How to be a good team captain

By Daniel Benjamin

Basketball is a team game where player leadership is essential. Player leadership can be the difference from your team being good rather than mediocre.

You may be asking, “ Why do I need to be a leader, when my coach is an exceptional leader?”

The reason player leadership is so important is because athletes typically respond to peer motivation and peer pressure at a much deeper level than when the message is received from a coach.

Being a team captain is not easy but it is a very important part of the composition of your team. Team captains are generally selected a couple of ways; either the coach chooses the team leaders or there is a team vote.

Either way it is a great honor to be named captain and it shows the team and coach have confidence in your leadership ability. Remember you don’t have to be the star of the team or starter to be a captain.

Here are 10 qualities you need to be an effective team captain.

You must be self-motivated. Team captains are the heart and soul of a team, going all out every minute you are on the floor during games as well as in practice. You also should be the first one at practice and one of the lasts to leave.

Team captains firmly believe that the best interest of the team always comes first.

Team captains are bold, tenacious, fearless, prepared, fluid and enthusiastic.

Team leaders are great listeners and have a thirst to improve. When a coach tells you something, you should listen to the meaning of the words and not how it is said. If a coach didn’t care, he wouldn’t bother to help you become the best player possible.

Team captains expect and demand the best from themselves and their teammates.

Know your role. A key part of being a leader is knowing your role on the team (scorer, rebounder, shutdown defender, sixth man, etc.). If you don’t know, ask.

Team captains choose their words carefully. The words of the team captain mean more than that of any other player.

Encourages teammates. A good leader keeps the team upbeat and positive. If a teammate is down, the captain picks the player’s spirits up.

Understand that mistakes will be made. Team leaders can’t get down on themselves or others when mistakes because if you do others will follow. So, instead of chastising yourself or teammate learn from the mistake and move on. Simple statements like “I got you next time” or “Relax, I will get the ball again next time”, will do wonders for a player’s confidence after a mistake.

Team captains do not allow others to talk negatively about the team. You should take any insult about a team member as an insult against the whole team.

I wana make team captain this year and i am in 9th grade i wanna make the varsity squad but i am up against other 9-12th graders how an i make sure i can get noticed and specifiacally be able to help my team. I wanna make sure my oach notices me any thoughts.

As a 9th/10th grader, what sets you apart from the regular 11th or 12th graders is experience and knowledge of this particular team, lesser interaction with the coaches, and an expectation to wait out your rookie years before you are made captain. But if you are to be considered for the position, you’d have to show the natural ability to lead, not to mention have tremendous work ethic and regularity. be one of the most stable players on your team. Once your skills are strong enough for your teammates to trust your judgement, try leading or creating a few plays for your teammates. It’s not always a point guard that is the captain, but it is often so, as he is the one who communicates maximum with his teammates. Build an individual respect and rapport with each teammate. Striving to shine as a star player will not work. A will to work on the team rather than only yourself is necessary. As you keep your head in the game,have a reliable outlook about you, and maintain your stability and work ethic, you are bound to be considered for captaincy.

My daughter is on a varsity high school basketball team and is clearly the leader of the team, not only as far as skill but more importantly her actions on and off the court, dedication, work ethic, and her ability to lead the team on the floor. She is always the first to arrive at practices and last to leave. My daughter is a sophomore as is most the team. This summer coach told her she would be captain. To her, is was going to be an honor and she was looking forward to the responsibility. At some point before season started, rather than making the decision on the other captain, he decided to rotate captains every game. If they were all strong leaders, maybe, however this isn’t the case. This sends the wrong message to me, diminishes the value, undermines my daughters efforts and really shows that he is unable to make tough decisions. He didn’t want to hurt anyones feelings which instead he undermined his best player. My daughter was hurt and really lost a lot of respect for him with this decision. He is fairly new to coaching and it is obvious that he struggles. What are your thoughts? Rather than getting mad, I wanted to possibly hear another perspective. I see it as everyone get’s a trophy mentality which is fine for a church league or maybe in elementary school but not in high school sports.

I think you made a great call but seeking some other opinions instead of getting made about it. I give you props for that!

Honestly, this does not sound like a big deal to me at all. I would not be worry or thinking much about it at all. If I were the coach, I might do the same thing. It just depends on the situation and what I think is best for my players and their growth as people and growth for our team. Sometimes that is not easy to figure out!!

Maybe the coach is actually making the “tough decision” and knew he might look bad but he truly believed that is what’s best for the people on his team. That would be a tough call as a coach. but in your gut you might know it’s right. Or maybe he made a mistake. So what. Everyone makes mistakes. You make the best of the cards you are dealt.

