"PLAYING" THE BENCH - THE HARDEST POSITION ON ANY TEAM

"PLAYING" THE BENCH - THE HARDEST POSITION ON ANY TEAM

You make all of the practices regardless of how crappy you're feeling. They, on the other hand, don't show up if they have a hangnail! Most days you're the first one at training and the last one to leave. They often come late and leave early. You never dog it or cut corners. Ask any of the coaches and they'll tell you that they can always count on you giving everything 100%. They frequently slow down when the coach isn't looking and look for ways to avoid the hard work. You maintain a positive attitude regardless of how brutal a practice is and they whine and moan that the practice is too hard. You consistently outwork many of your other teammates while they seem to just go through the motions.  

So answer a few questions for me. Why is it that the coaches consistently start these guys in front of me? How unfair is that? Why is it that when they make mistakes in games, the coaches leave them in and the instant that I even mess up a little, I get yanked?!!!!

Are the coaches that blind that they don’t see my work ethic in relation to these other guys? Doesn’t my commitment and attitude mean anything to them? Sure these guys may be a just a little bit better than me, (sometimes not even!), but all things considered, don’t I deserve more of a shot than I’m being given?

Whether rightly deserved or not, “playing” the bench is the hardest role on a team to manage. As a result, very few athletes handle it well. A “role player” has to work just as hard as everyone else, has to sacrifice just as much, yet he/she never seems to get any of the playing time “goodies.”  It’s a discouraging and de-motivating position to be in and therefore, quite easy to fall into the negativity trap. i.e. “This sucks and what’s the point in trying?” This is just like a class where you have to bust your butt in a tough subject and no matter how hard you work you only pull C’s, while the bright kid who never does a lick of homework or any of the readings, pulls A’s!  

So what to do? You may not like your role on the team. You may not think it’s fair. It may NOT be fair! However, your job is to try to conduct yourself as a champion. Continue to work your butt off! Continue to do everything in your power to get as good as possible! Continue to maintain a positive, “team first” attitude! Try to play your “support” role to the very best of your ability. You may not get a chance this season to make a difference. You may even have to wait until you play for another coach. However, don’t let the coach’s not playing you, get to you. Just because the coach seemingly doesn’t believe in you enough to give you more PT, doesn’t mean that you should buy into his/her assessment of you. Keep on keeping on. Keep on working hard. Keep focused on your dream.

MOST IMPORTANT, stay focused on WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL. As an athlete, you do NOT have direct control over your playing time. You can work hard, have a good attitude, etc. and that will increase the chances that you’ll improve and get more PT. However, it doesn’t guarantee it! You also don’t have any control over the behaviors of the kids starting in front of you. They may be sloths, goof-offs or “team dividers.” You can’t control what they do or who they are. Instead, keep your focus on YOU and what YOU can control in the situation that you find yourself in. Stay positive! Be a good team player and play your role like a champion!