Captain (Australian rules football)

Captain (Australian rules football)

A captain of an Australian rules football team, sometimes known as a "skipper" is a player who, during the course of a match and off the field, has several additional roles and responsibilities over and above those of a regular player.

They are second to the coach and an onfield leader who has various roles including to inspire the players and sometimes address umpires and the media.

When a coach appoints multiple captains, the following captaincy roles may be appointed.
* co-captain
* vice-captain - is second to the captain
* deputy vice captain - is used only when both captain and vice captain are injured


Qualities coaches look for in a captain are:
* Tough and courageous - captains must be unquestionably tough. If a captain backs down from a contest, then it can effect the morale of the entire team and decide the outcome of a game.
* Inspirational - they must have flair and be capable of performing feats (such as courageous or spectacular marks or one percenters and defensive skills) which lift the confidence of the team.
* Hard Working - needed to sets the pace at training
* Intimidating
* Confident
* Experience - is needed to deal with a range of different situations that confront captains. Uusually senior players are appointed as captains, unless a coach is grooming them early and feels they have all other qualities
* Well spoken - a commanding persona and speaking voice is required to inspire the team on field and during the breaks
* In youth grades, a direct familial relationship with the coach... i.e. the coach's son

A captain does not need great skills, but they need to be tough, hard working and determined.

A captain with these qualities can give an entire team the confidence to win crucial games.

As a result, most Aussie Rules captains are also solidly built.

Captain's Responsibilities

The toss

Before the start of a match the home captain tosses a coin and the away captain calls heads or tails. The captain who wins the toss is given the choice of which end their team will kick it to. The decision usually depends on the weather conditions and the weather forecast, particularly the direction and strength of the wind, which can give a significant advantage to a team. The captain will usually opt to kick against the wind in the first quarter. This means that they will kick with the assistance of the wind in the last quarter when players legs are tired.

Addressing the Players

Before the game and during the quarter and half time breaks, a captain will be asked by the coach to address the players in a huddle after the coach address. Whereas the coach address typically discusses strategy and field positions, the captain's address is usually purely motivational.


The captain is the only player on the ground who is allowed to address an umpire to question or discuss a decision. Any other player who does so can be penalised or reported. Although a captain may also be reported if he becomes abusive.

The umpires will typically visit the rooms of each team before a game and introduce themselves to the captain and advise the captains on any rule interpretations that they will be strict on and what they will and won't tolerate on the field.


The captain will often take a particular role in media relations on behalf of the team.

Team Selection

Although not always, the captain may be asked to participate on the selection committee to determine which players do or don't make the squad.

Grand Final

It is tradition during a grand final that the captain and coach hold up the premiership cup before it is handed to the players. The captain is required to make a speech, including thanking the opposition team.

Australian Football League Premiership Captains

See: List of Australian Football League premiership captains and coaches

Other notable AFL captains

*David Neitz
*Nathan Buckley (captained Australia in 1998 International Rules Series)
*Chris Johnson (co-captained Australia to victory in the 2005 International Rules Series)
*Andrew McLeod (co-captained Australia to victory in the 2005 International Rules Series)
*Tom Harley (2007 premiership captain)


AFL captains featured prominently in the 2006 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony.

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