How to Become a 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.

  1. 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.

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

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

  4. 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.

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

  6. 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.

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

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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.


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Chris says:
12/15/2018 at 2:55:54 PM

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.

  1 reply  

Jeff says:
12/16/2018 at 7:25:12 AM

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.

JMO. Hope you have a great season!


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