The Mental Game: What to do when you get benched

Photo: Tennessean

When you are a starter and get benched, it comes as quite a shock. There is often no warning when you are benched even when you might be having a bad game, an off night or a previous competition where you under-performed.

However, it is especially important to be mentally prepared when you are benched. So when you are benched and forced to face adversity, you have a great opportunity to develop the skill of mental toughness. If you have the wrong mental approach, you are left with nothing but bitterness, and of course it hurts to be benched—nobody likes or wants that! So allow yourself a short amount of time to sort through those feelings.

Then ask yourself:

  • “What can I learn from being benched?”
  • “How can I use this situation to improve my game?”
  • “What can I contribute to the team even while on the sidelines?”

Being on the bench may give you a different perspective on competing. You may see things in other players that you can add to your game. You can examine how other athletes approach the game and handle mistakes. You can learn from other players’ mistakes. You can see the speed of the game from a different view.

Instead of taking it personally when you do get benched, see it as an opportunity to improve your game.

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