Just hearing the term 'benchwarmer' may conjure up some unhappy memories for many. Maybe some of us have felt the frustration being a ‘reserve’ or bemoaned the thought of ‘riding the pine’ for another game. Being left-out is no fun, and the experience can be even harder when it happens to your own child. Here we share some helpful insight to pass on to our young athletes to help them to score even when they're on bench.
Being a part of a sports team is a special experience. Studies prove that playing team sports helps teach cooperation, teamwork, and instill confidence and self esteem in the individual. So what do you do when your child attends all the practices, works hard at skill building, and is committed to the team but still sits on the bench most of the game? It’s not easy for parents to watch their child on the sideline, and its even harder to keep quiet about it. You are trusting the fate of your child’s sports education to the will of the coach or coaching staff, and needless to say, it can be a lesson in self control to remain silent if your child becomes more of a spectator than a player.
However, you need not fret because there are some wonderful benefits of warming the bench.
BEING A BENCHWARMER IS MOTIVATING
Sitting the bench for all or part of a game is a great motivator to athletes. It pushes them to practice harder, pay more attention, and play at a higher level in the hopes that they’ll gain more playing time. They know that their skill alone cannot get them to where they want to be, so they have to increase their effort and practice time in order to see the results they want. It also teaches them that hard work and diligence can take you very far in life, sometimes farther than natural talent or skill. It usually takes a combination of these things to achieve the greatest success.
IT’S EYE-OPENING TO BE A BENCHWARMER
Athletes can also learn a great deal by watching their teammates execute plays, compete against other teams, and listen to the coach’s calls. They have a front row seat to what is working (and not working) on the field or court. They also see the game from a different perspective than the active players, who are more focused on individual performance than what is going on with the team as a whole. In addition, watching more skilled players can help to push a teammate to set new goals and work harder in achieving them.
SITTING ON THE BENCH BUILDS CHARACTER
This isn’t just another way of saying that it’s humbling to sit on the sidelines. Without a doubt, it produces a more selfless attitude with regards to playing on a team. It’s a good practice for even the best players to take some time out, to learn to cheer on and encourage the other players, and to know that it’s not all about them. This is one of the reasons young peewee teams have rules that all players get equal playing time. As children grow in age and skill level, they learn that more talent equals more playing time in the hopes of grabbing that big W. This can produce an attitude of pride and selfishness that doesn’t bode well for any team, so sitting on the bench can be a good tool for coaches to use when a player needs to cool down a bit. As the famous saying goes, “There’s no I in team.”
ENCOURAGING GROWTH & FUN
It is undoubtedly hard to watch your child be a ‘bench jockey,' but it’s an experience where the pros outweigh the cons. You can help your child see this as a motivating experience by constantly encouraging them and reminding them to never stop striving to reach their goals. Offering to help them get some extra practice in and praising their efforts and growth are great ways to remind them that playing games are meant to be fun! By keeping this in mind you can help your child leap over the hurdles in front of them and then reap the reward of watching them reach their potential on and off the court.
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*Originally posted on May 25, 2018 4:00 PM