Tag: attitude

Coxing Q&A Teammates & Coaches

Question of the Day

Hi! How would you recommend handling other coxswains that believe in “dictatorship”? I’m in my 3rd year of coxing and have always had the thought process that I am not a dictator or boss, or that the rowers work for me, but that I work for the rowers so that they can perform to the best of their abilities. As long as we are working hard and accomplishing our goals, I see no reason as to why we can’t have fun. My boat last year had this mindset and we always did extremely well and had good attitudes most of the time. However, this year the coxswains who have been with our team for a shorter time than myself (I am the oldest cox) believe that they can be dictators and that it’s alright for them to force the rowers to perform workouts the way that they want them done, rather than what works best for the rowers. How can I handle this? I’ve already talked to the other coxes but they don’t care. 

It would probably also be helpful to add that our coaches don’t really care about this situation either. I know that it bothers several of the rowers but I don’t know what I can do at this point.

If you’ve pointed out the problem, explained why that approach doesn’t work and how it ultimately hurts the team (and themselves), given suggestions on how to act/lead in a more effective manner, etc., all while getting zero support from the coaches … I don’t really know what else you can (be expected to) do. I’ve been in similar positions, both while coaching our coxswains right now and when I was on my own teams, and it’s frustrating as hell to be in a leadership position and know that there’s this expectation that you’ll take the initiative to address the problem but then see absolutely nothing come of it when you do. It’s like the personification of the “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink” saying.

I can’t even get into the coaches not caring. Like … seriously? I said this to someone else a few weeks ago (linked below – a lot of the advice in there I’d give to you too) but if the coaches aren’t going to do the bare minimum in addressing shit like this then they really have no room to be annoyed when certain crews underperform as the season gets underway.

Related: Hi! I’m in my third year of coxing in college. I coxed the 2V my first two years but this fall I was moved up to the 1V. There are a few other coxswains on our team but honestly, most of them don’t know what they’re doing and won’t put in effort to improve. I’ve noticed that when I’m occasionally put back into the 2V (which is mainly made up of the same rowers as last year’s 2V) for practice, the rowers have lost a lot of technique. Stroke seat (who was my stroke in the 2V last year) has told me that the other coxswains don’t know how to correct technique and will either ignore it or tell them to do the wrong thing. She has also said that the coxswains don’t know how to call pieces and aren’t helping them get to the stroke rate or split they need to be at. I also found out that several of 2V rowers no longer trust coxswains because the other coxswains have constantly lied to them about stroke rate, split, distance, time, etc.

I don’t think it’s your responsibility to handle this. I think it’s your responsibility as the oldest coxswain on the team to address it, which it sounds like you have, but you can’t be the only person trying to get them to adjust their approach. The rowers need to speak up too and let them know that their way of communicating isn’t working. It’s really easy to bitch about stuff like this behind their backs but nothing’s going to change unless you address it head on and part of the responsibility for doing that lies with them.

A good way to go about that is to have the rowers direct their feedback towards one of the older rowers (even better if they’re a team captain) and then you and that rower can talk to the coxswains on your own after practice one day. In this situation you can let the rower lead the discussion so that they can explain why their attitudes are a problem and what it feels like to be on the receiving end of it. From there you can offer yourself up as a resource if they want help in figuring out better ways to communicate with the team but I also think you need to take a hard stance here and let them know that all they’re doing is undermining themselves by acting like this. If/when they get pissed because they suddenly realized no one on the team respects them, they’ll only have themselves to blame and that sucks but that’s the hole they dug themselves into.

I know that seems like a harsh thing to say too (it really isn’t though) but I honestly feel like if more people (coaches, captains, whoever…) made points like that to coxswains early on, situations like this would way occur less often. It obviously won’t prevent everyone from getting drunk with (perceived) power but if they realize it’ll take twice as long and five times as much effort to overcome this than if they’d just acted like a normal person to begin with, they might make a bit more of an effort to be self-aware with regards to their actions and interactions with the team.

