What Does It Take To Be A Team Captain in Soccer?
A game of soccer consists of one group of individuals trying to out-score another group. Any standard game of 22 players involves nearly 22 different individual ambitions, personalities and characters. But, when on the pitch, each team plays with one goal in mind. Making sure a team is focused on this goal during games is one player in each team: the captain.
You will notice a team captain in soccer wearing an armband; right-footed players usually wear it on the left arm while left-footed players do the opposite. According to the Laws of the Game, a soccer captain has only two official duties: representing his team in a coin toss before a game begins to choose what end of the pitch to play from, and in case of a penalty shootout, to determine who shoots first. However, captains do much more than choosing heads or tails, and the nature of their duties means not just anybody can be team captain. The role requires certain responsibilities and expressions of character that are nearly universal in across soccer teams, in both club and national team competitions.
First, a captain has to know how to play soccer so well that he is more or less the best in his position in his team. No good soccer team has a captain who, when fit and not injured, is constantly on the substitute’s bench. As he is expected to provide leadership during games, a captain has to be one who plays regularly. It is common to see captains move on from teams when the coach deems them no longer good enough to be starting games.
A good captain embodies the team ethic, in both work and expected social behaviour. Playing a very physically demanding sport like soccer requires dedication and diligence to training routines, and taking meticulous care of oneself. Punctuality to training, keeping to prescribed diets and acting in an all-round responsible way to teammates and coaches are good features of players who are considered for and become team captains. Every successful team is built on a high level of discipline, but no player could enforce that without first being disciplined himself.
As to game strategy and team tactics, the team coach is the ultimate source of instruction and direction. But during the heat of games, a team benefits from a captain who communicates effectively. For example, when a player is out of position leaving large spaces for opponents to exploit, the captain is able to draw the erring player’s attention to the danger. This does not have to involve scolding, as that would be ineffective. To be effective, everything the captain says to teammates would have the intent and effect of making the team better, more productive and win. Importantly, effective communication is not same as saying a lot too often; short and precise work best.
One way to know a player who would be a good captain is to observe whether teammates are confident in always passing the ball to him. It shows that they trust him to handle it well. But a team captain does not have to be the most technically gifted in a team. Indeed, if teammates cannot trust the player outside the pitch, he may not be a good fit. A good candidate for captaincy is one who can be trusted to represent each player fairly before the coach, the press, to fans and to team administration, where required. Putting the interest of the team above any personal issues he may have with individuals, the captain, when he has to, speaks publicly mostly in the context that enhance instead of depress team spirit and solidarity. He doesn’t create suggestive narratives that draw suspicions of divisions, but rather projects the image of a united front.
Every sports team faces difficult times. After periods of wins, there will be low moments when nothing seems to work well for the team. It is in such periods that the best qualities of team captains shine through, revealing their mental strength. Players who make good captains do not begin to give up when the going becomes tough; they stick to the coach’s plan, toughen up for the challenge and, by their example and encouragement of teammates, help the team navigate the tough times. Sometimes, a team’s bad patch of form may come from mistakes by the team captain himself. In many cases, good captains are able to leave the mistake behind and forge on, leading the team to do better.
In essence, the role of a team captain in soccer is to provide leadership by example. There could be more than one leader in a team because it is possible for more than one player to be hugely influential. Out of these, the one who is made captain has the unique responsibility of making sure everyone in the team brings their best to the pitch every day.
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