Team Sports: The Weight of Being a Captain

The captain is the team emblem. He or she bears the representation of the team. Why is being team captain so important and what responsibilities does it imply?
Team Sports: The Weight of Being a Captain

Last update: 13 January, 2020

Many sports teams have a captain. The roles, rights, and responsibilities a captain assumes on and off the pitch ultimately depend on the sport. Learn more about captains in our post today!

In most sports, the technical team elects the team captain. The captains take on a more important role during critical moments during a game as well as in leadership. In addition, captains are expected to manage team morale and encourage every teammate to play their best.

As you can imagine, not just any player can fit the role. The role requires innate virtues as well as the necessary experience. In some cases, captains take on a mentor role to younger teammates while helping their coaches on the pitch.

Team captain: different sports, different roles

In most sports, captains are responsible for starting the game in a kick-off or similar action. They’re also in charge of signing documents or administrative acts when needed. In addition, captains can formally present complaints to higher authorities before or after a game.

In the space below, read about certain situations that require a team captain to assume a special role:


The concept of team captain seems, perhaps, the most traditional in soccer. That special sleeve represents a true honor for any player, converting the wearer into a leader and role model for teammates both on and off the field.

The player selected as captain–which can be any player of the eleven field players–usually takes on the responsibility of speaking against the referee’s decisions that could negatively affect the team. Referees generally respect captains and respond to their complaints.

captain referees

But, with privilege comes responsibility: in soccer, captains can receive sanctions, which are normally yellow cards, in certain situations.

While it doesn’t happen often, referees can give a yellow card if the team repeats the same infractions against a certain player on the rival team. In addition, certain federations reserve the right to prevent a player from becoming a captain.

In other sports

For a long time in baseball, captains were responsible for organizing strategies and choosing pitchers and hitters. Over time, these responsibilities passed on to the coach.

Meanwhile, rugby is similar to soccer in that the referees only speak with  captains to communicate their decisions. In rugby, captains also decide which play to carry out in critical moments. In regards to the special relationship between referee and captain, we see something similar in sports such as ice hockey and volleyball.

As for basketball, captains choose the players for the jump ball and  free throws as long as their decisions conform to the rules.

Davis Cup and its special captain situation

When disagreements erupt between the players, coach or executives of a national team, the captain assumes a supremely important role: the mediator. The captain serves as the bridge that leads to an agreement.

captain Davis Cup

If the captain fails to fulfill the role of mediator, the situation can spiral out of control. A poor relationship between the coach and a captain often drives teams to the ground. These circumstances often lead to a confrontation between the captain and the teammates.

In short, the responsibilities of being a captain can weigh more or less depending on the sport. In any case, these leaders fulfill important roles on both the public and private levels. A good captain is a must for any team that dreams of success.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.