What is the Bench Area in Football?
The bench area in football is, simply put, an out of bounds area near the sidelines where the benches are set up for a football game. This is the area occupied by players who are not in the game at the present moment. This includes, for example, defensive and special teams players if the offense is on the field, as well as substitute players for any of those units.
Location On The Field
In the NFL, a number of rules have been put in place regarding bench areas. Benches for each team, which are normally on opposite sides of the field, must be placed within the 35-yard lines if they were to extend into the bench areas. However, the home team may decide to place both bench areas on the same side of the field. If this is the case, then the benches must start at the 45-yard line if it were to extend out of bounds and extend toward their respective endzones. Benches themselves must be placed at least 30 feet from the sideline.
Rules, Regulations, And Credentials
A number of lines are used to mark zones in and around the bench area that are only accessible to specific personnel in the NFL. The first area is a six-foot-wide zone that runs the length of the field and separates the field of play and the bench area. It is reserved for officials and members of the chain crew.
The second area, also six-feet wide, only extends from one end of the bench area to the other. The only individuals who can remain in this area for extended periods of time are the head coach and assistant coaches, whose responsibilities include signal calling or substitutions. Additionally, players who are about to enter the game are allowed in this area. A "get-back" coach is often assigned to keep unauthorized personnel in the bench area from crossing into this zone or going any further.
Anyone else associated with the team, including players and those with credentials may enter the bench area. Those with credentials outside of the coaching staff include doctors and trainers, as well as equipment personnel. Some individuals without credentials can enter this area for specific reasons, such as oxygen technicians and ball boys or ball girls.
Football Specific Amenities
Because of the nature of the sport, teams will often have a few conveniences laid out for their players in the bench area. These might include oxygen, as mentioned before, as well as heated benches and sideline heaters to combat the colder weather.