The Pool Team Captain’s Survival Guide

Posted by : Liz Ford

As an APA League Operator, no one earns my respect more than you hard-working Team Captains. The job can be thankless at times: herding players to matches as if they were delinquent cats, arriving early and staying late, and playing nurse-maid/psychologist to all the personality on the roster. An upright and responsible Captain (capitalized because you're important, dammit!) makes everyone's life easier, but all that service can leave you feeling overworked and under-appreciated. Go buy yourself a campy Captain's hat and read these 10 tips for surviving at the helm:

1. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Whether it's with the opposing captain, league operator or your own players, you'll be called upon to effectively manage relationships. Ask questions early and approach situations calmly and assertively to avoid letting misunderstandings blow up into major problems.

2. Encourage team unity.
You know a “team-love” team when you see them, and they always seem to be winning regardless of the score. Showing up with pizza, creating inside jokes or even planning a team dinner can break the ice between new teammates and give everyone that loving glow.

3. Delegate responsibility.
Don't try to do everything yourself, you'll burn out quicker than Spicoli. Get yourself a trusty Co-Captain who knows the ropes and can back you up - it'll make it easier to pull off the next item...

4. Take a break and let them suffer.
Nobody will realize how much you do to keep the team running smoothly unless you give them the opportunity to fill in and try it themselves. They'll bow at your feet and present you with free drinks upon return.

5. Stay on your League Operator's good side.
I'm not going to say that we League Operators hold a grudge, but we might not be as willing to bend over backwards to help you out of a jam if you owe us money or you've otherwise been behaving like a jackhat.

6. Be prepared!
Captains are natural born leaders so it's likely you're already an organized and motivated person. Stay up-to-date on rules and schedules and make sure to double-check everything involved with taking your team on the road to Las Vegas. Technicalities can jump up and bite you if you're not looking.

7. Balance strategy with enjoyment.
A winning team is a happy team, but you need to be mindful that everyone gets included in the fun regardless of their skill-level – don't make enthusiastic players spend the entire season on the bench.

8. Stay positive.
You are your team's role model. If you grow a 'tude, whine or become a poor sport your team will either descend into negativity or mutiny against you. Either way, not so much fun for anyone involved.

9. Keep things moving.
Don't dally the start of your match or let your players get mired in exceedingly slow play. If league night routinely drags on after hours it'll make everyone think twice about signing up for the next session and get your team a reputation as that team...

10. Iron fist in a velvet glove.
The best leaders work hard behind the scenes to let their players shine, while still making it clear who's in charge. You might be called on to cheer-up the recently dumped, put up with drunken Vegas shenanigans or massage fragile egos in order to secure a good performance. Beneath this caring facade must exist a strong spine that allows you to make tough decisions and stand by them. Be a strong and confident leader who takes the job seriously and your players will reward you by having fun and playing well. Then you can go ahead and take all the credit!