So I know you mostly get questions from coxswains but do ya think you could riddle me this? I’m a high school rower (started last winter) so technically I’m still a novice but since the beginning of summer I’ve been rowing varsity. I absolutely love the sport but I sometimes feel a bit intimidated by the fact that I’m constantly racing girls older than me! I’m only 15 and most of the girls I race & row with are getting ready to head off to college! Any advice on how to face the competition?
That’s great that you’re rowing varsity if you’ve only been rowing for less than a year. If anything, the girls that you’re racing should be intimidated by you since you’re most likely 2-3 years younger than them. You’ve clearly done the work and proven to your coaches that you can handle the responsibility of being a varsity rower so own it.
Be a leader in your boat. Don’t assume that just because you’re younger than everyone else that that is the persona you need to take on. Speak up, offer your opinion (when the time is appropriate), get everyone started on stretches if your coaches/coxswains aren’t around, and be coachable. Always offer to take oars down, wash the boat, etc. ACT like the varsity teammate you are instead of trying to hide in the background because you’re intimidated by the other girls. Whether or not they let it on, the girls that are graduating are going to worry just a little bit about what the state of the team will be when they leave. If you start proving yourself as a strong leader and good teammate now, not only will you gain so much respect from them, the other rowers on the team, and your coaches, but you will offer them reassurance that the team will THRIVE in your hands. This will result in them embracing you as a teammate rather than just acknowledging your existence in the boat.
When you’re racing, don’t worry about those other crews. If you’ve done everything you need to do to prepare, you’re going to be looking at their backs going down the course, not the other way around. You never know, there might be novice rowers in those varsity boats too. Hold your head high, keep your chin up, and maintain that look of determination in your eyes. If you do that, they will be just as intimidated by you as you are of them right now. It’s all about attitude. What have you observed about the girls on your team and the teams you race? What does their body language convey, both on and off the water? What’s their rowing like? Emulate that!! When you’re on the water, FOCUS. Concentrate on working to perfect everything you do during practice each day. Be able to pick out two to three things that got better by the end of practice. Push yourself. Don’t settle for anything. Always strive for MORE. The only thing you should be intimidated by is the expectations you have set for yourself. If you’re not intimidated by your goals and expectations, you haven’t set the bar high enough.