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jfranzet
02-01-2010, 11:59 AM
I am captaining a 3.5 Men's Team for the first time. I have played on teams for the past few years but never captained.

Does anyone have any links or resources they can share or point me to in regards to strategy for court assignment or other general tips that would benefit someone in my position?

Thanks!

spot
02-01-2010, 12:06 PM
First rule of beign captain is to make sure you have everyone's cell phones in your phone. (this seems obvious but I am shocked how many mess this up)

Second is to express to everyone UP FRONT what kind of team you want. You need to do this before the season starts. If its a competitive team where you are trying to make a run in the playoffs then tell people that so the lower lines can expect to play less. If its a more social team where everyone is goign to play the same amount then tell them that.

You cannot make everyone happy. You have to take all the competing interests in and make the decision thats best for hte team as a whole and then be willing to explain to people why you made your decision.

Sit yourself the first week. unless you are one of the best players on the roster and you would be screwing your team to sit, I highly recommend sitting the first week. It makes it BRUTALLY tough for people to complain about playing time when you sat yourself and it will eliminate people thinking you put your own self interest above that of the team.

Cindysphinx
02-01-2010, 12:27 PM
In addition to Spot's excellent points . . . .

**Remember that the more e-mail you send, the more the players will ignore your e-mails.** That means you should set yourself up with TennisOne or Google spreadsheets or *something.*

I recommend getting a clean start. Taking 10 minutes to get organized now will save you a ton of time later. I have a notebook. In it, I have tabs for the rules, the contact information, scoresheets, and the season schedule/line-ups. No sense running around to assemble this stuff more than once.

If your team is like mine in that matches are scheduled at all sorts of days and times of the week, I strongly recommend sending out match reminders two days before each match and insisting on a confirmation. You haven't lived until it is 10 minutes before a match and you get the missing player on the phone only to hear, "Oh, I'm playing today? Why didn't someone remind me?!"

Get paid once and up front. Ask everyone to send you a check for more than they will likely owe so that you can give refunds at the end of the season. It is difficult to get some players to put a crowbar in their wallets more than once per season, so try to avoid collecting money for each match. I know captains who came up $100 plus short because players forget to pay again and again.

Cindysphinx
02-01-2010, 12:29 PM
One more quick one:

Target your e-mail. If four people owe you money, send a note to those four people. If six people are in the line-up, send the match reminder to those six people.

And if folks start hitting "Reply All" and typing things like, "OK, I can play March 1, but my boyfriend might be coming into town and I have to take my cat to the vet also," please tell that player to lay off of the "Reply All" button.

OrangePower
02-01-2010, 12:34 PM
+1 to everything spot said.

Communicate well and often. Make sure you get availability information from people as early as you can. You will need to prod some people to be responsive to you. Try to set and communicate your lineups as early each week as you can. Depending on the people on your team, you might also want to email reminders later in the week. Don't assume that everyone is as well-organized as you are. Despite your best efforts, you will likely at least at some time during the season have a player show up late, at the wrong place, or not at all.

Speaking of which, another reason for sitting yourself out the first week or two is that you can fill in for anyone who doesn't show up. Not that you expect this to happen, but the first few weeks could be a learning process for all involved.

Regarding lineup, don't hesitate to ask members of your team what they think, but don't feel obligated to do as they ask - remember that at the end of the day these are your decisions to make. I'm always chatting with members of my team to get their input on who they want to partner with (for those that don't have established parterships), where to put them in the lineup, where they think others should be in the lineup, etc. All this factors into my decisions but you will find that people will have conflicting ideas.

Regarding strategy, it depends on what your goals are for the season, and how people on the team will react to court assignments. If you are a new captain, I would not advise trying to predict what other teams are going to do and trying to stack against that. Its hard to get right and you will always be second guessing yourself. Instead I would recommend either playing it straight (best players on court 1), or doing random court assignments. Whatever you think your team members would be most comfortable with.

EDIT: Guess Cindy was typing her response at the same time as me - didn't see her post when I was answering. +1 to what Cindy said also.

Blade0324
02-01-2010, 12:46 PM
Great ideas so far. I'll add what I have found.

Make sure that you not only have all team members phone# in your phone but also make sure that all players have each others phone #'s and email addresses. I put together a master list, print it out and distribute it before the start of the season.

Put out a list of match dates for the entire season and request that all players get back to you with dates they CANNOT play. This will help you in scheduling.

