The Ultimate Dragon Boat Team Captain Checklist

A dragon boat team captain is responsible for getting the boat moving in the right direction when it comes to everyday management duties like recruiting, organizing uniforms, setting practices, working with the coach, regular team communication, budgeting, collecting payments, attendance, event and practice registration, and waivers. Depending on the team and its goals, it can take anywhere from 5 to 12 hours per week to stay on top of everything.

Sometimes it can feel like there is just not enough time. So we have put together a checklist to help you become the best dragon boat team captain you can be for your team – from general team management, to working with your coach, to practice, to race day. And if you’re considering becoming a team captain, this will give you a good sense of the commitment you will need to make to your team.

General Dragon Boat Team Management

  • Build a committee: Even though you might have the title of Team Captain, that doesn’t mean you should do everything on your own. Set up a committee, even if it is two or three team mates, and delegate certain tasks to each person. A dragon boat team is made up of paddlers with different strengths on and off the water. Work towards each person’s strengths.
  • Set & clearly communicate team expectations: With 20 different personalities paddling in one boat, it is easy to come across varying opinions that can lead to conflict. Try to avoid conflicts by setting expectations at the beginning of the season – document and share it! Have a team discussion and get buy in and make sure people agree to them. That way the team can hold each other accountable and you can refer to agreed expectations that you already agreed upon. Some expectations worth outlining are: What are the team goals? How will race line-ups be formed – will attendance and attitude be a key factor in making line-ups or does the team just want to put the fastest team on the water at all times? What will happen if extra paddlers show up for practice? What type of crew are you – is it about having fun, improvement and friendship or is this a highly competitive group ready to do testing and hard-core training? How many races does the team want to do? What is the generally accepted budget?
  • Set a realistic practice and race schedule: Based on your team expectations, figure out a water and land practice schedule that will help your team work towards their seasonal goals.
  • Find a great coach: This can make or break your season! You need to find a coach that has an aligned vision for your team. A great coach will know when to push each team member and when to back off.
  • Don’t forget the fun: Remember that dragon boat is all about the community. While it’s good to connect with the broader dragon boat community at events, you should plan social events for your team throughout the year. It helps to build trust within the boat if the team knows each other really well.

 Working With Your Dragon Boat Coach

  • Set & clearly communicate expectations: In the same way you set expectations as a team, you need to discuss your team goals with your coach before getting started (if you never did, better late than never!). This leads to open communication channels and a clear set of coaching goals that won’t turn any of your fellow paddlers off dragon boat.
  • Give them regular feedback: Open communication is important between the team captain and the coach. You know your team best and if you think the coach can do something different to get more out of the team, then it’s your job to have that discussion. Feedback can be things like: need more one on one; need more enthusiasm; need more or less hard-ass coaching; etc.
  • Ask for regular feedback: Feedback should go both ways. Your coach might have some great ideas on what the team needs to do to reach max goals. As team captain, you can work with your committee or directly with the team to work towards those improvements.
  • Respect the coach: It’s important that your team believes in your coach because you need everyone on the same page doing the same thing. While technique is important, sometimes being a unit is even more important!

 Dragon Boat Practices

  • Be on time: You are setting an example for your team.
  • Outline practice goals: Communicate what the plan is for the practice ahead of time so everyone can keep paddling in the same direction.
  • Outline next steps: At the end of practice, make sure everyone knows what’s going on next. For example, when is the next practice, when is the next race, etc.

 Dragon Boat Events

  • Have a race day plan: Before you even arrive, make sure everyone knows about the warm-up, can visualize the outcomes, and knows the race plan. This helps your team focus on reaching their goals without being as nervous.
  • Be early: This helps you to be ready for any issues if they come up as well as greet your team mates with all of the information they need as they arrive.
  • Keep your team’s health in mind: Everyone needs to be at their best to enjoy the day, so encourage your team to stay in the shade, put on sunscreen, and drink lots of water.
  • Be adaptable: On race day, you have to wear multiple hats – you’re the team captain, but sitting or in the boat, you’re a team member so act like it. Pull your hardest in the boat or help everyone on land if that’s where you are.

While it can be a lot of work, being a dragon boat team captain is extremely rewarding. The satisfaction of knowing you have made it possible for 20+ people to create lifelong friendships, stay healthy, and reach new levels of fitness makes the extra time commitment worthwhile.

There are a lot of moving parts – and people – when it comes to dragon boat team management, but you still need to remember to have fun! If you feel like you have reached the point of exhaustion or that you are burnt out, you’ve gone too far. Take a step back, re-evaluate and make sure you come up with a plan to make it fun again!

One way to make life easier is to check out the team management features Gushou has to offer. Sign up today and get a 21-day free trial for our new premium features!

Wondering how Gushou can make your life easier? Check out this quick video!

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