Coach’s Corner: Choosing High School Captains

Players that aren’t true leaders but try to be, always bash other players after a mistake. True leaders on the pitch already assume others will make mistakes.Johan Cruyff

It is a blast choosing Captains and training them for my High School team. I like to impress upon them that this is their team, their friends, and their last high school season if they are seniors. Players consider it a great honor to be a Captain. Let’s help them to become the best Captains they can be.

What is your selection process?

Most teams have a voting process, where the current players – usually the current varsity players only – and the coaching staff vote for the captains for the next season. The Activities (or Athletic) Director also may have a say. 

I prefer to have the captains chosen before the end of the season banquet. It’s a great way to transition from this past season’s glory into the next season when the captains are announced. I give my current captains each an envelope with the name of one of the new captains along with a captain’s armband. They then open the envelope, announce the captain and give them their armband.

If you are a coach who is not connected in any other way to the school, your Athletic Director (AD) may have information about your players which you do not have. For example, is the candidate academically eligible? Or has the candidate been involved in an activity that would make them ineligible for any disciplinary situation? I am not a teacher in the school district, so I count heavily on my AD for guidance in choosing my captains.

Some schools require candidates to fill out an application with the school AD before they become eligible to be voted on by the team. I have found this helpful. It surprises me how, in some years, I have had to encourage some players to apply. It also gives me some further insight into my captains.

I encourage all of my returning Varsity players to apply, although I tend to lean towards senior class captains. There is nothing quite like senior leadership.

Once you decide on the process, you will need to determine how many captains you want. I personally like three captains. With injuries and substitutions, I always want to make sure that I have at least one captain playing at all times. Three seems to work best.

I also count on the parents of the captains for several duties during the season. Again, having at least three groups of parents involved with me helps to take care of the many “opportunities” to make the season special and relieves me of many seasonal tasks that I, as the head coach, need to oversee.

In the end, your captains become your greatest allies. They become your eyes and ears on the whole program. You seek their input and counsel. It is very hard to develop close relationships with your whole team. I focus on these three first.

Now getting to know them and training them to be good leaders is for another episode 🙂

View another COACH’S CORNER article here. – Put the Ball in the Parent’s Court

By Brad Carlson

Brad has coached a variety of sports in the community, middle school, and high school for 40 years including coaching the MN 2021 Class A State High School Champion.  He has coached soccer from U6 at the recreational level to U19 at the club level and all age groups at the high school level, including 11 years as a head coach.  He holds a USSF "B" coaching license and USC diplomas.