Put out a list of who is playing on what dates to the whole team before the season starts. Just because you do this you still need to confirm the lineup a couple days before each match.

Let everyone know up front what the cost per player will be and ask for a volunteer to do food and drinks. Include $15 per person per match to the cost to cover food and drinks and also enough for balls for all courts for your home matches. Once you get money from everyone (I have never had a problem with this) you can then buy balls for the season etc. and have your food and beverage person get the money from you and do whatever shopping they need to (most will go buy stuff in bulk) that way there is more every match for the money invested.

I also have found that you only send reminders to those that are playing the upcoming match. However I always send out a recap of scores etc. to the entire team following the match so that people that didn't play know the outcome.

Cindysphinx
02-01-2010, 02:06 PM
Yeah, regarding availability . . . .

Of all the problems I have encountered as a captain and as a player on someone else's team, availability is the most weird. There are a lot of people -- a lot! -- who simply will not tell you when they can play.

After pulling out my hair in clumps over this, I finally went to the bizarro system I currently use. We (1) split match play time equally, (2) we split total season court time fees equally, and (3) you are assumed to be available unless you state otherwise.

These rules fit together well. The players who want to keep their unavailability a secret are assumed to be available and are put into the line-up. If the player can't play and I get a sub, that match counts as one of their matches and the sub plays for free. If this happens 4 times, the player will have paid for 4 matches and played 0 matches. Nobody likes that.

Only when I started doing this did I get better responsiveness about availability. Don't get me wrong. Most of my players are delightful and responsive and wonderful in every way. But it just takes one or two who won't declare their availability to hold everybody hostage. And believe you me, I have seen some captains yanked around pretty good by players with Secret Availability . . .

spot
02-01-2010, 02:38 PM
This doesn't necessarily belong in this list- but for teams that have practices I highly recommend yarp for tracking who is going to be there.

www.yarp.com Its like an evite but SIMPLE. you just write your normal email and put the link in there.Everyone can see who else is attending without people's inbox being flooded with responses. Here's an example. http://yarp.com/547be660cde6 I send at least one or two of these out a week organizing tennis for my group.

spot
02-01-2010, 02:39 PM
Wow cindy- you are the opposite of me. I charge everyone equally but I assume everyone is NOT available until they tell me otherwise. When someone sits the first couple weeks and they want to know why- if I tell them that its because I didn't know they were available and then you can be sure they'll log on and put their info in. But for me- I don't try and make everyone play the exact same number of times. If they aren't listing themselves as available then its their loss.

kylebarendrick
02-01-2010, 02:42 PM
I take the opposite approach for availability. You are assumed to be unavailable until you tell me otherwise.

Edit: Spot beat me to it. +1 to them.

spot
02-01-2010, 02:44 PM
Put out a list of who is playing on what dates to the whole team before the season starts. Just because you do this you still need to confirm the lineup a couple days before each match.

Let everyone know up front what the cost per player will be and ask for a volunteer to do food and drinks. Include $15 per person per match to the cost to cover food and drinks and also enough for balls for all courts for your home matches. Once you get money from everyone (I have never had a problem with this) you can then buy balls for the season etc. and have your food and beverage person get the money from you and do whatever shopping they need to (most will go buy stuff in bulk) that way there is more every match for the money invested.

Wow- totally not how I do this. We put our lineups out just a few days before the match. Maybe this changes once you ahve kids and your schedule is more set but our team would have NO CLUE what their availability is 2 weeks out let alone before the season starts.

Its never been a problem to have people bring balls for the matches. And with food we assign different people in the lineup to bring something different. In Atlanta we have 10 people in the lineup so that adds up to quite a bit of food.

athiker
02-01-2010, 03:16 PM
I agree with comments re: using email as sparsely as possible. I was guilty of being email happy last year. It is a great form of communication but has two problems.

1) You often don't know if the recipient has seen/read it. Even if you use a receipt it may have been opened by a spouse or kid.

2) Many list their business email addresses. They are swamped as it is with business emails and the last thing they need is an ongoing chat between a dozen team members back and forth. They are not going to sift through to find the important information.

A corollary to this is while most everyone has an email address these days not everyone is tied to a desk to check it often, or use it frequently in the rest of their life. This is especially true of some of the older team members. I asked all team members how they prefer to be contacted. A phone call is quick and easy for me, and it helps to know they don't mind if I call them at work.

However, I love the system Spot & Kyle mentioned above about you are assumed unavailable until you notify me you are available! In future I will state this to all team members at the beginning of the season. They can do that by phone, email or website. I was probably overly concerned with evening things out last year, but it worked out okay.

