It’s important for every football team to have a strong team captain. Someone who can organise the team out on the field, inspire their teammates to give that little bit more and to lead the players when times get tough.
Whilst it isn’t a one size fits all, and everyone has their own style of leading, we’ve put together some key characteristics you’re going to need to if you want to be a good football captain.
Captains are the link between the playing staff and the coaching staff, so there will be times when you will need to either ask questions or take action for the group, even if you don’t fully agree or already feel like you know the answer. For example, Vincent Kompany here talks about having to ask the gaffer for an extra day off from training, even though he knows it won’t be given.
A GOOD COMMUNICATOR
When you mention ‘Captain’ most people will picture someone shouting at the top of their lungs trying to rallying their troops, and there are plenty of captains like that, but it’s not the only way to lead your team.
Captains are the link between the head coach and the players.
You need to be able to pass on information and organise your team in a clear and concise way, on the pitch a split second might make all the difference between conceding a goal or keeping a clean sheet.
So understanding your team’s tactics and your coaches expectations and being able to communicate them to your teammates is key.
But being a good communicator isn’t just important during a game, being able to communicate means you are also able to listen to your fellow teammates, be approachable and be able to take onboard any concerns or worries they may have and help them to address them.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
As Captain you are expected to be act like a role model for the rest of the squad. Whether you like it or not, you are in a position where those around you will look up to, and mimic how you behave. It’s up to you to set the standard.
This means acting as a true professional and consistently giving 110% in training as well as games.
Doing things like turning up early on a game day or staying behind after training to do some extra practice are great ways to lead by example.
CALM UNDER PRESSURE
Emotions can run high during a football match for many reasons. Players can get sucked into petty arguments which could lead to a booking or a sending off, the opposition could have you pinned in your own half for 80 minutes or you could be in need of a match winning goal with only a couple of minutes to play. All of these reasons and many more can cause players to feel a lot of stress and lose focus.
A good team captain has the ability to be able to handle those types of situations whilst keeping their own emotions in check.
Calm positive attitude, or energy, can be contagious and can help your teammates regain their own focus.
Being calm is also the best way to deliver an important message. Screaming or shouting at your teammates can be great for amping your team up, but it’s not the most effective way to get your information across. Speaking quietly or calmly can be a great way to demand attention from those around you.
Positivity comes in many forms and as the captain of your team it’s important that you master this skill.
Being a positive leader means that you encourage those around you, help them to see and believe that they can perform well or that they can win the game.
This doesn’t mean you have to give a long movie style motivational speech to be positive, it can be as simple as reminding your teammates that “we can win this”.
As a captain, it’s essential that you support your teammates when things are going well for them. Maybe they’ve made a bad pass, or missed a sitter to put your team ahead.
Rather than jumping on their back and criticising them, encourage. Tell them “You’ll get the next one…” or “Well done for getting into a good position”. Of course you can tell them that you expect better, just frame it in a positive way.
Positive body language is also very important. Throwing your arms up in the air every time someone makes a mistake does not encourage your teammates to try again and it can very quickly spread the negativity through your team.
Holding positive body language helps control positive thoughts and can lead to positive outcomes. To find out more about this topic, check out the work from Daniel Abrahams, professional sports psychologist.
So those are a few of the key characteristics we believe make a good football captain. You may feel that you are stronger in one area compared to another, which is fine. Each of these areas can be worked on to improve.
Keep in mind, that although there can only be one captain in the team, anyone can be a leader, and the more leaders a team has, players that are going to stand up, take responsibility and do what is best for the team, the more chance of success your team has.
Have we missed a characteristic? Let us know in the comments below.