This article gives a basic introduction to what qualities an individual needs to perform his or her duties as a national team captain and what is expected of the person who takes on this role.
Before even considering taking on the role of national team captain, you must first ask yourself these questions:
– “Do I have the time to dedicate to this role?”
This question is often overlooked but good captaincy starts here. You will be expected to dedicate a lot of your time to managing your team regarding training, event enrolment, recruitment of fighters, weapons, armour, transport to events and a lot of time to the study of Historical Medieval Battles which will benefit your team’s performance at tournaments. Be honest with yourself; if you do not believe you can commit to this, don’t apply for the role.
Consider your life outside the sport – are there periods of the year in which you are extremely busy at work? If you have children, when do you need to spend more time with them (e.g. holidays)? These are factors which will not be held against you, but your team members need to know about these times of year beforehand – there is nothing worse than using the excuse “Sorry, I didn’t have time” after failing to carry out your duties. Manage your time effectively by planning ahead.
Perhaps the most important quality a captain must have is his or her ability to communicate. Your team will start to fragment the moment communication breaks down and your lack of team management will start to leak. Pulling it back from this point will be extremely difficult and will probably be held against you as a captain.
Knowledge must be made available to the people who need it when and where they need it. One challenge as a captain is to encourage communication between team members and facilitate the exchange of knowledge.
Good communicators must have good time management to ensure team members are updated with the latest developments and event arrangements, but they should always consider their interpersonal communications. A good captain:
a) Listens attentively
b) Responds actively
c) Encourages feedback
No matter if you’re the captain of a small team or a large team, you must always encourage your team members to contribute and have a voice. If you are unapproachable or even unreachable, you will leave your team wondering if someone else is the captain, leading to team fragmentation.
– “Am I decisive enough?”
Let’s face it; a captain who makes half-hearted decisions or struggles to convey what has been decided clearly shouldn’t be a captain. Saying things like “I don’t know. What do you think?” about every issue which comes up is not going to earn you much respect. This is where your experience has to be applied. A team needs a confident – but not arrogant – leader who can make quick decisions if and when necessary. Are you a person who can make quick but wise decisions? Ask yourself about some of your more recent decisions which have involved a team or a group of people. What were your successes and failures? How did other people react to your decisions? Considering these will help you get to know yourself better as a potential captain.
Get used to following a system when making important decisions:
– Value – which decision is likely to have the most beneficial impact on your team?
– Suitability – is the decision the most suitable one for your team as a whole?
– Acceptability – your decisions may not be the first choice for everyone on your team, but will they be accepted?
– Feasibility – will your decisions be practical and feasible in their implementation, considering possible time, logistical or even financial constraints?
– “Can I deal with problems within my team?”
Unfortunately, problems can and do occur even in the most seasoned teams. As a team captain, there can be no running away from them or hoping they’ll sort themselves out.
Problem-solving is the result of astute decision-making, but managing conflict requires the wisdom and temperament of an experienced individual.
Never get angry, take sides or give up. If an issue is reported to you, repeat it back to the person or people who have reported it. This shows you have fully understood the situation – the first step towards dealing with a problem and a sign of trust that you are going to give it your undivided attention. Simply shrugging your shoulders and not addressing the issue shows a lack of interest in your team.
Use the discipline of problem-solving techniques to tackle difficulties as they arise, but encourage team members to raise concerns. By raising concerns at an early stage, the captain, with the support of his team, is able to ensure that these concerns do not escalate into unmanageable problems which the entire team will suffer from.
Those are some very basic questions a potential captain must ask him or herself before even considering the role of team captain. The reality is that it’s a huge responsibility – at times it will take all of your energy so it is certainly not a position for part-timers. That said, it is not a role without reward, so here are a few pointers of what is expected of you in the preparation stages of events like HMBIA’s Battle of the Nations and many others, and a few tips on how to get more out of your role as a successful team captain.
This is the first and most important rule, and one which will cover any potential time difficulties or matters for which an external consultant (e.g. authenticity expert) is needed.
Trust your team members with tasks. They will appreciate the responsibility and feel even more part of a team. Keep monitoring them and get back to them with feedback, depending on the complexity of the task to delegate.
– Know your tournament
Before a tournament, the captain should almost be able to sing the regulations. This will require some personal time to study them, but any questions the team have should be dealt with by you. Of course, most big tournaments like Battle of the Nations have the regulations posted online, but that won’t help your team much if you’re in the gym training in full armour!
For many people, representing their nation at an international sporting event is the highest honour possible. Reminding your team of their achievement in getting that far will do them the world of good and maintain a national bond that you all have. Part of keeping your team together is inspiring them, so make sure everyone knows the national anthem(!), give your team words of encouragement, vocally support them in their fights and bring everyone together to support each other.
“There are two golden rules for an orchestra: start together and end together” – Thomas Beecham
To end this point and this article, you must always remember that in any tournament, the behaviour and attitude of each team member reflects the conduct of the national team captain.
HMBIA Development Committee