I was never good enough (or invested enough) to be a team captain on any sports team I was on. I did however lead a team when I was still working for Target and it might have been one of the most stressful, least rewarding things I have ever done in my life! Why I did it for 11 years is beyond me. A different story for a different day. Or maybe for never because who wants to revisit that terrible memory?
I do admit I have had visions of my children rounding the rink with a big “C” on their shoulder hoisting an extremely large cup over their heads since the very first time I got a positive pregnancy test. Maybe we have some good leadership genes in this family yet!
Oh Captain My Captain!
As with something as glamorous as a military role or even a fictional starship, the position of sports team captain requires a lot of intuition and second nature, perhaps even more so than the much more visible position of head coach. A captain not only needs to make every effort to make each teammate feel wanted and welcome, they need to instinctively know who to use in which situation and when while on the field or arena. Being directly involved in the gameplay, they can often sense how to react better than the coach on the sidelines.
As with any large group of strong, opinionated athletes, there will be cliques and solo thinkers. It is the captain’s job to bring them together with a common goal in mind. All the coaching and motivation is useless without a leader among the team members uniting their force against opposing teams. Not only must a captain display prowess and leadership, they need to also effectively manage communications between all team members, serve as a liaison between the team and coaching staff, and effectively resolve intra-team conflicts.
There may even be ethical issues a team captain will face, as they are a member of the playing force, that coaches may not be immediately aware of. These need to be dealt with in a professional manner, whether the subject is cheating to win, allowing ineligible players to play, being pressured into giving the team performance-enhancing drugs, witnessing perhaps their star players engaging in illegal activities. A captain’s responsibility is to support the good of the team, regardless of the consequences.
Every captain will sooner or later need to be involved in selecting training aids and equipment, along with any co-captains and coaches. Balancing quality against overall cost is usually a concern, so discretion when purchasing needs to be a priority. For example, a hockey team needs complete outfitting with full pads and protection, face mask, heavy-duty gloves, and helmet. Multiply that much equipment by the number of team members playing, and you have some decisions to make. Fortunately, many online retailers offer several choices to assist in this area.
Quite often a team captain will find themselves in the position of also being the coach, especially in smaller leagues. This becomes a duality that requires the person to really step up in every area, as they are not only leading the team but also instructing it during game play. This is the test of a true leader, and often how future role models are made or discovered.
Make it so.
This is a Guest post from Sam Peters.