What’s keeping you out of the 1V

Coxing

What’s keeping you out of the 1V

You could apply this to any boat that you aspire to be in but since “how do I get in the 1V” is a frequently asked question, that’s what the focus of this post is on.

You’re not being proactive

Showing up every day isn’t reason enough to get put in the 1V. It’s mind boggling the number of coxswains who think that that’s all it takes. It is but one very small piece of the puzzle. You need to be proactive every single day (yea, even in the winter) about learning the required skills, striving to perfect them, and regularly communicating with your coaches about … pretty much everything. If you’re not doing those things, you’re not doing nearly enough.

You seem uninterested

You don’t have to be the peppiest person ever but you do need to convey some level of energy and enthusiasm. If you go about practice with an apathetic demeanor, there’s nothing about that that indicates to your coaches that being in the 1V is something you’re motivated to work towards. Apathy is not a leadership quality either so if that’s your general attitude, you’re not going to be a very inspired choice for the coaches to consider.

You don’t make a case for yourself

You need to objectively know your strengths and weaknesses and be able to sell yourself if/when you coach asks why you should be considered for the 1V. Consider it like any job interview you’ll ever go on – your coach, like an employer, wants to know what you can do for them and the team, not how this is going to benefit you. Confidence and humility are key; acting smug and cocky can/will make it easy to dismiss you.

You haven’t researched the job

Find out what the coaches and rowers want in a 1V coxswain in terms of skills, abilities, personality, etc. and talk with current/former 1V coxswains so you can get a sense for what it takes to be in that position and what the expectations are.

You’re not good enough or are under-qualified

It’s fine to aim high but you need to be realistic and not get pissed when someone says you’re not ready. If you’re just coming off of your novice year or you’re a junior who still hasn’t come to terms with what a straight line looks like, you’re not ready to be in the 1V. It’s not a dig or demeaning or bullying or whatever else to be told that … it’s an objective fact based on your current skill level and should motivate you to figure out where you can/should improve so you can make a stronger, more grounded-in-reality case for yourself next year.

You lack chemistry with the team and coaches

If the coaches find you difficult to work with or hard to coach and the rowers find you to be a power tripping try-hard, you’re gonna have a hard time getting them to advocate for you. You need to earn their respect and trust and if you lack that, your bid for the 1V just got a lot tougher.

You’re not learning from your mistakes or you get complacent easily

Your successes have to be given the same treatment as your failures – accept whatever happened, learn something, and apply it going forward. If you’re consistently making the same mistake(s) or you get cocky and stop paying attention, your judgment, decision-making, and (self-)awareness (all critical necessities for a 1V coxswain) are going to be called into question.

You’re entitled

This is, in my opinion, the number one reason why you’re not in the 1V. So many of the emails that I get about this reek of entitlement and arrogance. You don’t deserve the 1V just because you’ve been there the longest. You don’t deserve the 1V just because some of the rowers like you better than the other coxswain. You don’t deserve the 1V just because you did this pretty inconsequential thing that anyone with half a brain and an ounce of common sense would know to do. If you spent half as much time on actually improving yourself as a coxswain as you do complaining about why you’re not being given the 1V on a silver platter, you’d be in the 1V already.

All of this is good food for thought during the summer since things are a lot more low-key and you have the ability to look at the previous season or year’s performance with more objectivity. If you spent the spring season frustrated because you felt like you weren’t in the boat you “deserved”, consider what’s up above and think about the role you played in your coach’s decision because at the end of the day, this quote applies just as much to coxswains as it does to rowers.

Image via // @drikus_conradie
Coxswain skills: Working with a bad coach

Coxing How To Teammates & Coaches

Coxswain skills: Working with a bad coach

As a coxswain, having a good working relationship with your coach is crucial. It’s the same as what I’ve said in the past about your relationships with the rowers – you don’t have to like each other but for two hours every day you do have to be able to work together. There’s no foolproof way to do this either … some coaches just suck, plain and simple. What I’ve laid out below probably won’t work for you if you have a coach that is really disagreeable, has a huge ego, etc. but short of telling you to just quit and go join another sport, this is the best I’ve got.

