What Is A Team Captain?
Many team sports have one or more captains on the team. Some even have a leadership council. The team captain is not your star player. The team captain is the athlete the team looks up to. They embody those qualities you feel are important and the team member who provides leadership and accountability in the locker room. This article will cover choosing a team captain, what qualities they should have, and what to do with them.
How To Choose A Team Captain
Choosing the right person to be a team captain can have a huge positive impact on the team. A good team captain can help keep the team focused, help with team cohesion, help athletes stay accountable, and reinforce the coach’s message. On the other hand, choosing the wrong person to be the team captain can tear the team apart and make for a long season.
So how do you choose a team captain? The three most popular ways are to let the team choose the captain, have the coaches select the captain, or combine the two.
This seems like the obvious way to choose a team captain. After all, the captain is one of the players and is their leader. However, for many coaches, this approach is fraught with danger. After all, it can degenerate into a popularity contest, and the “wrong” person can be chosen as the captain by the team. This can be mitigated by establishing criteria, developing a rubric, discussions with the team on the qualities the captain should have, etc. But, even with this, there is always a chance this will go bad.
This also seems like an obvious way to choose a team captain. After all, the coach knows what qualities they are looking for in a team captain. This way, the coach can ensure that the “right” person is the team captain.
This approach is also filled with challenges. First, the coach doesn’t know the players, and the players know the players. Just because a player seems to have the right qualities in the coach’s presence doesn’t mean that they might be good at doing the right thing away from the coach. Second, just because the coach wants that person as the captain doesn’t mean the team does. There may be issues with buy-in, and this may impact team cohesion.
Team Nominates, Coach Chooses
With this final approach, we get the best of both worlds. The team receives input and selects candidates that they believe in, and the coach can choose from them the player that comes closest to the qualities that the coach believes are important in a team captain.
What Makes A Good Team Captain?
We know that we want a team captain, and we have a plan to select that person. Now, what kind of person are we looking for? For me, the following qualities are essential in a team captain. First, a captain has to be competitive. Second, a captain has to be a hard worker. Third, and this can’t be overlooked, they have to be a good person. Fourth, they have to care about how the team does. Finally, they should be a model teammate. In other words, the team captain should embody the positive qualities of your team.
How To Use A Team Captain?
So you have the right person as your team captain, what do you do with that person? Team captains can have several roles on a team.
First, the team captain should be able to communicate the team’s temperature to the coach. This can be hard to hear as it sometimes contradicts what the coach wants to hear. This is important because the team captain is one of the players.
Second, there are times when the players have to fix the team’s problems. This might be things like a lack of energy, consistent mistakes, lack of focus, etc. When this happens, a players’ only meeting is not a bad idea. Your team captain can help drive it and lead it. Nothing holds an athlete accountable like a peer.
Third, I like to use the team captain to conduct pre-practice and pre-game warm-ups. As a coach, I have a lot of things to do to get ready for practices and games, which takes something off my plate. This can be made easy by doing the same things as warm-up before practices and games to become part of a routine.
Finally, the captain is the team’s leader. The athlete gets the team fired up, helps keep them focused and accountable, and serves as a cheerleader when everything comes together.
A team captain can be a critical position on a team. It can save a coach a lot of work. A captain can help the coach understand what’s going in a locker room and allow the coach to win over the team. Having said all that, a bad team captain can be a team killer. If this happens, if the team captain is disruptive, bad for the team, too fond of drama, etc., a coach needs to be unafraid to set an example and make a change.