Choosing team captains can be a stressful and difficult task not only for coaches, but players as well. Many times captains are the players who your team will look to to set an example and lead when times get tough. The right captains or leaders will help guide your team through adversity and in the right direction. Every coach wants their best players to be their best captains/leaders, but that isn't always the case. There are a number of ways that captains can be chosen and it is important to have a plan and choose whatever method is right for you and your team.
Likely one of the more popular ways for teams to pick captains is to have the head coach and/or coaches pick. This requires coaches to have a good feel for there team and players. Knowing who your best players are is one thing, but having an understanding about who is a good leader that everyone respects on the team is different. I have seen players who want to be leaders be vocal and say and do the right things, but other players do not follow. I have also seen leaders who do the exact opposite and teammates follow them down the wrong direction. It can be a tricky balance, but having a positive relationship with your players can help with figuring out the right captains.
Another popular way to select captains is to put it to a team vote. You must have a mature and confident team to select captains this way or else it can turn into a popularity contest with players either picking the best player or most popular automatically. I have seen it done as a group with players knowing who each other chose or an anonymous vote so players do not know who each other voted for. This method gives players say and power within the team.
Weekly captains allow all players on the team to have the experience as a captain. Each week new captains can be assigned, voted on, or rotated through. In this method it doesn’t necessarily mean that the captains are the leaders of the team, but they are the captains representing the team during that game/week. With this method it is the idea that leaders can’t be assigned and they will happen organically. It is also the hope that all players on the team will learn and become leaders on the team in one way or another.
A leadership workshop can mean many things and can be done in several different ways. My advice would be to take it, adapt it, and make it your own. One example of a leadership workshop is to have players apply or say they would like to be a captain for the upcoming year. This can be done over the summer or fall. Once players have applied then the coach and the group are assigned a book and meet regularly to discuss topics related to leadership and the book. At the end of the book players are assigned to write an essay on the book or answer short answer questions on leadership and the book. Players who complete the assignment are then awarded the title of captain or can then be voted upon by the rest of the team for captains.
Another example would be to have leadership presentations/workshops throughout summer to work on leadership skills. Each workshop can discuss a different topic and there should be a lot of dialogue at these workshops.
The last example I will give is a research project. Open this up to have players be really creative. This could mean an essay on a book, PowerPoint presentation, interviews, etc.
Any method can work and have a positive outcome on a team. It is important to have clear expectations for the team on what you are looking for from the team and captains. Make sure that players understand that even if they were not chosen as a captain, it does not mean they aren’t a leader on the team and it is the responsibility of the team to hold each other accountable and not just the captains.
Once again, we'd like to thank Jordan for his contributions to us at Dr. Dish Basketball but also the basketball coaching industry as a whole! Stay tuned for more great stuff coming from Jordan.
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