"ELLIE COOPER IS THE BEST CAPTAIN I'VE EVER COACHED." Travis Wilson, Florida State Assistant softball coach.
I interviewed Ellie Cooper this past Sunday for the Elite Coaches' Mastermind and asked her this question:
"If I paid you $1,000,000 to train a team's captains for one day, what would you teach them?
Ellie responded with, "There are three things I did as a captain that I would stress heavily, but there are also two things they should never do."
THREE THINGS CAPTAINS SHOULD ALWAYS DO
1. DEVELOP TRUST - "The most important thing any leader must do is build trust. Build a bridge of trust so strong that it can bear the weight of truth.
How do you build trust?
I was really good at developing intentional relationships with all my teammates. I took the time to get to know all of them, regardless of ability."
"Another way to establish trust is through communication. You have to teach your players how to communicate with each other. You reach each player differently; the only way to do this is to connect off the field so you can connect on the field."
"Lastly, trust is developed through consistency. Consistently showing up every day in the weight room, the classroom, competition, regardless of how I felt. Predictability builds trust."
2. BE EXTREME - "Elite captains must train harder than anyone else. I took pride in running the fastest mile, get stronger, going all out all the time, being an energy giver.
I also had a personal mission and core values, just like our team had. I had a weekly 'well, better, how' (explained in the video) process each week."
3. LIVE THE CULTURE AND THE STANDARD - "I lived it, loved it, and protected the culture created by the coaches."
TWO THINGS CAPTAINS SHOULD NEVER DO
1. BLAME, COMPLAIN, DEFEND - "I was not perfect, but I knew if I complained, my teammates would as well. I had a positive perspective, trusted my coaches, and never said a bad word about my coaches or teammates behind their backs.
My coaches were hard on me. When things weren't going well, it was, 'Ellie, why is this happening? 'Ellie, do this...' I was like, 'you're right, I will take care of it."
2. NO EGO - "I didn't always agree with the coaches, but I always thought what's best for the team? I thought 'big picture' and didn't believe being a captain gave me hierarchy over the rest of the team.
Wow, this is gold from an elite captain. Ellie's 3/2 is not some 'life coach' giving us theory, but 'the best captain I ever coached' giving us actual tactics we can use with our team leaders.
Do not expect your captains to just 'get it'. Leadership can and must be trained.