The Team Captain is a very important role within any sporting environment. In general, this is a role upon which great expectations are placed upon by both a coach and also the team’s members. A team captain will have a number of different desirable characteristics, and the internet is littered with information about what a good leader looks like and these can easily be linked to the same types of attributes commonly desired across most sports. One very real problem for many coaches however is the way in which to select a team captain.
There are a number of different strategies that can be utilised by a coach in selecting a team captain. All of these techniques for one reason or another will be favourable in certain situations. It is not unusual for a coach to use a number of different strategies depending on the situation they find themselves within. It is all too easy to read about selecting a team captain and find yourself being told that the players must make the decision. But in reality this is a not always practical or desirable in reaching the best outcome for the team over the course of the season.
There are two broad ways of fulfilling this process.
One of the more common ways of selecting a team captain is for the coach to appoint the player. This may or may not involve consultation with players. But it is highly advised that if using this strategy that a coach consult with players for their opinions and input.
This strategy is often best used with younger teams as the selection of a team captain often turns into a popularity contest rather than being something based on the merits and characteristics highlighted earlier.
This where the players ultimately select the team captain. This can be completed through a number of different stages that allow a coach to also have input into the process. By doing this a coach can be assured to still have some influence over the outcome.
This type of strategy if largely left to the players discretion is best suited to older and more mature teams. The players themselves direct the process and decide on the best possible option for the appointment. For adolescent teams, the coach might still manage the process, but have the players cast votes for example.
The player selection method has a number of benefits for the team and the coach. As it allows the will of the team to be put into action which will assist in developing responsibility and accountability within the group which leads to ownership of the team more rapidly by the players.
A suggestion of how to manage this process is to make it a very hands on process with lot of interaction between a coach and team members. For example allocate every player (and possibly staff) a vote, but to cast that vote each player must meet with the team staff to discuss their reasons for why they think the nominated person is the right candidate. Players in this way will be able to gain some insight about what characteristics they should be looking for and what the desired person should be able to do.
This technique is also a very good opportunity for a coach to demonstrate that they have an interest in what each and every player has to say. These opportunities should not be wasted as they allow for better communication in the long run and also help a coach to develop trust and respect from their players.
No matter what strategy chosen selecting a team captain can be a very good opportunity to build relationships amongst the group. A coach have some input without needing to be overbearing and controlling the whole process so only there option is the one that counts.