Lately, I've been assessing the usefulness of team captains. Logistically, it's nice to have them so that there's someone to lead off-season workouts and things like that...but I'm not sure if they need to have a "captain" title in order to rally the troops to go to the weight room.
What happens when the leadership is in the lower classes? What if we've got a sophomore who's an amazing leader...but she's on a team with four seniors? That could be a team dynamic nightmare.
I believe in leadership training and its benefits to our athletes while they're on the team and afterward...I just don't know if they need that title to receive those benefits. At the end, I'll ask for your help with a couple of questions, so be prepared!
3 qualities our captains should have in order to lead effectively
Clear strategic focus. I know that seems obvious, but I've coached teams where the captains didn't know what was important to them. If it's more important to the captains that the team jumps when they say to jump than it is for the team to accomplish its goals, then the focus is off.
Open to new ideas. By the time players get to the collegiate level, they've been on many teams, been coached by many coaches, and have been led by lots of captains. This means that, even though a player may not be a team leader, they may have great ideas about how captains should behave. Great captains will listen to their teammates and maybe even take them up on a suggestion they make.
Forge strong bonds. The best captains I've had mobilize the team and are laser focused on their goals. They squash petty issues and internal fighting before I even know it's happening. They create time for the team to bond and hang out outside of practice time so they really get to know one another. Great captains make the team into a family.
Questions for you, dear reader
Do you pick your captains or does the team pick? How much input to you have in the process? What about not having team captains at all? Have you done it and did it work? What do you look for in team leaders? Do you think the "captain" title is necessary? Hit me up on Twitter with your answers.
The thing is, great team captains are amazing...they can transform a team from okay and full of cliques, to united and focused. On the flip side of the coin, bad captains can wreck team chemistry and any chance your team has at success. Let me know what you think.
Dawn Redd is the Head Volleyball Coach at Beloit College. Come visit Coach Dawn's community of coaching nerds and team leaders over at her blog, http://www.coachdawnwrites.com/, where she teaches how to become an excellent coach, motivate individuals, and build successful teams.
Her book, Coach Dawn's Guide To Motivating Female Athletes, is available for purchase on her website.
Follow Coach Dawn on Twitter: @CoachDawnWrites