Hi, I love your blog! I just started coxing this year and it has been so helpful and informative so far. My question: for my team’s first regatta this fall, I coxed the 3V which I was pretty proud of considering I’m a novice cox and the 1V and 2V are coxed by upperclassmen. However, for the next regatta, I found out I got moved down to the 4V. I want to know why and how I can get back in the 3V, but don’t want to annoy my coaches or seem like I’m resentful or overly focused on myself instead of the team as a whole. I’m not super upset by the switch but I’d really like to be back in the 3V for the spring. Also, I was told to be more “bitchy” in the boat, but I want to make sure I’m constructively assertive and not mean or unnecessarily aggressive. Do you have any suggestions for how to talk to my coaches about this or to get back into a higher boat, or tips for being “bitchy” in a helpful way? Sorry if this question has already been answered! Thanks so much!
Just talk to your coaches. Approach it casually and maturely and say “I didn’t mind being in the 4V but my goal for the spring is to cox the 3V. Is there anything that prompted the switch when we raced and if so, what can I do to work on that so I can have a better shot at the 3V?” Trust me, it really is that simple. As long as you don’t come off entitled or anything like that when you ask, they’re not going to care that you brought it up. If anything they’ll probably appreciate the fact that you’re talking with them about it because it shows your commitment to getting better.
As far as “being bitchy in a helpful way”, I think you first have to narrow it down to what’s actually being referenced. Are they saying you need to be more assertive with your execution in general or something smaller, like your calls just need a bit more “punch” behind them? I’ve heard people say “be more of a bitch” in reference to so many different aspects of coxing that I honestly don’t even know what they mean anymore (and truthfully, it’s really starting to aggravate me). If your rowers are speaking in a general sense, I tend to interpret that as them saying they want you to be more on top of them about the little details – aka hold them accountable for the changes they need to make, the rate/splits they’re supposed to be at, etc.
I was just talking about this with our coxswains yesterday when we went over their coxswain evals and what I told them was that they need to know not just the standards and expectations that we (the coaches) have for each crew but they also need to know the standards and expectations that the rowers have for themselves and then aggressively hold them to that. That combined with knowing the appropriate technical calls to make (and when) and understanding the focus and purpose of each drill/workout so you can cox them accordingly is how you present yourself as a “constructively assertive” coxswain.