How to be a leader on your team

Look online for quotes about leadership and you’ll be bombarded with search results. But searching for specific words of wisdom about leading on a soccer team aren’t as easy to find. So, we’ve done the research to provide top strategies for becoming a tam leader on and off the pitch.

On a Queen City Mutiny team, every individual player has the opportunity to demonstrate leadership. Coaches are the leaders in practice and before the game, but a player who shows leadership on the field during a game can make a big difference. How do you become someone your team looks to as a leader? These tips can help.

Work hard.

Demonstrate your dedication to the team by working hard in practice and during games. Be the player who is always giving his all. No matter whether the team is winning or losing. No matter what position you are playing. Even if you’re on the bench, you can show your commitment to the team:

•       Stay engaged with the game

•       Listen to the coach’s instructions

•       Provide support from the sideline

Be enthusiastic.

Pessimism and negative talk can bring an entire team down. Optimism, on the other hand, can be contagious. Showing a positive attitude and demonstrating that you are willing to learn from your mistakes will support your determination to succeed. Don’t backtalk coaches or roast your fellow players. Instead, think of ways you can offer to help, motivate others, and be a good teammate.

Take responsibility.

You’re going to make mistakes. Your teammates are going to make mistakes. Even your coaches will make mistakes (though not as often of course). You can demonstrate leadership potential by owning up to it if you do something wrong. Now, this doesn’t mean you should beat yourself up and keep on apologizing over and over. Just be honest. Show you’re aware that you made an error and talk with a fellow player or coach about how to avoid doing the same thing again.

 Listen to understand.

Focus on actively listening [1] to your teammates and coaches. Showing them the respect of holding eye contact, not getting distracted, and not interrupting will help you better understand people. That understanding will give you deeper knowledge of your teammates and coaches, which you can use as a leader to bring people together and help them achieve shared goals.

Manage your stress.

If you’re the person freaking out over a referee’s call or getting overly anxious during games, you’re not likely to be a team leader. Consider how leaders set an example for others. Do you want that example to be “in case of emergency, I panic” or “when things are tough, I stay healthy.” Once you’ve tackled managing your own stress before, during, or after games (maybe you’re dreading the car ride home with a parent?), you’ll be able to help others on the team stay calm and focused too.

Practice your skills.

Leaders are often talented players too. After all, without the knowledge and skills to stand out, it’s going to be more difficult for you to earn your teammates’ respect. You don’t have to score all of the goals or be the best at bicycle kicks. But you should always be working to improve your skills. Showing ongoing effort and a willingness to learn will help elevate your leadership standing on your team.

Different Types of Sports Leadership 

There are many different roles a leader can take on a team. Sports leadership’s Jeff Janssen suggests there are “five kinds of leaders every team needs to be successful.” Three are particularly relevant to Mutiny’s dynamics:

•       Performance leader

•       Locker room leader

•       Reserve leader

The performance leader is typically a team captain-type, someone who will take charge of the team in a game and provide strong, vocal leadership.

Locker room leaders, meanwhile, are champions of the team’s culture and work hard to keep everyone on track. For soccer, they’re more like the sideline leaders. They’re the ones who at half time will say a few words to get people to think positively and productively in an effort to bring the team together.

Reserve leaders help keep the players who aren’t getting as much playing time in a positive frame of mind. They make a contribution by showing pride in playing for the team, and a willingness to sacrifice for the team, without getting angry or frustrated over limited playing time.

You may be more suited to one of these functions than to another. Any of these is going to require some of the skills covered in the first part of this article. Mutiny wants to see you develop as a player both on and off the field; knowing how to step up and be a leader is just part of your growth with our club.

chris williams