Our assistant coach is not here this season and won’t be back until winter training so our head coach introduced a new assistant coach earlier this week. Every time she tries to correct someone’s form she says it in a way that sounds really mean and negative. After our last piece today our head coach gave us some feedback and told us what he thought was good and what could be improved. After he went to the other 8 she came over and told us we were “ridiculous and mediocre”. The other coxswains and the rowers on my team feel like she’s being way too negative and it’s making everyone feel awful. Sorry that was really long, I just want to know how to handle that kind of coach.
This is a situation where the team captains need to have a one-on-one meeting with the head coach. (If you don’t have team captains work something out so you have one or two varsity coxswains and rowers (each) that can meet with them.) The biggest thing that I’d have an issue with is her saying that you’re “ridiculous and mediocre” after the coach had already made his comments, which sound fairly positive from how you described it. That’s just not cool. I get how two coaches can see things in different ways but this is far from being the best way to address that and she should know that.
From the perspective of the rowers and coxswains, there is no “handling” of it on your end. Leave that to your head coach to deal with once you’ve spoken with him. I know it’s easier said than done for some people but don’t let her attitude get the best of you. I’ve had coaches like that too and usually my stroke and I would just look at each other, roll our eyes, and get on with whatever we were doing. Your head coach already gave you constructive feedback and that’s what you have to internalize and go with. Stupid comments like the one she made are the ones you brush off and ignore because they don’t mean anything. I’m not saying that you should always ignore the assistant’s comments in favor of what the head coach says, rather you should prioritize the comments that offer genuine feedback rather than the ones that just say “you suck”.
As far as everyone feeling awful because of it, this is where the coxswains have to step up and maintain the focus by reiterating the positives and rewording the overly-harsh negatives into something that the rowers can actually use. Negative feedback isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it’s gotta be delivered the right way for it to be effective. Plus, you have to know your audience too. If the coxswains can take what the coach is saying and give it to the rowers in a more constructive format then that’ll do a lot for how everyone feels. Granted, I can’t imagine the morale is going to be THAT great after dealing with this for awhile but that’s why I said the captains, seniors, whoever need to talk with the coach one-on-one and let them in on what’s been going on and how everyone is feeling.