Baseball Magazine

The Power of the Bench

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard

The Power of the Bench

Still one of the best motivational
tools known to man.

"I didn't like his attitude.  The inning before there were a couple of plays he didn't make, but he gave the effort. There are going to be plays that you can't make. On that play, there wasn't energy. Elvis is better than that. I didn't chew him out, but I let him know that." 
          - Ron Washington 
I have always heard good things about Texas Ranger manager Ron Washington.  Now I'm a fan.  Recently, he benched Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus for this apparent lack of effort/energy.
It is very refreshing to see a coach at that level, with all the pressure to WIN-WIN-WIN, do the right thing for the sake of the game itself.
If you have not yet read the article by David Brooks called Where pride still matters, I high suggest you do.  A coach can have an enormous amount of power over young people today to steer them in a positive direction.  It bothers me to no end when I see coaches not take advantage of this power because of the desire to win.  I'm not talking about dictator-like power.  I'm talking about what is referred to as a "benevolent dictator."  A person who commands respect but also sees the big picture and makes decisions based on the good of the whole.  
Probably the most valuable asset a coach has at his disposal is the end of a bench.  A trouble student welcomes a five day school suspension because he gets to stay home and play video games for five days.  A class clown who is kicked out of class loves to wander the halls instead of doing work in the classroom.  An athlete is different.  He wants to play.  Put that kid at the end of the bench and it will rock his world.  What teachers could not do in five months of conferences, write-ups, and calls home, a coach can do in one day by putting the kid at the end of the bench.  "Shape up or you will be there tomorrow as well" usually ends up resulting in a very quick attitude adjustment.
So if you are a coach and you notice a player disrespect the game or the team by doing any of the following:
  • Wearing his uniform wrong,
  • Not running out a ground ball or fly ball,
  • Throwing a helmet,
  • Ridiculing a teammate over on error,
  • Yelling at an umpire,
  • Ignoring signs,
  • Disrespecting teachers, administrators, etc,
  • Laziness in the classroom,
  • ... and/or anything else that disrespects the game or the uniform he wears,

Use the bench.  The better the player, the more effective it is.  To this day, it is still the most powerful motivator in sports.  Some players may not understand immediately why it was done, but some may surprise you.
"I got a little lazy.  I've got to emphasize my feet. I'm not moving them like I should. I will treat this just like a hitting slump. If I'm not hitting like I can, I work on it. I will work on this today."     
-  Elvis Andrus
I'm a fan of Elvis now too!

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