When the coach wants your child to play backup

By Janis Meredith | Posted 8/12/2015

If your coach has given your child the role of backup on his team, you may feel that second string means second rate.

But the honest truth is that we often see second- and third-string players put in the game during key situations and end up leading their team to victory. That is most definitely not second rate.

We see it all the time in the pros. I remember one game a few seasons back when Miami Dolphin’s third-string QB Tyler Thigpen suited up for what he probably assumed was just another day of watching from the sidelines.

But when the first string QB was injured in the first quarter, and the second string QB was injured in the third quarter, Thigpen was put in the game. Here was his big chance to make a statement. Fortunately, for him and for his team, he led the Dolphins to a much-needed victory.

Perhaps his mom and dad patted him on the back after the game and said, “Tyler, we told you to always be ready. You never know what could happen.”

I know that I said that to my son many times when he was backup QB in his junior year of high school and when he played backup on his college team. He watched many games from the sidelines, wondering when his time would come.

“You never know,” I’d say to him. “You’re one play away from getting in.”

And every once in a while, he did get in. When the starting QB suffered a tweaked ankle, a cramp or a hard hit, my son was called in to lead the team for a few plays. And because he was prepared, he always did a good job, helping the offense not skip a beat.

If your child’s role on the team is one of back-up – whether it’s second or fourth string – it might be easy for him to get lazy because he thinks he will never get into the game. What can you say to encourage him?

Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach's wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks. She authored the Sports Parenting Survival Guide Series and has a podcasting series for sports parents. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.