Photo Credit: Stewart West

Being captain on a team is a pretty big deal. It means the player has earned the trust and respect of his or her coach or teammates. It’s important enough that some teams sew a “C” onto the captain’s jersey for easy recognition.

Captains are the onfield or oncourt conduit between the team and the officials. So they should be dealt with differently than other players. As with many things in officiating, there is a right way and several not-so-right ways to interact with captains. Here are some timetested pointers.

Keep Pre Game Conversation Short

For any pregame meeting with the captains, the reality is that you’ve got essentially 30 seconds or less to get your point across to the captains before they lose interest. Plus, their focus is on the game, not on niceties.

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Introduce Yourself

They won’t remember your name, but it helps reinforce that there’s a human being wearing those funny clothes. Avoid extraneous, unnecessary points, like, “The blue line is the sideline.” Wow, there’s a revelation! Especially for the home team that has played on that surface all season. That line about wanting a good, clean game? That’s great for old boxing movies, but not realistic in today’s games. If there is bad blood between the teams, address it with the coaches, who can convey messages to the players about rough play.

Don’t Tell Them How The Game Will Be Called

“We’re really bearing down on three seconds,” or, “We’ve been calling a lot of holding fouls lately, just so you know.” Either may be true but they’ll figure it out once the game gets going.

Get The Numbers

At one time, only a captain could request a timeout or address an official. Those days are gone. Truth is, you may go through weeks without having to consult with a captain for anything. Still, it’s good to have the numbers available on those rare occasions, be it on a game card or lineup card or in the scorebook.

Be Careful With Humor

Sometimes a joke you’ve planned out well in advance goes over like a lead balloon. If you use humor, use it wisely and above all else, make sure your humor does not offend any of the players.

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Ask Your Crewmates For Input

Even the most veteran officials sometimes leave out something important. Ask the official joining you for the conference if he or she has anything to add. If you’re the one asked to contribute, be brief.

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Use The Captains To Your Advantage

Once the game begins, captains can be helpful in calming rambunctious teammates. Some players are more likely to pay attention to teammates, especially those who have been singled out by the coaches. So don’t hesitate to sidle up to a captain and say something like, “Hey captain, how about you talk to your number 33 about settling down a bit?”

Remember that captains are sometimes selected on the basis of their playing ability and not their leadership skills. If the captain is the problem, appeal to his or her sense of duty. “We expect a little more from captains. Let’s refocus on the game and not on the officiating.” Or go to the head coach and let him or her know you may have to deal with the supposed leader of the team.

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Note: This article is archival in nature. Rules, interpretations, mechanics, philosophies and other information may or may not be correct for the current year.

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