My Town Tutors is a great resource for parents & teachers.

Youth Basketball Substitution Rotations

An 11 man rotation can be a little bit of a challenge. In youth basketball it is always good to follow a substitution pattern that guarantees playing time for each player. Some leagues have minimum playing time requirements. This rotation is based on a league policy that requires a 25% minimum playing time for each player (8:00 out of 32:00).

It is helpful to rank each player: above average, average, and below average (Rank The Players). Players will be the playing time that corresponds to their rank on the team.

Number System: A coach can assign a number system for his team 1 – 11. This makes substitutions really simple. Select the “shift” time and simply have the players sit on the bench by number. Players will rotate in the game. A coach should try to balance height and skill to have balance with each unit. (possible set up)

32:00: to keep it simple a coach can divide the quarter in half. The following is based on four 8-minute quarters.

1st Quarter:

Shift #1: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Shift #2: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 

2nd Quarter:

Shift #3: 11, 1, 2, 3, 4

Shift #4: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

3rd quarter:

Shift #5: 10, 11, 1, 2, 3

Shift #6: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

4th Quater

Shift #7:  9, 10, 11, 1, 2,

Shift #8  3, 4, 5, 6, 7

1 – 7 = 16:00 (50%)

8, 9, 10, 11 = 12:00 (37.5%)

Variation #1 Mix the number up: Create a new list each week. A coach can rotate the players in 1 – 7 so no one player is #1. Similarly rotate 8 – 11 so that no player is last all the time.

Variation #2 Pick up where you left off: If a coach is a believer in equal playing time, simply start the next game with the next rotation. This will be the fairest. It will keep most parents happy. And it will allow all players to develop. At the younger ages this is probably the best option (recommendation). 

Game #2 Shift #1: 8, 9, 10, 11, 1 

Variation #3: Use the number system for the 1st 3 quarters, then play the best players. Through 3 quarters the playing time would be the following: 

1 – 8 3 shifts = 12:00 (27.5)

9 – 11 2 shifts = 8:00 (25% if no additional time)

There will 40 minutes of playing time for the 4th quarter (8 minutes X 5 sports) #9 will have not played in 3rd quarter, so it would make sense to find him some time in the 4th or give him a little time in the 3rd.

Even Units plus one (4-4-3: Divide the top 8 players into two even groups based on height and position. Try to create as much balance as possible. With the bottom 3 players, have them rotate the 5th spot on the floor. A coach can switch the 3 rotating players each game to guarantee even playing time for all players if this fit his / her philosophy.