Sunday, October 4, 2009


It was interesting last night while watching the Arkansas-Texas A&M football game, that ESPN mentioned "The Team Captain's Leadership Manual" by Jeff Janssen. It's an outstanding book that has been a part of our Lady Tiger program for many years, having been written in 2004. It is a great book in that it has crossover appeal for athletes in any sport on any level. It goes into great detail on the many areas of leadership for student-athletes as well as how coaches can help develop those traits. It is complete with worksheets as well.

Here is but a very small sample of some of the things that Jeff shares in helping us develop leaders/captains:

Being a leader is a big privilege, challenge, and responsibility. To do your job effectively, you must bring out the best in your teammates and be able to deal with them when they are at their worst. Your success depends on your ability to develop and master the Six “R’s” of Respected Team Leaders. As you read through them below, honestly evaluate yourself on how well you fulfill each of the six important responsibilities.

All leadership begins with self leadership. People will respect you as a leader only if you can walk your own talk and lead yourself effectively. You must model the commitment and work ethic you expect from your teammates. You must have confidence that you can achieve your team’s goals. You must maintain your composure when the inevitable storms of adversity strike. And you must do the right thing even when it isn’t the popular or convenient choice to make. You must continually model the attitudes and actions you want to see from your teammates.

As a team leader, you must frequently remind your teammates about what is important - your common goal, your game plan, going to class, and making smart choices. Remind your teammates that all of the commitments and sacrifices they are making now are really investments in your team’s success and their future. Remind them that the time they spend practicing, studying, getting involved in internships, and doing community service will pay off immeasurably in the long run.

You’ll also spend a lot of time reinforcing the positive strides your teammates make. Be sure to compliment them often to build their confidence and fuel a positive momentum and environment on your team. It’s surprising how fragile confidence can be for some of your teammates. It’s amazing what a simple word of encouragement can do for them coming from you. As Mother Teresa once said, “Kind words are short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” Acknowledge and appreciate your teammates often as a way to reinforce the positive things they do.

Because there are so many obstacles, setbacks, and adversities involved in every season and school year, you will need to reassure your teammates when they feel nervous, scared, frustrated, helpless, and hopeless. Give them a sense of hope and optimism even if your team has lost three in a row. Let them know with the right amount of rehab and rest that they can recover from that frustrating injury. As your mom once told you, you need to reassure your teammates that the sun will come up tomorrow.

Your teammates will get distracted often over their careers. With the countless temptations and distractions available to college student-athletes like alcohol, computer games, parties, television, cell phones, gambling, etc., it’s no wonder that some people lose their focus. It is easy for your teammates to get their priorities out of whack. A leader’s primary job is to establish a vision for the team and then continually refocus the team back on the vision when they get distracted. Put simply, your job is to keep “the main thing” the main thing. For their sakes and yours, help your teammates refocus back on to what’s important when they begin to stray athletically, academically, and socially.

Last but not least, you must be willing to constructively confront and reprimand your teammates when necessary. You must hold them accountable to live up to and maintain your team’s and athletic department’s rules and standards. Confronting your less disciplined teammates is often an uncomfortable and sometimes scary task for most student-athlete leaders but one that must be done if your team and athletic department are going to be successful. Part of being a leader is getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. You must have the courage to constructively confront your teammates who aren’t willing to do the right thing. You may not be liked all the time when you hold your teammates accountable, but you will be respected, which is much more important anyway.

Find out a lot more about Jeff at:

You can also sign up a few newsletter at this site while looking at all the other means he has available to help us as coaches