Coaching - Captains' Council Versus a Team Captain

Coaching - Captains' Council Versus a Team Captain

Dick Moss

Many coaches prefer to do without a team captain, opting instead to allow the squad's natural leaders to rise to the occasion when needed.

The Problem With Captains
There are some problems with having a team captain. For example, when one athlete is formally declared the captain, other teammates may avoid leadership roles, assuming that such task are the captain's job.

Also, team cohesion can suffer when one athlete is placed above the others in the official pecking order.

The Problem Without Captains
However, there is a problem with not having a captain. A captaincy is a reward. Captains receive the recognition of the title and can use it on their resume to prove their leadership abilities. If you don't have a captain, students who deserve this qualification go without.

You can avoid naming captains while still rewarding team leaders, by using a captain's council system. Here's how it works.

The Captain's Council
Inform your team that anyone who assumes a leadership or organizational role on the team is eligible to state on their resume that they were a member of the captain's council.

The council is actually only an honorary position-no meetings are ever held, but it sounds good on a resume. And it is an honest title, since it can only be used by athletes who have taken leadership roles.

Such leadership roles might include counseling younger athletes, ordering team clothing, helping organize a tournament, or acting as a liaison between the team and the coaches.

To be officially eligible, athletes must remind you of their leadership role and get your approval to be included on the council. You can then confirm their place on the council if contacted about the athlete's resume.

Captain's Council in Action
We've used this system with the Laurentian University varsity running teams for years and it has worked well. The natural leaders-usually veteran athletes-help organize events and keep the team running.

But the system also encourages younger athletes to develop their leadership skills, and it's interesting to see those athletes take on leadership tasks and speak up in situations that might otherwise have left them silent.

Dick Moss, Editor of PE Update/PE Digest, and Head Coach, Laurentian University Track/XC Running teams, 2021.


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