Cosy's Corner: Be a better bench warmer

By Cosy Burnett

Cosy Burnett is a junior outside and opposite hitter at La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) who also plays for Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego, Calif. Her high school team competed in the state finals for Division II last season and she has competed at nationals five times with her club teams. In the latest installment of her blog, she shares her tips on how to make the most of your time on the bench.

My first three years of playing club were spent on the bench. I once asked a high school coach whom I respected if it was better to play for a great team and sit on the bench or play for a lesser team and get the playing time. He thought for a while and said he was asked that question a lot. His answer was “Be the best player on the best team.” OK, thanks. I think.

No doubt it’s a very frustrating time. I learned a lot from my time on the bench and I want to share some hope to all you who may find yourselves warming the sidelines.

1. Remember, you are part of the team

You can contribute to your team’s success from the sidelines, and every award and victory the team achieves is also 100 percent yours. You work just as hard as everyone else and maybe even a little harder. Those reps you contribute at practice help make the team better as a whole.

2. Let recruiters know your situation

Before a big tournament, call the schools you are interested in and let them know to come and watch you during warm-ups. This may sound funny, but I did this and was surprised how many showed up. The warm-ups are your shot, so play hard.

3. Stand up and cheer

There is no need to sit on the sidelines with a long face. Go with it ... have fun! Teams feed off each other’s energy, and this is something you can do. If there is a big point, go crazy. Your teammates will feel your support and they will know you have their backs.

4. Communicate with your coach

Talk to your coach privately and make goals and benchmarks to earn more playing time. Find out how playing time is determined and make it clear that you are hungry. Then follow up with your coach to keep him or her honest. Your coach really does want you to play and to reach your potential – that’s why you are on the team.

5. Be positive

I can’t stress this enough. Just as you can be an asset to a team as a bencher, you can also be destructive. Do not talk badly about the coaches to other teammates. If your parents are supportive, great. If they overreact, be careful; it’s hard on them, too. It’s helpful to have a friend to vent to who knows nothing about volleyball. During the season, stay committed and positive to your team. When the season is over, it’s time to evaluate your goals. Be honest with yourself and move forward. If it’s club, you can always make a change. If it’s school, use club opportunities to improve for next season.

Read the previous installment of Cosy's blog – how to stage a comeback – here.