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Developing Great Leaders: How to Establish and Maintain Respect With Your Teammates

By adam.warner - Last updated: Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Team captains and leaders are extremely influential to any sports team – both positively and negatively. With renowned sports psychology expert Greg Dale as your guide, learn about a variety of coaching strategies you can implement when it comes to maximizing your squad’s leadership potential, chemistry, and overall success. 

Give and Take of Respect

Start by giving your team leaders some genuine face time. It’s quite common for team leaders to struggle with areas like respect, so we have to help develop them. One way is to spend time with them. Start by taking the minutes at the beginning of the season to talk about the idea of who you are and what your expectations are.

For example, what are your core values in your life? Who are your influences and why? Talk about the most positive leaders in your life. You can even give examples of bad influences and how they also developed you.

Also, lay out your expectations for your team. In other words, what do you expect from your leaders? How can they help you develop this team into the best team it can be? However, if you don’t spend time on these things, the captains are left guessing. If they understand where you are coming from, they are much more likely to become that extension of you.

Leadership: How to Be Liked and Respected

It’s typically very important for team leaders to have credibility with their teammates. However, this idea of being a leader; there’s a lot of responsibility that goes along with that.

So how exactly do you establish, lose, and maintain credibility? Well, you are only as effective as the credibility you have with the people you are trying to lead.

This concept all starts with respect. Start by highlighting the bond between respect and credibility. Ask your team leaders, “Can you demand that your teammates respect you?” Well they can remand that the athletes line up a certain way in warm-ups, but in terms of them respecting their leaders as their leaders, that’s something you must earn. Respect is earned. From day one, the leaders of your team need to be thinking about what they need to do to earn respect this year.

Meanwhile, there’s also an interesting dynamic of being liked AND being respected. This can often be a source of conflict. For Dale, the best leaders he’s been around have both the respect and the likeability. However, being liked isn’t essential. Obviously, if you have to sacrifice something, it’s going to be the like part of it. But the kids must understand that they won’t always be liked by everyone.

They can be a likeable person and should be, but those two things will come into direct conflict. If you don’t spend time on this with them, they will struggle with the concept. For most kids, it’s important they are liked.

***For more tips on choosing team captains and ways to develop strong leaders, check out this feature from 2011.*** 

The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD The Coach’s Guide to Developing Great Team Captains featuring Greg Dale. To check out additional videos focusing on team development concepts, click here.

Coaching Tips: Developing Leaders and Choosing Captains

By adam.warner - Last updated: Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Leaders and captains can have a major impact on a squad – both positively and negatively. With renowned sports psychology expert Greg Dale as your guide, learn about different strategies regarding how to maximize your team’s leadership potential. In this feature, you’ll learn about effective ways to choose your captains and how to develop leaders. Equipped with a few extra tips, hopefully you’ll be able to see positive returns with your own program in the coming months.

Choosing Your Team Captains

It’s important how you decide to choose your team captains for the upcoming campaign. One key question to ask yourself is whether you should appoint captains or elect captains. Well, there are benefits to both.

When it comes to appointing captains, you will definitely know the kids you’re going to get. They will likely reflect their coach, be students of the game, be driven athletes, and overall people that you feel are strong leaders.

But there could also be a drawback here. Your selections may not be the individuals that your kids are going to follow. First, you need to know who your kids are. Using a chalkboard, let the kids tell you what they are looking for in a leader and write these characteristics down. In other words, discover your players’ expectations of a leader. They may say things like, “They lead by example” or “They’re a vocal leader” or “They’re positive” or “They’re a good extension of the coach.”

Write all of these down and even add a few of your own. Consider making copies and then let the kids take them home and think about it. Educate your players on leadership abilities. And based on these, let the kids vote on who they believe would make the best captains.

Another idea is to make leadership statements. These can crystallize your leadership concepts. For instance, leave a blank at the beginning of each statement and then let the kids write in who they think best embodies that statement. Things like, “____ is the hardest worker on the team.” You might have 10 or 15 of these statements and then the players write down two or three names that stand out the most for each. The players that stand out the most overall are likely the ones that should be captains.

The key thing to remember here is to always consider having your kids have input no matter what process you go through with.


Developing Leaders

One benefit to writing down the best leaders is that hopefully the players will start thinking about what it means to be a leader before they get that “C” on their jersey.

