Are you currently, or do you aspire to be, the captain of your team?
Do you already hold the position? You may have been given the title, but are you truly a captain? Have your coaches chosen you to lead simply because you are a senior or an upper-class athlete?
Why not? You’ve paid your dues. You’ve been there the longest. You probably know what the coaches expect, what practices look like, and what your role is. Right?
Not so fast.
Based on the book, “Beyond the Talent: Profile of a Winning Team,”
captainship is not always earned. And there are good captains and not-so-good captains.
Are you a captain because you are a good captain? Or are you a captain for some other reason?
The above characteristics do not necessarily equate to being a good captain. What makes a good captain lies in the person holding the title.
So back to the question, are you a good captain because you are a good captain?
Below is a list of behaviors demonstrated by student-athlete captains across the country, from both colleges and high schools, who have earned captainship.
Do you see your own, or other teammates’, characteristics on this list? Are these actions you have taken in the past? Have you earned your teammates’ and your coaches’ respect? Trust?
At this point, you may be thinking you are a pretty good captain.
Not so fast.
Here is a list of some of the not-so-great behaviors observed by named captains of high school and college teams.
Does this list reflect you or the current captains on your team? Are there ways you could improve your leadership based on the above lists?
So why do some teams struggle? What are they missing?
Sound harsh? It is unbearable to play on teams with this sort of culture, but teams with this culture need someone, or a group of people, to bring everyone together with a shared vision and a shared responsibility. Everyone has a role to play, but it sure does help to have a good captain and some leadership.
So, the next question is: What does the culture on your team look like? How have you influenced this culture?
Here is a shortlist of good culture, taken from the book, “How to Build and Sustain a Championship Culture.”
Do any of these examples mirror your team culture? It is not impossible to get a good, or even great, culture if you start the work as soon as you can.
If you think your culture is already pretty good, then how can you help maintain it? The job of a good captain does not stop when the culture is good. The responsibility increases because maintaining is more difficult than building a good culture in the first place.
This is where the leadership kicks in. Leadership does not need a captain title, but all captains need to share some of the leadership responsibilities.
If you are on a team with a not-so-good culture, you have choices to make.
If you are a senior, you may say, “My time is almost over, and I’m not going to be able to change what needs to be changed in only a season.” If you are a younger player, you may say, “I’m too young and don’t want to step on anyone’s shoes. I’ll leave it up to my upper-class teammates.”
Whether you are an older or a younger player, you have the opportunity to lead and influence your team. Whether you are a captain or not, you have an important role in how your team performs and the culture that exists.
There are many roles to fill, but the leadership/captain role is a critical one. The person or people that take on the captain role must be good teammates. They must care about their teammates and coaches. They must be engaged, and in tune, with the team’s mission. They must be able to influence their teammates.
You don’t have to be the best, oldest, smartest, loudest, or most disciplined player. You just need to be a good teammate and an influencer. Be a role model. You say and do the right things, and you get others to do the same. You come up with fun and creative ways to get your teammates onboard with what the coaches need to be done. You get your teammates to trust the process.
If you are the captain or aspire to be, then now is the time to get started on your captainship and leadership journey. If you need help in captaining, Find My Team will help you come up with a plan of action. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good leaders/captains are not easy to find, and college coaches are always searching for those players who want responsibility and are able to handle it. Becoming a captain and truly working on leadership skills will take you a long way, both in college and beyond.
Just like anything, practice makes us better. Start now.
A group of teammates talk about how being an athlete empowered them for life beyond sports.