What Makes a Good Team Captain in Basketball?

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Sometimes we find ourselves asking, “What makes a good team captain in basketball?” In this article, we will be looking at the answers to this question. Because of the nature of basketball, the best functioning teams are the ones that have players who know and live up to the responsibilities that are assigned to them. 

For a team to be successful, each player must play their part. With that said, there is one player on each team who may shoulder more responsibility than the others as it relates to leadership, motivation and a few other vital tasks. We are talking about the team captain. 

Becoming a team captain and Performing effectively in this rule are not easily accomplished tasks. In this post, we are going to talk about how to become a good team captain.  We will also be discussing the characteristics of a team captain. This is a comprehensive guide of a team captain’s responsibilities.

Who is a Basketball Team CaptainWho is a Basketball Team Captain?

As per official FIBA rules, a team captain is allowed to communicate in a courteous way with game officials in dead-ball situations and when the clock is stopped. The team captain is allowed to gather information from the officials during these periods. Another role of the team captain, as per FIBA, is to alert game officials of any protest as it relates to the result of the game. This must be done within 15 minutes after the game has ended.

Now that we have addressed the official in-game responsibilities of a captain let’s look at the leadership aspect of the position. Let’s break down the word captain in its simplest form. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word captain to be “One who leads or supervises, such as a leader of a sports team.  

Now, for us to find out how to be a captain, we need to look at one keyword “leadership.” Leadership is performed through inspiration and guidance. Leaders need to help their teams understand what is necessary for them to be successful while at the same time showing the team how to be successful.

Let’s now take a look at some standard team captain responsibilities.

What are Common Team Captain ResponsibilitiesWhat are Common Team Captain Responsibilities? 

Team captains are most times considered to be the link between the coach and the team. While on and off the court, team captains are expected to ensure that the team’s morals, values, and expectations are met by themselves and the other players. Team captains are responsible for convening these expectations to the team while guiding them to achieving them. 

Captains should lead from the front. We mean captains should not only tell the team what to do, but they should also demonstrate what is expected by doing it themselves. Being a captain is an honor that is given to a player by the head coach. Coaches tend to give this honor to the most deserving persons. Let’s now take a look at some of the key responsibilities that are bestowed on captains.

Team Cohesion

Team Cohesion

A basketball team will consist of players from different backgrounds, players with different personalities and players with different points of view. Similarly to any situation with people that are so different, there will exist possibilities for discord between the team members. 

A responsibility of a basketball team captain is to navigate this diverse atmosphere and take the necessary steps required to ensure that the team functions as one cohesive unit, both on and off the court. Team captains should communicate with each member of the team to  ensure that the team members feel equally valued and resolve any potential conflicts that may arise.

Marshaling the locker room

Inside a basketball team’s locker room can be as important as outside. Before, during and after a game, a basketball team will visit its locker room to discuss strategies that will ensure a victory. The atmosphere in a locker room can have a significant impact on how a team plays after they leave the locker room. 

The team captain has a responsibility to ensure that the team is engaged in motivating, encouraging and productive conversation before during and after the game while they are in the locker room. These conversations have a high impact on the overall team morale, and as we know, in basketball, team morale goes a long way towards performing effectively in games.

Practice leader

During practice sessions, the team’s captain should make sure that the team is working on the tasks assigned by the coach. Team captains are responsible for ensuring that the individuals on the team approach the practice sessions with seriousness and professionalism.

Some players may need a little extra push or a little additional supervision to make sure that they are performing meaningful activities during practice. This will allow them to gain the most from the session. It is one of the captain’s responsibilities to follow up with the progress of each player so that the team can ultimately be at its optimal.


Team captains are generally expected to be quite knowledgeable in the sport of basketball. The basketball team captain should take younger or more inexperienced players under his/her wing and guide these players. 

The role of a mentor on any team is quite important because it helps to build confidence among the members of the team that are mentored. Mentorship shows the team members that the team captain cares about their success.

Mentorship also helps to build a bond of trust and confidence between the team captain and the other members of the team. When a team captain successfully mentors others, the team generally benefits positively because the overall experience and skill levels of the team are increased.

