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The Captain Class

The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams

By Sam Walker
15-minute read
Audio available
The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams by Sam Walker

The Captain Class (2017) gets to the bottom of what it truly means to be the captain of a winning sports team. You might think all it takes to make a great team is to bring together the best possible players. This is just one of the many misperceptions people have about team sports. Walker points out that the best teams have captains who possess specific characteristics that enable them to lead their teams to victory.

  • Athletes involved in team sports
  • Coaches, captains and team leaders of any kind
  • Sports fanatics

Sam Walker is an award-winning investigative reporter and deputy editor for the Wall Street Journal, as well as the founder of the newspaper’s daily sports coverage. His other books include Fantasyland, a fascinating journey into the heart of fantasy baseball competitions.

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The Captain Class

The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams

By Sam Walker
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams by Sam Walker
Synopsis

The Captain Class (2017) gets to the bottom of what it truly means to be the captain of a winning sports team. You might think all it takes to make a great team is to bring together the best possible players. This is just one of the many misperceptions people have about team sports. Walker points out that the best teams have captains who possess specific characteristics that enable them to lead their teams to victory.

Key idea 1 of 9

The best teams have great captains, but they’re usually not the superstars you have in mind.

Every once in a while, a sports team comes along that’s so good, it’s practically invincible. Between 1956 and 1969, this was the case for the Boston Celtics basketball team.

Their domination during this period shows how important one key player can be to a team’s success.

In 1956, the Boston Celtics had yet to win a championship, but that year they picked up a promising new player, Bill Russell – and they would go on to win 11 championships over the next 13 years.

But once Russell retired after the 1969 season, the team fell apart and wouldn’t win a title for another five years.

We can see this same trend in many other sports and with several other teams, including the New York Yankees, and their star player, Yogi Berra. For the Australian football team, the Collingwood Magpies, their success coincided with the presence of their captain Syd Coventry.

In each of these teams, this key player is inevitably promoted to the role of team captain, but they’re often not the kind of captain you might expect.

To begin with, these players are rarely the most talented athletes on the team. Instead, they’re often what people would call an “average player,” and their coach will usually be able to point to one or two crucial skills that they lack. They also tend to be quiet types who avoid the spotlight and interviews.

Generally speaking, these team captains are not the kind of players who offer leadership in the traditional sense. And they’re not the ones who dramatically score points at the last minute to pull off a heroic, game-saving win.

So what is it that makes these captains so special that they can lead teams to glory, but that the same teams can’t win without them? What elusive abilities do they hold? Let’s find out in the blinks ahead.

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