Question of the Day

Thoughts on coxswain evaluations? How should they be approached as a coach? And as a coxswain? What is the most effective method you have seen?

How they should be approached as a coach

Gather the team/boat together, explain the purpose of the evaluations, why they’re important, how the coaches use them, and what the coxswain can/should gain from them. Give a detailed explanation of how they should be filled out (if it’s a ranking system (1-10), short answer, or both) so that there’s no confusion. When not explained properly people take the “short answer” phrase a little too seriously and only leave one or two words, which isn’t helpful to anyone, least of all the coxswain(s).

Also explain that coxswain evaluations are not popularity contests and behavior such as that won’t be tolerated. The coxswains are to be evaluated strictly on their ability to handle the boats, not on whether or not you’re BFFs off the water. If it were me, I would read through the evaluations first when they were returned, give them to the coxswains to read, and then set up a time to go over the together and discuss what they said.

Related: How are coxswain evaluations conducted?

How they should be approached as a coxswain

Do not bribe the rowers. Do not try to sway the lightweights with donuts in return for positive reviews. Stay out of it. When the evaluations are returned, go through them and take note of what is said – positive and negative. Don’t ignore the negative stuff and think you’re above whatever was said, regardless of who said it. Make a list of the positives (things you should keep doing and continue improving on) and the negatives (things to work on and strive to do better) and then order the from “most important” to “least important”.

Also go over the evaluations and your list(s) with your coach and get their feedback. Discuss why you’ve placed certain things higher than others, put together a plan on how you’re going to work on the things that need to be improved upon, and tell your coach what you need from them to help you work on them. Stay neutral and don’t treat anyone differently based on the feedback you receive. Don’t take it too personally either. Remember, you’re part of the boat too and just like you are trying to help the rowers improve, this is there way of helping you.

Related: Coxswain evaluations

Most effective method

The effectiveness of coxswain evaluations really depends on how the coach puts them together and how willing the rowers are to put the time in to adequately answer them. If the coaches aren’t willing to put together evaluations that ask the right questions and if the rowers aren’t willing to take the time to provide thoughtful responses, it’s a waste of time for everyone. In terms of an effective eval that generates good feedback for the coxswains, something that rates their skills on a scale of 1-5 and gives the rowers space to write comments on various aspects of their coxing would be ideal.

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