Frontseat Captaining

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by asked_answered, Oct 18, 2011.

  1. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    I'm the captain of my club's 3.5 USTA men's team, and, although my guys give it their best when they play, we are sitting at the bottom of the standings. I knew going into this season that my team would perform at about this level, and I've been focused on making sure everyone gets match experience and has a good time, rather than worrying about our lack of wins. (We don't have a season-end championship anyway; that happens in the spring.)

    However, one guy on the team really hates losing, whether it's an individual loss or a team loss, and he's decided to start questioning my lineup decisions. I'm being polite and listening to his views, but I'm not changing my lineups. Our record isn't going to get much better by switching around lineups; we just don't have a strong enough group of core players, which he doesn't seem to understand. And a couple more team wins isn't worth having some players get shafted with less match play. If this guy gets too upset, I'll let him know that he can always find another team that suits him better.

    Is this a common issue in league play for less-than-strong teams?
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2011
    #1
  2. Mike Hodge

    Mike Hodge Rookie

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    There's always an armchair quarterback. Tell the guy he can be captain next season.
     
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  3. sphinx780

    sphinx780 Professional

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    Doesn't matter whether you're dead last or first, someone will always question your captaining at some point.
     
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  4. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Heh. I think he'd rather criticize and second-guess. Also, I don't think anyone would play for him, if he became captain.
     
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  5. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    It's probably more common with captains for dead-last teams, though. :)
     
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  6. Mike Hodge

    Mike Hodge Rookie

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    One thing I did was have a team meeting before the season outlining team expectations and goals. That way, if someone disagreed philosophically they were free to find another team with no hard feelings.

    I also tried to meet with every player individually to define their personal expectations for the season in terms of partners and playing time, etc.

    That said, there's always a smart dumba$$ no matter what you do or how well you plan.
     
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  7. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    I like the idea of a pre-season team meeting and individual chats with players. I may do that next season. Thanks!
     
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  8. Lame_Backhand

    Lame_Backhand New User

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    Captaining is not easy. Look at how we as arm chair coaches scrutinize every decision that NFL coaches make..... Hell, as a arm chair coach, I assume that I could have the Philadelphia Eagles sitting at 6-0 instead of 2-4, but........ All decisions you make will be scrutinized by your team members. :shock:

    The individual chats are very important, both before and during the season. I had a player who at our preseason meeting stated in front of the group that he did not care who he partnered with, so I assumed he really did not care, but after being beaten 6-3, 6-0 with one of the weaker players at line #3 doubles, he became very disgruntled. I finally put him back at Line #1 doubles with a good partner, and he went undefeated the rest of the way. :)
     
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  9. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    Communications is the key. You communicated your game plan very well here, have you said this to the problematic player? If so, maybe it needs to be reiterated to him, since he may not be getting it. Let all the other team players know it too so you can hopefully have some back-up support.
     
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  10. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    Thats huge to me. Every captain needs to set it out before the roster deadline to say how competitively the team is going to be run and then you need to stick with it. I explicitly say that in the biggest weeks or in the playoffs then we are going to put out the strongest lineup we can- for us that works but for other teams that would cause problems. But the biggest thing is to say it up front so that people can decide for themselves if this is the kind of team they wish to play on.
     
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  11. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Thanks for sharing that story with me, Lame_Backhand!
     
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  12. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Great idea, tennis tom! Thanks! :)
     
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  13. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    That makes perfect sense, spot. This is a club team formed by the tennis director for the members, so it's a little different from teams formed specifically to win or to be social tennis venues. But communicating captain priorities up front is still really important.
     
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  14. goober

    goober Legend

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    My first team I captained finished in a 3 way tie at the bottom. Nobody complained about lineups because we had a small team and basically played whoever was available that week. I think the issue is that even if you are at the bottom of standings and you know you are not going to go to playoffs, people still want to try to win matches.

    Unless you explicitly said in the beginning of the season, that this team is about playing everbody and winning is not going to be an issue, you cannot fault a somebody on the team for wanting to win some matches. It gets depressing week after week losing match after match. After being a long losing streak my first season, I could tell people were losing interest in the team i.e not being available to play, started having questionable lingering injury issues, or just having a more negative attitude. We ended up winning our final two matches and the team ended on a high note. That high note left many of the players wanting to return for the following season.

