Subs in grassroots football have to sit on benches during the coldest of winter days. And that’s if they’re lucky enough to have somewhere to sit at all. But this isn’t just an uncomfortable inconvenience for players — it poses a serious problem. Taking to the field of play with cold muscles often leads to pulls, strains and tears. That’s why staying warm on the bench is essential. 

As the colder days of autumn and winter approach, now is the time to think about making your subs bench as warm and comfortable as possible. Taking the right precautions will reduce the risk of injuries and keep your substitutes motivated while they wait for their opportunity. 

Here are a few tips to get you started. 

Provide Appropriate Clothing

Your subs should be wearing extra layers as they sit on the bench. A thick coat is only the start, however. Thermal vests and underpants are great at keeping the coldest winter winds at bay. As well as their playing jersey, subs should also wear an additional layer made with polyester or a natural material such as wool. 

More layers mean more insulation. When the temperatures are bitterly low, suggest to your players that they should add extra layers, rather than just one extra-thick jacket. But bear in mind that your subs will need to perform warm-up exercises. Clothing for subs benches should deliver a balance between warmth and mobility. 

Provide Blankets

Even the biggest superstars in the game can be seen with blankets on their knees from time to time. In sub-zero temperatures, sitting on a bench can be a painful experience — even with extra layers on. The plastic and metal used on many benches exacerbate the problem. But there is a simple solution. 

Provide a selection of blankets during the coldest days of winter. Get your subs to wrap the blankets around their waists. This provides protection from the cold seat and an extra layer for their legs, which are usually the most exposed area of a sub’s body. 

Stay Hydrated

Staying well-hydrated is vitally important to footballers, even if they’re sitting on a sub’s bench for long periods. Drinking lots of water helps temperature regulation within the body. It also gives the muscles the water they need to remain supple and mobile when air temperatures are low. Ensure there’s a plentiful supply of water on the touchline at all times. And encourage your subs to slowly sip their fluids throughout the match. 

When the mercury crashes, nothing beats the warming comfort provided by a hot drink. Invest in some thermally insulated flasks, and fill them with a selection of coffees and teas. Municipal pitches typically offer very little protection from the elements, so having hot drinks available is a great way of keeping your subs focused and motivated as they wait to play their part. 

Group Together

Use the body heat of everyone to keep your subs warms. Sit them side-by-side with arms touching when the temperature is really low. This ‘huddle’ traps heat from the players’ bodies and redistributes it to others. 

You’ll need to choose a seating solution that makes this possible, however. A six-seater football subs bench is an affordable way to keep your subs warm as they wait for their opportunity. 

Seating up to six subs, a portable subs bench can be erected and dismantled in just a few seconds. Supplied with its own carry bag, this handy piece of equipment folds away for easy transportation. The frame is made with reinforced steel for durability, and a polyester fabric over provides an easy-clean seating surface. 

Provide Shelter

A strong, bitingly cold wind can leave football subs feeling de-energised and stiff. The more protection you can provide from the elements, the more prepared for action your players will be.

An aluminum football shelter is surprisingly affordable. Available in six sizes, this heavy-duty piece of equipment is supplied with shatter-resistant windows, treated wood seats and a powder-coated white finish. Most football shelters are supplied with anchoring equipment, but you’ll need to ensure yours is firmly planted into the ground. 

Anything you can do to keep your subs warm can influence the impact they have when they finally take to the field. Whether you’re handing out hand-warmers or cups of hot chocolate, do so in the knowledge that you’re boosting both morale and performance.