So as a novice, I’ve been coxing for about 5 months. My learning curve was very fast and I quickly became our top novice coxswain, yet I feel like I’ve hit a plateau. I’m not getting any better yet everyone else is improving faster and my top spots are very threatened right now. How do I get better after hitting a plateau? (btw: We don’t have winter training, we are on water all year round) Thanks!
I think the best way to get over a plateau is to find new ways to challenge yourself. When you’ve hit a plateau that typically means that your body, brain, whatever has adapted to the challenges you were presenting it before and now that it doesn’t perceive them as actually being challenging anymore, it’s bored. You’re bored. To become un-bored and get over the hump, think about all the things you’ve learned how to do in the last five months and then think about how you can start fine-tuning each of those skills. You’ve got the broad concepts down so now it’s time to start focusing on the details. If you’re having trouble thinking of stuff, talk to your coach(es). Since they’ve seen you on the water they’ll know exactly what you’re doing really well and what you can improve on. Get some feedback from them and then sit down and create a plan for yourself. Have a list of goals (small, medium, and large ones) that list out what you want to accomplish.
- Small goals would be things like incorporating in three new calls for the catch into your vocabulary in the next two weeks (followed by three new calls for the finish in the following two weeks, etc.).
- Medium goals would be smoothing out your docking technique over the next month (i.e. gauging when you need to drop down to fours, then pairs before weighing enough and leaning away so that the boat never comes into contact with the dock – this was one of the things I did and is probably the skill I’m most proud of. I’m a freaking amazing docker.).
- Large goals usually encompass the whole season but can be tricky for novices, especially novice coxswains, to come up with. I guess one thing you could do is record a practice or race now and then record another practice or race at the end of the season and then compare the two. This would actually be a great way to hear the progress you’ve made with pointing out technique issues, increasing the efficiency of your calls, working on your tone and intonation, and just improving your overall communication skills with your coach and crew while you’re on the water.
Don’t think of this period as a plateau because that gives it a negative connotation and just makes you feel like crap. Think of it instead as that period between levels when the game is still loading. You’ve leveled up but you’re waiting for the next set of challenges to be put together and presented to you.