Becoming captain of a sports team can be a great leadership experience for young athletes, particularly when coaches work proactively to prepare them for success. Rick Swan, Head Volleyball Coach at Colorado College, has been coaching for more than 20 years. With 20 consecutive NCAA appearances as coach, he knows what it takes to be an outstanding leader on the court.
Here are Coach Swan’s top four tips on how to prepare student-athletes to be great team captains.
Some athletes are more inclined to become leaders than others, and that is okay. The key traits Swan recommends in potential team captains include:
Developing effective leaders takes time, so Coach Swan recommends starting with young players as soon as they join the team. At Colorado College, he integrates freshmen into the leadership team so they can learn from more experienced teammates and start taking on meaningful leadership tasks early on. It’s also important to create an environment where leadership roles are accessible for all athletes because some great leaders find their voice and confidence later than others.
Older players have tremendous knowledge to pass on to younger players, but at the high school and college level, four years can seem like an impassable age difference. Freshmen may be intimidated by juniors and seniors, while the more experienced players may be reluctant to welcome new teammates. To break down these barriers and shape leaders throughout the team, Coach Swan suggests: