A Team Captain within any group is a very valuable avenue for leadership to be displayed through. In many situations a Team Captain can succeed as a change agent where a Coach or Manager may not be able to gain consensus. Taking the time to discuss the responsibilities with a player in the role of Team Captain is a very important activity that all coaches must undertake.
When coaching it is sometimes very easy to assume a player that maybe demonstrates some leadership qualities, fully understands or even acknowledges that they are doing so. Leadership while an often talked about characteristic or attribute is very rarely discussed at a deeper level to help truly define it. For many individuals they can describe what leadership is in a few instances but not to any great detail.
For coaches they must outline to a Team Captain how best they can serve the team through displaying leadership and inspiring solidarity amongst members. Some of the ways a Team Captain can be a good leader include:
A Team Captain first, and foremost, should be a good role model for the rest of the team’s members. This means doing things right not for the accolades, but because they are the right things to do. A role model is more than being the best player at training or the most talented player on a team. Being a good role model is about being the first player to assist or demonstrating the characteristics we would associate with being a good person.
For a Team Captain one role which helps highlight their leadership abilities is communication. This communication does not have to be all the time to the point of excess, but should be decisive and meaningful. Communication by the Team Captain should be focused around praise and encouragement. Reinforcing the directions (technical or tactical) for the coach is always a good strategy and can be one of the ways a Team Captain can have something to say even when they cannot think of anything suitable themselves.
Another opportunity for a Team Captain to demonstrate their leadership is in their commitment to the effort values of the team. Many teams as part of their goals and in general discussion talk about what leads to success and will emphasise the need to win the effort battles. These activities are sometimes described as “hustle” plays. These types of activities are often referred to as diving for loose balls, deflections, but can also include charges and rebounding in general. A Team Captain that embodies these examples of effort will inspire those around them to be the best they can be.
Finally, an effective way for your Team Captain to demonstrate leadership is to be a conduit between the coach and the players. Many times throughout a season a team will want to have input in the decision making process on certain topics. In most cases, the coaching staff will be looking for this input. For some players however this will not be an easy aspect of being part of a team, resulting in poor communication with the coach. The Team Captain can be a leading voice in these situations and help start the conversation.
There are many different ways a Team Captain can be a very positive influence within the overall team setting. As a coach, you need to communicate these characteristics and roles with the Team Captain to ensure there is no miscommunication within the responsibilities sought. By doing this you ensure the best possible outcome for you as the coach and the team.