I would not read into it too much. You don’t know what happens in the locker room, at practice, or behind the scenes. It’s impossible to try and guess what and why a coach does what he does. You have no control over that. Let him do his job. you won’t agree with everything he does. I guarantee that. but that is typical.

I know this is hard to do but that is my best advice as someone with a lot of coaching and some parenting experience.

I always tell my players and my own children not to worry about things you can’t control. focus on the things you can control.

Make lemons out of lemonade.

See it as a challenge to develop character. A top notch leader would not let things like this bother them. they would see this as an opportunity.

Focus on what you can control, have fun, and don’t worry about the coach. If you are upset, you’re choosing to be upset — it’s not the coaches fault you’re upset.

I say. Go play basketball and enjoy the awesome experience of playing high school basketball!

You only get one chance to play high school ball, it sounds like she has an amazing role to be grateful for. So go and have a blast. So many players would be ecstatic to have an opportunity to play varsity basketball. let alone as a captain and as a sophomore!

You always have control of your attitude and that seems like a good attitude and outlook on things to me.

This article was co-authored by Ryan Tremblay. Ryan Tremblay is a Basketball Coach and the Owner of National Sports ID and STACK Basketball. With over 30 years of experience, Ryan specializes in basketball coaching, social media marketing, and website design. Ryan created the National Sports ID as a platform to verify the age/grade of youth athletes and STACK Basketball to inspire young athletes to grow into mature individuals and basketball players. Ryan was a First Team All-Decade basketball player in Bergen County and finished in the top 20 all-time leading scorers in the county’s history with 1,730 points. He went on to Caldwell University on a basketball scholarship where he was part of three championship teams. Ryan was a two-time All-Metropolitan, All-State, and All-Conference point guard and the all-time three-point leader in the school’s history, landing him in the Caldwell University Athletic Hall of Fame.

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It’s one thing to be a good team player, but it’s another to be a good captain. Few will have the opportunity to take such an important leadership role. If you are fortunate enough to become a team captain, you will need to be a leader for your teammates both on and off the field.

How to be a good team captain

Being a team captain means accepting responsibility for your team. You become the team leader and must set the standard of what it means to be a great teammate. Team leaders are essential to executing your vision for your team and setting the tone for your teammates. Become a GREAT captain and teammate by following the running tips below.

  1. Lead by Example: As the team captain, your attitude and actions set the tone for the rest of the team. If you goof off or slack off during practice, you are giving permission for your teammates to do the same. Remember that you are a leader and people will follow your example- good or bad.
  2. Be Positive: Having a positive attitude even during the hardships will build a stronger team dynamic. Be optimistic! Your mood helps motivate your team to think ahead, to believe in themselves. Your team will go further and be more successful throughout your season, working as a cohesive unit.
  3. Communication: Communication involves talking AND listening. Team captains are not just all about giving out instructions. You must consider what all your teammates have to say. Listening is just as important as talking, it promotes respect and allows the team to know that their opinions are valued and appreciated.
  4. Teach Leadership: Share your leadership qualities with other teammates, share what you’ve learned. Pass on the qualities you possess, what makes you such a great leader. Your will team will grow. Having multiple leaders on your team improves your team’s attitude and productivity, so share your thoughts and dreams.
  5. Caring: As a captain you need to care about the team and pay attention to each individual teammate, on and off the course. If you see someone struggling or having a bad day, spend a little extra time figuring out what’s bothering them. This may mean talking to them after practice or after class. Help them work through it as best you can. Show them that you’re there for them. Be supportive!

How to be a good team captain

There is an article in which Team GB 2012 Olympic volleyball captain Lynne Beattie talks about team captaincy. When I coached at Exeter, I had the misfortune of coaching against Lynne and her Northumbria team during the national semifinals of the 2014 BUCS Final 8s. Well, misfortune in terms of being sorely outclassed on the court. We were just happy to have progressed that far!

Anyway, the article brings up the qualities which make for a good team captain. It talks about how after a certain point it’s just not simply the best player on the team. This isn’t to say that doesn’t often remain the case, as the qualities which produce good captains very often result in good players as well. It’s just that not all great players are captain material.

So what does Lynne think good captains have? Calmness under pressure is at or near the top of the list. Hard to disagree with that. Nobody wants a captain who cracks when the heat is turned up. It needs to be the other way around – the captain helping the rest of the team deal with the stress and strain.

