I will forever speak to the extreme importance of the bench of any high school or college team. This doesn’t mean just the few guys who get meaningful game minutes; this extends all the way down to the last man on the bench.
The 2nd and 3rd units are the guys that push the starters in practice everyday. They get bumps and bruises playing against players that are often times bigger, faster, stronger, and more athletic…yet they show up everyday. Would everyone show up and get their butt kicked on a daily basis? The bench guys put in just as much time, and make just as many sacrifices…WITHOUT the glory and attention the main players receive. They share the pain of losses and the joy of wins. They spend just as many hours and just as much effort as the best players on the team.
The bench players learn the tendencies of upcoming opponents and try to emulate them to make the big minute players better. The bench learns the upcoming opponents’ offense each week (as well as knowing their own team’s offense) so the 1st string can get some practice defending it. They do anything it takes to prep for the next game.
A good bench provides encouragement and support to the guys and girls who get the big minutes. They spend time with the starters to help them remember plays, remember scouting report items, and know their opponent.
A great bunch even keeps the team in-sync. They echo the coach’s play calls, they count down the shot clock or game clock, they yell when there is a dead ball, and anything else it takes to win.
If you did the research, I think you would find VERY few high school or college programs that went all the way to the top without a great bench.
Here’s to the bench guys….