Volleyball Captains & Leadership
Captains are not always leaders, and leaders are not always captains. However, captains usually want to be leaders, and leaders usually want to be captains. If this interests you, I’m going help you get there.
Captains can be picked a variety of ways, for a variety of reasons. Some volleyball teams vote for their captains, some volleyball coaches pick the captains. Sometimes, a coach picks a captain and the team picks a captain and they are co-captains. How captains are chosen will be determined by your coach.
The Captain Meeting & The Game
No matter how the captain is selected, their official role is the same. Before a match, the captains will be asked to conference with the refs and the other team. The ref will go through various ground rules. They will talk about the playable area, overhead obstructions and any other topic that they want to address before the game gets started. For instance, if one team has a rowdy crowd, they may tell you how they are going to handle it if they get out of line.
For the game, the coach will have to pick a single Speaking Captain.. This is also called a Floor Captain. The Speaking Captain is the only player who can go and talk to the ref during the match. So, as the speaking captain, you need to have a good idea of what you’re talking about. Some refs, won’t even talk to the coach, they will only talk to the speaking captain. If you’re in that situation, approach with respect and courtesy. If you approach with uncontrolled passion, you could end up with a yellow card. :)
Other Captain Responsibilities
Captains are usually responsible for unofficial duties also. This varies from team to team. Some captains get to make decisions on travel arrangements, where you stay, where you eat. Some captains will help pick jerseys or other team swag.
There are times when captains are going to run warmups, or maybe even take over pre-season practices. All of this is heavily dependent on your age, ability level and coach. The captain role is one of organization and decision making more than anything else. You can absolutely be a captain and a leader, but being elected a captain, does not automatically mean that people will follow you.
Leadership is a whole different thing. Let’s start talking about leadership.
Leadership in Volleyball
Leaders aren’t always captains, and to be honest, being a leader isn’t always a positive thing. Yes, I said that. If you think about it for a minute, you’ll realize I’m right. History is full of great leaders who did amazing things, and great leaders who did terrible things. It’s all a matter of how you wield your leadership powers.
Who is a Leader?
Defining a leader, is actually pretty easy. You’re a leader, if other people are following you. Leadership is about influence and direction. If you find yourself making decisions and other people jump on board with your decision, without you having to encourage them, you’re like a natural leader.
Now, what if it’s not natural for you? This isn’t the end of the world, there are actually things you can do to “fake it till you make it”. Before you start attempting to fill a leadership role, I want you to think about it for a minute and try to decide if you want that role. Leadership isn’t easy. It may be easier to allow someone else to lead the way, and you can jump in as an exuberant follower. The exuberant follower role is crucially important too. - Just think about it.
How to be a good leader
Leadership isn’t one size fits all. Each person is unique, so each brand of leadership is going to be unique. I’ll give you some tips on things to do, and not to do, but it’s up to you to infuse these tips with your own personal strengths.
1. Know Your Goal - If you’re going to lead a team, you need to know where you’re leading them to. What is your goal for yourself, and what is your goal for the team? Both questions are important. Your goals should be attainable yet feel slightly out of reach. For instance, you may want to win your conference because it’s never been done. If your team has gotten close, or you feel like this could be done, you should set it as your goal. If you want to win a national championship, and yet you’ve never been in a gold bracket, that is a hefty goal. I don’t believe that would be a bad goal, but you need to give your team a goal that is within reach. Something they can almost taste. Yet, something that they have never tasted before.
Don’t be afraid to tweak your goal as the season goes on. Don’t sell yourself short, but if you need to up the ante, do it! And if you think you may have set a goal that was too lofty, keep the goal, but set another quicker/easier goal to give your team a quicker win. For instance if your goal is to win the conference, and yet, you haven’t won a game. You can keep the conference goal, but start putting heavy emphasis on the goal to win your first game. Switch focus, keep goals.
2. Identify the traits that will help you reach your goal. Here, you need think about what it will take for you and your team to reach your goal. Start by thinking what you should be doing each and every day to accomplish your goal. What attributes does someone who already hit the goal, have? Typically this includes Hard Work, Trust, Humility, Communication and Passion among many others.
3. Go all-in on those traits. - I’m talking about YOU going all in on these traits, not anyone else. The first thing you need to do is to make sure you are fulfilling the traits you outlined by 100%. Show your team what you want to happen. Show them every single day, whether the coach is looking or not. You have to prove to everyone that you’re an athlete on a mission. You have to prove that you’re not just talk. You have to PROVE you’re willing walk to walk.
4. Encourage someone else to to go all in with you. Here is where things can start to get trickier, because you’re actually bringing someone else into the equation. It shouldn’t be too hard though. Find someone who has similar traits and passions as you do. Someone who loves the goal like you do. It is easier if this is a friend of yours, because you’ll be more comfortable with them. Even if it’s not though, encourage your teammate when they are working hard, when they make big saves, or even when they are just talking a lot. Make a point of thanking them if they help you call the ball.
5. Get Really Good. This tip is easier than it sounds, but if you can make yourself the best player on the team, people will naturally follow you more. It’s natural for people to copy what they want to become, so if you’re really good, your teammates will respect that and want to copy your behavior. (If you’re not exemplifying the positive traits we mentioned before, this is going to go really poorly!)
Encourage, Encourage, Encourage The first line of communication with your team should be positive. Let them know when they are working hard, when you like the sets, and and when you think someone made a great play. Hand out compliments like it’s candy.
6. Eventually, expect those around you to be going all-in with you You may have a hard time here, if your team is hard to deal with. If that’s the case, your coach should be able to help. If you have a normal happy team that gets along though, and you have put in a month of solid effort, day in and day out, you will begin to hold a higher level of respect with your teammates. Only at this point can you start to demand performance from those around you. You should still keep the positivity up, but now you can start encouraging people to stay focused, or to stop being silly.
I hope some of my tips have helped
Leadership is hard. The biggest thing I can recommend is that you have a goal, and that you determine the attributes you need to reach that goal. Then act on those attributes ALL THE TIME.
Too often, people will worry about what everyone else on the team is doing, but fail to recognize their own behavior. Make sure your behavior is in line with your goals for at least a month, before you even start looking at other people. (The month can start before the season if 90% of your team has been together at another time.)
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