Athlete From Starter to Bench-warmer

Tryouts, Sports, Player, Cut From the Team, Second String

In This Guide:

It's been said that playing sports is 10% ability and 90% mentality. One of the biggest mental challenges an athlete can face is being moved to another position or even worse, being moved from a starting position to second string. This guide details the typical thoughts of athletes struggling to regain their mental focus along with their starting position.

They Might Be Thinking:

  • Why am I not starting?
  • What did I do wrong?
  • Why is [insert name] starting over me?
  • What is my coach thinking?
  • Am I being punished?
  • Should I go and talk to my coach?
  • What do I tell my parents?
  • My parents are going to be extremely disappointed.
  • I am better than [insert name].
  • Is it my offensive or defensive skills that my coach doesn’t like?
  • Why would my coach pick me for the team and not play me? 
  • Is it because [insert name] is an upperclassman? 
  • I have always been a starter. 
  • What do I have to do to earn a starting spot? 
  • Do I deserve to start over [insert name], or is that player better than me? 
  • This is ridiculous.
  • Coach isn’t putting the best players out on the field. 
  • Is this the coach’s decision or is the coach being pressured by someone else? 
  • Are parent politics involved?
  • Do I need to work harder?
  • Is my mental game good enough?
  • Why am I sitting on the bench? 
  • I’m so bored on the bench. 
  • I should be playing. 
  • I don't want to play anymore.
  • I feel like quitting.

Words That Might Be Encouraging:

  • Control the things you can control.
  • All you can do is give 100% effort 100% of the time.
  • Trust the process.
  • Patience and persistence are key.
  • Maybe your coach is just trying people out in other positions. 
  • Stay confident in your abilities.
  • Your talent is God's gift to you. What you do with that talent is your gift back to God.
  • Give it some time. If you're not happy with the results, it's worth having a conversation with your coach.
  • It's perfectly acceptable to ask the coach what you need to do to get your spot back. 
  • You are too talented to throw this opportunity away. 
  • I believe in you and I know you can rise to the challenge.
  • Overcoming this obstacle will not only make you a better athlete but also a better person. 
  • Persevere; you can do it!
  • Don't let one-speed bump derail you. Stay on course.
  • Michael Jordan didn't make his high school varsity basketball team but he didn't quit. He played on the junior varsity team and was the star.

Words That Might Be Discouraging:

  • It's just sports; I don't see the big deal.
  • Well, is the other player better than you?
  • Did your coach say anything about it?
  • You should have your parents get involved.
  • Just learn another position so you can play.
  • Maybe it's your attitude.
  • I'd tell the coach you are mad that you aren't starting anymore. 
  • Wait, isn't that other player younger than you?
  • Is the player who's starting instead of you the coach's kid?
  • Haven't you always been the starter? 
  • Have you been making mistakes?
  • Did you get into an argument with the coach or with another player, or something?
  • What did your teammates say/think about it?
  • I'll bet it's because another parent said something. 
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