Lets face it, a sizable majority of high school ultimate teams are run by the players. Usually there is a captain or core group of leaders who sacrifice their time to order jerseys, come up with strategy, plan practices, schedule games, get the team to tournaments and come up with a plan for the long term.
So in addition to all of those responsibilities there is the omnipresent judgment call of how to deal with your fellow players on a personal and team level. Most times you are friends or at least have relationships with these people outside of a practice or game setting so it is often a difficult task to motivate them in a way that wont compromise those friendships.
Here are a few suggestions for how to cope with the authority that I've come up with through experience...
The above are just a few suggestions, and i cant say that i always followed them myself either of the times when i was a captain, but if someone had given me the above advice perhaps it would have helped?
1. talk it out - very rarely are there things among teammates - discrepancies about decisions or otherwise - that cannot be solved through talking. if a problem is arising primarily from one or two people i suggest meeting with them in a time outside of practice, in a situation where you are less of the authority figure. just sit in an area where you wont be interrupted and instead of chewing them out or assuming what the problem might be, open it up for discussion and allow them to say whatever is on their mind. in the same vein, if it may be a team-wide problem have a team meeting, in a classroom after school, cancel practice for the day or postpone it whatever is necessary (a team divided will not stand) and open the floor for comments or criticism.
2. welcome criticism - ... in a way. there are two types of criticism, as you might expect - good and bad. first the bad - you are setting up a drill, explaining something in terms of strategy and have relative "quiet" and there is a voice from the back saying "this drill sucks" or "why dont we do ___ instead" - this is bad criticism. i suggest responding to this in a way that discourages it from happening in the future, perhaps with, "___, just let me finish explaining this drill and you can tell me what you are talking about in a second" or perhaps, "we are doing this now, we will be doing that soon" or something similar but then talk to the person one on one and explain how to give good criticism. good criticism is something that is beneficial to the team. it comes more from a general interest to see things work well, as opposed to just wanting to prove the person in the authority position that you are right. good criticism more often than not should come in a smaller setting - one on one, or small group. it should also be phrased in a non-confrontational way. example - "hey i think drill x would might help us work on that problem we had in the last game" as opposed to "that drill is shit". that drill might be shit, but the point is if you want someone to listen to you, you have to come across reasonable.
3. wait 10 minutes rule - it is very very easy to get frustrated when being a captain, you get very little in the way of thanks and or gratitude and you do the lion's share of the work. so quite often you might find yourself wanting to scream at people, write nasty emails to your team telling them how much they should try harder and how much everyone isnt working now, or call people out, or all of those things combined. however, when you step back and look at it, those actions will yield very little of the things you would like to accomplish - success as a team or other. more than likely a calm explanation of where you are coming from explaining why you are frustrated would be more beneficial, however very few people are receptive of that after having been chewed out in public. instead use this rule - wait ten minutes. its incredibly easy, but hard to do. example situation - at practice, give the drill for someone else to run for a second (this is a good trick to defray criticism that you are a being too hard on people, it doesnt work if a teammate is running the drill), and then run down to the end of the field and set up cones, or just jog around for a second. or just get a drink. just put some time between you and the frustrating situation. if you let something grind on you at night and are about to send out a nasty email, write it out, it might help, but then walk away for 10 minutes. watch some tv, go physically away from the computer. and then come back to it, read it again, revise and then send.
I will try to compile more coherently in the future make it a reoccurring feature. I am very interested to hear what your experiences are and any advice you have for someone who might become a captain - comment away!