Advice: First Time League Captain

chic

Professional
I'm likely going to be a league captain (as long as we can get 8 people in men's 4.0). I've only played one combo league in my life so I'm just looking for any advice on things that may not be obvious which will fall under my purview.

I've read a couple threads about the struggle of managing egos or having people have to sit. I'm less concerned about that given my general exp as a part of teams and the likelihood I have too few rather than too many players.

I'm also curious if people ever get flack for running practice different than how people are used to/ how past captains did? I plan on actually running drills and getting people to call hand signals, as I think those are huge boons based on my college experience, but the combo practices were always just show up, have a beer play a set or two.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Welcome to captaining!

Honestly, I have not had good experiences with practices. First, few teammates want to be coached by a teammate. Even if you just set a goal for a practice ("Hey everyone, let's work on getting to the net and looking for opportunities to get there!"), people will often ignore you and play how they always play. Somebody will declare, for example, that hand signals don't work. Some players find it very import to "win" the practice, so they won't try a single shot or tactic they have not already mastered. And some people don't like artificial drills and will say, "Let's just play."

I think the best a captain can hope for with most teammates is that they will show up often that you can see how players play with different partners and they can get used to one another. Even that was dodgy because Becky might cancel at the last minute and then you have an odd number of players. (In which case, you should not just practice singles or go home, but instead should use the time to groove volleys and passing shots.)

The other thing I have found helpful in a team practice setting is forcing players to play a whole bunch of tiebreakers. A lot of matches are settled by tiebreakers, and it helps for players to get comfortable with the idea.
 
I'm likely going to be a league captain (as long as we can get 8 people in men's 4.0). I've only played one combo league in my life so I'm just looking for any advice on things that may not be obvious which will fall under my purview.

I've read a couple threads about the struggle of managing egos or having people have to sit. I'm less concerned about that given my general exp as a part of teams and the likelihood I have too few rather than too many players.

I'm also curious if people ever get flack for running practice different than how people are used to/ how past captains did? I plan on actually running drills and getting people to call hand signals, as I think those are huge boons based on my college experience, but the combo practices were always just show up, have a beer play a set or two.
What indication do you have that people are actually interested in drills, let alone doing signals? Teams that drill are the exception. Get a sense for who is on your team.

Your experience will be mostly determined by your players: how flexible are they? Any prima donnas? Any "I always have to play line 1" or "Don't ever partner me with A, B, C, D, or E." or "I don't like playing away matches", etc.? Gathering a group of like-minded players is the most important thing you can do to have a great experience.
 

chic

Professional
Relatively new to the area but I've been trying to gauge that sort of stuff out.

Other captains advised that most people probably aren't looking to do drills even doubles specific at our club :rolleyes::notworthy:

But I'm gonna see once I have a more definitive idea of the team and have met everyone.
 

silentkman

Semi-Pro
I'm likely going to be a league captain (as long as we can get 8 people in men's 4.0). I've only played one combo league in my life so I'm just looking for any advice on things that may not be obvious which will fall under my purview.

I've read a couple threads about the struggle of managing egos or having people have to sit. I'm less concerned about that given my general exp as a part of teams and the likelihood I have too few rather than too many players.

I'm also curious if people ever get flack for running practice different than how people are used to/ how past captains did? I plan on actually running drills and getting people to call hand signals, as I think those are huge boons based on my college experience, but the combo practices were always just show up, have a beer play a set or two.
i'll pray for you.
 

kevrol

Hall of Fame
The one thing I will say is to send regular communications to your players at approximately the same time. I generally send out 3 communications for every match. Our matches are on the same nights so usually the morning after the match I will send a very brief recap so that team members who weren't there know what happened and in this e-mail will send proposed players for the following week, as well as time and location of match.. Then 2 days before match will send another e-mail confirming the players, time and location. Then morning of match will send out the lineup with time and location. Also find myself rarely scheduling myself for a match because inevitably someone has a 2-day work trip to Antartica they just found out about yesterday.

Whether you communicate by e-mail, text or one of the team management programs some on here pay for is dependent on you and your team.
 

zipplock

Hall of Fame
The mention of playing 10-point tie-breakers is genius. You can switch teams a lot, get an idea of who plays well together, get a lot of reps in and take the "oh no, a the-breaker nerves" away. Great suggestion!!!
 

schmke

Hall of Fame
The mention of playing 10-point tie-breakers is genius. You can switch teams a lot, get an idea of who plays well together, get a lot of reps in and take the "oh no, a the-breaker nerves" away. Great suggestion!!!
Another idea is to periodically have them play a 10-point TB where everyone only gets a second serve. There is a saying you are only as good as your second serve, and in pressure situations if you miss the first serve (which often happens), having to have a dependable second serve and figure out how to win points with a second serve is a key asset, and will also help you identify who can come through in these situations.

