basketball bench celebrations


3 Reasons Why Bench Celebrations are Crucial for Basketball


Walking around an AAU basketball tournament this past weekend, it became apparent that bench enthusiasm is not a primary focus in the world of youth basketball.

Having briefly covered the topic in a previous blog post, I feel the need to elaborate on the subject. The importance of teaching young players to remain active and engaged while on the bench can not be underestimated!

As I emerge from the basketball coma induced by the beginning of March Madness, I am more convinced than ever that remaining active and enthusiastic by celebrating while on the bench has a number of benefits for both players, coaches, and teams as a whole.

If we can teach young basketball players the value of enthusiasm for the success of the team as parents, coaches, directors, managers, ADULTS…we can change the culture of youth basketball and youth sports in America!

As the AAU basketball season started this year, we started our first ever “Stay Active Campaign” with our AAU teams, which is focused on encouraging kids to remain enthusiastic and active while they’re on the bench.

As I introduced the campaign to our parents and players, I began with the story of my personal career. I was a Texas All-State player in high school, and All-Conference player in college at Davidson.

basketball bench playerI had two very good seasons playing professionally in France, but when I got to Germany towards the end of my playing career, I found myself averaging 8 minutes a game.

My ego was hurt. I blamed the coach. I made excuses, and frankly, I pouted. Don’t be Harold…

Looking back at it now, I’m embarrassed at how I handled the situation, so when I ask parents and players to focus on remaining positive and enthusiastic when they don’t get much playing time, I know from personal experience that it’s not easy.

In addition, the feeling that you get from being engaged and celebrating with your teammates from the bench will take your energy to another level.

When it is your turn to go in the game, guess what? You will be ready!

However, staying enthusiastic and engaged can be the difference between having a positive experience or a negative, dreadful season, and here’s why:

1. Being Enthusiastic on the Bench is FUN

If you’ve ever been a part of a team with great cohesion and team-spirit, you’ve experience that feeling of truly belonging to something positive and bigger than yourself. Check out this video of college basketball players celebrating from the bench.

Do you think they are active and engaged?

Are they having fun?

Are they being GREAT teammates?

These guys are taking bench celebrations to another level, maybe not this extreme, but you get what I mean!

Working towards a common goal with a great group of people who don’t care who gets the credit is one of the greatest experiences an athlete can have. Take this quote from Brad Stevens:

“Rondo recognizes that; he was great on the bench. It’s pretty evident when you go to the film and watch the bench that he, Gerald Wallace and the other guys on the bench were going nuts. It was a fun atmosphere to be a part of, to be honest.”

This is an NBA coach that took the time to watch his bench when watching film. He noticed an NBA star that was remaining active and enthusiastic while on the sidelines.

2. Are You Ready to Play?

Being Active on the Bench will Prepare you to Enter the Game when called Upon

From a coach’s perspective, when we look down the bench for a player to put into the game, would we rather put in someone that has been pouting for the last 20 minutes, or someone that has been emotionally involved and mentally active in the game?

Pretty easy decision on who to put in the game.

3. Working Well with Others

If we can get young players to buy into this message, we will be teaching them a valuable lesson about being a part of a team and working with and for others.

That might sound cliche, and I can hear some people right now saying “I’m not teaching my son to be a cheerleader?!”

Some of the greatest coaches in the world recognize the importance of creating team unity. Dean Smith was notorious for making his teams run if someone didn’t stand for a teammate as they came off the floor – THE WHOLE TEAM.

Just like later in their lives, kids must learn that things aren’t always going to go their way. They are going to experience disappointment.

A player has only a few choices when they don’t get in the game as much as they want:

  • Pout and complain
  • Quit
  • Be positive and support the team

None of these options or ideal or easy, but the point is, there are options, so might as well take the positive approach!

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic, be faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

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