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Fearless Leadership
by Russell Jackson
Captain of Team Longshot

 



There are a lot of young captains out in the tournament scene today. A group of buddies decide to form a team and put the best player out of them up for captain. This captain is suddenly responsible for making tournament arrangements, transportation arrangements, money issues, and most importantly team organization on and off the field. This is a lot of responsibility to put on someone that may have never dealt with any of these situations before.

Did you pick the right guy?

Sure he/she might be the best player amongst you, but are they responsible, are they organized and most of all are they experienced. Experience is the hardest thing to find when creating a new team with all new players. If no one on the team has had any tournament experience the best thing to do would be to strike up a conversation with a more experienced captain, and scrimmage against his team. In doing so, the new captain (if he isn’t a jerk) should be able to help you out with your on-field strategy and give you some insight into how you should be organizing you players.

When I started my own team I was fortunate enough to be friends with a very experienced captain who I could call with any questions relating to what I needed to be doing. It's helpful if you can find such a person, sometimes your local field or shop owner can play this role, as a kind of mentor.

What do I do now?

Now that you got the right guy, how does he go about getting you ready for a tournament? I find keeping a “team folder” helps considerably. Inside this folder you should have a couple things, first off is phone numbers of all the team mates, second is a section of lined paper to write ideas down to discuss in team meetings (yea I know it sounds corny) and lastly you need to have a tournament section, here you should have flyers and print outs of tournaments your team is hoping to attend or thinking about attending. The tournament section is possibly the hardest to maintain. Here is where the research comes in, get on the net and search for local fields that are having tournaments, be sure to write down or print out the following info:

  • Cost of air fill, entry fee, and paint cost
  • Location of field and approximate driving time
  • Phone number of the person organizing the tournament
  • Classification of teams (Open division, novice, amateur, etc…)


You should share this information with your teammates at a team meeting.  By meeting, I do not mean sitting in the staging area when you’re just sitting around talking. I mean sitting down with your team, making them shut up and listen to what you have to say, and then giving each a chance to respond with their thoughts. I know this is a pain and “wastes” time but it’s the only way you will get a straight answer out of teammates as to were they want to go.

Organizing the tournament

Ok, now you have picked out the tournament you're attending and everyone is looking forward to it. Now the captain’s job gets much less glamorous. First thing’s first, call the tournament director and ask to sign up for the tournament and ask when the captain’s meeting is.  It is good to show up an hour or so before the captains meeting (I'll explain later). Once this is done you need to contact your players and let them know how much money will be involved, it is best done in this way, tell them how much money they need to give you to pay entry fee. 

Example:

  • Entry fee is $150 for the team. It’s a three-man tournament.
  • Each player gives the captain $50 as their part of the entry fee…it is the captain’s responsibility to make sure the entry fee makes its way to the tournament director in time for the cut off (most tournaments stop taking entry fee a week before the tournament)
  • This type of set up makes it less shocking then to say, “Its gonna cost $50 for entry, $75 for paint and $15 for air and I need all that money soon as possible!”


Almost every tournament is set up so that you can pay for air and paint the day of the tournament. So you don’t need to collect that from your players. The entry fee is the only money of theirs you should handle.

Tournament Day!

Well you made it, you and your team are at your first tournament. First thing is first, report to the main desk (usually at the fill station) and let them know your team has arrived. At this point the tournament director will give you waivers to fill out for your team. Make sure your team fills them out and gets them back ASAP. Next thing, make sure your guys get their paint, air fills and equipment set of for the tournament. Next is field walking.

Field Walking

This is where an inexperienced captain will fall short 90% of the time. The importance of field walking is undeniable. Each player must have an understanding of where he or she needs to be and where threats will be coming from. The best way to do this is to get with each player and examine each bunker they are considering, determining the positives and negatives of each placement. The only thing that can make you better at this is time and experience.

Conclusion

Captaining isn’t the easiest job or the most glamorous. When things go wrong it's your job to determine what went wrong and make attempts to correct it. But when things go right, there is nothing that feels better than to know that you are at the root of it all. Most important thing is to remember that you are nothing without your team, and you make mistakes too, take the time to ask your team mates what they think you could be doing better and try to accommodate their concerns. Captaining is about experience and hopefully this article gave you a jump start on it.
 


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