4 Unique, Advantageous Ways To View Your Time On The Bench


"Sometimes we may feel like we're giving it everything we've got but deep inside we know there is much, much more."

Ah, the proverbial pine. The place where hopes, frustration, torment, and bitterness all come together unlike anywhere in the Game. We spend most of our lives trying NOT to be the guy/gal on the bench but there is a positive aspect that we may not be seeing.

While we can all agree it's not the best experience being on the bench, it provides a humbling yet useful learning opportunity. Here are a few things it can teach us:

1. There is always more work to do. Sometimes we may feel like we're giving it everything we've got but deep inside we know there is much, much more. Good coaches can spot the tiniest drops in performance, attitude or body language of their players. The reason WHY you're on the bench is important to understand but HOW you're going to get yourself off it and back in the game is paramount. Shifting your focus inwards instead of outwards at external forces beyond your control (i.e. your coach) puts the ultimate power back in your hands. Now you're searching for the answer in the appropriate place and can establish the ideal attitude, work ethic, body language, confidence etc. needed to get you back on the field.

2. Maybe it wasn't a particular mistake that landed you on the bench, but how you reacted to it. Look at yourself through the eyes of a spectator who might not know anything about you. How would they interpret your attitude, body posture and/or reaction to a mistake? This exercise is remarkably effective in modifying your behavior and attitude. 

Footy Tip: When looking at yourself from a bystander's point of view, it's challenging to place your own thoughts, feelings, and beliefs in the background. Be sure to take your ego out of the equation while performing this exercise so you can draw an honest assessment of yourself. 

3. What happened vs. what I made it mean. Often times, coaches will substitute a player for innocuous reasons that you may not be aware of at the time. The coach may be looking at the demanding schedule ahead and decide to save some legs or pull someone off to not risk injury. These are all logical reasons for the coach but they may not register in the mind of a passionate player. 

Footy Tip: Try not to create a narrative in your head about why the coach pulled you off. Instead, jog off the field, shake hands with the player replacing you and take your seat with the team. You will go mad trying to get inside the psychological process of your coach and likewise, it will drive your coach crazy. 

4. Value your minutes: The time spent off the field should make you greatly appreciate the time on it. 90+ minutes is not guaranteed to anyone and being on the bench should light a fire within you to savor every minute on the pitch. Some unfortunate players are forced to be on the bench due to injuries so if you're healthy, don't take anything for granted on the field. Make the most of it!

Focusing on these four keys will benefit you on your path to better understand, appreciate and make the most of your (undesirable) time on the bench. 


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