    At this point you may want to have a team meeting and see what the team thinks. Maybe other guys are thinking the same things as the guy complaining? Maybe not- but I would have the meeting and reach a general consensus and how the team will proceed.
     
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  15. vcat

    vcat New User

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    I'm a schizo captain....I have a little red devil sitting on one shoulder telling me to play the same guys again and again to get the win and a little white angel on the other shoulder whining that so-and-so isn't getting enough playing time. When we're playing weak teams or are ahead enough in the standings the angel wins....if not, it's the devil and of course the guilt that follows. I have unresolved issues....
     
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  16. chatt_town

    chatt_town Hall of Fame

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    I agree...there is always 1 or 2 that will armchair qb. Let him be the captain next year but if the team is that bad, then you need to go down making the decisions you want so you can at least except the heat for what you did. There is nothing worse than catching hell over a lineup that you let Billy talk you into making. The worst of it is he will be talking with the other players about how bad the lineup was and he was the one that talked you into it. If the team is that bad I'd let him coach it next season. The worst that could happen is you all win and you see a mistake or two you made. It's just Tennis...it's not someone getting diagnosed with terminal cancer.

     
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  17. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Thanks for sharing your experiences as captain and for the suggestion!
     
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  18. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Heh. Poor, ignored angel. :)
     
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  19. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Yes. It's just tennis. Thanks for the suggestions! *grin*
     
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  20. chatt_town

    chatt_town Hall of Fame

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    Of course that's the nice version...it's not exactly how I'd handle it. :)

     
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  21. fleabitten

    fleabitten Semi-Pro

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    I'd tell him that at this point the season championship is long gone and that it is more important that everyone gets to play. By the way, how is his personal record? Is he winning every match?
     
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  22. tinyman

    tinyman Rookie

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    You know, it's weird - last night, I was playing with a doubles partner, 3.5 level who was complaining that his captain was basically doing exactly that. Their team is currently in last place, and the captain knows full well that they just aren't going to climb to the top - so he pairs people up, they go play and have fun. He was complaining that the guy is new, if he paired people the right way blah blah blah blah.


    Anyways, just seemed amusing to me.
     
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  23. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    And there's no season-end championship this season anyway (only in the spring).

    He's 2-1 at Line 3 doubles.
     
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  24. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    I had a follow up email exchange with the player at issue, after sending out a "Here's my captain philosophy" email to the team, to provide him with an explanation of why I didn't think he should play Line 1 singles (where he apparently wants to play on a consistent basis), and now my wife thinks I'm being arrogant and mean. Great.
     
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  25. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    WHOA... I think I misunderstood what you were saying and now I think you probably should work with him. If the guy was saying you had to stack the lineup with the best players every week and thats not the team philosophy then thats on him. But if the team is struggling this season and he is asking to ahve a shot higher in the lineup then whats the problem? If the guys currently playing line 1 aren't winning and he wants to try it up there then thats what a more social (as opposed to competitive) team shoudl be about. Let him have his shot up at 1 and see what he can do.
     
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  26. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    No, this is a side issue. He's playing Line 1 singles this week because he asked to and there's no one who normally plays Line 1 singles available. I expect him to get eaten for lunch by his opponent. (And I expected that of any of my available players, as we're playing the strongest team in the league.) I've told him, though, that if he proves me wrong and wins, I'll be happy to change my opinion about future Line 1 singles play. :)
     
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  27. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    asked_answered,

    Being a Captain has it's ups and downs. When the team is down, many players will simply know they aren't carrying their own weight if they are getting crushed weekly. Others will question your lineups. Sometimes, the team is just one singles player away from winning a match 3-2, instead of losing it 2-3. You have a feeling right now of where you are lacking. The #3 doubles line or maybe the #2 Singles spot. Let your best players know you are looking to help the team by adding a free agent or two in the offseason.

    I inherited a team of misfits, vagabonds and hackers. The previous Captain put out lineups and we were a middle of the road bunch. Nice guy but his job and little baby didn't give him enough time to play or Captain. A few guys get bumped and then your looking around and meeting new players. Some are on other teams, but you know they can play and win.

