Having starters and bench guys AND working on plays in 4th grade basketball is absurd.I'll admit it - as a parent I timed PT one season. 4th grade travel hoops. Coach, who has a football background, had 12 kids on team, but had a starting 5, a second 5, and worked two kids in. Spent ludacris amounts of time teaching the kids plays in practice. First unit (which happened to have his son on it, as well as asst. coach's kid) got most of the PT, and 2nd or 3rd game, there were kids including mine that were seeing 6-8 minutes of PT, some about 3, while the starters were into mid to high 20s, sometime more for a 40 minute running clock. After about 4-5 games of this, many parents were pissed. Having coached in the rec league up to this point, I was familiar with most of the players, and IMO the PT didn't match up to the talent level. Regardless of that, the at this level, PT really should be pretty close to even, and skills should be worked on more than plays. The coach even said in his intro email he didn't emphasize working on shooting - he liked defense and layups. LOL. There actually was a practice where I saw my son and another kid sitting on the mats watching the rest of the team run plays for 20 straight minutes. Just sat there. Could have been working on layups, shooting, FTs, whatever. One practice a week, 90 minutes - just unbelievable. Coach had plenty of parents that would have been happy to help, but he didn't want it. The Asst was a fellow football coach with no hoops experience, while 3-4 of the parents brought some knowledge to the table.
I was somewhat nutty about this, as my kid was not having fun, and I thought he was getting screwed, so I started to time PT during games. Charted it in the stands, didn't make a big scene of it, but didn't hide it. Did it for about games 5-10 into the season. Definitely favored the first team, like low 20s vs. 8-15. I did ask for a meeting with the coach, and we had a nice conversation. I didn't confront the coach with the stats, or share them publicly with other parents. I asked what my son needed to do to get more PT, and he said just needed to work on his defense and continue to play harder. I suspected it was a slough off, and the rest of the season pretty much confirmed it. I thought my son tried hard when he got a chance to play, and played good defense. Anecdotes aside, the fact is the starting 5 never changed the entire season. That means no one improved, worked harder or no one got worse during the season, which basically is impossible. He picked a starting group after 3-4 practices and stuck with it.
I stopped tracking time affter a month in. Things weren't great, but got better. It's hard to find PT for 12 kids, but there are ways to do it if you truly want to do it, and he didn't. As a travel baseball coach often on the other end of this stuff, I also try to give the coach the benefit of the doubt. It was a learning experience for both my son and myself, and while miserable at the time, it was a good low impact intro into these issues. I told him the season ends in March, and then he's done, and I encouraged him to play his best and give his best effort when the opportunities arose until it was over. Next year, the coach was back, and as a result my son chose not to try out for team. About 5-6 kids on the team did the same, although all the "starters" came back. We luckily have a good rec program the next town over with good PT rules (subs every 5 minutes, person on bench must come into play the next 5 minute session), and it has an optional travel team. I coached in that league prior and did again last year, and the boy regained his love of hoops.
One of the WORST things about travel basketball is seeing the attrition due to bad coaching at young ages, especially in a late developing sport like hoops where the best kids in 4th grader are often not among the best by 6th grade, never mind 8th grade or high school.