7 Qualities of Great Team Captains

7 Qualities of Great Team Captains

When team captains perform their duties well, it can make a big difference for their team. People rally around those who inspire them to dream more, do more, and become more which is why natural leaders are such an asset. With that being said, although leadership ability comes more naturally to some than others, there are common traits that great leaders share which can be embodied by anyone who desires to be a team captain and make a positive difference for their team.

1. They Always Put The Team First

Great captains aren’t interested in personal glory. Instead, they constantly look for ways to serve their team and help it accomplish it’s goals. They have the mentality that together everyone achieves more which makes them an ideal teammate. This kind of attitude can be contagious within a team and goes a long way to creating an environment that breeds success.

In his playing days at Liverpool, Steven Gerrard represented this quality perhaps better than anyone who has ever played the game. Here’s a quote from his former teammate Fernando Torres explaining what he meant to his club:

He is without doubt the greatest player I have ever played with, he has everything. At Liverpool, he is irreplaceable. Every big club has a standard bearer, a home-grown talent, someone with a lifelong commitment to the cause. People come and go but he’s always there. It’s him and 10 others. He’s everything to the side. That’s Steven Gerrard at Liverpool. I can’t even begin to imagine the place without him. Steven Gerrard would be the captain of my World XI dream team. –Fernando Torres

As a home grown talent, he was more than just a player for Liverpool. He was a passionate fan and diehard supporter who gave everything he had every time he stepped onto the pitch.

Takeaway For Players: If you want to be a team captain, give everything you have to the team. Be the kind of teammate with whom you would want to play and always look for ways to help those around you succeed.

2. They Lead By Example

One of my personal favorite players, Philipp Lahm is a great example of what it means to lead by example. Now in his final year before retirement, Lahm is known for his strong work ethic, representing his teams well on and off the field, and passion for the game. He is the kind of player that others look up to and he sets the tone wherever he goes.

Just like Steven Gerrard, Lahm has the team first kind of attitude that you would expect of a great team captain:

Whether we have the best individual players doesn’t matter. You have to have the best team. -Philipp Lahm

Captains are tasked with the responsibility of leading those around them and setting an example for what is expected. On the teams that I coach, captains are typically the first players to get to the field to help set up and the last to leave once everything has been put away. They take on extra responsibilities and ensure that everything runs smoothly because they have the best interests of the team at heart.

Takeaway For Players: Team captains do all of the things they expect their teammates to do and more. Don’t be afraid to take on extra responsibilities to help the team.

3. They Inspire Those Around Them

Great leaders not only lead by example, but they inspire those around them to do more. People are much more likely to follow a leader who has passion and enthusiasm for what they are doing. Captains can’t be afraid to stand up for what they believe in and rally support.

Good captains also embrace taking on new challenges which makes their teammates want to do the same. They are always excited to play the beautiful game regardless of their opponent. In situations where their team may be the underdog going into a game, they spread positive energy and instill a sense of belief that anything is possible.

Takeaway For Players: Spread positive energy and be enthusiastic about what your team is trying to accomplish. Look to spread this enthusiasm on to others for the benefit of the team.

4. They Have A Positive Relationship With Coaches & Teammates

Captains have to win the trust of those around them in order to lead effectively. Trust is developed over time when players continually do the right things and show their teammates and coaches that they care. Good team captains model the behavior they expect from others and earn respect along the way.

Being chosen as a team captain is an honor that should not be taken lightly. Former US national team captain Landon Donovan once said:

The second highest honor is playing for your country, and the highest honor is wearing the armband for your country. It shows that the players have confidence in me, and that feels good. -Landon Donovan

This quote illustrates that it’s important for captains to be respected by those around them because they are given the responsibility of representing their team. With this in mind, a few ways to build positive relationships are to listen to others and let your actions speak for themselves. In addition, keeping a positive attitude can be helpful and attract others to you.

Takeaway For Players: Develop strong relationships by building trust and doing what is right. Earn the respect of your peers by working hard and setting high standards.

5. They Embody The Core Values of Their Team

Every team may have different core values depending on what it’s goals are and what the players are trying to accomplish. The core values of my high school soccer team are honesty, integrity, and excellence. I rely on my captains to model these core values so that others will follow in their footsteps.

Trust – All strong relationships are built on a foundation of trust. Trust is established over time by continually doing what is right.

Integrity – Integrity means doing what you believe is right at all times, no matter the consequences.

Excellence – Pursuing excellence means always striving to do your best. Excellence can be achieved through good habits, persistence, and a commitment to never stop learning.

Takeaway For Players: Ask your coach what his core values are and try to embody these values. Be a role model for others on the team.

6. They Work Hard & Persevere

Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. For a team to be successful, players on the team need to develop a strong work ethic and that starts with the leader. When players feel like giving up, good captains have the ability to raise the energy of their side and help their teammates keep going. When players see their leader working hard it inspires them to to do the same.

Furthermore, in life adversity is inevitable. Whether players are on or off the pitch, bad things will happen. Those who persevere have the best chance of being successful. Captains don’t back down when faced with adversity; they fight until the very end.

Takeaway For Players: Always work hard and never give up even when things are not going your way. Keep a positive attitude and overcome adversity.

7. They Step Up When The Team Needs Them

Whether their team lacking energy in a hot preseason training or down a goal in a championship game, great team captains find a way to step up when their team needs them. It could be by inspiring their teammates, keeping a positive attitude, or continuing to battle even when things are not going well. The important thing is that they are leaders and leaders find a way to make an impact when it matters most.

Takeaway For Players: Stay in tune with what your team needs and try to provide it when the opportunities present themselves.

If you’re a player who is interested in becoming a team captain or coach who is looking to develop quality leaders for your team, this book is an amazing resource. It includes all of the details of a proven 10 week leadership program to develop outstanding team captains.

The Team Captain's Leadership Manual
The Team Captain’s Leadership Manual

6 thoughts on “7 Qualities of Great Team Captains”

  1. This is such a great article and points out so many important aspects of a great team captain. The question that came to my mind, and a lot of other parents out there is, when and how do our children learn these skills of being a great leader/team captain? This was something my husband and I thought a lot about while raising our 3 children. In our research, and talking to other parents we discovered the Allazo Youth Leadership This is an amazing program that really teaches kids at any age how to be a great leader. Specifically, we looked into their team captain training and reading through this post, our kids were able to learn and apply each of these areas. Our kids have already benefited greatly from the success of this program and we are greatly anticipating the future. The creators are amazing and really care about the success of your kids as much as you, their parent do. It was amazing.

  2. Thanks a lot I have learnt something from this and will start to apply it in my team. Once again I say a very big thanks to you

  3. This is a good article to help not just team captains, but could also guide team coaches and club owners and managers and the leadership skills that they should display.
    Trust = consistently doing what you say you’ll do
    Integrity = consistently doing the right thing
    Inspire = lead by example and instill belief
    Selfless = put the needs of the players and the team before your own.

  4. My 12 year old daughter is captain on her club volleyball team..she’s generally a leader, but I don’t think she fully understood her duties. Her team had lost 8 matches in a row. I had her read this article and watch a video on being a champion. She led her team to 3 match wins in her tournament today. She said she tried applying these principals, and it seemed to help a lot.

  5. I love this. I am a team captain myself and I’ve never been.This really made me understand more of the duties and responsibilities.Thank you.

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