warm the bench

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warm the bench

Of a player or players in a team sport, to be situated on the perimeter of the playing area (often literally seated on a bench) but not actively participating in play. The term can refer to players who are available to play or those who are ineligible due to injury, suspension, etc. The players warming the bench might have a big impact on this game if the starters need to come out. He's been warming the bench all season due to problems with his hip. If she gets another penalty, she'll be warming the bench for the rest of the game.
See also: bench, warm

warm the bench

Fig. [for a player] to remain out of play during a game—seated on a bench. John spent the whole game warming the bench. Mary never warms the bench. She plays from the beginning to the end.
See also: bench, warm

warm the bench

Also, ride the bench. Be a secondary or substitute participant; wait one's turn to participate. For example, I can't wait till the head of accounting retires; I've been warming the bench for years . This expression comes from such sports as baseball and football, and their standard practice of having substitute players sit on a bench in case they are needed in a game. [Slang; early 1900s]
See also: bench, warm