Related: “Coach problems” tag

Most of this I learned the hard way my senior year when I had a coach who refused to coach my eight, constantly made disparaging comments towards me and my teammates, and refused to be questioned by anyone because he was the coach (which he reminded us of literally every chance he had) and there was absolutely no conceivable reason why we shouldn’t just blindly follow every instruction we were given. I, to the surprise of pretty much no one, rebelled hard against all of this because I thought it was bullshit and, to the surprise of pretty much no one, he responded by taking me out of the varsity eight, not just because I questioned him (which was my first mistake) but because I handled it with the same level of maturity that most 17 year old girls would … which is to say, in hindsight I could have handled it a lot better.

Like a lot of things I’ve put on this blog, I didn’t have anyone telling me “this is how you deal with this” and the only advice I got was everyone basically telling me to just keep my head down, do what I was told, and don’t do anything that would, for lack of a better phrase, rock the boat. That kind of “advice” doesn’t really work for me so below are the things that I eventually came up with (some during the season, some years after the fact) that should hopefully make working with or around a bad coach a little easier.

Do what you say you’re going to do

If you’re going to be a coxswain then you’re agreeing to a lot of rules and expectations that are often unwritten and unsaid. Even if your coach isn’t explicitly telling you what you need to do, you still have a pretty defined set of responsibilities that you know you have to execute on a daily basis. If you aren’t doing these things they’re going to draw a lot of attention and the target on your back is going to become even bigger, which is why it might seem like your coach is always picking on you. It’s up to you to go directly to them and ask “what are your expectations of me…” so that you know what’s expected since they’re probably not going to take you aside to tell you themselves. Don’t expect it to be spelled out for you either … you’re probably going to have to read between the lines of whatever vague non-answer they give you in order to figure out what they really want.

Be transparent

I’ve talked about this before but if you screw up, own it and don’t be that guy that tries to cover it up or make excuses. You can save yourself a lot of grief by taking responsibility right off the bat and avoiding the fallout that comes with a coach who not only has to deal with damaged equipment and wasted practice time but on top of that, a coxswain who’s lying about whatever role they played in the incident. If you have a coach who is prone to kicking people out of boats seemingly on a whim and that’s what you’re trying to avoid having happen, you’re playing yourself. If/when you screw up, say “this was my fault, I take full responsibility for it” and accept whatever happens without making it a bigger issue than it already is.

Provide solutions, not complaints

It’s really easy to complain when you have a bad coach but as the coxswain, you can’t get sucked into that and you sure as hell can’t be the one starting it. When my coach would purposely drive his launch close to us so he could wake us out during practice, my default response every time was “are you fucking kidding me…” because … who wouldn’t respond that way? During one of our many post-practice therapy sessions, our assistant told me that it wasn’t worth getting frustrated over when we could instead just focus on rowing better so that the next time it happened we could row through the wake like nothing happened.

“Rowing better” is obviously always the goal but for us it became “we’re gonna do it because we know that you think we can’t”, which isn’t always the best mindset to be in (I hate the idea of feeling like you have to prove something just to get people to back off) but it really worked for us. We doubled down on handle heights, body prep, carrying the blades six inches off the water, etc. and literally every single opportunity we had, we rowed square blades. There were practices where, if we were on the water for 90 minutes, probably 60 of them were spent rowing square blades, regardless of what we were doing. If the weather was bad, even better – we’d row square blades through white caps if we had to. Our bladework got so good that the next time we got waked by his launch we didn’t even flinch and he actually stopped to watch us row by. Our assistant yelled over to him, smile on his face, “lookin’ pretty good, huh?”, which to this day remains one of my favorite moments ever.

