Now that our season is officially over and presumably yours will be too by the end of this weekend, it’s time to start thinking ahead to next year. Specifically, what can we as coxswains do to make sure we’re holding ourselves accountable and contributing in the most positive ways to our teams. What I’ve linked to below should help with that.
Related: Keeping a notebook
Last summer one of our seniors was rowing at Riverside and put me in touch with his coxswain who was one of the Harvard heavyweight men’s incoming freshmen. While we were talking she showed me her notebook and it was so well put together that I knew I had to share part of it on the blog. Calling it a notebook doesn’t really do it justice either – it was a full on three-ring binder filled with notes on her rowers, practice, self-evaluations, etc. Her self-evals are what I’m sharing today – I’ve typed them up in a two-page Google Doc that you can find linked below.
The first page allows you to rate your performance on a 1-5 scale based on a variety of skills, responsibilities, etc. that you’re expected to be able to execute (examples include focus on the day’s technical objective, carrying out practice plan/drills, professionalism, collaboration with other coxswains, and facilitating improvement/progression of practice). The second page goes into a bit more detail and asks more introspective questions such as what you didn’t do well during practice, what specific things you noticed about the boat, what the objective of practice was, and what your short/long term focuses are.
What I like about these post-practice evals is that they force you to look at your performance objectively, which we all know can be tough to do … particularly if you’re not used to being held accountable for your actions, at least in the way that our job demands. A huge part of making improvements as a coxswain is doing some regular self-reflection and examining the areas where you’re doing well and the ones where you need to do better. That can be hard though without some kind of framework in place. Coxswain evaluations are, obviously, the best thing for this but those can be a hassle if your coaches/team aren’t fully invested in the idea of doing (or creating) them. With these self-evals though the only person you’ve gotta convince to do them is yourself.
If you’re coxing this summer, particularly if you’re at dev camp or somewhere similar, that would be a great opportunity to start implementing something like this. You don’t need to use exactly what I’ve typed up either – if there are certain things you’ve been working on that you want to track your performance with or there are questions that fit your situation better, download the Google Doc and make whatever changes you want in order to make these work for you. That’s the key (#majorkeyalert) to making this a regular post-practice ritual and something that you can actually use to help you improve throughout the season.