Getting benched or seeing little playing time is, for many, the most frustrating aspect of playing sports. Whether the situation was caused by underperformance, repeated errors, or being overlooked by a coach, many athletes who find themselves on the bench simply give up. As a parent, there are a number of ways that you can help your athlete handle the disappointment of being benched, and inspire them to find their way back on the field.
How to help your athlete overcome the pressure of being benched
Most importantly, it is crucial to level with your athlete. Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand the stress that the situation is presenting them. They may have just been benched for a game or two, which won’t likely mean much in the grand scheme of things, but in that moment, those games spent off the court or field mean everything. If you can acknowledge and respect the pressure of being benched, then you can start to help your athlete look for ways to move forward.
While the time that your athlete spends on the sidelines is frustrating, it is—just as so many small moments in sports are—a chance to learn. You can help your athlete to realize that by encouraging them to stay focused on the games that they sit out. For one, they may get their number called to come off of the bench, and it will help them to be ready to seize the opportunity. Additionally, there may be something for them to learn from watching their teammates. Whatever problem occurred that landed them on the bench has a solution, and it may be right in front of their face.
Finally, as a parent, offer to help. Taking time to work on drills with your athlete, or at least making yourself known as a resource can go further than you might think. Even if you don’t know much about the sport at hand, showing up as a supporter behind the scenes can make all the difference in your athlete’s mentality. Moreover, that extra practice may be all it takes to get them back on the field!