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What makes an ideal Captain?

By M.Dejuliis, 04/04/17, 9:15PM EDT


What it takes to be a true team leader

4.1.17 // Princeton, NJ

What qualities does an ideal team captain possess? First and foremost, good captains need to be selfless. They must genuinely understand and be willing to put the team’s goals and direction before themselves. The best captains lead by example and by the use of their voice, they work hard when no one is watching. They make choices that put the team first without having to be asked. Simply put, they make a positive impact through actions and interactions.

Is it the best player on the team? The team captain doesn’t have to be the best player on the team; rather it is the inverse. The best team’s have the best captains. A captain selflessly guides the people on the team and thus, the group, to success.

Does actual lacrosse skill count for a lot, a little, or none of what constitutes a good captain? I would say in my experience in coaching and playing that the team captain was not always the best player on the field.  Most of the players that were captains possessed qualities of hard work, dedication, loyalty, team first mentality, etc, but playing status did not dictate the ability to best lead.
Is it the best leader? Often times, the best captains are those that demonstrate great leadership and initiative to do the little things all of the time. Captains don’t get a day off. Best players might not always play their best, but the team captains must always lead.

The most rah-rah enthusiastic person on the team? Captains come in all forms and with all personality types. The best captains genuinely care about the team, are selfless, among the hardest workers, and they speak so that their teammates listen. Genuine people make better captains than those that are trying to fit a “mold.”

Best relationship with the coach? A captain’s relationship with the coach is an important part of the role. Captains have to be able to communicate openly with the coach. They are the voice of the team but also must be willing to maturely listen to the concerns of the coaches. The captains are the in-between voices of the players and coaching staff.

The best “manager” of different personalities?  The best teams happen when everyone brings a little something different to the table. The captain needs to respect each member of the team- understanding the differences and how best to communicate with the group, but also with every team member independently. A captain who is observant and understanding of each individual player is crucial to the success of the team.  

Is a good captain a drill sergeant or a nurturer?

A good captain is genuine, and like all members of the team, all captains will be different. An element of leadership, however, is to help the group reach new heights. There are times, inherently, that the captain will likely use a little of both- drill sergeant and nurturer. Good captains are sensitive. Rather than screaming at your teammates if the team isn’t performing at the level they should be, a captain is the one to pull them together to make a change. Similarly, a captain gets everyone to play hard together, back each other up, support one another and help facilitate a bond that helps the group win.

Can a quiet person be captain, or do you really need to be a Chatty Cathy type? Yes and no. A captain needs to be able to speak their mind, otherwise the team will have no voice. So if you don’t have the personality to do that it may not be the best job for you.  On the other hand, if you are someone that talks more than you listen, you run the risk of not earning the respect of your teammates.There is a happy medium. When you speak you want everyone to listen and to act. Above all else, your teammates have to know you care. Listening is a genuine form of caring.

Does it vary from team to team, or are there essential qualities that ALL good captains have?
I think it does vary from team to team based on the needs of the particular team, but most captains will have similar qualities.  The most important thing is that all captains must genuinely respect their teammates and coaches. And their actions, on and off the field, must represent and show that respect.

What are the responsibilities of a good team captain? There are a lot of different responsibilities that go into being a good captain.  You are an organizer of the team on and off of the field, you are a listener, you are a communicator, you are a mentor, and you care about the team ahead of your own success.