Soccer Skills:

Picking Your Soccer Team Captain

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Michael Ballack: A solid former captain of Germany - (Photo:

Selecting the captain of a team is a very important decision and will have a direct impact on the field.  There are a couple traits you should look for as well as a few to avoid.  Also, picking a captain goes beyond simply selecting the best player; you need to find the player on your team who is the most respected, and that is a tough nut to crack, especially early in the season.

The captain needs to be one of your most talented players.  Not the very best, but he or she should be capable of managing the game and also add something to the team.  But beyond skill alone, you need to find the player who displays leadership qualities.  Leadership is the ability to tell players what to correct and do it in a way that isn’t insulting.  This player doesn’t necessarily yell the loudest or call out players’ mistakes the most, but they are the one who will go up to a player during a dead ball and give a word of suggestion.  And, if the situation calls for it, he or she will need to be able to shout a command to their teammates.  Therefore, I would say good communication skills are imperative for any team’s captain.

Another question when thinking about whom to select as captain is to determine what position is best for captains of the team.  In my opinion, the middle of the field is where the captain can be most useful.  These players are around the play more often, and can easily talk to every player on the field.  So I see the most effective captains playing either central midfield or central defense.  If your right back is captain, how often can he or she issue a command to the left forward?  Not much.  Central players not only distribute the ball to everyone, they also are close enough to communicate with everyone.

I would also shy away from naming a striker captain.  Forward players already have a tendency to demand the ball, but it comes detrimental to the team when they are captain and are supposed to receive the ball.  Last year, Arsenal named Dutch striker, Robin van Persie as captain, and although he had a remarkable season, the team finished 3rd in the English Premier League and too often relied on their captain to score every goal.  Your team needs balance, and a central captain can help achieve that.

Goalies can be captain, but the issue of placement on the pitch makes me weary.  The one plus they have is that they see the whole field from behind, though I see a center back having that luxury as well, and has more close contact with the entire pitch.

But selecting your captain is more about the person you choose than the position they play.  Are they a hothead?  Any captain with a penchant for getting angry is a very dangerous possibility and can hurt your team in the most important moments of a game.  You need someone who can remain calm and poised even if everything is going nuts on the field.  The captain is the steady beating heart on your team.

Therefore, take some time before declaring you team’s captain, and take great care to select a soccer player who not only is decently skilled, but also has the communication savvy to positively support your squad.

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Nicholas Spiller resides in LA where he dreams of musical super-stardom on his bass guitar. He also writes for and is an avid Arsenal fan!

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