That whole situation was pretty defining for me as a coxswain and reinforced the notion that every challenge or hurdle is an opportunity to step it up and showcase your leadership skills. You can take the easy route and complain, which I’ll admit is really tempting to do sometimes, or you can be the one that provides a solution by saying “nope, we’re not settling for this, this is what we’re going to do to turn this distraction into a tool that makes us better rowers”.

Anticipate and over-prepare

This was something I learned early on in my career but it’s benefited me the most when I’ve had to work with erratic, unorganized coaches who thought “coxswain” was synonymous with “mind reader”. Getting in the habit of talking with your coaches before practice about what the plan for the day is, what drills you’ll be doing, and what the technical focus will be is just part of being a good coxswain but if they don’t tell you (or you just don’t ask), it’s gonna feel like you’re constantly being put on the spot.

One way to combat this is to pay attention to patterns. For example, on Mondays you do AT pieces and the drills are almost always catch/front end related. Tuesdays and Thursdays are steady state days and you’re usually left to your own devices. Wednesdays are sprint work and the drills typically relate to whatever you struggled most with during the race on Saturday and during steady state yesterday. Fridays you do a race walk-through. If you can recognize the patterns in your training plan then it becomes a lot easier for you to execute practice with little to no direction or instruction given by your coach. It also helps you prepare your calls ahead of time, familiarize yourself with drills, etc.

The best way to not be caught off guard is to be prepared for whatever might get thrown at you, which means you should know every drill, forwards and backwards, and the purpose of every workout (general rule of thumb: steady state = technique, sprints = power).

The final thing to keep in mind is that the most mature (and hardest by far for some of us) way to deal with a bad coach is to not talk back to them. You will be tempted but don’t. It might make you feel better in the moment to argue or get the last word in but in the long run it’s just gonna hurt you because you’ll essentially be undermining your own authority. Be cooperative, try to be cordial and pleasant (even when it means gritting your teeth to do so), and always, always be on top of your game. The lighter you keep the overall atmosphere by doing those three things, the better the rowers (and you) will be able to focus on the task at hand in spite of the fact that your coach is making it harder rather than easier.

Image via // @rowingcelebration

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Coxswain Skills: How to handle a negative coxswain evaluation

College Coxing High School How To Teammates & Coaches

Coxswain Skills: How to handle a negative coxswain evaluation

Previously: Steering, pt. 1 || Steering, pt. 2  || Boat feel 

This might seem like an unconventional topic to put under the “things you should know how to do” umbrella but after spending many hours on coxswain evals over the last year and a half and occasionally feeling like pulling teeth would have been a more enjoyable experience, I think learning how to handle negative feedback/constructive criticism is an important skill that coxswains need to pick up sooner rather than later.

Feedback, both positive and negative, is essential to your growth as a coxswain. When communicated properly, it should touch on three main things – what you’re doing well, what you need to improve on, and areas where you’ve made improvements since your last evaluation. This is a big reason why I revamped how the info on our evals is communicated to the coxswains. Before the coaches just handed them the 20+ pieces of paper and left them to their own devices but now it’s all laid out in a single spreadsheet that hits the three points I mentioned before.

Related: Coxswain evaluations + my system for organizing them

Where going over evals becomes a contentious and unproductive process is when you take the negative feedback personally. Being told you aren’t doing something well can sting because of the amount of time we put into coxing but if someone is critiquing your coxing, they’re not critiquing you. You have to be able to separate you the person from you the coxswain and look at these situations objectively. On the flip side though, if you’re not putting in the necessary extra effort outside of practice (or hell, even at practice…) or you show up every day with a shitty attitude then you really have no right to complain about whatever’s being said, which I think more coxswains than not need to understand.

With that in mind, here are eight things (some of which may or may not be inspired by our coxswains 😬) that you shoudn’t do when going over your evals.

