Types of Team Leaders in Volleyball

Coach talking to volleyball team
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Every team needs a leader. Without one, it can be difficult to get on the same page and win. There are several types of team leaders and in many cases, the responsibility can fall on more than one person.

Depending on your personality type, your skill level, and your abilities, you may be one of three types of leaders — tactical, physical or emotional.

Of course, you may be none of these and that is also okay. A team with too many chiefs can encounter a lot of problems. If you're a follower or a role player, embrace that, as they are a necessary element of any good team. But if you think you have what it takes to be a leader, check out these three types of leaders, determine if one of them fits your personal gifts and find out how to lead well.

Tactical Leaders

The first of the three ways to lead a team is tactical. Tactical leaders are usually, but not always the head coaches of teams. Leaders of this type know how to devise game plans that work. When it comes to strategy, this is the person that the team wants to hear from. They know how to beat any team on the schedule and they can communicate what to do to their team.

A good tactical leader has three important qualities:

  1. Vision
    Not only can a tactical leader see and analyze what is happening on the court, but they can devise a plan that will turn the tide in their favor. A good tactical leader knows why the team is succeeding or failing at any particular moment and can determine the right course of action to win the set or match. They can also figure out the best plays to run and the most effective formations to use. A good tactical leader will know which players should be out on the court and when they need to come out of the game.
  2. Communication
    In order to be a great tactician, you need to be a good communicator. What good are great ideas if you can't convey them to your squad in a way that makes sense? Making sure that the entire team knows the game plan and how you want to implement it puts everyone on the same page and creates a cohesive team unit.
  3. Ability to Adapt
    Even the best game plans can look good on paper, but may not work when game time arrives. Scouting reports are great but they don't always tell the whole story. A great tactical leader can recognize problems in the strategy and think on their feet in order to change the outcome.

Physical Leaders

Physical leadership is usually left to the best player on the floor. There is usually at least one go-to player that the team can count on to make great plays throughout the match. This person is usually the one the team uses most often to score points and the one the ball goes to when the game is on the line.

A great physical leader has the following three traits:

  • Talent
    The physical leader is the best player and the one with the best skills. In order to carry the load for your team, you have to be able to compete against any player or team that comes your way. As your performance goes, so does your team's.
  • Consistency
    Since the physical leader is counted on the match after match to carry the team, it is especially important that this player be consistent. Mistakes are kept to a minimum and much production comes out of this position.
  • Grace Under Pressure
    When the game is tight and your team needs to score, the ball will more than likely go to the physical leader. This player needs to have nerves of steel. Not only do you know you're going to get the ball when the chips are down, so does your opponent. A physical leader needs to be calm and relaxed and do what needs to be done to win the game despite the pressure.

Emotional Leaders

Just as important as tactical and physical leadership is the unsung hero, the emotional leader. Emotional leaders are there to pump up their teams when the energy level is down. But their leadership doesn't end when the game does. Emotional leaders are the ones that players come to after the game to talk about any issues they're having with the coach and other players. Often this person is counted on to solve problems within the team and an integral part of keeping the inner workings of the squad smooth.

Some qualities of a great emotional leader are:

  1. Personality
    To lead on the court and off you have to have the right personality. Usually, an emotional leader is a bright, fiery and inspirational figure. When things are going badly, they know just the right thing to say to get the team fired up and back on track. When it comes to off-the-court issues, this person is easy to talk to and trusted by each of the team members to do the right thing. They may have to be a go-between with players and coaches or asked to represent a point of view or open a discussion of a sensitive issue.
  2. Intuitiveness
    An emotional leader has to have his or her hand on the pulse of the team as a whole. This person has to know when to speak up and when to be silent. They have to know what will inspire the team at a given moment. They have to anticipate problems and be able to recognize when others are having issues before they become enormous sticking points. Emotional leaders know what needs to happen to make things better both on the court and off.
  3. Problem-Solving Skills
    The team has to trust that an emotional leader will make the right choices when it comes to a big problem. They need to know who to go to in order to get results and they know how to deal with problems as they arise. An emotional leader has an enormous burden to bear, but they do it with ease because it is just a part of who they are.