Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

The Value of the Captain’s Influence
A lot has been made in the British press about the new England manager Fabio Capello picking four different captains for the friendlies his team has played in over the past couple of weeks.All his choices have their own attributes that they bring to a soccer team. My personal preference is David Beckham. He should never have been left out during the Steve McLaren era. It was quite significant that two years after his last appearance as England captain Beckham was given the captain’s armband against Trinidad and Tobago in front of the vice-president of FIFA, Jack Warner.

Warner admitted he would have been strung up by the Trinidad crowd if he hadn’t got Beckham to the match. Warner is also part of the team that England hopes to impress to get the vote for the 2018 World Cup finals. That is what Beckham brings with him – something that extends beyond his performance on the pitch.

So what do I look for in the captains of my youth teams?

I want something that extends beyond the pitch to the players and parents that watch every week.

Well, whatever the text books tell you the first thing you need your captain to be is a good player, but not necessarily the best player. He needs to be good for young players to accept that he is the captain and look up to him and take orders from him.

On many an occasion the best captain has been my own son, but standing in front of your players and parents and saying your son or daughter is the captain can cause all sorts of problems for you and for them.

So who’s left? I’ve written a lot in Better Soccer Coaching about this, so here’s my blueprint.

You need a good communicator, a leader, a key decision maker and someone who puts your ideas into practice on the pitch.Not so easy when they are 7, 8 or 9 years old.

I go for a good talker; someone the other players like and, just as important, he knows and likes his team-mates; someone with a lot of confidence, and someone who can give confidence to his team-mates; someone whose head doesn’t drop when you go a goal behind, and he can also gee up the other players whose heads do go down; someone who is willing to take a penalty, or take a throw in or even a goal kick.

I like my captains to be able to talk to the referee and stop his team-mates from showing dissent.

It takes time to find him but every team needs an inspirational captain.

Stand up David Beckham.

David Clarke, editor, Better Soccer Coaching




1 Comment so far
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Hi, good post. Beckham is a great leader but on occasions for England I think he controlled too much of some games – and not stick to the right hand side where he is best. Great player though and you would have him in your team for experience.

I was wondering if I could have some pointers on how to get the best out of a 5 a side team? We currently play each Thursday and we are yet to register a win against local businesses. I think fitness is a major key but interested to hear what you think is important?

Many Thanks


Comment by Ashley

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