Each softball team requires the efforts of the leaders to succeed. Many team leaders are the pitchers or catchers, simply because of the roles they play on the field, but the leaders could be any of the teammates who want to take on the responsibility. Being a leader can be a rewarding and challenge position to fill, so the players who want to take on the role often benefit from a few helpful tips.
Understand that control is personal
No one, not a coach, leader, or teammate can control another player. The only thing that can be controlled is personal effort, actions, speech, and reactions. Once leaders understand this, the role becomes less stressful because players can lead by example, rather than by the perception of control. When other player see the quality play, the mental toughness, and the positive speech that leaders give, they are more likely to emulate those behaviors.
Know the game
In order to lead a softball team, a leader needs to know the game and all of the subtle nuances. The leader needs to know the signs and be able to relay them properly to the players. They need to be able to evaluate what went right and wrong in games and explain the issues to teammates. When a player does not know the game, the rest of the team can tell and this can cause players to rebel against the leader.
Be a positive force
There will be moments when the energy and the score suffer. It is during these moments that the leader is needed the most. Anyone can cheer on a winning team, but being able to pull a team out of an abyss is real leadership. A leader cannot force a positive attitude on the rest of the team, but it can force a winning attitude. The game is not over until the last out, so teams always have a way to bounce back from any deficit. This is the message that leaders need to share with the team.
Manage the drama
Unfortunately, many teams suffer from drama caused by gossip and social media posts. Team leaders need to help the team keep drama to a minimum by building a team atmosphere that makes every player feel needed and a part of the team. Drama usually starts when players feel like they do not belong and that they are not appreciated. It is helpful for leaders to work with their teammates to create procedures regarding problems that can interfere with the team’s chemistry on and off of the field. The procedures need to feel just and fair so that the team will buy into them and follow through with them throughout the season. Clearly written rules are the easiest to follow. It is also helpful for the team leader to set an example for the team regarding online and social behavior.
Be a bridge between the coaches and the players
The team leader is often the player who is called up when the entire team has an issue that needs to be addressed with the coach. Many team leaders will also talk to the team when the coach asks for help, too. This role can be difficult to manage because the team leader might feel alone at times, but this should be expected when a team leader emerges. The coach should clearly give the expectations to the team before a leader is selected because some players might not want the responsibilities that come with the position. The team should also feel comfortable with the choice, since each player will be working side-by-side with the leader in the dugout and on the field.
Be the representative
The team leader will often be the player who is involved in the situations that require team representation. The leader will usually be the player who is involved in game coin tosses or softball rolls to get home-field advantage. It can be helpful for leaders to practice their rolls so they can learn how to win the advantage. They are often the team members who will lead cheers and create banners for big games, too.