5 Ways to Improve the Role of the Team’s Bench during Games

A Team's Bench should be a place of Support and Focus (Source: ctsnow)
A Team’s Bench should be a place of Support and Focus (Source: ctsnow)

A basketball team’s bench is a place that most players would prefer not to be when there is live action on the floor. Nevertheless, for a majority of players at least throughout different phases of their careers the bench will be a place they must learn to manage and deal with. Most players as a junior progressing through the ranks sit when younger and play when a senior, it is just the way of the world, but it does not mean this time spent on the bench necessarily has to be wasted for the player or the team.


A coach should not only be thinking about the five players on the floor but also about what the individuals sitting beside them can do to make the performance better. There are any number of tasks and activities a coach must ensure get completed every game that can be delegated to those players on the bench. Here are five ways to make sure as a coach you get the most out of your bench.


One of the most important ways in which a basketball team’s bench can assist is in watching and calling the shot clock. In the frantic jostle and grind of a basketball game, even the most senior players can become complacent about the management of the shot clock. Having the team’s bench player’s count down the shot clock for the last eight seconds is a valuable activity.


The next valuable way your bench can contribute to the performance of a team is by making noise on hustle plays. Bench players can be the emotional voice of support for players on the floor when significant events happen for the team. Effort plays like taking a charge, diving for a loose ball or simply making a great individual defensive effort in containing the dribbler are all opportunities for the bench to provide a psychological boost to the players on the floor with their voices and spirit.


This activity is even more important when teams are not on their home court or playing in venues that to do have a good atmosphere. Often teammates on the bench will be the only people providing the inspirational and motivational support those on court players want so much during contests.


Another way bench players can play an invaluable role within the team even when off court is to provide praise and encouragement to on court players returning to the bench. As the on court players come to listen to the coach, the bench players can provide some encouragement. Players can be partnered with other team members in like positions and then reinforce what the coaches instructions are for that role in the teams overall strategy. The messages might be related to offensive and defensive scenarios, defensive match-up or simply provide a positive voice in the ear of the player. A lot of teams have this type of scenario already occurring between Point Guards, but this can just as easily be implemented across the full range of player positions.


Additionally, injured players can still have a role within your team. These players can be allocated roles such as statistical recording. In the senior levels of the sport, game statistics are provided through the normal operations of a game’s officials. However there are any number of different aspects that can be analysed specific to a team’s style of play, tactics and themes.


The final and probably most important way a basketball team’s bench can help the on court performance is by maintaining a positive individual perspective. Far too often players on the bench can lapse into session of self-pity and self-indulgence. Bench players should realise they are only ever one rotation or substitution away from hitting the floor and having an opportunity to show what they can do. As a coach, this scenario along with what is required of each player must be communicated specifically and often.


In most basketball teams, the bench is fifty precent of the playing group and in senior or professional teams this percentage only grows with deeper benches and bigger squads. Getting the most out of these players will no doubt help the teams overall performance and make life that little easier for everyone. When coaching it should be noted that idle minds very often lead to negative conclusions, so by keep players busy and focused on the bench will only lead to a better outcome.



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Coach Riches has been working within the sport, business and education industries for many years. During this time he has built an extensive number of formal and informal qualifications. A firm believer in training and development designed to help people reach their full potential, relevant o their needs and functional to their industry environment.

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