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What should I do? Team Captain's stepping on my toes with these emails?

I have taken over a club as head coach this year and inherited a captain. She is a good player but is not my ideal captain and is used to communicating almost exclusively by email. I had a successful meeting setting objectives for the 1st team last weekend and following that meeting received lots of feedback for how well it was received. My captain yesterday sent a long email about her thoughts on the meeting and where we are and what the players should be doing in order to progress from her perspective. It is a long rambling email that I think has no objective or point to it that I think is completely inappropriate, now I know her heart is in the right place but this is really stepping on my toes as a coach as it is my place to do these type of emails. I am looking for advice on how I should be dealing with this, I am happy to pull her up but as she is very unconfident about herself I feel this might push her back into her shell even more and then she might do something daft like send another email apologising to the team! I am not sure if I should just ignore it as I wonder if it undermines me? Thoughts?

Hi Ian, I must admit I wasn't sure what to expect after reading the headline of this question!

Was there anything from this rambling email that you would be able to agree upon with your team captain, finding a sort of common ground and agreeing with some of her points to encourage her and keep her on-board? Was this email only sent to you or a larger group?

I think it's important to try and keep good relations as much as possible for a team without fractions. Would it be possible for you to arrange a face-to-face meeting with her to avoid any misunderstandings arising from an email conversation? Another idea to try would be to keep your captain busy by giving her some defined roles and responsibilities for her to focus her energies on while at the same time explaining your own role as head coach...

Just a few ideas and I hope they help a little.

HI Ian.

I am always very clear with younger trainers, who almost always have their heart in the right place indeed, that training while best-effort, is still very serious. How you communicate as a trainer with kids, you are an example etc etc. So if this mail or certain topics should have been coming from you, tell her that. DO make sure, seems there might be a gap in understanding, who send what ie who is responsible for what. No better time than now. Later in business, RACI's are everywhere for this youngster, so start now. Do repeat that her effort is highly appreciated.

So not going into the content of the mail, like you did, but keeping it tatctical, that would be my guidance, cheers, Martijn


just remember. you are in charge. and she has to accept that.  what i would do, is talk to her about it, see what she thinks u should do.  and maybe you could even combine her ideas with yours.   for all u could do, maybe even sit down in a meeting with the whole team and ask them what each one thinks the team should do better

just a though, hope it helps;     Tindy

HI , agree with all the above. Her heart appears to be in the direction of helping the team. may i suggest as above, discuss with her where she sees the team can improve. Tell her to talk to you about the team/problems etc so that team harmony dosen't break down- ie goood cop/bad cop with you being the bad cop -if you need to enforce some skills et and so she isn't seen as the bad /bitchy captain. Try and work her ideas into yours if common ground  - explain your plan/ training programme so you can show her that you are on the ball.  Maintain the coach player arrangement - keep some distance between yourself and the players/captain ie you are the coach!

let the email go, as the team may accept that it's just the way their captain is - so i wouldn't send out another apology letter.

keep all the players onside if you can, but explain to the  whole team your plans for the season and as tindy states ask them their hopes/aspirations for the team and the season ahead. good luck 

cheers ian k


Look upon this as an opportunity rather than a problem. She is keen and has ideas. Use all of the diplomacy skills you have as a coach and find a way to harness her energy and enthusiasm without appearing to be pulling rank. 

(By the way, don't forget to consider how she might be feeling! She might well be a bit miffed that this coach is coming in and trying to tke over HER job)

On the wider issue, it is really important to clarify the dynamic of the coach/captain relationship early on, especially when taking on a team that has either not had a coach before, or perhaps not had one that wants to take the lead as strongly as you do.

I havent gone into detail here as so much depends on variables such as how you two get on personally etc and the clultre within the team/club etc. 

Get everybody to agree what type of coach they want. Do they want somebody to just lead training (that is a trainer and not a coach in my view), or somebody that has the vision for how the team plays/behaves etc. and leads all of the activity that gets them moving towards that? That will make a huge difference in how you operate.

The relationship will be fraught if your expectations of each other do not match up! Have a sit down and share what you both want from the relationship, and dont be afraid to walk away if they want you to be a type of coach that doesn't fit with your philosophy/beliefs.

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