The Role of Dugouts in Football: More Than Just a Seat

When we watch a football match, our eyes are naturally drawn to the action on the pitch. We focus on the players, their skills, and the unfolding drama. However, there’s a place just off the field that plays a significant role in the match: the dugout. It’s easy to overlook this small area where the manager and substitutes sit, but its importance shouldn’t be underestimated.

What is a Dugout?

A dugout is a slightly recessed area, typically with benches, located at the side of a football pitch. It’s the place where the coaching staff, including the manager and assistant coaches, as well as the substitutes, spend most of their time during a match. Dugouts offer some shelter from the elements, which is particularly useful in the unpredictable British weather.

Communication Centre

One of the primary functions of the dugout is to serve as a communication hub. From here, the manager can shout instructions to players, communicate tactics and, if necessary, reprimand underperforming team members. Having a centralised place for the coaching staff makes it easier to coordinate actions and ensure everyone is on the same page.

Tactical Decisions

The dugout is effectively the nerve centre for a team’s tactics. Managers have a comprehensive view of the field and can make more informed decisions about strategy adjustments or player substitutions. Given the fast-paced nature of football, quick, well-considered decisions can be the difference between victory and defeat. The dugout allows the manager to take in the full scope of the game and make those vital calls.

Emotional Support

Believe it or not, dugouts also have an emotional role to play. It’s a space where players can find encouragement and reassurance from coaching staff and fellow teammates. When a player is subbed out, the dugout becomes a refuge where they can recuperate, both mentally and physically. Conversely, it’s also a place of high tension, where players awaiting substitution sit in nervous anticipation.

The Extended Team

While the eleven players on the pitch might get most of the attention, football is very much a team sport that includes every squad member and coach. The dugout serves as a microcosm of this larger team. It’s where substitutes warm up, focus, and prepare to enter the game, possibly making a decisive impact. It’s also where coaches observe, discuss and make crucial decisions that could alter the course of the match.

Protecting Players and Staff

Dugouts also serve a protective function. They are typically roofed and sometimes have transparent fronts to shield those inside from the rain and wind. In some extreme cases, they may even be climate-controlled. This ensures that players and staff are kept in the best possible condition, undistracted by the weather, so they can focus solely on the game.


While it may look like just a row of seats, the dugout is so much more than that. It’s a tactical hub, a sanctuary, a viewing platform and a communication centre all rolled into one. It allows for real-time decision-making and fosters team unity, both of which are crucial for a game as dynamic and unpredictable as football.

So the next time you watch a match, spare a thought for the humble dugout. It may not be as flashy as a stunning goal or a brilliant save, but it’s an integral part of the beautiful game that we all love.