Hi! I’m a novice rower and asking for advice concerning my coxswain. She doesn’t get really fired up during races and falls back on just correcting our technique when we really need motivation. Anything you know that helps? We’re a girls team btw.
Have you talked to her about this? Does she know that it bothers you guys when she only focus on technique and doesn’t give any motivation? If you haven’t it’s possible that she doesn’t know there’s a problem.
Whenever you go out and do a piece, ask her if she can throw in some more motivational calls and then give her some specifics – tell her exactly what you (and the rest of the boat) want to hear. Explain that technical calls are really helpful at the beginning but as the race goes on, you need more motivation because as you get more tired it starts to feel like you can’t go on and you NEED someone pushing you and telling you that you can. Hopefully she’ll listen to you and try and throw in some more motivational calls – if she does, acknowledge that. At the end of a piece or after practice, say thank you and that you really appreciated her trying to throw in some new calls. Tell her that it really helped and ask if she can keep doing that.
Another thing you could do is have the other girls in your boat write down one or two things they want to hear and then give that list to her so she can read it. It’s possible that she knows what to say but just gets overwhelmed or forgets, so perhaps seeing it right in front of her will help remind her of things to say. You could also find a recording or two that you like (check the “recordings” tag on here and you’ll find some sprinkled through various posts) and then send her a link to it. Say that you came across these and really like how the coxswain does this or that or whatever and could she maybe try something similar the next time you go out. If she’s a novice like you, she’s still learning how to do this whole “steer-cox-think about 90430943 things a minute” thing, so maybe having one of the varsity coxswains talk to her might help. Ask them if they’d mind giving her a couple pointers on things to say during races, specifically relating to motivational calls.
Asking coxswains to do something is a little like herding blind cats sometimes … it can be hard because coxswains are usually stubborn and typically don’t like being told what to do. Be nice when you talk to her. Don’t all come at her at once with pitchforks and accuse her of not listening to you or of sucking as a coxswain. Talk about it one day after practice and see what happens.