Provides Positivity and Optimism

We are only humans, so it is quite understandable that there are situations in which we will likely only see and say negative things. Throughout competitions, things may not necessarily be going in the team’s favor, and it is one responsibility of the captain to step up and reinforce his positive values and encourage his team to dig deeper to change the tide. 

As we all know, basketball is a game in which momentum can change suddenly. We said that to say this, a team that may be in a losing situation can always change their fortune by playing harder and smarter. However, team members may feel dejected if they fall behind in a game, but a team captain should step forward in these situations and urge his teammates to continue to push forward. 

A team captain should call on his teammates to dig deeper and reassure them that they still can take back control of games that they are losing. Having a positive mindset allows us to see past obstacles and work toward solutions. A team captain that can convey this message to his teammates so that they will work together, dig deeper and then work harder is a good captain because a positive mindset can be infectious if appropriately communicated.

Challenge Teammates to Achieve Their Best

Challenge Teammates to Achieve Their Best

When we challenge those around us to be better, if they respect us enough, chances are, they will accept and take on the challenge. When they do, the result usually is one that is positive once they have it within themselves mentally and physically to be better. 

A good team captain can recognize when players are not the best that they can be and challenge them to be better. Team captains should lead by example so, when they reach out to players and challenge them, the players will see that the captains are performing at their best. This should motivate other players also to do their best. 

7 Traits of a Good Team Captain in Basketball7 Traits of a Good Team Captain in Basketball

1. Competitive

Individuals that have a very strong competitive spirit usually are great basketball players. Some of the greatest players to have ever played the game like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are renowned for their competitive streak. 

Competitive team captains will show their teammates the path to follow as it relates to the desire to win combined with the work ethic to achieve victory. A competitive team captain is one that will not settle for anything less than the best from his team and himself. A player like this is an incredible asset to have on any team.

2. Caring

A good team captain is one that realizes that  a player’s life is both on and off the court, within and outside the sport of basketball.  With that said, great basketball team captains care about how their teammates lives outside of basketball may affect their performances on the team. 

Good team captains know that they should periodically check on their teammates and try to relate to any problematic situations that they may be going through. Bonds formed between the captain and the other team members are usually quite useful in this regard. If the team captain recognizes that individuals on the team may be going through  difficult or complicated situations that are causing them any form of stress or affecting their gameplay in any way, that team captain should take it upon himself to help the player in whatever way he can even if that means getting external help for the player.

3. Approachable

Similarly to having the ability to recognize and approaching players that are having difficult situations, a great team captain needs to be approachable. Members of the team should be comfortable enough to approach their team captain with any problems that they are experiencing with the expectation that the team captain will work towards getting a solution for them. 

Even if it’s only a listening ear that the player desires, a team captain should be seen as someone approachable by his teammates based on his past actions towards them and his general persona. Being approachable, position team captains in a unique place that allows them to have access to players that may not necessarily feel comfortable going to members of the coaching staff. Players sometimes feel more comfortable speaking to the captain because they see him as their peer.

4. Courageous

In the most difficult situations, a team captain typically finds the courage to step forward and lead from the front.  This trait of a team captain is a precious one. In some situations, it is quite difficult for other team members to step up and work towards a victory for the team. This should not be the case of a good team captain. 

A good team captain will know that he is responsible for leading the team

A good team captain will know that he is responsible for leading the team and getting them to be persistent in times when all may seem lost. Sometimes it only takes one person to attempt a block, one person to attempt a steal, one person to take and make the contested three, one person to want the next stop, and then the others will follow. Hustle can be contagious, but it needs to start somewhere.

5. Consistent

A great team captain is one that is usually consistent in the way he carries himself on and off the court, the way he executes the values embodied by the organization, and he is also consistent in the way he communicates. 

It is quite essential that players can depend on their team captain to be the same person he was yesterday, today. If you have a team captain that flip flops on his morals, values and work ethic, then that example is one horrible example being set for the other team members to follow.

6. Incredible Work Ethic

Great players are usually players that set themselves apart from the others by how they approach the game.  We mean that great players generally approach the game with a level of professionalism, which means they work extremely hard to get and stay in shape. They practice their craft day in and day out. They are always looking for ways to improve. 

If a team captain does not approach the game like this, then he is not providing an excellent example for the remainder of the team. 

