As the Syndicate started our season this year we knew we were looking at a lot of changes to our teams. We lost many of our veteran Syndicate skaters and those spaces needed to be filled. When there is movement in your league, sometimes rosters fill with skaters who maybe haven’t gained as much experience as their teammates. It could be you! This can lead to anxiety over how much play time each skater gets too. So many of us have been in that position: sitting the bench.
When I joined the syndicate in 2014, my first rostered game was during playoffs in Kitchener, Ontario. Roster changes were made after the second game of the tournament and I was subbed in as a backup jammer. Captain Matza Ball Breaker said to me before we warmed up to play D. C. Rollergirls, “Don’t worry. There’s no pressure. We trust you.” I thought to myself, “Are you kidding?!” All I felt was pressure. As I took to the bench, my teammate Nikita helped calm me down by reminding me that I would not play very much. I was optimistic yet relieved. I played 6 jams that game.
Many times, skaters will stress about how much play time they will get when rostered for a game. We often feel the pressure to perform when we don’t to play as much, because we want to make what little time we get count. When it’s my time to shine, knowing that if I do well could lead to more playtime, can stress me out more. Is it possible that sitting the bench can actually be more taxing than being a first string skater? Absolutely! If you find yourself stressing over sitting the bench here are some of my tips!
Dos and Don’ts for sitting the bench!
DO warm up with your team and be present. Anything can happen and you don’t know how much game time you will get. Warm up with the intent to play and stay warmed up and ready to go! If you have to sit a little in the first period warm yourself back up at the half if you have time. DON’T start off feeling worthless. DON’T tell yourself that you “aren’t going to play anyway.” You are a valuable member of your team. Sitting can be disheartening but you still earned your spot even if you aren’t playing as much as you wanted. Your coaches feel that you deserved to be there or they would have picked someone else.
DO watch the game! Be ready to go in, and know what you will be facing. Watch the other team’s jammers and blockers and pay attention just as you would watching footage to prepare. DON’T distract your teammates by talking about other things than what is happening on the track. Stay focused. DO stay calm. Try not to psych yourself out.
DO be supportive. Cheer your team on! Help by giving positive feedback to your teammates. Give encouragement to skaters who may have had a hard jam or two. Good vibes! DON’T be negative. Negative attitudes spread like wildfire! Don’t make it all about you by complaining. Not only is this detrimental to the team but it’s hard to play your best when in a bad mindset. Keep in mind this also pertains to just sitting and sulking. The look on your face can say a lot.
DO be patient. You will have your time to shine. Continue to stay positive and work your hardest. DON’T bother or pressure your coach about getting to go in. They do what is the best for the team. If that means you don’t get to play try to accept that and wait. Try not to distract them from their job by reminding them that you have not played as much as you wanted. This can be stressful for a coach who is trying to manage the lines and can also throw off the rotations if they are going out of their way to sub you in. They see you giving them the side-eye!
Going to a tournament with a full 20 person charter means 6 skaters won’t get to skate. When you are one of the skaters who doesn’t get to gear up, remember to still be valuable to the team. DO offer to help keep track of stats or do official evaluations. DON’T look for reasons why you should be on the track over someone else. Choosing a roster is not a decision taken lightly and it’s done with intention. Look at the big picture. Try not to bad mouth your teammates to higher your self worth.
DO be grateful. Chances are, someone else would love to play in your spot. You earned your spot so be thankful you are on the roster and get to represent your team. DO take the opportunity to gain experience from sitting with your team and learn by being there. Bond with your teammates through all experiences. DON’T take a moment for granted.
If you find that after the game you are still upset, DO have a discussion with your coaches and captains about concerns you have regarding your play time. Be on the same page as your leadership and set goals with them. Take control of your training. This can be the key to improving and getting as much play as more experienced skaters on your team. No one is entitled to play time. You must earn it. Sometimes that means you have to sit out a little. DON’T give up! If there is movement in your teams rosters step up to the plate with pride and optimism.