“It doesn’t matter who starts the game, it matters who finishes it.”
In an organized game of basketball at the high school, college and professional level, there are 5 starting players and anywhere between 5 and 7 substitutes. The starters take the floor to begin the game, the subs, well they wait their turn; some players are cool with it, some are not.
Here’s some advice: Accept it for now, but don’t be satisfied with it.
We can all agree that no one likes to come off the bench, regardless of sport. But the truth is, someone has to do it.
Players love to hear their name called during introductions and they show their ‘swag’ as they walk onto the floor for the opening tip.
Once again, in basketball only 5 can be out there.
What it boils down to is the ego. Are you so selfish that you get frustrated when you don’t start for your team?
One of the top players on the Dallas Mavericks is Jason Terry. Terry helped the Mavs capture their first title in franchise history two weeks ago. Terry is a great scorer who plays with a ton of energy. I’m sure he would rather start but he sucks it up and plays hard when his coach calls his name.
Some coaches feel certain players can help their team by coming off the bench, that they can help their team much more by providing them with a shot in the arm with some quick scoring, hard nosed defense and instant energy.
Vinnie Johnson of the Detroit Pistons was nicknamed ‘The Microwave” for coming off the bench for the Pistons championship teams back in the 90′s. VJ played behind Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars. The former Baylor Bear provided instant offense
Manu Ginobili, before he was inserted into the San Antonio Spurs line-up never complained about coming off the bench. Matter of fact, he embraced it.
The NBA has an award for the best sub in the league, ’6th man of the year’. Past winners include Terry, Manu, Lamar Odom and Jamal Crawford. Not a bad list of players, huh?
During the Mavericks-Heat finals Mavs guard Deshawn Stevenson was removed from the starting line-up after game 2. Did he complain? No, he came out and played well the rest of the series, making big three point shots. Stevenson could have been a distraction but he sucked it up and helped his team any way he could.
Find your niche and work hard to break into the lineup. Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution.
Help the team anyway you can if you come off the bench. Rebound, defend, share the ball, screen harder, cut harder, work your tail off in practice, take coaching, don’t get upset when you get removed from a game.
During the course of the game concentrate on the task at hand, you’ll give your team a better chance to win when you enter the game. All players from 1 to 12 have something to contribute. You can become a better shooter, a better ball handler and a better free-throw shooter. You can also be an inspiration to a struggling teammate with a few words of encouragement. Overall, become a better teammate and take an interest in how the team does as opposed to how many points you score or how many minutes you play!
Compete every day in practice with the starters on your team. Challenge them. Make them better. Put pressure on your coach to consider you for a starting spot. But if it doesn’t happen, don’t complain, just keep working harder.
The bench is a great teacher. You can learn a lot from sitting and watching. If your team is struggling the coach needs to shake up the line-up. Don’t take offense to the move, live with it and be productive off the bench. Get rid of the selfish attitude and buy into what the coach is trying to do. Most players, regardless of their age have no clue that it’s ok to come off the bench. Players today look at it like it’s a bad thing. They say, “I’m a better player than so and so,” that comment is a cheap shot directed at the player who is starting ahead of them. It’s also an example of a selfish attitude.
Last but not least, cheer on your teammates while they are playing. Feel good for their success. Don’t sit at the end of the bench and whine. Don’t slouch. Sit up straight and pay attention. During timeouts, bounce off the bench and greet your teammates as they approach the bench. Don’t forget to pay attention in the huddle.
We can all agree that’s it a nice feeling to start for your team and hear your name called as you run out to the foul line during the player introductions but remember it’s not who starts the game its who finishes the game.
Follow me on Twitter: @CoachFinamore