From my own perspective, here’s what else I think makes for an ideal team captain, in no particular order:

Team focus

They put the team’s performance and objectives ahead of their own. This isn’t to say they don’t worry about their own game, but they are committed to the broader goals.

Communication skills

A good captain communicates well with both their teammates and the coach(es). For me the latter is very important. I need to be able to have a dialog with my captain(s) to be able to ensure that I know what I need to know to manage the team most effectively and that the team understands my thinking and decision-making.


This need not be of the loud, constantly talking kind. I should be able to look at them and see the focus, concentration, and commitment in their eyes, though.

Work ethic

The captain must be one of the hardest working players on the team, if not the hardest. Lazy players in leadership roles set very bad examples.


This is multifaceted. The captain must respect the players and be respected by them. The same is true with the coach(es) and anyone else associated with the team.

Organizational skills

I personally delegate quite a bit of team management to my captains, so having someone who can be organized is important. The ability to delegate to others is useful in this context as well.

Positive attitude

I’m not talking cheer-leading here. For some captains, in some circumstances, that is a desirable course (as with coaches), but what I’m talking about here is mentality. There’s no whining or moaning or pulling of faces when they disapprove of something. They are constructive rather than critical. They are more optimist than pessimist.


This maybe falls under communications skills, but I want to break it out for specific focus. It is important for a captain to be able to be critical of their teammates, either individually or collectively. And from there they must be able to effectively kick them in the butt when required. Sometimes that sort of thing is much more impactful when it comes from within the team rather than just coming from the coach.

I’m sure you can think of some other features of a good captain. If you do, or you disagree with something I’ve said above, leave a comment below.

Terry Pettit has a chapter in his book Talent and the Secret Life of Teams in which he talks about some of the captains he had over the years. It is definitely worth a read. It speaks to both the demands of captaincy and the different types of captains there are. We don’t often get an exact ideal captain in our teams. I happened to have a very good one on that team which reached the BUCS semifinals, but in some ways she grew into the role over the course of the season. The coaching of the captain as a leader is something which cannot be ignored in all this. It probably doesn’t get nearly enough attention.

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Posted March 12, 2018 in School Youth/Rec

How to be a good team captain

Becoming a Quality Captain

When you became a dancer, you became a leader. This leadership role is sacred. And if it’s used properly, it’s powerful.

Your team is a collection of leaders. It’s a melting pot of personalities, interests and talents. It takes a special person to relate to such a diverse group of individuals. Perhaps you’ve been given the chance to serve as team captain. Or maybe you’re a hopeful candidate. Either way, it is important to approach the position with poise. A quality captain strives to improve themselves and their team. You are expected to wear many hats. Although the following functions seem contradictory, a fearless leader succeeds by discovering a delicate balance.

A captain is a:


You are a trusted confidant. You are approachable and available. Team members aren’t afraid to come to you with questions. You keep your word and have an open mind. You work to keep the peace among the team.
You are easy to respect. You don’t abuse your power. Your teammates value your authority and don’t take advantage of you. You set an example and behave with decency. You are fair and confront issues head-on.


You see potential in every individual. You expect team members to be active in the school and the community. You set lofty goals and have faith that the team can achieve them.


You realize that academics and family come first. You allow team members to have a life outside of cheer and don’t over-commit them. You only give the team what you are confident they can handle.

How to be a good team captain


You acknowledge strengths. You praise them when they have done something great. You are patient and you help members develop at their own pace.


You push your team to step outside of their comfort zone. You deliver constructive criticism effectively. You don’t let your teammates get by with being “okay.” When your team faces an obstacle, you rally them to overcome.


You are a teammate. Your energy is contagious and you create an enjoyable environment. You don’t mind delegating your duties. You highlight each member’s strength by assigning individual tasks.


You are a leader. You have your ducks in a row. You are on time and always prepared. You have a plan. And a back-up plan.

While many of these qualities come natural, finding that balance is learned. And hey – nobody is perfect! There is no such thing as a “perfect” captain. Each team is different, so each captain unique. The job requires heart and commitment. If you are dedicated to the success of your team, you are headed in the right direction.

How to be a good team captain

Or Skip Ahead:

  • How to be a good team captain Part 1 of 3 · 2:19

Earning your teammates’ respect

Working with your coach

Becoming a role model

Written and presented by: Garland Allen

Congratulations, you now hold a pretty exclusive title. Team Captain.

Like most new team captains, you will discover that many challenges and expectations come with that title.
Unfortunately, your title doesn’t come with directions to meet those challenges. So it is understandable that you may struggle trying to figure out how to deal with some of the more common situations that most team captains will face.

