Have you had any thoughts of becoming a team captain this season? Maybe you’re a returning team captain or just simply want to be a better leader. Whatever situation you find yourself in this season, you can always improve your leadership skills and abilities. Just so you know, you don’t need a title to be a great leader. No matter what position you play this season you can practice and develop leadership qualities that will definitely contribute to your team’s success.
Being a great leader doesn’t happen on accident. Leadership ability takes practice and commitment! Here are a few leadership skills to practice, as you get ready for this season:
1. Lead yourself first
A great leader knows how to lead her/himself before they lead others. That means you’re serious about your own self-discipline on and off the court. You’re taking care of assignments in the classroom. You’re pushing yourself outside your comfort zone at practice everyday and constantly trying to improve. You want to lead yourself the way you want others to be led. Your coaches and teammates want to trust that you are doing all the things you are encouraging your team to do. Proving your ability to lead yourself the right way builds trust between you and your teammates. Also, make sure there is nothing in your personal life on and off the court that could jeopardize your position as a leader or team captain. Stay focused and stay away from people and places that could get you in trouble.
Great leaders are great relationship builders. How can you properly lead your team if you don’t know your teammates
on an individual level? You want to make a point to connect with each teammate on and off the court. This will take effort. You don’t click with everyone right away and there are some teammates you will naturally like more than others. That’s normal, but great leaders go the extra mile to connect with everyone. Before each practice make it your goal to connect and motivate a specific teammate that you don’t spend as much time with off the court. Stand next to them in warm up lines or compete against them during drills. The closer you are with your teammates the easier it will be for you to understand their communication styles and what motivates them to compete at their best.
3.Know your leadership style and accept others
It’s important to understand that everyone has a different leadership style. You might find yourself frustrated because someone on your team doesn’t communicate or lead the way you do. Every player has different personalities, roles, experience levels, and strengths. Each team has a vocal leader, a lead by example leader, the optimistic leader, the logic based leader, the X’s and O’s leader, the classroom leader, the energy filled leader, etc. Your goal should be to figure out how to best work with other types of leaders and grow in your ability to be flexible in your style. The vocal leader has to figure out how to work along side a lead by example leader. It’s not easy figuring this out, but it is worth the effort if you want a successful team.
4. Be positive
As mentioned above, not everyone is going to be the optimistic player all the time. When the game gets intense or when the team loses several games in a row, being positive doesn’t come easy. Throughout a season everyone on your team will experience fear and doubt depending on situations. However, as a leader your team will follow your attitude. Be the leader that encourages your teammates to stay positive even when the season gets hard. During games and practices, as a leader you have to be able to control your emotions when situations get tense. A team captain sets the tone for the team and has the influence to help keep their teammates focused. Your teammates will watch how you respond to adversity and how you act in pressure situations. Show them how it’s done.
5. Be real
People would rather connect with a leader that is always real than a leader that is always right. When you’re wrong or make a mistake make sure you own up to it. Your teammates and coaches will respect your maturity and humility. Great leaders use failure as feedback to be better. The title of being a captain doesn’t necessarily mean that you are far more talented than your teammates. Remain humble and work as hard to be a great teammate as you do to be a great player.
6.Hold teammates accountable
Your coach has probably already told you this plenty of times. Great leaders know how to do this the right way. Many captains and leaders make the mistake of taking too much of an authoritative role with their teammates. Your team may respond by being less open and honest with you on and off the court. The best teams hold one another to a standard instead of rules. You want to encourage your teammates to be individuals with good character, good work ethic, and integrity. If the team standard is performance excellence, how can you help your teammates pursue excellence on and off the court? Great leaders will correct you and tell you the truth, but they will love you to death. Ultimately, realize that you won’t always be the popular one or the most liked. Leading a team means being the “bad guy” at times for the betterment of the team. Holding teammates accountable will become easier as you build genuine relationships and show them you know how to lead yourself first. In addition, learn how to confront and resolve issues with your teammates in healthy ways before going to your coach right away.
Being a leader and/or team captain is a great privilege and shouldn’t be taken for granted. It won’t be easy but enjoy the process and always look for ways to develop your leadership skills even further. Knowing how to lead the right way will be skills you take with you beyond basketball!
Contact Coach Brittany if you want to work 1 on 1 with a mental performance coach and learn more ways to better your leadership skills and improve your mental game this season!