Question of the Day

Hi!:) So, I have been quite “upset” with my boat. You see, I’m a very competitive coxswain but half of my boat is … not, you could say. Anyways, I want to share my feelings and tell them that I leave practice feeling pissy because of their lack of motivation and the fact that it was such a horrible practice. But I also don’t want to add drama and tension in the boat. I’m that always nice, sometimes getting pushed over, type of coxswain but I have been learning to stand up and put them back in line but it always makes me feel guilty and thus kind of “sucking up” (hugging them, compliments) to the rowers. I want to be feared AND loved but I just can’t balance it out. There’s also a few girls who always WHINE and COMPLAIN every single time we do workouts. I just want to shut her up and tell her to suck it up. But my mind tells me no and just ignore it. Any advice? I so need it! Thanks!

I have no time for people who bitch just for the sake of bitching. It’s one of those things that annoys me on a deeply personal level. If you’re going to complain every single time we do a workout you can pretty much count on me telling you to shut up every single time in response. It just makes no sense to me that you’d join a sport (or any activity really) and then complain about the work that’s associated with it. So yea, I’m all for telling her to deal with it but my approach is to do it one-on-one first and then if it continues (and I know it’s distracting or pissing off other people in the boat) then I’ll say it to them on the water going forward. (This also prevents someone in the boat from saying something, which usually ends up causing more drama than if the coxswain says it.)

Usually what’ll happen is I’ll just lean out of the boat, look at them, put a hand in the air, and be like “Dude … seriously? Stop.” and that’s all it takes unless they’re hell bent on acting like a brat that day … which happens with college athletes more than you think it would. I can really only think of one time off the top of my head that it progressed past that and at that point my coach stepped in and told them that they could either grow up and stop wasting her, my, and the boat’s time or we could turn around, go back to the dock, and they could leave. She quit not long after that.

I know that in the long run I’m going to irritate more people by not saying something than I will by calling them out so that’s a big part of my rationale for how/why I address it. Basically I’d rather have one person be pissed at me for two hours than have the other four, five, six, or seven people think I’m a pushover who can’t handle having tough conversations with a teammate.

Related: Is it better for a cox to be feared or loved?

I get not wanting to create drama or add tension but I also think you’re undermining yourself by just brushing it off and hugging it out with them afterwards. That, to me, just says to those rowers that it’s OK for them to keep complaining and not putting the work in because you’re never going to actually say anything to them about it. If you want something to change in this situation you’re gonna have to be the one that makes the first move, which is to hold them accountable for their lame attitudes and not coddle them afterwards because their feelings might have been hurt for a whole fifteen seconds.



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