Question of the Day

My coach keeps undermining me as a captain. For example, the other day our squad was going for a run and a group of novices were mucking around and walking and got back 10 minutes after the next slowest group. I tried talking to them and said that they needed to take it more seriously and not muck around when we are training if they want to get anywhere this season. They then went and complained to the coach and he talked to me and said that “we aren’t a running club or athletics club and I have to let people complete things in their own time”. I feel like our novices have the wrong attitude towards training and rowing in general but every time I try to talk to them about it they complain to the coach who just undermines everything I say so I feel the novices don’t respect me as captain. Also, we aren’t going to achieve results with attitudes the way they are. What can I do?

You aren’t an athletics club … uh, what are you then? If we let people complete things “in their own time” 2ks would take about 10+ minutes to do. Sorry but that is one of the most bullshit things I’ve ever heard a coach say.

I think as a captain, you are upholding the responsibilities of your title by talking with the novices about this. I would have done the same thing, as I’m sure many other team captains out there would have and if I was your coach, it’s what I would have expected you to do. If their response to that was to complain to your coach instead of taking your words to heart and deciding to change their attitudes, then you have a bigger problem than just your coach undermining you.

Your coach is undermining your authority as, I’m assuming, a team elected official. I know in turn this will probably sound like you are undermining him but if you have an assistant coach you can talk to, I would talk to them about this. Part of their unwritten job duties is to reel the head coach back into reality when necessary so I’d explain to them exactly what you said here and how you feel like by undermining you in front of the novices it feels like he’s making it seem like it’s OK for them to disrespect you and not take things seriously. If you don’t have another coach to talk to, you just have to man up and go talk to your coach face to face (which you should eventually do anyways, but it’s nice having the buffer of someone on their level deal with it first).

I’d ask for a private meeting and then again, explain what you’ve said here. Things can go one of two ways. He’ll either realize what he’s doing and make an effort to fix it by telling the novices they need to start taking things a little more seriously and giving you the respect you deserve as a captain or nothing will change. I’m assuming that this isn’t your first attempt to tackle this novice problem so nothing changes going forward despite whatever efforts you make, I’d reflect on everything and ask if it’s worth staying in this role as team captain if you aren’t actually being allowed to execute the responsibilities of the position. If you decide it’s not, I’d talk with the other captains or team leaders and your coach and step down. It’s not worth the frustration if all it is is a title without any of the “power” to actually be a captain (at least, I don’t think it is).

I’d like to think your coach will recognize that what he’s doing isn’t just undermining your authority but also ingraining in these new rowers that mediocrity is acceptable. If you have fellow captains you can talk to, talk to them and see if they’ve experienced similar issues with your coach and if they have, perhaps you guys can all (respectfully) confront him together.

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