Being a captain is a privilege many players would love but many of them will not be in such a role. Sometimes they come short while others own the spotlight. Depending on the level of play it’s somehow a straight process when choosing captains. At the PRO and College level, coaches tend to choose the captain in most cases. At the high school level, players choose their captain and the coach can also choose another captain. Most HS teams have two captains. Again, it could be different around the country but the main idea is to have a captain. At the elite or premier for the older age groups, some teams rotate their captains, other teams have the coach and the players choose. Many times is the players who choose their captain at those levels. At the youth level we don’t really encourage captains as the main focus is or should be on having FUN and DEVELOPMENT.
The captain is chosen based on qualities you may not think of. Many times the captain is not the best player of the team but it’s the most caring, responsible and respected one. Coaches of all levels love to have those kind of players in their teams.
So what are coaches or even players look for in a captain? It could be different based on the team culture, coaching philosophy and so on. There are also some captain’s qualities that are similar through most sports and levels. I will outline five major qualities captain poses and what qualifies them to lead the team. True captains never let their teams down in good and especially hard moments. They stick with the plan and push everyone to work harder.
1. They Are Well Liked And They Work Harder Than Most Players
Just think about for a second: Would you listen or follow someone you don’t like with your heart and soul? Probably not. And if you do, you won’t give your best. So it’s very important that players like their captain so they will listen to him or her while being part of the team. I usually make my players from 14+ to anonymously vote for their captain. That way I see who the players like and are willing to follow directions from when on the field. That’s very important to me because if I choose a captain that I like and the players won’t, then it will be difficult to manage the team in the future.
A true captain is liked by most players and followed by the team. Players respond so positively to those who are liked for the right reasons. Your captain is not your best player or the one who scores the most goals or points. The captain is the player who always works hard no matter the outcome. That the true captain, who has the courage and right mindset to push those around them to their limits.
2. They Got Great Leadership Skills
There are a lot of players who could be good leaders. But great leaders act like they want to lead their teams to success. Having leadership skills will make a players more valuable because they show the ability to lead others to success. This is not an easy task, but it’s one that can be improved. Some captains will be more vocal and lead with words of encouragement while others are more quiet and will lead with their actions.
No matter what kind of captain you are, it’s important to lead your teammates out of the difficult situations and show they the right path. At the end of the day, if you have put in your best effort to lead your team to success, that’s a great start.
3. Are Great Listeners And Communicators
You think captains or leaders command? Wrong. They always listen to the group, they feed their thoughts with what the problems or concerns are and at the end they come out with the solution. Captains understand what the problem is and they want to help solve it.
When captains are in charge with their team, they make sure that everyone gets their message across and they are heard. There are no excuses because those captains are always prepared and ready for a new challenge. That’s why players and coaches love them, because it’s easy to work with them.
4. They Encourage And Motivate Those Around Them
When there is a game and the team is down, the captains can hear, feel and understand their teammates frustrations so they provide them with positive feedback and encouragement. True captains take the blame when they need to. A true captain is always hold accountable for his or her actions.
When captains send encouragement messages and motivate those around them to go the extra mile, you can easily see how the whole team dynamics changes. Think of any great team in any sport and try to see what kind of role the captain had in the team’s success. I bet, a big impact.
5. They Are Well Respected
If you don’t like your captain, I bet that at least you respect them. If not, you should. Respect is a hard to gain an deny to lose. Captains have high levels of expectations and their desire to perform and do well is usually second to none. A captain gets even more respect when they put the team first, their teammates second and themselves last. Players like those captains who know that they got their back.
Captains gain a lot of respect when they truly show that they care about those around them. Coaches also respect their captains for all their qualities, accountability and the ability to communicate with others in a fun, safe and challenging environment. If a captain is not liked, I am sure s/he is respected. Otherwise those players would have not be chosen captains in the first place.