Many players aspire to wear the "C" or captains armband in representation of his team. The truth is, not everyone is cut out or properly prepared to be a captain.

Captains can be difference makers for their team. You want positive difference makers as captains.

Captains are, as an extension of the coach, the on-field leaders of the team. Captains must set the tone and the pace for training. They decide the team's standards in training and for play - what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.

Not every player is suitable to be a captain. Poise and composure in addition to leadership skills are necessary to be an effective captain. A captain needs to be able to deal with effectively and positively with adversity encountered during training and matches. He must be a team player both capable and willing to help teammates in an encouraging and enabling manner. Captains must be builders, not destroyers, of confidence.

A captain must have both knowledge of and passion for the game of soccer. This is a player who has helped determine the shared vision of the team and is compelled in his commitment to helping the team achieve that vision.

Before leading others, a captain must take care of his own business. Not every player is a someone that others will listen to. A captain is not necessarily the teams "best" player nor is he necessarily the most outspoken player. The captain is a thinker and effective problem solver who places the team's achievement above all else. The captain is well respected by coaches and teammates alike.

Respect is given and received through positivity and a calm mature manner. Staying focused and on task is a necessity. He should have enthusiasm for the achievements of his teammates as well as his own. He should be encouraging and helpful to both coaches and teammates. In a word, steady. Never too high and never too low emotionally yet always engaged.

Captains cannot give lip service to the ideals and standards of the team. If he is going to talk the talk, he must walk the walk - in all aspects of the team environment including punctuality, fitness, communication, nutrition and hydration, respectfulness, trustworthiness and inclusiveness. Teammates are equals and each is valued equally for his contribution to the team no matter how great or small that contribution might be.

Just like a good coach, a captain must be a good listener. He must be approachable by both teammates and coaches as well as by referees. He must possess and exercise the ability to deal with each in a calm, poised and respectful manner.

A captain must be a team player and willingly follow instructions from the coaching staff. It is okay to debate with the coach(es) in private, but he must be respectful of the coach's final decision and follow through on instructions for the good of the team.

A captain must be knowledgeable of the game. On-the-pitch the captain should be able to function as a coach in directing play, helping maintain shape, space and pace from both sides of the ball. Good, effective and efficient communication is a must for a captain. Once again, taking caring of his own business first but not being so self absorbed that he cannot help teammates position and play to their full potential in a calm and composed manner.

Most importantly the captain embraces the position with humility and recognition that being a captain is both an honor and privilege, not a right or an entitlement. 

One of the best captains I ever had was a young lady by the name of Shayna. Thoroughly strong, resilient and inclusive. Compassionate when called upon to be. Respectful and trustworthy. A vocal on-field leader - both forceful and encouraging. I wish I could clone the characteristics, traits and qualities she brought to the role of captain.

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