Question of the Day

Hey! So do you have any tips for dealing with a boat that you think won’t do well as they are novices that don’t keep a set? So basically I was thrown into a boat that didn’t have a coxswain for the race this weekend, so I’m coxing them. How do I keep a good attitude and work with it? I’m sorry if this sounds really bad, I’m just trying to figure out a way to work with it.

If you’re coxing a boat that you’ve never coxed before and will probably never cox again, the key is having zero expectations and doing every single thing they ask you to do. In this situation, you really have no … authority, I suppose, over the crewΒ (outside of the obvious stuff) so you can’t really jump in there and start telling them all these things they need to do (or do better) or coxing them like you cox your normal crews. And plus, I mean, they’re novices. What novice crew can keep a boat perfectly set? It’s kind of not fair to assume that they’re not going to do well because they’re novices and/or can’t maintain the set.

On a scale of 1-10 in terms of bad attitude and good attitude respectively, if you don’t get in the boat with a 5 or above then you’re basically just giving off the impression that you’re pissed to be in a boat that is beneath you. Going in with a neutral attitude is much preferred over that. Talk to the coach ahead of time, get the warmup from them, figure out what they’ve been working on during practice, what they want the race plan to be, etc. and then do exactly what they ask you to do. Get some input from the rowers or talk to the stroke on the way to the starting line to get some ideas for what they want to hear either motivation or technique-wise and try not to stray too far from any of that. You can really risk coming off as a know-it-all (and rude…) if you jump straight in the boat and try to run the show without knowing anything about the crew. You might be the coxswain and “the leader” by title but the best way to put it is (and I’m stealing this from one of my coaches) that you’re a guest in their boat.

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