Due to work travel by members we scheduled lineups only 1 to 2 weeks in advance for the most part. I used an open Google spreadsheet for members to update availability and to see who had played when but it was mostly updated by me after receipt of emails stating availability. I did have everyone fill out their name on the spreadsheet at the beginning of the season for all matches: Yes, No, Maybe so I had a general idea of what to expect from each.

OrangePower
02-01-2010, 03:32 PM
Wow- totally not how I do this. We put our lineups out just a few days before the match. Maybe this changes once you ahve kids and your schedule is more set but our team would have NO CLUE what their availability is 2 weeks out let alone before the season starts.

Its never been a problem to have people bring balls for the matches. And with food we assign different people in the lineup to bring something different. In Atlanta we have 10 people in the lineup so that adds up to quite a bit of food.

The way I do it:

(Disclaimer: I'm in Norcal and the Norcal website includes some team management tools specific to Norcal, that allow players to indicate availability for each match in the season, and allows captains to indicate lineups. But I know there are similar tools out there that others use in the same manner, so the principle holds true.)

1. I ask everyone to enter in their availability for at least the next few weeks, and preferably the entire season, to the best of their knowledge. If they don't know about a particular week, one of the choices is 'maybe'. It is their responsibility to keep this information updated through the course of the season.

2. I use this information for planning purposes, so that I can have a rough idea of who I'm going to play when, to make sure I can give everyone enough matches. But I don't set actual lineups in advance, since things are still subject to change.

3. Our matches are usually on the weekend. I usually set the lineup on the Monday, or Tuesday at the latest. I rely on the latest availability information provided online by the team. I choose only players that have indicated that they are available for that coming week. If you have not updated your status to available, you don't get to play that week - simple as that.

4. I ask everyone in the lineup to confirm by the Weds at the latest. I need confirmation because there have been a couple of cases where people indicated that they are available, but in fact were not (and just neglected to update the site to that effect). If you don't confirm in time, you are replaced in the lineup.

Balls: I supply the balls for home matches (or if I'm not going to be there I give the balls to someone else to bring). Part of the team fee goes towards buying a case of balls that we use for matches and practices.

Food: When I set the lineup for home matches, I also indicate who should bring what. Typically I have 2 guys bringing beer, 2 bringing soda/juice/bottled water, 3 bringing a food item, and 1 bringing fruit.

Cindysphinx
02-01-2010, 04:06 PM
I take the opposite approach for availability. You are assumed to be unavailable until you tell me otherwise.

Edit: Spot beat me to it. +1 to them.

It is possible to do it that way, of course.

The reason why I do it the reverse way is I can't do a line-up if I only have four people who have listed themselves as available. I am stuck, held hostage, waiting for folks to consult their calendars. Even if I have six warm bodies, I may not have the right warm bodies for that opponent.

If on the other hand I assume folks are available unless they say otherwise, then I can do a line-up just fine. If the players who failed to consult their calendars find that they can play in the match I assumed they could play, it is a win-win. If they find they cannot play, they will pay $17 for an alternate to play (and will probably be more responsive about availability next time around).

It's harsh, but it is the only thing that has worked.

Cindysphinx
02-01-2010, 04:17 PM
Wow cindy- you are the opposite of me. I charge everyone equally but I assume everyone is NOT available until they tell me otherwise. When someone sits the first couple weeks and they want to know why- if I tell them that its because I didn't know they were available and then you can be sure they'll log on and put their info in. But for me- I don't try and make everyone play the exact same number of times. If they aren't listing themselves as available then its their loss.

Spot, I experienced some weirdness after a few seasons. Initially, everyone was gung ho for team tennis. As the seasons went by, personal circumstances changed. People went back to work, got divorced, had work travel, joined too many teams. I started having players register for the team but never becoming available to play. They did this for the obvious reason that if they dropped out there might not be room on the roster for them to return later. They were just a placeholder.

I actually started having trouble getting these part-time players into the line-up. Worse, some started cherry-picking: Listing themselves as unavailable for all but the best times and best locations, which isn't fair to the other players. Or they would be a weak player but would list themselves as unavailable for weak teams but available for strong teams.

