“They learn quickly there are consequences for their actions”: Youth sport coaches’ perspectives on the effects of benching


Coaches are critical figures that impact youth’s sport experiences, in part through their behavioural management methods. Benching, or the removal of playing time, is a method coaches use to manage athlete and/or team behavioural transgressions. Although athletes interpret benching as a form of punishment associated with detrimental effects, coaches’ perspectives on the effects of this practice remain unexplored. Therefore, this study explored the perceived effects of benching as a behavioural management strategy from the perspectives of youth sport coaches. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with fourteen youth coaches (eight men and six women) and data were analyzed using reflexive thematic analysis. Benching to manage athlete and team behaviours was used by all coaches. The coaches cited both beneficial and detrimental effects of benching for athletes’ personal experiences and team dynamics but only negative effects for the coach-athlete dynamic. The coaches’ responses suggest that the potential detrimental outcomes associated with benching were short-term and resulted from athletes failing to understand the purpose of benching or from the ineffective use of benching by other coaches. As coaches and athletes may share differing views on the effects of benching as a behavioural management strategy, future research is needed to explore ways in which benching may be used in a manner that best optimize youth sport experiences.