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Is Your Bench Attitude Helping or Hurting You?

October 31, 2017


Have you ever wondered why in the day and age of great video technology that coaches who want to scout and/or recruit still go watch games in person? Why do they spend all that time and money travelling to and from a game site when they could just watch a game on video?


Well the answer is relatively simple: game videos usually don't show everything that coaches want to see! As a college coach I watch dozens, probably closer to hundreds, of games each and every year and I would guess that at least 95% of the time I try to sit across from the team benches.

Even though this often puts me right in the middle of a rowdy student section or even worse, right next to the band, it allows me to see things that I generally can't see on video. From this vantage point I can watches the coaches coach and more importantly I can watch each player's reaction when he is not in the game.


Are the players actively engaged in the game or do they seem uninterested in the action? Are they cheering and encouraging their teammates; are they calling out back picks, flare screens, and isolations on the defensive end? Do they stand and acknowledge their teammates when they come out of the game or do they just ignore them?


Watching how a player acts while on the bench gives me some great insight into that player's overall attitude towards the game, his coaches, and his teammates and helps me determine whether or not that player would fit into our program.


Not too long ago I was watching a summer tournament game while sitting right next to a fairly famous coach who had led his team to the Final Four the previous April. One of the players in that game stood out amongst all the rest and seemed to be the prototype All American - tall, long, athletic, quick and skilled.


In most areas of the game he absolutely dominated the action. However, his shot selection could have been a little bit better and after three straight forced shots the coach subbed him out.

As the player walked towards the bench the coach was waiting to talk to him but was completely ignored and so was each player standing by the bench with their hand out. The superstar player finally got to the end of the bench where he kicked the last chair before getting a drink and then chucking the water bottle.


The Final Four coach saw this reaction (like we all did) and almost immediately pulled a red pen out of his pocket, opened a notebook containing a list of potential recruits and drew a line through the player's name. Then he got up from his seat and immediately walked out of the gym - presumably to go watch a different player on his list.


I've wondered many times since then if that player had any idea that the Final Four coach was there to watch him play and that he ruined his chance of being in that program because of his bench behavior. The Final Four coach didn't cross the player off the list for taking bad shots - he crossed him off when he didn't appear to have a good attitude or to be a good teammate.


Remember, there is almost always someone watching you from the time you walk into the gym to the time you walk out. It might be the varsity coach, a younger player who looks up to you, a teacher, a potential employer, or even a college recruiter with a potential scholarship offer. Don't let your attitude on the bench completely undermine your performance on the court!

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