The current system (you pay court fees even if you don't play) has helped with that. It is too expensive to pay registration fees plus court fees just to hold your place on the roster.

alice301
02-01-2010, 05:25 PM
have a co-captain. i handle the operations & communications, and my co-captain handles the interpersonal relations. i wouldn't have been able to captain by myself, and so far, it's been working out great...

spot
02-02-2010, 06:46 AM
Yeah Cindy- for our teams we have the opposite problem where people want to play every week and the toughest thing about being captain is sitting people who want to play. So for us someone not putting their availability in is doing me a huge favor. If I need them to make the lineup work then I can contact them and find out if they can play. If I don't need them then I can just sit them and not feel the least bit guilty about it.

Cindysphinx
02-02-2010, 06:50 AM
Man, I wish I had that problem. I have a match Saturday (night before Valentine's Day) with only seven people available out of 17.

heninfan99
02-02-2010, 07:39 AM
I 2nd that Google Spread Sheet is AMAZING for scheduling, availability (which players can edit themselves), locations and contact info.

I find that fewer people = fewer problems with captaining tasks. For ex. I bring the food when we host. It's just easier. The least number variables is how I do everything.

The better the post-match food the more quickly your team will get over a loss!

I just buy a seasons' worth of balls when I spot a deal and then collect $$ later.

I had one bad apple on my team. It happens. He wanted to play singles according to his own whims & sched and he wasn't a top player on our team. He eventually left on his own which was great for the team.

I do give my one great player special treatment. I let him pick singles or doubles every week but I choose the court he plays on.

tom10s
02-02-2010, 07:58 AM
rule #1: keep your star players happy :)

rule #2: don't forget rule #1

tom10s
02-02-2010, 08:06 AM
Posting a schedule with lineups for the entire season is beyond insipid imo. That schedule is worthless hours after it is composed because of the dozens of changes that will promptly ensue. So after the umpteenth edit who knows what is the "real" schedule and which is outdated? Creates unnecessary confusion.

Also, a good captain is flexible....who is playing worse than expected....who is playing better than expected....what doubles partners have "chemistry"...which don't despite both being "good"....who is your opponent for any particular match....myriad DYNAMIC factors that go into making lineups that can change as season progresses.

Cindysphinx
02-02-2010, 12:02 PM
^Yeah, I agree that doing a full 12-week's season's line-up up front is not a good idea. It makes it harder to adjust and it eventually becomes meaningless. Say you put two people together and one doesn't like the pairing. It's awkward to try to change once you've committed the line-ups to it.

And the more you change your line-ups, the greater the chance that a ball will get dropped.

I schedule 3-4 weeks ahead. That's enough notice that players can plan, but flexible enough to account for things like the competitive situation later in the season.

I don't like it at all when captains issue line-ups less than a week before a match. I don't know how captains can stand constantly fiddling with line-ups every week. It would drive me nuts.

Tina
02-02-2010, 12:07 PM
Hey Cindy, Are you a pro?

Cindysphinx
02-02-2010, 12:08 PM
A pro?

I'm a professional slacker, if that's what you mean.

Tina
02-02-2010, 12:09 PM
Are you a professional tennis player, Cindy.

tom10s
02-02-2010, 12:20 PM
I don't like it at all when captains issue line-ups less than a week before a match. I don't know how captains can stand constantly fiddling with line-ups every week. It would drive me nuts.

I spend a great deal of time on lineups because that is where a captain can add a lot deal of value for the team. It is the intellectual part of captaining that is frankly the most enjoyable aspect of the otherwise mundane tasks. I only email next match's lineup AFTER the current match is finished. So team only gets ONE email from me detailing the next match date/time/lineup. Actually text messages turning out to be much easier and more reliable means for communication these days.

Cindysphinx
02-02-2010, 12:24 PM
Are you a professional tennis player, Cindy.

Goodness no.

I am a 3.5 player who started playing in 2004.

snowpuppy
02-02-2010, 01:20 PM
have a co-captain. i handle the operations & communications, and my co-captain handles the interpersonal relations. i wouldn't have been able to captain by myself, and so far, it's been working out great...

Just make sure you jobs and team communication don't overlap. Otherwise you team might be getting mixed messages from captains.


Posting a schedule with lineups for the entire season is beyond insipid imo. That schedule is worthless hours after it is composed because of the dozens of changes that will promptly ensue. So after the umpteenth edit who knows what is the "real" schedule and which is outdated? Creates unnecessary confusion.

Also, a good captain is flexible....who is playing worse than expected....who is playing better than expected....what doubles partners have "chemistry"...which don't despite both being "good"....who is your opponent for any particular match....myriad DYNAMIC factors that go into making lineups that can change as season progresses.

