Benching Players for Life Lessons Is OK, Even for Youth Baseball
Benching players is only for teaching life lessons at the youth baseball level and not for poor play.
Coaches at the higher levels of baseball sit unproductive ball players on the bench, at least for a spell. I am not a proponent of using the bench for this purpose in youth baseball. Some youth baseball leagues have rules that force coaches to play kids so many innings, which is good. However, as travel baseball has become more prominent, that rule does not apply as often. Kids deserve to play, no matter how bad they may be producing. Part of youth baseball is the opportunity to play.
This does not mean coaches should not play to win, but they must find a way to play kids equally at the youth baseball level. Coaches may be able to use the batting order, which games, and parts of games to reward better playing players, especially at the travel level.
Benching Players is OK
However, I believe the bench can and should be used to teach life lessons. Making a point by sitting kids for a fair amount of time, when kids display bad attitudes, lack of hustle and belligerent behavior, is acceptable uses of the bench.
Of course, coaches should clearly explain to players and their parents, if necessary why the player is being “benched.” Benching players for reasons that a coach honestly feels is a life lesson players must learn is a good coaching practice. Of course, coaches must always be mindful of the age and level of ball played before using the bench as a life lesson. Additionally, setting player behavior down in preseason team rules always make disciplining players easier.