Question of the Day

Hey I’m a novice coxswain but I have learned very fast and all the guys on varsity want me to be a varsity coxswain and I’m a really good motivator. But the varsity coxswain right now is a girl who has been coxing the same amount of time as me and who isn’t really good at all and it’s only cause she is a senior. How can I really prove myself to my coach? I am a junior. I’ve already showed him my recording and he said just to work on more technical stuff. What’s your opinion?

I think if you have a good grasp on everything else, I’d take his advice and start honing your technical skills. Ask him specifically what you need to work on – is it technical stuff like steering or is it being able to spot issues with the bladework and give technical feedback to the rowers? Take note of what he says and then make a concerted effort to work on those things. When you go out, tell your rowers that you’re trying to work on this or that or whatever and then get feedback from them after practice on how you did. With stuff like steering you can’t really do that but in terms of making technical calls, you can improve a lot by talking to your rowers and finding out what calls worked or didn’t work. If your coach sees you making the effort to improve and at the same time sees your crew getting better as a result of that, that’ll be a huge notch in the win column for you.

Another thing you could do is propose the idea of coxswain evaluations. This will allow the rowers to evaluate both coxswains and provide some useful information to your coach, potentially stuff he wasn’t aware of beforehand. It can also help him make decisions on who gets what boat since he’ll have more tangible info in front of him other than seniority and what he’s observed on the water. It’s also good stuff for the coxswains too, obviously.

Related: How are coxswain evaluations conducted?

You have to assume though she did get the varsity boat for a reason other than the fact that she’s a senior. A great way to ensure you never get the boat you want though is to accuse your coach, no matter how innocently you put it, of doing something like this and then saying “well, I’m the better coxswain and they like me more anyways, so I should have that boat.” Instead, find out what her skills are. What is she good at? Ask her for advice. If she’s really good at steering, ask her how she navigates a tricky turn in the river or how she always manages to dock perfectly on the first try. Learn from each other. As a coach, I’d be much more willing to consider someone for a varsity spot if I saw them working with all of their teammates and not just ignoring the ones they didn’t think were very good or deserving of their spots.

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