The benchwarming blues: How to put an end to it

by EPI Staff on July 30, 2011

Q: My son is a perpetual benchwarmer on his soccer team. I’d like him to have more time on the field. Should I ask?

A: Yes. Talk to the coach–after you make sure your son wants more time and is OK with your stepping in. At the meeting, say how much your boy enjoys the team. Add that he;s hoping to play more, and ask how he can work toward that goal. Some coaches just won’t use weak players: if this is one, find another team.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather August 1, 2011 at 5:00 am

This parent didn’t say how old the child is, which makes a big difference!! If he’s 7, I think it’s fine to speak with the coach. If he’s in college (haha), then please stay out of it.


Rusty Shackleford August 1, 2011 at 10:07 am

This is one area where I have grown to disagree with mainstream rules of etiquette and political correctness. I hear people all the time talk about how parents should stay out and let the coaches coach. That to complain is to take away from your child’s “enjoyment” and positive experience. The problem is that no child enjoys not playing in the games, and parents are asked to pay large sums of money for their kids to be on the team (uniforms, fees, camps, travel, your turn for snack, etc.). What happens far too often, is that the fixed costs of fielding a team have a tendency to convince coaches, even subconsciously, to aggressively recruit players, even some who just are not talented enough to be on that particular team.
So my first thought is that there is nothing wrong with expecting, in return for your committment of money and time, that your child receive significant playing time (I have played in adult leagues where this is the standard). So you should feel very comfortable asking the coach, if they truly can’t get your child significant playing time (half the game is a minimum and in many youth leagues required), to recommend a less competitive league. Second, I would suggest strongly reinforcing to your child that there is nothing wrong if they just don’t have enough “talent” to play on this team and to find another one. How a kid plays as a youth sometimes has very little to do with how, and if, they will play in high school. If your son truly wants to play soccer, he may just have to work harder than the other kids to get better, and another league where he plays more might be the ticket, and a good coach should be supportive of that desire. Soccer and baseball are very challenging sports for kids because having natural coordination shows very early and “good” players are distinguished very early. There are lots of different sports like lacrosse, golf, swimming, tennis, and even curling where a child’s discipline and persistance pay off far more than just natural ability.


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