Don’t get defensive

In most cases it’s the natural reaction to have but it can also come off as pretty immature. There’s a difference between defending your actions or making a case for why you did something a certain way and straight up making an excuse. You can defend something you’ve done one time (i.e. going through the wrong arch because you were unsure of which one to use due to construction on the bridge – a common problem on the Charles where this is always changing) but if you’re trying to defend something you’ve done multiple times (i.e. hitting the dock when coming in at the end of practice) then you’re just making excuses for why you haven’t adapted your steering to account for whatever was causing you to run into the dock in the first place (i.e. your speed, angle, line, etc.).

Don’t have an attitude or be sarcastic

Full disclosure, I started putting this post together after a particularly … uh, heated … meeting with one of our coxswains this past fall where this was the biggest issue I faced in trying to communicate with them the feedback that was on the evals. The bottom line is that you can be annoyed all you want but don’t be an asshole to the person taking time out of their schedule to go over this stuff with you because I promise, it just makes them not want to do it in the future … and if you have someone willing to go out of their way to discuss all of it with you, you are foolish if you don’t take advantage of it.

Don’t apologize 47 times for whatever mistake(s) you’ve made

Mainly looking at you, high school girls. Say it once sincerely and move on. Don’t make your coaches coddle you and have to keep saying “it’s fine” – I’ve had to do this recently and eventually it gets to the point where I’m like “I literally do not care if you’re sorry or how sorry you are, just do something different“. The more times you say sorry (especially for really trivial things that don’t require an apology) without actively changing your actions or behavior, the less your apology is going to mean when you really do screw up.

Don’t react immediately

If your immediate reaction to the feedback you’re getting is to blurt out “that’s not fair”, “I completely disagree”, etc. you will look so immature, even if the comments are unfair (which they rarely are) and you do disagree (which is fine but see point #1). Absorb the comments and think about what’s being said so you can try to understand why someone made that comment and then say that you’d like to come back to it later, either at the end of practice, tomorrow, etc., after you’ve had time to think about and process it.

And coaches, if your coxswain goes this route … respect it and say “OK, let’s touch base later”, even if that means spending an extra 20 minutes at the boathouse. If you force the issue by saying”no, we’re gonna do this now” you’re just gonna make them resent the whole evaluation process and their confidence/abilities will suffer as a result.

Don’t dwell on it, let it affect future practices, or use it as a reason/excuse for why you have a bad practice the following day

If you were caught off guard by the comments then that’s fine and you should take some time to deal with that but you also need to commit to letting them go, particularly when it’s time to get on the water. No pity parties or “woe is me” attitudes because the rowers don’t give a shit and the coaches are just gonna get annoyed because we have other stuff to focus on.

Don’t ignore comments you disagree with

Not all feedback is useful but disagreeing with a comment doesn’t mean you can straight up ignore it, particularly when getting any kind of feedback is so tough in the first place.

Don’t waste the opportunity to discuss, strategize, etc.

It’s like at the end of a job interview when they ask if you have any questions. You should always ask questions. I’m currently in the process of going over our winter evals with the coxswains and I told them ahead of time to bring questions, comments, things they wanted/needed clarification on, an action plan for the rest of winter training, a list of goals based on the feedback that was given, etc. because this is the prime chance to discuss all of that stuff with me. I see and talk to them every single day but direct one-on-one time like this is rare, as I assume it is with most of you and your coaches, so don’t waste the opportunity to pick their brains when it’s offered.

Don’t be resentful

If your coach(es) or the rowers have been telling you something for awhile and then it comes up again in the evals, you can expect that they’re all thinking “well … we told you so”. This shouldn’t piss you off or give you cause to be bitter towards them, it should instead act as a wake up call (or a “come to Jesus” moment, as our head coach calls it) that you need to do some serious self-analysis and get your shit together. They are telling you this stuff for. a. reason. Don’t ignore them just because you don’t think it’s important because it will bit you in the ass later.

