Coach’s Corner: Training Captains

Getting to Know  You

Players are very often surprised that when I meet them first time that we don’t talk at all about football.”  – Jurgen Klopp

Now that you know who your captains for next season are, what do you do to prepare them for their leadership role with your team?

I plan on getting together 3 times before the season as a group.  I pick a public place where there is food – pizza is always a favorite – and we can take up a table for an hour or so.  I also ask an assistant coach or coaches to join us if they can.

Since our high school soccer season is in the fall, I set the first meeting in late spring or early summer.  The second meeting in mid July.  The third meeting right before Captain’s Practices begin (2 weeks before the start of the high school season for my state).

I will often bring a deck of cards or a board game to the first meeting just to break the ice a bit.  These captains love to compete!   We will play “Hearts” or “Spades”, or play a board game like “Apples to Apples” or “Clean Slate”.  These games are fun and even a bit enlightening!

The first meeting is all about getting to know each other. 

Along with having fun playing a game, I like to play “21 Questions” with each other.  I want to be open with them, just as they are with me and each other, so they can ask me questions also.  Here is a quick list of a few of the questions:

  • Do you have a nickname?
  • Cell phone number – you probably already have this.  But if you don’t  know, it is a good time to get it.  I only group text.  Or your school might have a message system within an App that you can use to communicate.  Safety, of course, is the biggest concern with any form of communication.  I make sure my other coaches are linked in to all communications with parents and team members.
  • What is your favorite song or group or both?
  • What is your favorite movie – or movies?
  • What are some of your favorite lines from movies?
  • Sports – What sports did you play growing up and at what level? 
  • What is your soccer playing experience?  Years, teams, levels, etc.
  • What Superhero do you most resemble?
  • Volunteer – how have you volunteered in your community, soccer or otherwise?
  • What is a favorite memory you have with a parent or grandparent?
  • Do you have a girlfriend or boyfriend?  If so, what is her/his name, how long, where did you meet, fun things you like to do together, etc.
  • Think of (or name) a teacher or coach that had a positive influence on your life.  Why? 
  • Think of a teacher or coach whom you had a negative experience with.  What was it that they said or did that turned you off?
  • What is the name of your favorite pet (or stuffed animal) and the name of the street of your home?  Put them together and you get your rapper name (or Super Hero name, MMA name, etc)!

I also like to go and watch them play, either soccer or any activity they are in.  It is fun to watch them participate in any activity that is important to them.  It is also fun to sit with their parents and get to know them better.  Then after the event, just say “Hi”, build them up about their performance and tell them how much fun it is to watch them play.

We are building a team together this year, just as all the captains and players before them built their teams and our program.  It takes trust, and trust doesn’t just happen.  Let us, as coaches, be intentional about how we get to know our captains, the leaders of our team.

Next time we will talk about leadership, using as our base the Level 5 Leadership as outlined in the book “Good to Great” by author Jim Collins.  We set the bar high for our Captains!

Read part one COACH’S CORNER: Choosing High School Captains article here.

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.