Meanwhile, if you have kids from each class on the team, consider instituting a team council. These players will meet with you once a month or every other week to talk about issues going on with the team. At the same time, you can also really begin that leadership process with the younger players. As they get older, they will have more influence on the team and are learning what it means to be a leader.

Another perk is that you can also guarantee that you’ll have someone in the know explaining why the coach is doing this or saying that. You’ll develop leaders to speak on your behalf. For instance at Duke University, they have instituted an emerging leaders program for sophomores and juniors that hones their skills and teaches them what they can do to be the best leaders they can be.

Next, once you identify who the captains are, evaluate your captains’ personalities. Keep in mind that their core personality will always stay the same over the years. A lot of coaches try to change kids’ personalities. For instance, take the example of a quiet kid who leads by example and when they do speak up, people listen.

If you end up trying to change your players’ personalities, it will be a challenge for you. It will likely come across as fake and could affect their performance in the long run. In other words, avoid asking players to lead outside of their style.

When working with players’ personalities as a coach, it’s key to allow players to lead with their strengths. If you have a vocal leader, put them in situations to take advantage of them.


The preceding clips can be found on Championship Productions’ DVD The Coach’s Guide to Developing Great Team Captains featuring Greg Dale. To check out additional videos highlighting team development concepts, click here.

12 New Books to Help Soccer Coaches!

By mike.oconnell - Last updated: Friday, February 18, 2011

12 new soccer books! The following books have been identified as the best soccer books available by our customers and soccer advisors. Check them out today!

Coaching the Dutch 4 – 3 – 3

Dutch Drills for Total Team Training

Players Roles and Responsibilities in the 4 – 4 – 2: Defending

Players Roles and Responsibilities in the 4 – 4 – 2: Attacking

Formation Based Soccer Training

101 Team Building Activities: Ideas Every Coach Can Use To Enhance Teamwork, Communication and Trust

4-4-2 vs 4-3-3

Focused for Soccer (second edition)

Modern Soccer Coaching – Tactical

Modern Soccer Coaching – Technical

Coaching the Complete Goalkeeper

Skills & Strategies for Coaching Soccer (second edition)

6 Tips On How To Be An Effective Captain Or Leader On Your Team

By adam.warner - Last updated: Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It’s essential that coaches and players understand the importance of captains and leaders on a team and the vital roles they play. They have the unique ability to shape the personality of a team, inspire and motivate teammates and make a lasting impact on a program for years to come, among many other things.

By learning these six tips designed by renowned sports psychologist Greg Dale, coaches and players will be able to implement them within their own program and discover exactly why an effective leader is the glue that holds together a successful team.

1.) Embrace the role of being a captain

Remember, being a captain is not a right, it’s a privilege. It’s a serious position and should be treated like one. It’s also not a popularity contest and the team leaders should realize this from the very onset.

2.) Recognize the responsibility of being a a captain

Captains have the responsibility to learn how they can become the best leader they can be. They owe it to the coaches, their teammates and themselves. Leaders also have a higher level of expectations placed upon them as the team looks to them for guidance.

3.) Act as an extension of the coaching staff

Leaders serve as another “coach” on and off the field and can communicate certain aspects of the game to fellow teammates effectively. At times, a leader will also have to make unpopular decisions but understand that it’s part of his/her job.

4.) Be a voice for the team

Leaders are looked up to by their teammates and have the ability to influence the team culture and overall legacy. They can lead their program to where they want it to be and have a great impact on the team in a variety of ways.

5.) Work with other captains to build a team of leaders

Captains should figure out how to complement each other so they can be the best captains and leaders they can possibly be. Leaders will work together to continuously motivate their teammates, be open with them and earn their trust.

6.) Know yourself and be true to yourself

Don’t try to be someone else. What are you good at? What do you struggle with? What’s your personality type? Play to your strengths. If you’re unsure, take a simple personality test to see for yourself.

When you realize who you are, put yourself in situations that take advantage of your strengths. Similar to high-percentage shooting on net or playing man-down defense, leaders have to continuously work on how they can improve in that specific role. It’s not a “learn once and be done with it” role. The coaching staff should always be working with team leaders on this throughout the season.


The six tips featured in this article can be seen in the Championship Productions DVD “The Team Captains Guide to Great Leadership” featuring Greg Dale. For more leadership and player development videos, click here.

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