So I’m going to begin coxing this coming spring season, and I am constantly reading about experienced coxes getting annoyed with the newbies. Any recommendations for things I should do to avoid pissing everyone off?
It’s impossible to avoid pissing people off though because no matter what you do, someone will be annoyed by what you’re doing. So instead, I’ll give you some general advice.
Soak in the information. Listen intently to the coaches and listen to the varsity coxswains when they’re telling you how to do something or what to do.
Separate yourself from your friendships and realize that you’re now in a leadership position and favoritism is not something many people appreciate. When you’re on the water, focus on accomplishing the task at hand and not the fact that your friends are in the boat with you. Practice time is not synonymous with sleepovers…you can talk about school, boyfriends, girlfriends, etc. AFTER practice.
When you’re not on the water and you can see the varsity coxswains and coaches working on something, ask if you can help. If you see things out of place, put them back where they belong. Wipe down the ergs after people get off them, take down times, splits, etc. when they’re doing pieces, etc. Never just be standing around. Crew is not the place to be a wallflower.
Make an effort
Educate yourself. Do research. Coxswains are in the unfortunate position of being expected to do a million things but we’re very rarely ever instructed on HOW to do those things. If there’s something you don’t know or understand, talk with your coach about it and ask them to explain it further, then go home and Google whatever it is and see what else you can find. Ask questions – the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.
Don’t mope around and make it obvious that you’re bored or unhappy with your role on the team. If you’re actually unhappy about something, talk with your coach or a varsity coxswain before or after practice. During practice, keep the rowers engaged and on point. If the rowers aren’t looking forward to something, get them excited. Be THAT coxswain that always has a smile on their face and can make their teammates smile too.
Rest assured, varsity coxswains piss off novices coxswains just as much as novices piss them off. There’s a learning curve when you first start coxing that varsity coxswains forget about, which is why most of them tend to get annoyed. What I said up above is the bare minimum of what you should be doing but it’s a good place to start.