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So this is how my high school basketball team system works: There are two teams, frosh-soph and varsity. Varsity is mainly for juniors and seniors, but every year, a few good sophomores get bumped up to varsity. I happened to be one of them this year. While tryouts haven't officially begun yet, the varsity coach told me to come to their open gyms and says that I will end up trying out for the varsity team (if I get cut from varsity, I automatically go to frosh-soph). After 2 months of open gym, I realized that I do not want to play for varsity. First of all, the conditioning and practices are extremely long and tough, and I have to take a deep nap after practice before I even start on my huge homework load. I also like the frosh-soph coach much more, and I have more friends in frosh-soph. Most importantly, I doubt playing varsity will be a lot of fun, since I will not get that many minutes, and it will be too tough for me overall.

How do I tell the varsity coach that I want to move back down, without hurting my chances for making varsity next year(as a junior)? Although I am a good player, I am afraid that he will see the desire to move down as a sign of weakness and not wanting to get better. Overall, I just think that playing varsity will have more cons than pros.

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This will be a long comment.

Best thing you could do is to have a discussion with your coach about this issue and be confident on why you want to drop down. Is there anything that may cause you to reconsider is worth noting and may help in discussion. If I am a coach and someone comes to me and says I don't want to play ..., the first question I would ask is why, so be able to explain that.

So, just explain him why moving down will be a better move for you and how it helps in you getting better. If you show consistency, improvement in your performance it will not affect your chances of making varsity next year.

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Your coach only sees one bit of your life. You know all the bits of your life. You may only be a sophomore but no one knows you better than you. You are the person (along with parents) who decides what the balance among school, athletics, and social life should look like for you.

If you opt not to participate this year there will be consequences both good and bad, but you also aren't a fortune teller. Your coach might not promote you to varsity next year because you chose not to play this year. Or he might respect your decision to focus on balance this year. Or all the other sophomores might become freaking awesome over the course of the year and pass you by. You can only make a decision with the information at hand.

If you feel you can discuss this with your coach you should. Part of adulting is having the courage to tell people what you want for yourself over what they want for you. And @Ram Chandra Giri is right. You need to be prepared with why you don't want to play Varsity this year and what you do want to do instead.

If that prospect is overly daunting because you aren't there yet or you know your coach would not be receptive here is trick I gave/give my kids to use: "My mom won't let me." When my teenagers feel like they can not say no to a particular person I ask them if they want me to tell them they cannot do it. And sometimes they do. The burden of saying "I want to do X" gets shared with your parents. "My parents want X" is easier to say as a young person. (Obviously this trick is easy at age 12, harder at 15, and counterproductive at age 18. So be judicious.)

It sounds like you have thought a lot of this through. Own the choice and the consequences.

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This is going to be a bit direct. Please take it as constructive criticism.

First of all, the conditioning and practices are extremely long and tough

That's the idea. You'll get fitter and therefore be a better player by doing them. When it gets to double overtime in a playoff game, you'll appreciate those minutes doing conditioning because you'll have the extra step on the opposition.

Most importantly, I doubt playing varsity will be a lot of fun, since I will not get that many minutes

This sounds like a decision to prioritise game time and fun over the hard graft of practice. This is a valid decision for you to make, but it's probably not the decision which is going to make you the best player you can be in the long run.

and it will be too tough for me overall.

You don't get better by being in your comfort zone. You get better by it being tough.

How do I tell the varsity coach that I want to move back down, without hurting my chances for making varsity next year (as a junior)?

Basically, you can't. What your varsity coach is saying to you is "put the hard work in this year, you'll be a better player next year". It's up to you whether you take that option, or you take the easy option of playing on the frosh-soph team - that may well be more fun in the short term, but you need to think about what you want in the longer term.

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