For Example:
Your teammates won’t listen to you.
You see a team member drinking at a party, it’s even worse, it’s a good friend.
There is a team tradition of hazing new team members. Do you try to stop it, join in or ignore it?

If you don’t have a clear and decisive response to any or all of these examples, then you probably lack the necessary leadership training and experience to respond with confidence. Relax. Don’t panic! Even if you lack training and experience, there are some actions that you can take to help you manage some of the more common dilemmas that you will face as a team captain, including the examples just mentioned.

So let’s get started.

  • Establish a positive and respectful relationship with all team members. Sounds simple! But many captains fail at this because they try to be a boss instead of being a supportive teammate.
  • Work with teammates to set mutual team goals that complement the coach’s team goals.
  • Respectfully express your differences and offer constructive criticism to your fellow captains, but do it in private away from the team.
  • Encourage teammates to express their opinions and respect their ideas. They will return the favor.
  • Treat all teammates the same. That includes friends, starters, non-starters and those injured.
  • Don’t gossip about team members. You will risk losing everyone’s respect and trust.
  • Send a strong message that hazing and bullying are never acceptable.

Establish a respectful relationship with your coach.

  • Meet with your coach before the season starts and continue to meet on a regular basis throughout the season.
  • If there is a captain’s handbook or a set of guidelines for team captains, ask for a copy and read it.
  • Determine what is your expected role and responsibility as your team’s captain.
  • Discuss the coach’s team goals so you can reinforce them with your teammates.
  • If something comes up that you are uncomfortable sharing with your coach, speak to your school’s Athletic Director.
  • Don’t be shy, ask your coach to make sure that your teammates understand what your role is and the protocol that everyone, including you, is expected to follow when addressing concerns or issues that impact the team or team members.

When speaking to the media, you represent your teammates, coach and school.

  • So think through every question you are asked before answering. Never put down or blame your coach or fellow teammates for a loss or a poor performance.
  • If you feel uncomfortable answering a question, Just respond that “I rather not comment on that question at this time.”
  • Never agree to a telephone or personal interview unless your coach or a school official has made prior arrangements for you.
  • Treat people outside of your team with respect. That includes students in your school, captains on other teams, game officials and fans.

Finally, There is no specific style or personally that makes a person a good captain.
If you are a quiet nonverbal person, then lead by example. Work hard in practices and games, be supportive of your teammates and take ownership for your own mistakes or shortcomings.
If you are a verbal person, then be a vocal leader. Use your voice to motivate, encourage and support your teammates.
Remember: You were either selected by your coach or elected by your teammates to represent them, your school and your community because of who you already are. So don’t change. Just be the best version of yourself.

The role of team captain has the potential to be both the most challenging and the most rewarding role of all for a player. If you’re about to appoint, consider the following soccer coaching tips on qualities to look for.
Even today, with leadership roles and responsibilities shared amongst the players, the skipper’s role remains central to the team’s performance.

Not only must captains be competent in their playing, they need to inspire confidence in their players, evaluate the game plan and change it if circumstances dictate. They need to handle pressure well, make tactical decisions and communicate effectively with the referee as well as the team.

Not only is the captain a player, he is a leader, communicator, key decision maker, and important link between team and coach. What, then, should you as a coach be looking for in your captain?

1. Each captain is different

The first thing to remember is that there is no one set of characteristics possessed by effective captains. Very different personalities can be successful captains.

2. Mentally strong

The mental part of the job is arguably the hardest part. All captains should be mentally strong. Inevitably, the captain will be criticised at some point, both within and outside the team.

Equally, the captain needs to remain focused and aware while under intense pressure during a game, so that he can make the correct decisions at the right time. To cope with this requires considerable mental fortitude.

Some captains say the mental aspect of captaincy is the hardest part, because there is so much more to think about, as well as playing.

3. Excellent communicator

KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid

This is a skill required by all captains. The captain will need to encourage and manage on-field communication between all the players, as well as maintaining effective communication both with players and between players and the coaching staff off of it.

However, this does not mean that the only voice to be heard on the field should be that of the captain. Indeed, the captain should only speak when necessary, being able to keep his communication concise and to the point.

4. Emotionally disciplined

“Fire in the belly but ice in the brain.”

