The Role Player
Coaches love good role players, because they know better than anyone that there will be times in a game, or during the season, that they will have to get good play, some good minutes from their bench personnel. Usually, you cannot be a championship team with just five good players. You need important players who can come off the bench and play quality minutes.
What makes a great role player?
A role player could be a starter who has a special skill... such as being a great defensive player, or a great rebounder, or a point guard who can handle the ball and pass.
A role player is often the player who comes off the bench. He/she understands and accepts his/her role on the team. While on the bench, the good role player keeps his/her head in the game, and observes what's going on, where the weaknesses are in the defense, which opposing players are "killing us", what's happening on the boards, etc. He/she is "ready to go" when the coach calls.
A good role player will come off the bench and really hustle on defense, go for loose balls, get the important rebounds. The substitute player can be aggressive, since fouling out is less of a concern. The good role player will not hurt the team with turnovers, or weak defense. By doing these things, he/she will give the team a lift. Many times I have seen the momentum of a game change because of the renewed "spirit" and energy that a role player brings into the game.
He/she is able to play quality minutes when a starter needs a rest, or is in foul trouble.
My former coaching associate used to advise our bench players to "make a difference"... not just go into the game and run aimlessly up and down the floor, but play hard, hustle and "make a difference"... good advice.
The role player understands that "it's not who starts the game, but who can finish it!"
The role player hustles in practice and works hard, and is not a complainer (about playing time). Rather, he/she has a positive attitude, encourages teammates, and understands his/her importance to the team, and the importance of his/her contributions. The good role player realizes that his/her "time will come". This really takes a special person, because most of us want to be starters... it takes great maturity to be a good role player.
Here is a poem, a tribute to the "Role Player".
THE CHAMPION'S CHAMPION by Dr. Bill Welker
"He's the one loved by his peers,
Though on the bench -- he always cheers,
He keeps the first man on his toes,
And never quits - why, no one knows."
"He puts the champion where he's at,
By making him work to earn his plaque,
His name's not found in big headlines,
But he's always there come practice time."
"I often wonder -- were the champion second team,
Would he keep on trying or lose his gleam,
Would he give his all if there was no fame,
And not give up for the good of the game."
"There are no questions in this man's mind,
The Champion's Champion -- in life -- will do just fine."