Captain experiences: the good and the bad!
Since this is a place we talk about USTA league, I would like to start a topic for all the captains out there. What is your experiences as a captain? Both good and bad stories that you can share!
I'm a noob compared to a lot of other players on this forum but already have enough stories to fill up a couple of 12-pack bags. :D
I started league play in '04 on a 3.0 Adult team after a long hiatus from the courts.
Since then, I've played on 11 teams and captained or co-captained 6.
(3.0, 3.5, 4.0 Adult; 6.0 Mixed; 5.5, 6.5, 7.5 Combo)
I'll play on 2-3 Mixed teams this summer (6, 7, & 8 if they'll have me); and 6.5, 7.5 Combo in the fall.
Of the last 11 teams, we finally won our area in our 6.5 Combo last fall and went on to sweep districts. We later got smoked in sectionals, but I'll save that story for Rants & Raves.
Right now we're finishing up our 14-match 3.5 Adult league where the team is 11-1 and looks to take 1st place (I think we may already have clinched our spot to go to districts).
So after being one, and seeing how a lot of others do it...what have I found to be the best attributes in a good captain?
1. Be organized!
Divide the season into 3 parts (pre- season, season, & post-season). And think of all the things that need to be accomplished in each part. Also, in-season, think about what has to happen before, during, and after each match. And just get it done, When you don't procrastinate or leave things undone it leaves you time to be a player too.
Example: I don't want to be collecting everybody's court fees before each match...that cuts into my warm-up time. So I estimate what everyone's fees will be over the whole season and collect that from the players early in the year. Then I just cut a check to the facility when I arrive on match day. No hassles.
2. Be a good communicator.
The more transparent the workings of how you run the team, the better the players feel and react.
For me, and the players that sign up with me, this is competitive tennis. We get all sorts of other things out of it...we really do..from friendship to physical exercise, to bragging rights, all of it. I think I get people around me who just really enjoy the game and the league format...It's a great thing.
Example: Going into it, we all know we'll all get to play pretty equally (7-11 matches each this season). We also know, that when push comes to shove in a tight race, the players currently playing their best will be put out on court. We all know it up front, no hurt feelings. The team wins, we ALL advance.
I am SO lucky this season, there are some stellar players here who I'm fortunate enough to have as friends and teammates. I haven't reshuffled the roster once. Now, substitutions due to work, etc...that happens a lot and that's where good communication pays off again.
Anyway, long post. Probably more noise than signal.
Good thread max81', I hope a lot of folks chime in.
I captained a 2.5 team of total noobs. The next season, I played on someone else's 3.0 team. I didn't like it, so I captained a 5.5 combo team in the fall and then a 6.5 team for the winter. Now I'm captaining a 3.0 team.
I'm one of those people who just needs to be the captain, I guess. When I am on other people's teams, I sometimes find myself wondering what on earth is happening. It's unclear what the team policies are, how and why decisions are made, etc. It's frustrating, so I captain.
I have found captaining not to be too difficult if you have decent people skills. I try to be fair and clear, and the rest tends to work itself out. No drama so far.
The hardest part is dealing with players who "lobby" me for this or that partner because they want to play with a strong partner. I'm not a fan of putting weak players with strong ones, and I think this approach doesn't win me any fans among the weaker players. Hey, everybody can't play with the star player, right?
The other thing I am noticing is that some of my veteran players are struggling with the idea that they need to be the leaders of their doubles team. They need to get more aggressive, carry their partners more, encourage their partners, position perfectly. The veterans on my team are good enough to win more, I think, but they need to get out of their comfort zone (read: baseline) and make things happen.
Stories? Nah, nothing special. I guess that's a good thing, no? :)
first year captaining a 4.5 team.
Not to nad right now, it is tough to make decisions and dealing with some of the other captains can be difficult. So far not to bad, so complaints yet.
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