunity to start a game and play in the final moments when a game is decided. All aspects of the game are part of participating in an organized sport, and all of the kids should be given the opportunity to share in those experiences.
1. Player Injury. If the player is removed from the game by injury verified by the referee, no minimum playing time applies to that player. In the case of an injury, the referee shall notify the opposing coach of the player’s injury before play is resumed.
MYB does not allow players to participate when they are injured or at risk of increasing the severity of an injury, and Coaches are required to abide by this requirement. If a player is hurt during a game and can no longer participate, then the minimum playing time requirement is waived for that player no matter how much, or how little, time the player had participated in the game prior to the injury. The referee and opposing coach must be notified. If the injury is minor and the player, in the judgment of the coach, can return without risk of further injury, then the coach is obligated to return the player to the game at the first opportunity.
If a player is removed due to injury and cannot return prior to the end of the quarter, or can return to the game and re-enters at the first opportunity, then that quarter shall count as a full unbroken quarter for the injured player. The player that substituted for the injured player must come out of the game if the injured player returns within the same quarter that he/she was injured. Whatever part of a quarter is played by the substitute the substitute player receives no credit toward his/her minimum or maximum playing requirement.
Although coaches are free to bring in any player for the injured player, coaches are encouraged to use this opportunity to give more playing time to players that otherwise would not have received it. In other words, if one player is already scheduled or likely to play three full quarters, then the coach should bring in one of his/hers other players (who isn’t as likely to get as much playing time) for the injured player. This is a suggestion, not a requirement.
A more difficult situation to resolve is that involving a participant with a chronic condition, such as asthma, which in certain situations poses a risk to the player’s health, or children recovering from illness that are not 100% healthy. If a player is recovering from an illness (i.e., flu, cold or physical injury) and is not 100%, he/she should be encouraged to sit out the game and not risk their health. If, in the judgment of the parent, the child can play without endangering their health, but stamina is an issue, the coach should inform the referee and the opposing coach prior to the start of the game. In this case, if the player needs to come out of the game, he/she should be treated just like an injured player as outlined above.
In contrast, shortness of breath, even for an asthmatic child, is not a sufficient reason to come out of the game under the injured player exceptions. All participants will have to deal with issues of stamina and breathing associated with a physical activity placing demands on the player’s body. An asthmatic child needs to be closely monitored by an individual (parent or Coach) capable of determining when shortness of breath is due to physical activity and is not asthma related versus those situations when the child’s condition requires them to come out of the game and rest. The Coach with an asthmatic child should inform the referee and the opposing coach prior to the start of the game about the potential for this problem and should make reasonable efforts to minimize the disruption to the game.
2. Disqualification. If a player is disqualified from the game (five fouls or ejection by the referee), no minimum playing time applies.
If a player is disqualified, due to his fifth personal foul or due to ejection by the referee for unsportsmanlike behavior, then the minimum playing time requirement is waived for that player no matter how much, or how little, time the player had participated in the game prior to the disqualification or injury. Playing time (as a partial quarter – not an unbroken quarter) does count, however, for the player who replaces the disqualified player (this could lead to a violation of the maximum playing time rule so coaches should be careful to monitor their substitutions).
3. Late Arrival or Early Departure. If a player arrives anytime after the start of the game or leaves prior to the conclusion of the game, the minimum playing time rule no longer applies to that player. However, if that player is available for at least two full quarters, then the coach is obligated to play that player for at least one full quarter.
Most late arriving players make it to the game just after the start of the game or before the end of the first quarter. In this instance, there is still enough time for the Coach to get the player at least one full unbroken quarter of playing time and the Coach is required to do so. If the player does not show up before the start of the fourth quarter then the coach is not obligated to play the player at all.
In the situation involving a player that needs to leave before the end of the game, the player must inform the coach and the coach must inform the referee and the other coach of this problem prior to the start of the game. If the player is available for at least two full quarters then the coach is obligated to use the player for at least one full quarter.