When I captained, I didn't do this often, but occasionally would and the results can be interesting.
 

kylebarendrick

Professional
Another idea is to periodically have them play a 10-point TB where everyone only gets a second serve. There is a saying you are only as good as your second serve, and in pressure situations if you miss the first serve (which often happens), having to have a dependable second serve and figure out how to win points with a second serve is a key asset, and will also help you identify who can come through in these situations.

When I captained, I didn't do this often, but occasionally would and the results can be interesting.
I have teams do that occasionally as well. For practices I also push the idea that no matter how long a delay you face between your first and second serve or who caused it, you don't get a new first serve. I want people to get used to hitting reliable second serves.
 

J_R_B

Hall of Fame
I'm also curious if people ever get flack for running practice different than how people are used to/ how past captains did? I plan on actually running drills and getting people to call hand signals, as I think those are huge boons based on my college experience, but the combo practices were always just show up, have a beer play a set or two.
My experience has been that this is probably futile unless you get buy-in from everyone to do this in advance.
 

Max G.

Legend
Yeah, you need to find out whether your teammates even *want* regular practices and, if they do, whether they want to do anything besides just play. Dunno, probably depends on the guys.
 

chic

Professional
Yeah, you need to find out whether your teammates even *want* regular practices and, if they do, whether they want to do anything besides just play. Dunno, probably depends on the guys.
It's just (very mildly) frustrating/disappointing that playing is considered the standard for something labeled practice ime as a player. But I am probably a minority in that regard, id just rather be improving than playing if nothing's on the line.

Regular practices are the norm (though optional) as the club auto reserves us the space. So I know that the expectation is there for that at least.
 
I would say don't assume anything about your players. Many will be super cooperative. Others, if you plan a drill just won't come unless there's a real coach. I try to get everyone in some kind of coaching session every week, but it's not always possible. ( helping them find good lessons somewhere) Our team coaching doesn't have room for the entire team and many can't make it anyway. We also play fun doubles but include players from other teams as opponents.. The fun doubles is fun, but you tend to be kinder to teammates and not smash it at them so that is a consideration.. I like using ball machines..

The only time it works to easily have set rules for the fun matches/practices is when we are getting ready for the post season. The players are much more agreeable. I've tried to get them to warmup with jump ropes to limited success. Here are a few things I have done... 1. You must use signals. 2. You must use I formation part of the time. Like the ad side.3. Play lines are out, very interesting and very helpful when you are going to be playing outside with wind..4. Bring an extra shirt either black or white. Pull it over your other shirt and play pick on the weaker player. Then switch it up. Very helpful and insightful. Some can't handle playing that way and just leave. They can't handle either being picked on or their partner being picked on. It's very useful and you dont need a coach. The weaker player rules, always try to poach their returns, try to S and V to the weaker player, and the only time the better player gets to touch the ball is when they have to run for it. The better player is isolated. Then you get to switch it up and change it.. This is handy when you play combined leagues, like 3+ 4 =7.0 pair. You would be surprised how limited people feel, but then when you are watching the matches, you are watching continual rallies with only the stronger player and you are thinking, why can't you hit it to the weaker player?

Another team told me they lost 2 points when they hit a short ball in practice, that was their team rule... I think it has to feel like a game. Maybe each draw slips of paper for rules. Like ie.. has to hit cross court at least 4 times or has to attack the net player on second serve. I think if you make it fun it could work. I would say one season is not enough. If you can keep the same schedule for an entire year, you will see so much improvement in the returning players. When your players feel improved they will feel happy.. and be more loyal, which is what you want..
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I once proposed a practice where you couldn’t hit the same return twice in a row. Options were crosscourt drive, DTL, at net player, lob net player, and drop shot.

Once people hit a crosscourt drive and then had to go with another option, they lost their damn minds. But they learned variety off of the return, on the one occasion they were willing to humor me.
 
Another idea is to periodically have them play a 10-point TB where everyone only gets a second serve. There is a saying you are only as good as your second serve, and in pressure situations if you miss the first serve (which often happens), having to have a dependable second serve and figure out how to win points with a second serve is a key asset, and will also help you identify who can come through in these situations.

