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The Role Of The Team Captain

Let’s talk about the team captain.

Team captains are so important for the success of any lacrosse team.

But what exactly is their role?

What should the responsibilities be for team captains – and what criteria should be used for selecting the team captains?

I think these are great questions to consider, don’t you?

I have not come across much information on this topic and, honestly, I’ve never heard a coach outline their criteria for selecting a team captain.

I believe I have outlined reasonable criteria for what it takes to live up to that role.

To me, team captains at the high school level are not just something that should be handed out to just anyone.

Team captains should demonstrate a certain standard and be willing to live up to that standard.

Before I tell you about my standards and expectations, check out this short video below.

What did you think?

What did you notice about the communication of this athlete?

Did you notice the small insights she mentioned about her performance?

It was about the team.

Team first.

This athlete represents a true standard and model for team leadership as a captain.


As I share with you my main standards in selecting team captains, I will tell you that I’ve given this a ton of thought.

It starts with leadership and leading with a “team first” mentality.

1-LEADERSHIP

  • Demonstrate leadership ON and OFF the field 
  • Always strives to improve their own leadership skills (This is a key life skill)
  • Vocal leader or quiet leader – they should lead in a positive way

We will start with leadership, which should be obvious.

Team captains must be leaders.

Keep in mind there are many different types and styles of leaders.

Not only are the team captains leaders, they should be a positive leader for the team – lifting the team up through their words and actions.

I also believe that leadership is a skill that can be and should be constantly developed. So team leaders are constantly growing and improving themselves.

When selected as a team captain – you should always be working on developing and refining your leadership skills.

Leaders in this role are also selfless and put the team first.

This requires sacrifice for the greater good – which is your team.

“Team First” is the hallmark of the exceptional team captain.

2-DRIVES TEAM CULTURE

  • Helps create and maintain a positive team culture
  • Drive team unity (inclusiveness of all players)
  • Define the culture – make sure it is what YOU want

We know that team culture is critical for success. But culture is something that can be hard to build. And it takes “buy in” from team leadership and it takes time to get this right.

Team captains need to help drive the positive team culture and they need to make sure everyone feels connected to the team.

Inclusiveness, specifically, is important for all teams and the captains can be very strong in monitoring and guiding this.

I have seen teams become toxic situations when players feel excluded and disconnected from the team.

Team leaders can keep teams together, they have that power.

Team captains have great influence on the culture of the team – once you define the kind of culture you want to have.

3-POSITIVE ROLE MODEL

  • Lead by example
  • Positive energy and attitude
  • You are a team leader for a reason

This is so important.

As a captain, you must be a role model for others.

That is part of leadership and becoming a team captain.

Again, your words and actions must be congruent.

Others should look up to you as an example of what a great leader looks like.

Be a role model and lead by example.

It’s also important to mention work ethic, commitment, and dedication here as stand-out role model qualities for team leaders.

4-EXCEPTIONAL COMMUNICATOR

  • Open communications with the coaches and all teammates
  • Communicate any issues or internal challenges with the team or player
  • Positive communications (avoid negativity, avoid talking behind others back)

As a team leader, you have to be willing to openly communicate with others on your team (especially when problems arise).

It takes courage to stand up and communicate with things go wrong.

But this is what great team leaders do.

They have the courage to recognize when things aren’t going well and they have to talk to the coaches and their teammates in a positive way to help resolve problems and keep the positive culture.

It is essential to have the courage to communicate.

And responsive communication is important.

If you’re typically not responsive to text or calls, being a team captain may not be for you.

It’s expected that a captain will be responsive and open to communications.

Remember, team captains are key links between the coaches, players, and others.

5-SUPPORT THE COACHES

  • Help maintain practice, game, and team efficiency (with their leadership and communication)
  • Leadership on “game days” 
  • Always asks, “What can I do to help?”

Finally, the team captain should support the coaches in many ways. First and foremost with the culture of the team.

For example, team captains can be extremely helpful with practices, games, and overall team management.

Coaches should make sure they constantly communicate with their team captains to expand their leadership capabilities that can best serve the team.

Coaches and team captains should be on the same page and openly communicate to enhance the culture I’ve talked about and to pull-through the team’s overall philosophy and approach.

Support, assistance, and alignment with the coaching is critical.


ADDITIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES TO CONSIDER

Team morale: Captains play a crucial role in maintaining team morale. They should encourage and support their teammates, particularly during challenging times or when the team is facing setbacks. As mentioned already, captains help create a positive and inclusive team environment where all members feel valued and motivated.

Accountability: Captains are accountable for their own performance and behavior, as well as that of their teammates. They should set high standards for themselves and hold others accountable to those standards. This includes promoting discipline, sportsmanship, and adherence to team rules and values.

Mentorship: Captains often take on a mentorship role, especially with younger or less-experienced teammates. They provide guidance, advice, and support to help their teammates improve their skills and develop as individuals and athletes.

Conflict resolution: Captains may be called upon to mediate conflicts or resolve disagreements within the team. They should possess strong interpersonal skills and be able to handle conflicts in a fair and respectful manner, with the goal of maintaining team cohesion.

Representing the team: Captains often represent their team in various capacities, such as attending meetings, ceremonies, or events. They are ambassadors for the team and are expected to uphold the reputation of the team – both on and off the field.

Is this a lot of responsibility?

You bet it is.


In summary, the 5 main requirements for my team captains are:

  • Leadership 
  • Help Drive Team Culture
  • Serve As A Positive Role Model
  • Be An Open Communicator
  • Support The Coaching Staff

Still interested in being a team captain?

You should know the standards and do everything you can to live up to those standards.

Remember that being selected a team captain is an honor and a privilege.


Here’s a little more criteria for the team captains.

This comes from the official captain’s responsibilities from the USA Lacrosse and NFHS Rulebook (Rule 3, Section 4).

The role of the team captains in game situations:

  • To call any coin toss for choice of ends OR initial alternate possession
  • To indicate that the captain’s team is ready to play at the beginning of each half AND
  • To approach the official for clarification of rules

Coach Scott

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