How to use this time to the greatest advantage of the individual and team:
Everyone on a basketball team wants to be out on the floor every minute of every game, but only five of them can be on the floor at any one time. The rest of the players have to expect to spend time on the bench.
Some players will sulk, others will just sit and watch. The real team players will use it as a learning experience, an opportunity to pick up a lot of information that can help their game and enable them to be productive when they do get into a game. In short, they do not view bench-sitting as a negative experience. They use it positively and constructively to watch, pull for their team, and prepare to make the most out of every opportunity they get to play.
How to make the most out of the time spent on the bench:
1. Concentrate on getting the feel of the game. If you have listened to your coach's pre-game directions, you should have a good idea of your team's game plan and what the opponents may try to do.
Team characteristics to observe:
2. Observe your opponents as individuals. Try to profile each player, with special emphasis on the players you may have to guard or who play in your area of zone defense.
3. Closely watch the player who may be defending against you. Assess her size and quickness.
4. During most games, constant adjustments will have to be made. Be aware of them. Observe what is happening and listen to the interaction between your coach and teammates. What is your coach emphasizing in terms of what has to be done?
What corrections are being made? You can gain a lot of knowledge by listening to the corrections of other players. If you are unclear about something, question your coach, assistant coach, or teammates on the bench.
5. When entering a game, always try to give your team a lift. Being fresher than the players on the floor, you can use your hustle to spark your team. If you are in the game for just a minute, make it stand out because of your hustle. Don't get hung up on the thought that you are in there just as a breather. (Make your time quality time.)
Players who do a good job while playing just a minute or two will often gain the coach's and team's confidence, and this can lead to increased playing time. Know your role and do it well. If you've been in the game and are now on the bench, let your teammates know what you experienced so that the next time around everyone will know how to react.
6. When sitting on the bench, show enthusiasm by rooting for your team. When anyone on the floor is replaced, always acknowledge her efforts by slapping hands or making a positive comment. Talk to the player, get her perspective on the opposing team and individual players. Encourage and assure your teammates. Calm them down whenever they are anxious or tense. Maintain your focus and keep your teammates focused on what has to be done to win the game.
7. If you are a player who rarely gets into the game or only when the issue is no longer in doubt, you should stay alive on the bench. By working hard in practice and keeping your team together, you will be making a vital contribution to your team - which will make you feel good about yourself and add to your enjoyment of the game.
Remember, whether you play little or a lot, you are an important member of the team and you have to be prepared to contribute whenever called upon in any situation. Your preparedness and contributions from the bench will have a big impact upon your team's success.
By Pete Piraino
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