When I captained, I didn't do this often, but occasionally would and the results can be interesting.
Great idea. I always end up having to tell my partner to make sure they get their first serve attempt in when playing match tiebreaker because invariably the pressure gets to them if they miss the first serve and then they double fault. Once they double fault once, they stress and choke and do it again. In 1min you lost two points without the opponent doing anything.

So ensure you make your first serve is important or at the least ensure you can rely on your second serve
 

badmice2

Semi-Pro
what ^ said.

I once was invited to a "try out" and was told how i should play when i was warming up. I packed my bag that very second and left the court.

Assuming you're good friends with everyone on your team, you should be find. You dont need to run drills or anything like that - that's overkill. Regular social practice is all you need.

It will be good to know their preference for partners in doubles. It makes pairing much easier - both from personality stand point and in times of real need as things get competitive.
 

taydbear7

Semi-Pro
In words of Allen Iverson "practice....practice..." lol In all seriously, it's a headache because like somebody mentioned you have some egos and they will be bruised when you make a decision that's not in their favor. We don't have practices but we get together when we have some free time on our hands which isn't much. When you make a decision stick with your guns because if you flake people will try to push you around.
 

Moveforwardalways

Hall of Fame
1. Do not run a practice. If you are recruiting the right guys, there will be no need.

2. When you approach the guys to build the team, do not get caught empty handed. You’ll need to be able to offer something. The bigger the fish, the sweeter the hook too. Start with paying their league registration and court fees for the season. If they are high quality for the NTRP level, you’ll want to consider letting them know that you will cover their flight, hotel, and food/alcohol in the event of a trip to nationals. It is also always appreciated if you cover their strings and stringing fees while they are on the team (if you string yourself, this is virtually a given). And if you want to retain them for next season or combo later in the year, keeping their racquets strung year round will be a nice gesture.

3. For the guys you are getting to self rate, make sure they know the USTA questions beforehand and how to answer them “correctly”. If you are worried they may not get the picture, offer to “register for USTA for them” (you know, so you can cover the fee and whatnot).

4. A great asset to building your team will be to offer free drinks to good looking ladies at your club if they come to the matches and cheer for the team. You could offer any incentives you think would help make this happen. It’s a small thing, but it really goes along way for the type of guys you are trying to recruit to build your team.
 
1. Do not run a practice. If you are recruiting the right guys, there will be no need.

2. When you approach the guys to build the team, do not get caught empty handed. You’ll need to be able to offer something. The bigger the fish, the sweeter the hook too. Start with paying their league registration and court fees for the season. If they are high quality for the NTRP level, you’ll want to consider letting them know that you will cover their flight, hotel, and food/alcohol in the event of a trip to nationals. It is also always appreciated if you cover their strings and stringing fees while they are on the team (if you string yourself, this is virtually a given). And if you want to retain them for next season or combo later in the year, keeping their racquets strung year round will be a nice gesture.

3. For the guys you are getting to self rate, make sure they know the USTA questions beforehand and how to answer them “correctly”. If you are worried they may not get the picture, offer to “register for USTA for them” (you know, so you can cover the fee and whatnot).

4. A great asset to building your team will be to offer free drinks to good looking ladies at your club if they come to the matches and cheer for the team. You could offer any incentives you think would help make this happen. It’s a small thing, but it really goes along way for the type of guys you are trying to recruit to build your team.
Be careful that your tongue doesn't get stuck in your cheek.
 

MRfStop

Hall of Fame
I'm likely going to be a league captain (as long as we can get 8 people in men's 4.0). I've only played one combo league in my life so I'm just looking for any advice on things that may not be obvious which will fall under my purview.

I've read a couple threads about the struggle of managing egos or having people have to sit. I'm less concerned about that given my general exp as a part of teams and the likelihood I have too few rather than too many players.

I'm also curious if people ever get flack for running practice different than how people are used to/ how past captains did? I plan on actually running drills and getting people to call hand signals, as I think those are huge boons based on my college experience, but the combo practices were always just show up, have a beer play a set or two.
Depends on what you and your team wants:
If you want to win the league: put your best line up out every week and put in your weaker players on rotation.
If you want to just have fun: throw a line up out there depending on what people like to play and make sure everyone has the same amount of matches.

Most players want a captain that cares, maybe not about winning but has interest in their team. I’ve been on teams where the captain only shows up to the matches they are playing or to the matches that are close by.
 
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