While Bench Coaches look for the strategy and communicate with jammers and blockers on the track, Lineup Managers turn their back to the game and talk to the players on the bench. They decide who's in line for the next jam. Here are 5 tips for new Lineup Managers.
1. Bring dextrose, extra water, a tool, tape and a sharpie. There's always someone in need. Extra band-aid and tissues are welcome too. Just be prepared for injured or dizzy skaters. It helps when you have everything ready and near the bench. You don't want to run for supplies during the game.
2. Talk to coaches and captains about the players and possible lineups for preparation. Who likes playing together? It helps when you attend practices and watch the players interact. Talk to them about their preferences. The better you know your player, the better lineup manager you are. It makes decisions in game faster.
3. Keep calm. The players might be nervous or/and full on adrenaline. They need you as the center of the storm, as a calm person. As a lineup manager you're the person they turn to if they got issues, problems or injuries. Keep concentrated and calm. You got this. And if you don't, fake it. The players should be calm around you.
4. As soon as the next lineup is on the track, you turn to the bench and pick your next lineup. Always watch the penalty box. Is someone sitting there? Who will have to stay at the bench? Talk to your players, tell them: "I need you as a blocker, if the penalty box is empty". That way they know what to focus on and that you will decide last minute if they're in the jam or not. Always communicate. Also keep an eye on the white board and tell your blockers to watch their penalties. You should be aware if there is someone getting close to 7 penalties.
5. Be a punching bag. Now that's a controverse tip. But with the bench coach being busy and the other players concentrating, you might be the only person to vent to. You might hear angry things. Or you make a lineup decision that players are not comfortable with. Trust yourself. It's okay if a player is angry at you for a few seconds if it makes the game better. Let them cool off and talk to them afterwards. Be professional. You're there for a reason. You're only doing your job. Don't lose your calmness.
As a little plus tip I think it's best when the team or the coaches decide who will be lineup manager. It should be a democratic decision. The team must be comfortable with you. Also, try to keep a lineup manager for a whole season. Same goes for bench coach. Having a good bench team, means you'll get a good bench atmosphere. Routine makes things so much easier. And remember to have fun :-)