    After our Captain left, myself and another guy co-captained a team last year and we finished in 2nd in the fall league, then lost two more players. The other guy set the lineup and recruited new players. I did the admin work. Scores, emails, etc. Spring rolls around, and three new guys approach me and want to join the team. I confer with the other co-captain. We add them reluctantly and we finish in 4th place. Those three players go 0-4 each. Two other players go 1-12. We now have five BOAT Anchors digging in the mud. :shock:

    The co-captain moved away and I then had the option of starting over or rebuilding. I choose to rebuild the team. Here's what I did.

    The two best teams in our division of ten teams (out of 30 in our league roll on to State.) Not bad for a bunch of misfits with only two sub-50 players on the team. This fall I didn't invite the three latest players back to the team. They knew why. One guy asked me if he could play again, and I was honest. I told him that I need guys who can win at #3 against 3.0 players. I showed him the NTRPs of his opponents. He and another 3.5 lost to two 3.0 players not once but twice.:sad:

    This summer I restocked the team with four of the most consistent doubles players I could find. They are all over 65. ;) One can play #1 doubles, and the others at #2 or #3 doubles. These guys are going to win 80% of their matches through teamwork and placement. I'm blessed with three strong single's players who can and do play at 4.0. One of the singles player blew out his knee, so I lost him for the season. Bummer.

    You communicated your goals and philosophy to the team. Now is the time to learn what works and doesn't. Have another team meeting to get a mid-season update. Maybe before a practice session. Then have everyone come out one night whether they are in the lineup or not and play together. Then go out together for a beer after right after the match.

    IMO, 11 to 12 is a great number for my team. 15 is way too many. I have three weak players on my team right now. All are winless so far this season.

    My strategy: pair the strongest players together at #1 Doubles, and the next best at #3. Even when I put my three remaining weak guys at #3 Doubles, they lose. They lost to 3.0s, so what is the point of playing them at #3 Doubles anymore. They don't play against stronger teams, only agains the weakest teams. My strongest players are in the lineups for the stronger teams and they are in my lineups more often. If the guys that are losing to 3.0s, and not playing as much don't like it, they know I have 8 to 10 more guys waiting to step in for them, so they don't complain. They will get four matches out of nine matches. As the Captain, I will play six matches. My best players will play 7 to 8 matches each.

    Being a Captain is a lot of technique, but communicating your goals to the team upfront and then have a mid-season update seems to help. Being in 2nd place of ten teams makes the team happier I know. But I still deal with the weaker players who want t to play with the strongest players. Here's how I solved that dilema.

    In order to show my guys how they are doing against each other, I made each of them join Tencap and then had mandatory practices. I recorded all the doubles score into Tencap of our team playing against our team. We had four practices where we had 8 to 12 guys per practice and we all played three sets per practice. The weaker guys got paired with the strongest guys most of the time and middle of the road guys other times. By doing this, my weaker players couldn't claim, I was playing with so and so, and he sucks. I never paired the strongest players with each other. The results would have been bagels. I have the stats on Tencap website. All my players seem to like Tencap except for one. When these guys know the scores are going in Tencap, they play to win, as they know it determined how much they played this fall and who they played with. This strategy has worked for me and my team seems to have responded. Hope this helps you.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2011
    #27
  28. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    Thanks very much for sharing your captain experiences, g4driver! I'm going to think about how best to implement some of what you've done for your team.
     
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  29. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I . . . um . . .

    I guess I don't understand this.

    If the guy wants to play No. 1 singles and no one else either wants it or can win, then why burst his balloon with the vote of no-confidence?

    Sometimes I will have a player who complains that we don't win more. If possible, I will respond to this by putting them on the highest court against the toughest teams.

    In this way, they can show us all how it's done. :)
     
    #29
  30. asked_answered

    asked_answered Rookie

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    *grin* Yes, and I realized that would be a good way to handle the issue, so I stuck him at Line 1 singles, and he lost in a match that wasn't close. (I'm considering having him play at Line 2 singles from now on, though, as that would make everyone happier to have him playing by himself.)
     
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