A captain is what you want them to be. I believe it is the coaches responsibility to spell out what it is a captain should be doing. Giving a simple title and never interacting with those players is a disservice. This is your chance to really cultivate leaders on your team. Their sole job should not be to participate in the coin flip before games. If we are going to make their title a big deal, make sure their responsibilities are too.
Coaches pick. This is one option that allows you as the coach to control who “leads” your team. You will choose the best possible candidate based on their fit with the roles you have set out. We’ll talk about roles in part 2. The only problem I see with this, if you aren’t in tune with your team, you could be selecting someone that no one will listen to and you just set them up for failure.
Players pick. You could give all ownership of selecting captains to your players. They know best who is committed, and who they will listen to best. The challenge here is it could become a popularity contest and not about the roles that will be set forth.
Hybrid approach. This is the method I advocate for because it allows the players to have their input as well as the coach. Players can make it clear to you who they like and as long as you feel these individuals line up with the role. And now you have to power to approve or veto. The one hurdle here is do the coaches insert their opinion before or after the players.
Application Process. How do you know who wants to be a captain? Give them the option to apply. This can be very simple or you can make it a more thoughtful process. You can have the interested candidates apply with a written essay and a one-on-one meeting with the coach as to why they are interested. This is great for giving them practice for interviews down the road. You can have the interested parties provide a speech at practice. Great way to judge their handle on the team (are the players listening) and good practice for them speaking in front of peers.
Selection process. If a coach is selecting the team then this is pretty easy. After your application process, make a selection for the best player for the role based on the process.
For players contributions, I’ve typically asked for them to name 3 players they think best for the captain role. Do this during stretching/warmup so not to take a lot of practice time. You can also do this with some anonymity by having players walk away from the group and talk to you.
Number of Captains
One per 4-6 players. In the past I’ve always had a group of 3-4 captains for the team even though there isn’t a limit to the number. But what I’d like to propose a new idea. After listening to <a href="http://Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win (New Edition)“>Extreme Ownership, a book I highly recommend, I would like to take their advice. In the seals, you have a leader for every 4-6 people. I would suggest you do the same with your captains and we’ll talk about why with their roles in the next post.
Honorary Captain. Lastly, I recommend an honorary captain system. Each week you should be able to choose a captain based on whatever criteria you want. Here is your chance to reward a player modeling the behaviors you want the rest of your team to follow. Great effort in practice, well done academic achievement, or terrific off the field contributions. Whatever it is, it’s your call; just remember to build it as a great reward for players demonstrating what all players should strive for.
Stay tuned…in our next post we’ll talk about the roles of these captains.