4. Failure to Participate in Practice. If a player consistently fails to attend team practices and the Coach needs to invoke discipline under this rule, no minimum playing time applies to that player, provided the coach notifies the League Commissioner and the Program Chairman or the Chief Commissioner and obtains clearance to invoke this rule at least one day prior to day of the game.
This exception to the minimum playing time rule is to be utilized only as a last recourse for a player that refuses to come to practice without a legitimate reason. If the player has a conflict which prohibits him/her from making the team’s regularly scheduled practice, then the League Commissioner should make every effort to move that player to another team he/she can practice with. Because this exception is a last recourse, the Coach who has a player falling into this category must contact his League Commissioner and get his/her prior approval along with the prior approval of the Chief Commissioner or the Program Chairman. The referee and opposing coach must be notified prior to the start of the game.
4. Six Players. If only six (6) players are present for the game, each player must play at least three (3) unbroken quarters.
The important aspect of this exception to the two quarter minimum rule is that all three quarters must be unbroken. Playing two full quarters and half of the remaining two quarters is a violation of this rule.
Maximum Playing Time
The maximum playing time rule applies to any team with seven players at the start of the game. When applicable, the rule requires that every player must sit out one full quarter (maximum playing time of three full quarters for any one player).
This rule was approved by the Board because the Board felt that too many of the Coaches were circumventing the spiritof the minimum playing time rule. The intent of the rule is to encourage relatively equal playing time to all players. However, by applying only the letter of the rule, too many Coaches played most of their players the minimum time required and reserved the rest of the playing time for only two or three of their best players. This was particularly true in the younger grade (age) groups where one or two dominant players can control the game.
It is important to remember that the rule applies to any team that has at least seven players show up prior to the start of the game. If the other team has six or fewer players at the start of the game the maximum playing time rule does not apply to that team but still applies to the team with seven players.
The simplest way to apply this rule is to think of the rule as requiring that all players must sit out one full quarter. Every player must play two unbroken quarters and they can play any part of, or all of, a third quarter. If the rule applies, then players cannot play in all four quarters.
The rule does not apply in the following situations:
i) as a result of injury or disqualification, a team would have to play with four or fewer players; the rule should never be applied in such a way as to require a team to play with fewer than five players if those players are otherwise eligible to play;
ii) if a player is injured and must be substituted for, then the player brought into the game for the injured player is not subject to the maximum playing time restrictions, as indicated above. If the injury is minor and the player can return before the end of the quarter in which the injury occurred, the Coach must bring the injured player back into the game as soon as is reasonable and the player substituted for him must come out.
The first exception is meant to apply to those situations were the team has no choice but to use a player that has already participated in three quarters and is the only player available to the team to substitute for a player that can no longer participate (i.e., fouled out or left the game early). The maximum playing time rule will not be applied in situations that would force a team to play short handed when they have a player that is otherwise eligible to play. If another player is on the bench and has not played in three quarters, that player must be brought into the game first before utilizing a player that has already reached his/her maximum playing time.
The exception regarding a substitute for an injured player is discussed in detail in the section above dealing with minimum playing time.
Finally, the head coach for each team is solely responsible for the application and enforcement of the minimum and maximum playing time rules. The coaches need to know and understand how to apply these rules. Reliance on referees or the opinion of the other coach does not relieve the head coach of this responsibility. In addition, it is not the referee’s responsibility to enforce these rules or report violations. If these rules have not been properly applied it is the responsibility of the opposing head coach to report the violation to his/her League Commissioner.
The Board is aware that any rules governing a player’s minimum and/or maximum playing time can restrict the flow of the game and a Coach’s flexibility to substitute for specific situations during a game. If the coach does not plan ahead for these situations, it is easy to make a mistake and intentionally or unintentionally violate these rules. It is critical for Coaches to plan their game substitutions accordingly. Coaches should know prior to the game (by asking at practice or by phoning the players) who will be attending and who will be absent and adjust their substitution patterns to the players that are available and to comply with the playing time restrictions. Don’t try to do all of this on the fly or in your head! Come to the game with a planned substitution schedule, extra paper and pen, confirm player availability, and adjust your schedule prior to the start of the game. With a little effort we can make these rules work and minimize the confusion during a game.