Advice from a coxes perspective would be great. I’ve been lucky enough to have the same cox for 2 years & he used to be amazing. Recently, it’s felt very much like he’s lost interest. He’s just in the boat, not part of the crew. He’s going through the motions. It makes it very hard to stay motivated, given everything else that’s crappy. He’s also coxing the elite men, maybe he sees them as his chance to win & we’re just the disorganized cranky old women he coxes sometimes. Should I call him on the change?
Ah, I know this feeling. Sometimes I recognize it right away and other times I don’t realize it until after the fact. It’s possible that you’re right – he identifies more strongly with the men and recognizes their competitiveness as a chance to really exercise his coxing muscles so that’s where he’s shifted his focus. I get that because I’ve been in similar situations.. If your crew really is the “disorganized cranky old women he coxes sometimes” then that’s most likely what’s going on. Guys coxing women is tough to begin with but the one consistency I’ve noticed with the few guys I’ve discussed it with is that when the rowers start typical “girl” drama, they get disinterested pretty fast.
I completely understand why it’s hard to stay motivated when your coxswain makes it obvious, either intentionally or unintentionally, that they don’t want to be there. As a crew, I think it’s well within your right to sit down and talk with him. I would hope you’d do the same for any rower displaying the same attitude. Ask him if he’s free for a boat meeting one day (ideally after practice or on a day when you’re not going on the water) and then make a short list of what you want to talk about. I find that boat meetings are much more effective when there’s a set agenda. Explain to him that you’ve noticed over the last few weeks/months that something has changed and he doesn’t seem as into the boat as he used to be. Avoid directly accusing him of liking the elite men better since you don’t actually know that’s the issue. First ask him if everything is ok – maybe school or work has been really hectic lately and he’s just been low on energy. Everybody’s been there so hopefully the crew can understand this. If he says everything is fine, then you can broach the subject of the elite men.
Explain that you’ve noticed that since he started coxing the elite men, he seems less interested in coxing your boat. Again, don’t be accusatory – state what you’ve seen and let him explain from there. Tell him that if that’s the case then it might be best for him to take some time and decide if he wants to continue coxing you guys. Explain that you’re happy that he’s coxing a crew that has such high potential but your focus is your boat and you need a coxswain who is just as invested in this crew as the rowers are. If he says he’s become disinterested or less motivated, ask him why. Be prepared that he might say it’s because of the crew, for whatever reason. Don’t be offended or defensive – take what he’s saying as an opportunity to improve and make some changes.
For me, I tend to lose interest really fast when I’m working with people who aren’t as invested, motivated, or “into” whatever it is we’re doing. If I can see that I’m putting in all this effort but they aren’t, why should I continue doing what I’m doing if I’m the only one doing it? Having coached a couple teams at the same time over the last few months, I’ve also noticed that when one team is at a 3 and another team is at an 8, my excitement, enthusiasm, and effort is naturally going to go to the team at an 8. I tend to notice this after the fact but now that it’s something I know, it’s helped me prepare for future coaching situations.
Like I said, I wouldn’t just look at him being a flake … look at the team and see if the attitudes of the rowers or the crew as a whole could have played a factor in his declining levels of interest. Coxswains need to feel motivated and inspired too so when it doesn’t feel like the rowers are giving 100% coxswains can interpret their role on the team as being pointless, which makes it really hard to get into practice.