Role of bench players in sports

Annie Lee, Viewpoint Editor

During athletic competitions, the spotlight is often given to the players with offensive positions who are seen scoring the points, dunking the basketball or spiking the volleyball. Players who assist in making those goals are rarely appreciated, but bench players receive even less recognition for their contributions to the team. While being ready to sub in for a starter is an important task, there are other roles bench players fulfill that directly influence the success of the team. 

One of these roles is maintaining a positive attitude and shouting encouragement to teammates. By creating an energized and supportive atmosphere, those on the bench allow in-game players to perform at their best by boosting morale. 

“The girls on the court feed off of their teammates’ energy,” JV basketball freshman Liane Mathew said. “If someone makes a 3-pointer, the girls would stand up showing three fingers. It really wouldn’t be a true basketball game without our teammates on the bench cheering us on.”

Additionally, because they are not physically involved in the games, bench players are sometimes assigned the role of analyzing common strategies of the opponent teams. Coaches often ask bench players to share their observations of team improvements and patterns in opponent tactics. Having the opportunity to watch the opponents also prepares bench players for when they are eventually put into the game.

This, of course, is another critical role. Bench players are not always going to be watching from the sidelines; they have to be prepared to sub in for injured or tired players. During this year’s girls’ basketball season, many of the team members were injured during matches, so bench players had to fill in their positions. 

“I remember our game at University where many of our best players were injured,” frosh-soph basketball freshman Riya Gupta said. “As a result, a lot of my teammates stepped up to fill in their spots. Because of their hard work, we ended up winning by a landslide which was really amazing to see!”

Sitting on the bench is often interpreted as an unfavorable position, but sports teams need strong teamwork to succeed and players who engage in games from the sidelines fulfill just as important of a role as active players.