The cox on our boat (novice 8) is annoyingly unfocused a lot of the time – she doesn’t listen to our coach about our drills, she complains a lot which wastes our water time, she always has the wrong cox box or attachment, and she always chats to stroke seat instead of leading us. The boys’ team said they had similar problems when she coxed them last term. Should I speak to her or our coach and what should I say?
This is one of those situations where you have to tread lightly because you never know how the other person is going to take it – they can either accept the feedback and do something different, ignore it, or run to your coach and say you’re ganging up on or bullying them. If you have team captains I would first bring it up with them, say what you said up above, and ask if they would mind saying something to her and letting her know that the rowers are getting frustrated so she needs to start being more attentive and focused. Since they have slightly more experience than you do it might be easier/better for them to address it first than for someone of equal standing (aka you) to bring it up. Plus, you’re each others peers and no matter how harsh you’ve gotta be, its always better to hear stuff like this from your teammates than from your coach(es).
If you don’t have team captains I would ask maybe one or two other rowers from the boat to come with you when you talk to her. Try to pull her aside after practice one day and let her know that her behavior is distracting to everyone else in the boat and it’s becoming more and more apparent that she’s not as focused as she needs to be. Having the wrong equipment, not listening to the coach, calling drills wrong, talking to the stroke when she shouldn’t be, etc. is frustrating to you guys because its not possible for you to do what you need to do if the person who’s supposed to be leading you is giving off an “I don’t care” attitude. You shouldn’t be afraid to be frank about that either – you have every right to be upset if your coxswain’s not doing what he/she needs to do. I would avoid bringing up anything about knowing how she was with the guys because that’ll make it seem like you’re all talking about her behind her back, which will just make the situation worse.
If after talking to her nothing changes (I’d give it at least a week), then I would go to your coach with the same two or three people you originally brought with you and tell them what’s going on. Let them know that you’ve talked with her or asked the team captains to say something to her and nothing changed. It’s likely that they’re frustrated as well with her not listening to them, having the wrong cox box, etc. so hopefully none of this would be news to them.