I'm actually for creating an lineup in the beginning. I know its a pain in the butt but at least it gives you a frame of reference to go by. Especially if you have team members that can give you availabilities up front. You can still be flexible and change things around but the bulk of the work is done. You won't have to worry about who can play, who paid for what, and reimbursing people for paying too much later on.

Tina
02-02-2010, 01:28 PM
Goodness no.

I am a 3.5 player who started playing in 2004.

You are a professional player for me though. I am a 0.0 player ^_^. I just started playing in Jan, 2010.

spot
02-02-2010, 01:32 PM
I think that the captains who try and play everyone equally see the benefit of doing a schedule far in advance. For my teams we never have set that as a goal so for us leaving the flexibility is more important.

Spokewench
02-02-2010, 03:42 PM
I absolutely schedule my whole league schedule at the beginning; if I do not, I will never have enough people to play the matches! Usually, I'm lucky if I have the correct number to play on any given weekend. If I don't tell them when they are playing at the beginning the gals in this town will just schedule something on the weekend and say oh, I have somethign else to do or I'm out of town or something. Sometimes they do this anyway even if they are committed and on the schedule to play. Not a whole lot of commitment to the team so I work around it! What can you do? I haven't figured out how to make these people more committed so I work with what I have.

It's unlike any other team sport I have ever been involved in!

spoke

Cindysphinx
02-02-2010, 04:02 PM
You are a professional player for me though. I am a 0.0 player ^_^. I just started playing in Jan, 2010.

That's really nice of you to say!

Can I coax you into starting a new thread and telling us The Whole Story? How did you start and why? How's it going? Are you addicted (yet)?

It would be easy to think of a snazzy title for this thread. "The Trials, Tribulations and Triumphs of Tina!" Heck, it might need its own discussion board. :)

Cindysphinx
02-02-2010, 04:05 PM
I absolutely schedule my whole league schedule at the beginning; if I do not, I will never have enough people to play the matches!

Yeah, at times I feel like I am putting together a Rubick's cube. Gotta get everyone 4-5 matches, gotta get them on the nights for which they are available, gotta get the right people partnered, gotta keep oil players separate from the water players, gotta get the strongest people against the strongest teams.

If I scheduled the whole season, I could never make it work. Same thing if I waited to schedule one week at a time. So I strike a compromise of 3-4 weeks ahead.

There's no perfect way to do it; we can agree on that!

Tina
02-03-2010, 04:34 PM
That's really nice of you to say!

Can I coax you into starting a new thread and telling us The Whole Story? How did you start and why? How's it going? Are you addicted (yet)?

It would be easy to think of a snazzy title for this thread. "The Trials, Tribulations and Triumphs of Tina!" Heck, it might need its own discussion board. :)

Dear Cindy,

I am a follower and a bit shy :oops: . I think I am addicted to TW message board now. You are all amazing to me!!!

I found this website while I was looking for Xmas gifts. I was very curious about this sport after reading Samester's thread ( A competition in Nashville TN). Maybe, God has a plan for me to quit the gym. I started the first lesson with a coach in Jan until now. I really enjoy learning to play tennis:)

I caught a cold after my first insufficient performance on the court last Thursday. I can't wait to hit some balls soon with a new arrival racket -Prince Shark Oversize.

Have a great evening!


-Tina

Cindysphinx
02-04-2010, 08:29 AM
Gyms. Blech. I've never been able to spend more than a few minutes in the place.

You'll love tennis. I wish I had started playing much earlier, but these last few years have been a blast.

sureshs
02-04-2010, 09:21 AM
Hey Cindy, Are you a pro?

You are a professional player for me though. I am a 0.0 player ^_^. I just started playing in Jan, 2010.

Dear Cindy,

I am a follower and a bit shy :oops: . I think I am addicted to TW message board now. You are all amazing to me!!!
-Tina

Cindy is the GOAT. She has a fan following now!

Joeyg
02-04-2010, 09:55 AM
Tina,

Is there any chance that you are a "hot, smelly, blonde"? Because if so, we have a poster with over 14,000 posts here who may be just the guy you are looking for!

Tina
02-06-2010, 08:19 PM
Tina,

Is there any chance that you are a "hot, smelly, blonde"? Because if so, we have a poster with over 14,000 posts here who may be just the guy you are looking for!

How dare you ask me this question;), Joeyg8? I am a ugly, very smelly, and un-blonde woman. Best, Tina