How to Be a Supportive Player When You Ride the Soccer Bench

The view from the bench - (Photo:

At some point in your soccer career, there will be a time when you have to get comfortable on the bench.  Whether you simply are a terrible player or just the freshman who hasn’t earned the playing time for their high school team, an unused substitute will often have a hard time feeling like they are part of the team.  While they share in the success and joys of victory, the bench rider can never “really” feel like part of the soccer team.  So how should a player go about dealing with this tricky situation?

When you don’t get to play the games for a soccer team, you have to deal with a certain amount of adversity.  Simply put, there are other players on the team that are better than you, and you must wait for your opportunity.  As a player, you need to improve your game and make sure that the opportunity materializes.

Focus on training.  Practices now become the games for you.  Play hard, take time to practice more away from the field on your own time, and never lose hope that you can be a starter on your team in the future.  Meanwhile, be supportive of your teammates.  Don’t get angry and alienate yourself.

The challenge of becoming a benchwarmer often becomes a mental hurdle for young soccer players.  Self-doubt creeps into your mind.  You begin to feel like you aren’t worthy of playing on the field.  In the short time of gameplay you do find yourself on the pitch, you try too hard or simply make mistakes because you aren’t used to real gameplay.  This is often the beginning of the end of competitive soccer for many players.  Unable to overcome the odds and the circumstances, the players face the reality that they simply aren’t good enough at soccer and give up, never to play competitive soccer again.

However, a player must understand that there are other options that they can take.  First, they must believe that they can be a starter on the team, and they must work hard to prove that to the coach.  If you can make enough plays during practice, your coach will have no choice but to give you more playing time.  Coaches want the best players out on the field.  Show them that you are not just a role player worthy of getting some time.  You are the player that will make a difference in a game.

If your struggles continue or you feel that your coach has simply given up any belief in you, you can consider joining another team.  There are usually various different club soccer teams in most towns, so perhaps switching from the travel team to a local recreational league may be the best option for you.  If your school team is not providing you with an adequate amount of playing time and soccer is that important to you, perhaps you should consider transferring to another school where you will have a greater opportunity.  If the will and desire to play soccer is there, and you push yourself hard enough through training, you will be rewarded with more playing time.  Just never give up hope and make sure to believe in yourself!


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