"So get up off the bench, get on the fence, and give everything you can to your team. "
Motivation & Encouragement
This is by far the most important thing the girls in the dugout can contribute. Flat out - an upbeat, positive, loud dugout makes a huge difference. I feel like I can’t stress that point enough. A lot of players don’t believe in that, but I’m telling you from many years of experience…it matters. It plays a role in how your team and the other team plays.
I’ve played on teams that had the loudest most supportive dugouts you can imagine. Other teams hated us. Not because we were mean or ugly in our cheering, but just because we were loud and supportive and that annoyed them. You’re mistaken if you don’t believe that a dugout full of girls screaming and yelling in support of their team won’t shake the confidence of their opponents. When your opponent sees 12 to 25 girls rallying, cheering, pumping up their team and being AS LOUD as they possibly can be, it tells the other team that you aren’t giving up. You’re going to fight. You’re going to continue to give 100% no matter what the score is. If you’re up by ten, down by ten, or the score is tied, a loud dugout can get in the head of your opponent. I’ve been a part of it and I’ve witnessed it. I coached the most awesome group of girls this past year down in Excel, Alabama. I had the sweetest girls who were also amazing athletes. And I had a dugout full of non-starters and JV players who absolutely helped us win games. Their excitement, passion, and support of the ten girls in the lineup still leaves me in awe and makes me so proud of them. (Shout out to my Lady Panthers! Excel, baby!!)
Aside from psyching out your opponents, a loud dugout motivates and pumps up your own players. It’s really hard not to get excited when everyone around you is up on their feet cheering, stomping, clapping, and yelling. You have the opportunity to inspire and motivate the girls playing. It shows that you believe in them. It shows you support them. It shows you love them. So get up off the bench, get on the fence, and give everything you can to your team.
If you are in the dugout you are the relief for the girls in the lineup. It’s reassuring to those girls to know if something were to happen and they had to come out of the game, there is someone else in the dugout who is ready to fill their shoes. So, pay attention. Know what is going on. Support the team. And be ready to fight for the team. If you are in the dugout, you are constantly in relief. Be prepared for when the opportunity comes. Know where your equipment is so you can go in at a moment’s notice. Stay loose. Be into the game. Cheer. As a coach, I’m much more likely to put in the person who has been up on the fence watching and cheering on her team rather than someone who has been sitting on the bench not paying attention.
Watch and Learn
When you are in the dugout you have the opportunity to watch and learn from the starters. You get to learn from their mistakes without the personal repercussions. This is another reason why, as a coach, I carried my JV team with me everywhere. They were there to support, cheer, and learn so when it was their time to step up on to the varsity field, they were ready and knew what was expected of them. Take advantage of the dugout. Use it to your benefit. One day it will be your turn. Make sure you’re ready.
I have said before that being on a team requires selflessness. It’s not always easy. It’s not always fun. Everyone wants to be in the game. Unfortunately, that’s not a reality. Only ten can play at a time. But just because you’re not one of the ten, doesn’t mean you can’t play a role in team success. So, you have a choice. You can sit on the bench and pout because you’re not playing or you can get up, set your ego aside, and contribute. It’s your decision. Who will you decide to be?