How Athletes Can Cope With Getting Benched
“BENCHED! I can’t believe it.”
When you are a starter and are benched, it often comes as quite a shock. There is often no warning when you are benched even when you might be having a bad game, an off night or a previous competition where you under-performed.
Thoughts pop up in your head such as:
- “I’m better than him.”
- “I only had one bad game.”
- “The whole team is playing bad.”
- “Why am I being pulled from the game?”
- “The coach never liked me.”
- “Will I ever earn my spot again?”
Being benched can be embarrassing, especially if it happens during the middle of a game with your friends and parents watching.
When you are on the bench and anger, frustration and sadness permeate your body, it is difficult to focus, be a good teammate, cheer for your team, be supportive of your replacement and be mentally prepared in case your number is called.
However, it is especially important to be mentally prepared when you are benched.
Instead of taking it personally when you are bench, see it as an opportunity to improve your game.
Being on the bench may give you a different perspective on competing. You may see things in other players that you can add to your game. You can examine how other athletes approach the game and handle mistakes. You can learn from other players’ mistakes.
Besides all those potential learning opportunities, when you are benched and forced to face adversity, you have a great opportunity to develop the skill of mental toughness. If you have the wrong mental approach, you are left with nothing but bitterness.
Three-year starter and quarterback for the Buffalo Bills, Tyrod Taylor, was benched after a 5-4 start to the 2017 season while the team was still in the playoff hunt.
What could have been harder to accept for Taylor was that he was being benched for an unproven rookie who was drafted in the fifth round.
Taylor, a team captain, was having a respectable season throwing for 10 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
TAYLOR: “I’m obviously disappointed. I don’t agree with the decision, but ultimately Coach McDermott has a vision for this team, what he feels is best for the team, as well as the owners and GM. So I have to move forward and continue to be the leader and teammate that I am from a different role.”
Taylor wasn’t just being gracious after being benched; he was staying in the game mentally by finding a way to contribute and being mentally prepared for the next time he sees action on the field.
…And prepared Taylor was, when he was reinserted into the very next game in the second half throwing for 158 yards and one touchdown.
Within every adverse situation is an opportunity.
It is your choice if you seize that opportunity.
A Tip for Taking the Most Growth-Building Approach to Being Benched:
Of course it hurts to be benched. Allow yourself a short amount of time to sort through those feelings.
Then ask yourself:
- “What can I learn from being benched?”
- “How can I use this situation to improve my game?”
- “What can I contribute to the team even while on the sidelines?”
Talk to your coach about what you can improve to get back into the lineup. Set a plan to help you improve those areas.
And of course, you should never get benched for a sub-par mental game because that’s directly under your control…
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