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Choose Wisely: The Role of Captains on Your Team

February 14, 2014    17691 Views

David Jacobson | @positivecoachus

The Role of Captains

Related: Sample Parent-Guardian Meeting Agenda

While preparing for the high school lacrosse season, give some thought to the role of captains on your team. When considering the role of captains on your team, you’ll want to consider three main topics:

  • Criteria used to select captains
  • Specific responsibilities captains are given
  • Establishing and maintaining your program’s culture

All are important considerations that can help you succeed in the short- and long-term, on the field and beyond.


Rather than simply awarding the title of captain to your best performer, Positive Coaching Alliance recommends that captains be “Triple-Impact Competitors,” who are committed to improving themselves, their teammates and the game as a whole. Introduce the concept of the Triple-Impact Competitor during tryouts and preseason so that players understand the basis on which you will select captains.

In addition to helping you identify captains, this will inspire players who aspire to captaincy to suddenly pay a bit more attention to helping their teammates. As you might expect, this will improve individual and team performance and can reinforce a strong team culture, which carries rewards far beyond the playing field.

Once you have identified your Triple-Impact Competitors, other determining factors could include:

  • Who works the hardest in preseason
  • Who goes above and beyond your expectations in terms of improving self, teammates or game
  • Who might contribute even more to your team due to the psychological boost of being named captain


Captains should complement coaches as arbiters of team culture. Sometimes, they may help you focus players’ attention when it wanders. Other times, they may represent players’ points of view on game strategy, practice plans or how to ensure that all players stay aligned toward team goals.

Each coach must find his or her own comfort level with the captain’s level of authority among teammates and take care to understand and cultivate the appropriate level of respect teammates afford to captains. With the right balance, coaches can keep a finger on the pulse of the team through the captains, and captains can voice the players’ divergent ideas to coaches without undermining the coaches’ authority.

Captains also can lead in a variety of routine ways, such as:

  • Leading stretching, warm-up or cool-down sessions
  • Communicating with officials
  • Organizing off-field activities
  • Finding ways to include teammates who are less integrated into the team
  • Helping settle disagreements among teammates
  • Assigning other routine tasks, such as carrying equipment or preparing practice fields, making sure to take their turn in leading by example.

Establishing and Maintaining Your Program’s Culture

Choosing the right captains and charging them with appropriate responsibilities sets them up not only as team leaders, but also as exemplars for your program.

They can proudly represent your team in the broader community, such as in booster clubs or with school or district administrators. They can visit the youth lacrosse organizations that feed your school and encourage younger players to continue working on their games so they can play for your school team. They can return after graduating to share inspiring stories of the past with their successors who are carrying forward the established values, traditions and culture of your program.

What other criteria do you use to select captains? Leave a suggestion in the comments section.

Photo Credit: Scott McCall

Positive Coaching Alliance

To learn more about how the US Lacrosse-PCA national partnership benefits your organization, visit our partner page or contact PCA at (866) 725-0024 or

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