Exploring Youth Sport Coaches’ Perspectives on the Use of Benching as a Behavioral Management Strategy

in International Sport Coaching Journal

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Anthony BattagliaFaculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

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Gretchen KerrFaculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

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The practice of benching players or removing playing time is commonly used in sport. Although benching is used to adhere to game rules related to the number of athletes permitted on the field of play at any given time or to provide athletes with rest breaks, athletes have reportedly experienced benching in response to behavioral infractions such as not paying attention, not devoting sufficient effort, or failing to adhere to team rules. The purpose of this study therefore was to explore the use of benching as a behavioral management strategy from the perspectives of youth coaches. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 10 youth coaches (six men and four women) regarding their views of benching, reasons for use, and alternatives to the practice of benching. Data were analyzed using inductive thematic analysis. All coaches reported using benching to manage athlete and team behavior, address conduct detrimental to the team, and reinforce the coach’s position of power. The coaches interpreted benching as punishment or a learning tool depending on the provision of communication and feedback. Future work is needed to address the use of communication and the nature of this communication to ensure that benching practices are associated with learning and not punishment.

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