For both personal and organizational growth, players need to always work on continuous improvement. If we continuously work on our development and others do not, then we steadily become better while others do not.  Team captains will also motivate and encourage others to work on their craft so that the team as a whole can continuously improve.

7. Selfless ambition

To be selfishly ambitious means to want greatness for the group and not just yourself. Great team captains always try to put the team before themselves. They will work towards ensuring the success of the team before they decide to achieve individual recognition. 

Team captains care more about achieving team goals more than achieving personal fame. Because team captains have this big picture in mind, you will find that they take steps towards improving the quality of the players around them and not just focus on personal development.

How to Become a Great Basketball Team CaptainHow to Become a Great Basketball Team Captain?

Some people are born great basketball team captains, while others can be developed into great captains. Some people are natural-born leaders, and this trait is continuously improved based on the environment in which they are raised. As a result of them being in situations that foster their leadership skills, it is then quite easily translated into captaincy. 

If you weren’t born a natural leader, leadership is a skill that can be developed. There are many ways that leadership skills can be developed, let’s speak about a few of them now. 

If you want to become a great team captain, you can work on your ambition, work ethic, courage, consistency, empathy, competitiveness, and your approachability. 

How to Become a Great Basketball Team Captain

Experience is always the best teacher, so for this reason, one can learn to become a great basketball team captain by spending time with and being mentored by other great basketball team captains. It is also good to watch documentaries and read books about other team captains to learn how they navigated their journeys through captaincy. Another effective way to become a great team captain is to speak to your coaches so that you can find out what traits they would want their next team captain to have. If you can identify and successfully adapt to the requirements of your coaches, you should be able to become a successful team captain.

3 Book Recommendations to Improve Your Leadership on the Court3 Book Recommendations to Improve Your Leadership on the Court

Let’s now take a look at some books that you can read to become a great basketball team captain.

1. Coach Wooden's Leadership Game Plan for Success: 12 Lessons for Extraordinary Performance and Personal Excellence 

This great piece by John Wooden teaches character-based leadership.  It can help team captains to bring out the best from their teammates.

Coach Wooden's Leadership Game Plan for Success: 12 Lessons for Extraordinary Performance and Personal Excellence
  • Hardcover Book
  • Wooden, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 273 Pages - 03/11/2009 (Publication Date) - McGraw Hill (Publisher)

2. How to Win Friends & Influence People (Dale Carnegie Books) 

This phenomenal book helps readers to make friends while taking their current situation and improving it. Through reading this book, team captains can learn how to influence his teammates and convert them to his positive, forward-moving way of thinking.

How to Win Friends & Influence People (Dale Carnegie Books)
  • How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie 1998 Paperback New
  • Brand New
  • Officially Licensed
  • Dale Carnegie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

3. The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy

John Gordon reveals 10 secrets for thinking positively in order to get the most out of your life. Team captains need this type of positivity in order to maintain a high level of team morale.

The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy
  • Hardcover Book
  • Gordon, Jon (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 192 Pages - 01/22/2007 (Publication Date) - Wiley (Publisher)

Wrapping Things Up: What Makes a Good Team Captain in Basketball? 

There isn’t just one single answer to the question, “what makes a good team captain in basketball?” The basketball team captain is a member of a team with many responsibilities. For someone to be a great basketball team captain, they must first develop qualities that allow them to lead their teammates successfully. 

Great basketball team captains not only recognize the importance of their responsibilities but also acknowledge the importance of carrying out their duties consistently and efficiently. Once a person can foster and develop the skills necessary for them to become a team captain, they will become a great asset to any team. 

Being a team captain is a great honor, and one should realize that it also comes with great responsibility. One very important thing that all team captains must learn is how to follow. Being able to follow is just as important as being able to lead. Until next time ballers remember this saying from the great John Wooden, “Each member of your team has the potential for personal greatness; the leader’s job is to help them achieve it.”

Did you find this post helpful? Then you may also like our post on what does a role player mean in basketball here.

We also answer other frequently answered questions on basketball here:

> How to Deal with a Bad Coach in Basketball?

> What’s a Glue Guy in Basketball? Are You One?

Hoops Addict
Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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