Monday, 27 May 2024

Guide to Being a Great Captain

Being a team captain is a tremendous responsibility that requires a unique set of skills and qualities. In this article, we will explore the invaluable advice of Christa Dietzen, a highly accomplished volleyball captain. Dietzen’s experiences at various levels of competition, including high school, college, and the national team, provide valuable insights into what it takes to be an exceptional leader.

Find Your Strength as a Leader

One of the key aspects of being a great captain is recognizing and embracing your own leadership style. Understand that there are different ways to lead, and you don’t have to mimic someone else’s approach. Be yourself and focus on enhancing your strengths. However, it’s also essential to develop areas of leadership that may not come naturally to you. Your coach may encourage you to be more vocal or energetic, even if these aren’t your core strengths. As a captain, your priority is what’s best for the team, so be willing to step up to the challenge.

Take Younger Players Under Your Wing

If you’re an upperclassman in high school or college, nurturing a strong bond with younger players is crucial. Building relationships with freshmen can help foster trust, open lines of communication, and bridge any hierarchical gaps within the team. Simple acts like having a meal together can go a long way in creating a welcoming and inclusive team culture.

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Lead by Example

As a captain, you automatically become a role model for your teammates. Your actions and behavior on and off the court are observed and emulated by those around you, especially younger players. It’s essential to set a positive example by conducting yourself with integrity, both in how you interact with others and in your online presence. Remember, you represent not only your team but also your school, hometown, and family. Being accountable for your own actions allows you to hold others accountable as well.

Take Care of Yourself

To effectively lead others, you must prioritize self-care. Captains, like any other team member, need mentors and advisors outside the coaching staff. Find someone you trust and respect, perhaps a former player or teammate who has faced similar experiences. Having a support system outside the team can provide valuable guidance and a sounding board for your ideas and concerns.

Embrace Vulnerability

As a captain, it’s important to acknowledge that you don’t always have all the answers. Sharing moments when you’ve faced challenges and struggled can create stronger bonds with your teammates. By demonstrating vulnerability, you show them that even a leader can experience frustration and find a way through it. This vulnerability fosters empathy and understanding among team members.

Get Comfortable Having Uncomfortable Conversations

Being a captain often requires engaging in difficult conversations. As the liaison between teammates and coaches, you must listen to all perspectives and challenge ideas when necessary. It can be challenging, but taking the path of least resistance doesn’t lead to effective leadership. Encourage open dialogue and hold individuals accountable when needed. Honest and constructive feedback can lead to growth for both individuals and the team as a whole.

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Go the Extra Mile

As a captain, displaying empathy and support for your teammates is crucial. Take notice when someone is struggling or having a bad day and make an effort to understand and address their concerns. Going the extra mile, whether it’s offering a listening ear or providing assistance, demonstrates your commitment to their well-being and fosters a supportive team environment.

Develop Other Leaders

Recognize potential leaders within the team and invest in their growth. Share the knowledge and experiences you have gained throughout your captaincy. Don’t be afraid that you’re training someone who could eventually surpass your leadership abilities. Building a legacy involves passing the baton to the next generation, ensuring the program’s continued success.

Be Open to Feedback

To continuously improve as a captain, it’s crucial to be receptive to feedback from others. Set your ego aside and embrace opportunities for growth. Listening to feedback, whether from teammates, coaches, or others involved in your sport, allows you to gain valuable insights and become a better leader. Being open-minded and willing to learn is a sign of true leadership.


How can I find my leadership style as a team captain?

As a team captain, finding your leadership style involves recognizing your strengths and embracing your unique qualities. Experiment with different approaches and techniques to see what works best for you. Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all method for leadership.

How do I develop other leaders within my team?

Identify individuals who display leadership potential and provide them with guidance and support. Share your experiences and knowledge, and encourage them to take on leadership roles. By nurturing and developing other leaders, you contribute to the long-term success of the team.

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Being a great captain goes beyond leading by example. It requires understanding your strengths, fostering relationships with teammates, and embracing vulnerability. Effective captains go the extra mile, support their teammates, and encourage open communication. They also understand the importance of personal growth and are receptive to feedback. By following these guidelines, you can become a captain who not only inspires but also creates a positive and successful team environment.

To learn more about becoming a great captain and unlocking your leadership potential, visit