Question of the Day

I row with my school (secondary school in England – so high school) and we share a boathouse/coaches with a boys school. One of my coaches is really jokey, he constantly teases us about the boys we know, he pokes fun at us, he has nicknames for us, and although I like that I never feel that I can ask him anything, if I’m unsure over something I don’t feel like I can ask anything. How can I get better at communicating with him? There is also another coach who is relatively new coaching our squad. I’ll do something right for 3/4 of a session, and then for one second I’ll mess up, and i’ll be aware that I did it wrong, but he’s straight on to me telling me how wrong it is. I’m not sure if I’m over-reacting but it really annoys me that he treats me as a complete idiot who doesn’t seem to know how to do anything, how can I change/resolve this? Thank you.

Hmm. It seems you like you have a good relationship with him … why do you feel like you can’t talk with him? Is it because he’s TOO friendly (I don’t mean that in a bad way…) and just doesn’t give off the impression that he can be serious? If you don’t feel like you can talk to him, is there at least another coach you’re able to talk to? It’s OK to have different coaches for different things … if he’s the coach that makes you laugh on a shitty day but there’s another coach that you go to when you have something serious to talk about, there’s nothing wrong with that. Different people are meant for different things and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you don’t have the option of going to another coach, I’d ask him if you can talk privately either before or after practice one day and then go from there. Maybe he’s easier to talk to when there aren’t a ton of other people around. I would first think about WHY you don’t feel like you can ask him anything and then go from there.

As for the second part of your question, when your coach points out that you did something wrong, is he an ass about it or is he constructive about it? Regardless of how he does it, if it bothers you, again, I’d ask to talk to him for a minute before or after practice and explain that most of the time you realize you’ve done something wrong and aim to fix it on the next stroke but it feels like he jumps on you right away for it which throws you off. Explain that you appreciate the attention to detail but it’s more helpful to you if he points something out if he notices it as a continual problem vs. a one time thing (i.e. you’re timing is consistently off vs. off for one stroke).

Make sure he’s aware of why it bothers you but also get his side of things – why does he coach you the way he does? Has he somehow gotten the impression that you DON’T listen to him or DON’T follow his instructions? I’ve had coaches and teachers do this to me before and it really annoys the shit out of me so I completely understand where you’re coming from. Does he do this with other rowers too or just you? If he does it with other people it could just be that that is his style/personality and it might be something that you have to get used to but if it’s directed only towards you, that might warrant a conversation. Either way, talking to him about it couldn’t hurt.

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