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Soccer. How to choose the Captain of your team.

In the recent decades the figure of the Captain has lost it’s importance and the deep meaning of being it. I believe that this is a great mistake. If a coach is able to choose the right Captain and transfer the correct concept to the team, this will be one of the strong points that could characterize a victorious team.

First at all, here’s what I believe is the figure of the Captain.

-He/she represents the team on the field. This means all the other players, the school, the city and, at the highest level, the country.
-When something bad happens, provoked by his/her team, he/she should be the first to reprimand the team mates, before the Referee! This will generate respect from the other team and the Referee. So, always calm down the team mates.
-He/she is the ‘extension’ of the coach on the field, who constantly fixes strategic situations from the inside, accordingly with the instruction that the head coach has given at practice and before the game.

As you can see, this is much, much more than just wearing a Velcro band and go to the center field when the referees call them at the beginning of the games!

When I see on youth teams that the Captain is impersonated by all players on rotation, it really kills me! Being the Captain is a point of arrival and players have to deserve that arm-band!

When one is chosen, THAT IS OUR CAPTAIN. Our LEADER!!!!! The rock that keeps the team together; and when situations get worse he/she is there to comfort and sustain us. We can win this game even if we are behind in the score, or we are out-numbered! C’mon…lets stay together and fight!

I said that he/she is the coach on the field, even if he/she is not the head coach. In my opinion they aren’t also the head Captain. The head Captain is the coach so, the Captain represent the head Captain on the field!

During my long soccer carrier, I saw many methods to electing the Captain.

A few are:

-The most talented player (often voted by the team mates) or….
-The most experienced (that means the older in age) or…..
-The player with the longest tenure on the team or……
-The one chosen by the coach to carry on his legacy on the field!

In my opinion the first 3 could be one of the reasons, or more, for choosing a Captain but the 4th is the best one.

The most talented player?

In my experience, in 10 years in the USA (in the rest of the world is different!) the most talented player is also very often the one that constantly arrive late at practices and games, sometime misses practice, tends to play by themselves, not passing the ball when it is time, often not following the instruction of the coach, and sometimes (in the case of boys) is also a ‘bully’! This means that the team mates (boys), in the case they voted, voted for him not because they respect him. They where afraid of him!

Please notice that OFTEN and SOMETIME, doesn’t mean ALWAYS so, don’t jump on me!

A player that is often late, misses practices and games, is not a team player, he/she is OFTEN the Captain (just because this seems good) for the wrong reason. Hi/she is NOT a good example for the other players. But, if your most talented player always is the first to arrive at the field and the last to leave, and is a team player that follows instructions, this is a good reason to make her/him the Captain.

The most experienced (that means the older in age)?

This is a concept totally unknown in this country in which the players are divided in teams by age and not by skills level so, let forget about this!

The longest tenured?


The one chosen by the coach to carry on his legacy on the field?

This is my choice. But this doesn’t mean that I was always able to do this. What I said at the beginning and trough the script is the way I would like to follow. Often I began to coach a team not from it’s creation so, after a couple of years of pre-existent situations, it is hard to make changes that could be ‘wrongly’ interpreted by the all group! (parents and players) Also, unfortunately, in this country, parents (and sometimes the kids!) are a ‘little’ too much involved in the management of situations that should be strictly reserved for the coach!

The fact that for 90% of the cases the coach is also the father or the mother of one or more players, surely add complications on this matter!

I like to add a personal note that maybe can help you to better understand my point of view. (this article, like always, is just my point of view, nothing more!)

When I was young I was the Captain of my team. At every game, besides the fact of receiving the jersey from my coach like all my team mates, before entering the field he gave me the arm-band of Captain. I still feel the same emotion even now while I’m writing this.

In that moment, every time, it was a kind of ‘knighthood’ that gave me the responsibility to represent my club, my team mates, the coaching staff, all our families, the fans and that part of Milano (Italy).

He was kissing it before put that at my arm. I remember that I never touched it. He put the band on me, took my ring and put it in his pocket, and then at the end of the game, took back the band and returned to me my ring.

I already see some of you laughing while reading this. I know…..I know…..I’m a romantic soccer addict. But that attitude, that love and respect for the beautiful game and the fact of being the Captain, lead me to play on the youth team of A.C.Milan!

Coach Gianni

Posted on 07 Feb 2008 by coachgianni
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