Spring is just right around the corner which for the rowing community means racing season. More specifically it means that selection is upon us. One of the questions that I get asked the most is, " How does the coxswain get selected?" In all three levels of my rowing career (Jr., Collegiate and National Team) my selection as a coxswain basically came down to a vote from the rowers. But looking back on how the rowers voted, it occurred to me that the coach always had veto power. Or rather, the coach gave the framework to the rowers on the criteria of how to rank the coxswains and why they should choose the coxswain of their choice.
Criteria to Give to Rowers
- Does/Can/Will the coxswain steer straight? This should be the top priority.
- How well does the coxswain implement the race plan?
- Does the coxswain implement the warm-up efficiently and arrives on time to the line? (Do you have them practice this?)
- Motivation: this should be the last criteria and the lowest on priority.
Before diving into each of the criteria we have to back way up to the beginning of the season whether it being the fall or to whenever your team starts training. Have you taken the time to set expectations for your coxswains? Have you then communicated your expectations to your coxswains and to your rowers? Setting a foundation of expectation for your coxswains at the beginning of your season will only increase value of their skill through out the season. If you skip this step, you will be finding yourself frustrated and asking yourself why your coxswains can't follow instruction and why they can't read your mind.
Take the time to invest in your coxswain in the same way you invest in your rower's fitness and technique so that by the time your coxswains are juniors or seniors you are reaping the benefit of them making your practice easier to run and helping you make your team faster for race day.
I'll be exploring each of the criteria I listed above in the next couple of posts. Do realize that these criteria are general but the order of the criteria is essential in your development of mature athletes who want to be apart of a team that wants to strive for excellence. Becoming a team who focuses on making boats move well together is fun and the kind of culture you want to develop.