Obviously these critiques are about what’s being said but ultimately their effectiveness is measured by how you handle and respond to them. This will also dictate how future evals go – the more receptive you are to feedback and the more diligently you go about addressing whatever issues are brought up, the more likely the rowers will be to continue giving you feedback because they can see that you’re taking it seriously. If you come off as aloof or combative in response to what’s being said, you’re not going to get better because the rowers will stop giving you any sort of feedback because it looks like you’re not taking it seriously. It’s your call.

Image via // @merijnsoeters

Training & Nutrition Video of the Week

Video of the Week: There’s only two things you can do…

This video isn’t related to rowing at all but I think it’s a great one to kick off the winter training season. The part that you should really internalize and take to heart is the last line: there’s only two things you can do when people say you’re not good enough; you can prove them right or you can prove them wrong.

For those of you who aren’t too into football or are unfamiliar with the sport, here’s some background. The guy in the video is Julian Edelman, a wide receiver and punt returner for the New England Patriots. In college he played quarterback at Kent State and wasn’t expected to make much of an impact in the NFL due to his size and lack of experience at WR. People wrote him off from the get go but over the last five years he’s become one of the best guys on the Pats offense.

Use him as inspiration/motivation over the next few months. If there’s something you think you can’t do or someone has said doesn’t seem likely (whether that’s breaking 6:40 on your 2k because you’re not fit enough, earning a seat in the 1v because you’re “too small”, or medaling at nationals because you’re not experienced enough) remember that you can either prove them right or you can prove them wrong. Whatever you end up doing though, the choice is yours.

College High School Q&A Teammates & Coaches

Question of the Day

As a coach, do you feel that it is ever acceptable to refuse coaching to one specific individual solely on the basis of personal differences? My coach of two years this morning threw me out of his squad, not on the basis that I am a poor rower, that I don’t have potential, or that I don’t train, simply because he finds me difficult to deal with.

I guess my first question is why does he find you difficult to deal with? Coaches don’t normally just decide something like that, it’s usually something they notice and try to deal with over a period of time and then after deciding it’s either not worth their time anymore or is becoming too much of a distraction to your teammates, then they’ll remove you from practice(s) until you … change, for lack of a better word.

In certain situations, I do think it’s acceptable. I don’t think “refusing coaching” is the right term though because I (and most coaches) wouldn’t straight up refuse to coach you but I don’t see a problem with telling you to just go home if I felt like the situation/your attitude warranted it. You could be the best rower or coxswain on the team with a wealth of potential but if I think you’re a pain in the ass because you’re being uncooperative, uncoachable, or are being a distraction to the rest of the crew for whatever reason then yea, I wouldn’t have a problem telling you you’re out of the boat for the day/week.

If I was ever in this position I wouldn’t put you on land, I’d just send you home. I’m not a huge believer in punishing someone by putting them on the erg because I think that sends the wrong message about what the erg’s purpose is. If I find you difficult to deal with for whatever reason, chances are I also think that you’re wasting my time and having some kind of negative impact on your teammates’ ability to train. Why would I “reward” you by giving you the opportunity to continue training, even if it is on land, if you’ve been taking that opportunity away from your teammates for the last few practices? Time on the water is a valuable commodity that I don’t want to waste and if I think you’re wasting people’s time, I’m most certainly going to make you aware of it by taking away your opportunity to train.

After practice was over though or the following day I’d at least make the effort to talk to you to explain my reasoning for taking you out of the boat and try to get your side of the story to see if maybe there’s an underlying issue contributing to things. Basically I’d try to give you an opportunity to take ownership of the situation and recognize that your own actions are probably 99.9% of the reason why you’re on the erg and not in the boat. Doing that is a lot more effective in the long run than just saying “leave” and completely refusing to coach you, at least in my opinion.

On the flip side, if the coach is saying to get out of the boat and that they’re not going to coach you because you voted for this person instead of that person on one of those inane talent shows – those kind of personal differences – then yea, I think that’s unacceptable.

