4 Ways to Encourage Athletes in a Back-up Role

As a big Miami Dolphins fan, I’ve watched a number of quarterbacks get into games over the past few years, many of which entered a game as the back-up. I remember one Sunday afternoon game when they went through all three quarterbacks in one game. The starting QB went down on the first play of the game; the second-string QB went down in the 3rd quarter; then it was time for the third-string QB, Tyler Thigpen, to step in. He was far from the starter—the second back-up on the roster—and likely didn’t plan to play that day, but ended up with a chance to lead his team to a victory.

He did just that, on a day which was almost certain to feature nothing more for him than watching from the sideline. I found myself thinking of his mother after the game. I imagined her saying something like, “Tyler, I told you, you always have to be ready! You never know what could happen!” I said that same thing to my son many times when he was the back-up QB in his junior year of high school. He stood on the sidelines, watching many a game, wondering when his time would come.

“You never know,” I’d say to TJ. “You’re one play away from getting in. ” Every once in awhile, he did get in. When the starting QB suffered a tweaked ankle, a cramp, or took a hard hit, TJ was called in and my heart rate would go from 0-to-60 in about two seconds. If your child is in a back-up role on their team it can hard for them to stay positive, thinking they will never get into the game.

4 encouraging things to tell your athlete if they the back-up

Stay focused
Pay attention to what’s happening in the game. You are the back-up for a reason. If you are called into play, coach will expect you to be ready.

Keep up the hard work in practice
At some point, chances are good that you will be called into the game. When you are, you will be glad that you didn’t take practice lightly. you may be the back-up on the roster, but you should practice like you’re the starter!

Take advantage of opportunities when they come
We always encouraged our kids to “leave it all on the field”. It’s our way of telling them to give it their very best effort. No matter what happens, it’s good for them to know they always tried their best.

Hard work pays off
It may not always get your child a starting spot, but it always feels good to know you’ve given your best effort. In my son’s case, his patience and hard work resulted in him earning the starting QB spot his senior year.

At the end of the game, no matter where your child is on the depth chart, no matter how many minutes he did or didn’t play, be sure he knows you are always proud of his hard work and effort.

basketball back-up

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