This is important for three main reasons:

a) As a role model the example set by the captain must meet every expectation he has of the players. For example, if the captain becomes angry with the referee and constantly questions his decisions, he cannot expect his players to accept refereeing decisions themselves.
b) If the captain loses self-control and vents his anger or frustration (whether against an opponent, teammate or the referee), he will have lost the ability to make rational decisions. His own performance will also suffer; a loss of emotional control will affect timing, co-ordination and the ability to “read” the game as awareness becomes more narrowly focused.

c) A loss of emotional control will be seen as a sign of weakness by the opposition, boosting their confidence whilst undermining that of the team. This does not mean that your captain becomes an emotionless robot, devoid of passion.

5. Knows the players

The first thing you have to remember as captain is while soccer is very much a team game you are dealing with individuals who are all different in attitudes, temperament and experience. Thus you have to find out each person’s strengths and weaknesses… And you have to find out which players best respond to the carrot and which to the stick.

The captain should have the ability to deal with each player as an individual. Consequently, he will know what motivates different players and how they prefer to prepare themselves mentally for a game (not all players respond to being shouted and/or sworn at!).

He or she should observe players both on and off the field in order to learn how best to deal with them.

The captain needs to know which players are best left alone, which require a quiet reminder of expectations and which need a more forceful articulation of what is required.

The captain that also takes time to get to know his teammates as people and not just players will ultimately achieve far more respect and effort from them.

6. Self-confident

“Don’t ask me how I played. I always think I played well.” A self-confident captain inspires confidence in others. It also helps him maintain his own performance.

This is easy when things are going well, it is harder, but arguably even more important, to do so when the going gets tough. The captain needs to make sure he at least gives the impression of confidence in these circumstances.

Looking and acting confident will, sooner or later, lead to being confident.

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Larry Lauer, PhD and Kevin Blue
Michigan State University

Major Point: Captains embody 3 C’s in leading their team: Caring, Courageous, and Consistent.

Being named a team captain is quite the honor. The position of captain is given to those athletes whom the rest of the team respect and trust to lead the team in the right direction. However, with this great honor also comes great responsibility. A captain must be accountable after a bad performance or practice. Captains are expected to perform in the clutch and lead the team to victory. It is also expected that captains will maintain control in the most pressurized situations and be the model of excellence for their teammates. Wow, coaches and athletes expect a lot of captains don’t they? Is it really worth it to be a captain?

In our opinion, being a captain is one of the greatest honors an athlete can receive. Yet, many athletes take this honor for granted and do not understand the significance of their responsibilities as captain. In fact, in some situations captains may be selected because they are popular amongst their peers rather than being a suitable candidate for the captaincy. Athletes should take the captain’s role very seriously and put some thought on what it means to be an effective captain. In our opinion a good captain should embody the 3 C’s:

Caring, Courageous, and Consistent.

3 C’s


Great captains have an undeniable passion for the game, for competing, and for their teammates. They put the success of the team ahead of their own needs and are truly concerned with the well-being of all team members. As a caring captain, you should treat all teammates with respect and recognize the contributions made by all team members. If you have a problem with a teammate, you should approach that teammate in private and in a positive way to address the situation and find a solution. The captain should be the one to stop rumor spreading and gossiping. These kinds of behaviors destroy team chemistry.


Captains are willing to step up. As a courageous captain, you must “walk the talk” and you cannot be afraid to compete in the worst of situations. Courageous captains set the example for the rest of the team. Your actions must embody the core values of the team, especially during times of adversity. Be a model of courage and dedication to your teammates by setting lofty goals and working hard to reach them. Finally, as a courageous captain you must show that you trust your teammates and coaches, and are also willing to hold teammates accountable to working hard and being prepared.


Effective captains need to be the model of consistency. To be a consistent captain you need to hold yourself to a standard of giving 100% effort in every practice and game. You cannot cut corners and earn the respect from teammates and coaches that is necessary to lead the team effectively. Consistent captains also have an authentic style of communicating. Some lead by their actions, while others are more vocal. Importantly, to be a consistent captain you must remain true to your own style of communication and not try to be someone else.

If you successfully accomplish these 3 C’s you will earn a 4th C – credibility. Nothing is more important in leading your team into competition than being seen as an authentic, credible leader.

What if you need to develop your 3 C’s?

The good news is that captains can be developed; they are not necessarily born captains. To improve your caring, courageousness, and consistency spend time talking to captains you know. How do they handle certain sticky situations? Also, spend time around good captains and model their best qualities. You can also learn a great deal from reading about great captains such as Steve Yzerman, retired Detroit Red Wing.

Talk to your coaches as well. Find out what they are looking for in a captain and how you can fulfill that role. Finally, take your role seriously. Be willing to do what is right for the team even if it is “not cool”. And, get out and do it. You will learn much on the job including from your mistakes.