Q&A Racing Rowing

Question of the Day

How do you deal with losing, especially if it was a big race? As my boat’s coxswain I feel like I’m taking it way harder than everyone in my boat. We did really well and my rowers gave it their all but I’m just very upset that we didn’t do as well as we wanted. I’ve been crying and while I am SO PROUD of my girls (and of myself) I just feel like I let my boat down. Please help?

My senior year we finished second at Midwest and initially I was pissed because we lost by a bow ball. Like, are you kidding? All of those months of practice and it comes down to two inches? I was so angry. I kept going over in my head every single stroke we took, every single call I made, would the outcome have been different if I’d waited ten meters to call the sprint or if I’d done this instead of that.

I realized later though that there was nothing I’d change about that race. If I had to do it over again I’d do everything the exact same, even if meant losing by a bow ball again. I was that confident in our race plan, our rowing, and my coxing. That’s all you can be is confident and steadfast in the thought that you did and gave everything you could in your race. Losing doesn’t mean someone did something wrong or that someone let someone else down. The beauty of rowing is that no one individual can let the boat down because it’s a team sport. Nine people have to work together to go from Point A to Point B and those nine people are collectively responsible for the boat’s successes and failures.

Related: What do you like to do to cheer yourself up after a lost race or tough practice?

As a coxswain you will take it harder than everyone else. It’s natural to feel like that because from the time the official says “go” to when we cross the finish line, every decision that’s made is ours and regardless of the outcome, but most especially if we lose, we’re going to scrutinize every call we made. Instead of doing that, which only makes you feel worse, get together with your boat (and coach, if you want) and talk about the race from beginning to end. Don’t over-analyze it, just talk about it. Beginning being the moment you called “hands on” to take the boat down to the dock and the end being when the boat was derigged and on the trailer. Before you went out, was everyone’s head in the game? How confident did you feel in yourselves and in your race plan? During the race, what happened? What did you call? Where did you make your move? Why? Why there? What were you seeing? How did the boat feel? What did it look like? Could you see/feel the improvements you’ve made the last few weeks at practice or did it feel like you reverted back to some bad habits?

Most likely what you’re going to notice is that overall, everyone is proud of how they did, how you did, etc. You can have a good, even great, race and still have a shitty outcome. It happens and it sucks but the only thing – the only thing – you can do is reflect on it, learn from it, and go out at your next practice with the expressed intent of doing things harder, better, faster, and stronger. Expectations of how well you want to do are something you should have but you shouldn’t put all your eggs in that basket. Not meeting them this week shouldn’t do anything to your psyche other than motivate you to work harder so you can meet/exceed them at your next race.

Coxing High School Q&A Racing

Question of the Day

I’m a varsity coxswain for my high school team and we have 4 coxswains and 3 boats to race, so the younger girls are in competition for the 3rd seat. For the last 4 races, I won the “coxswain seat race” and raced the important ones. Today she coxed at an unimportant medals race and I was given the important one for next week and I’m so nervous and I know I’ll cox well but I need the boat to move faster then it ever has before so that it’ll guarantee I get to cox at Mid-Atlantics and Stotes –  HELP.

I get what you’re saying, I really do but I’ve gotta caution you on something. Don’t ever say you need the boat to do something in order for you to be able to cox. They have their job and you have yours. Neither person is obligated to do anything for the other. Obviously you want to row hard for each other but you can’t say “row hard so I get this boat” or “row hard because I want this boat” … that makes it all about you and SURPRISE it’s not all about you. As long as each person does their job to the best of their ability, that is what makes boats move faster than they ever have before.

Don’t be nervous or too cocky. You’ve clearly been doing something right if you’re consistently winning seat races and being given boats to race at the important regattas. Keep doing what you’re doing, work with your crew to come up with a solid race plan, and work your ass off during practice this week. Push your crew to work hard and let them push you as well. Stay calm, be confident, and let your goals motivate you to be the best coxswain for your boat. If you do all of that you’ll be making an undeniable contribution to the boat that will most definitely help it go fast this weekend.