By George Kirschbaum

Managing Expectations – How to Help Coxswains

We coxswains are our own toughest critics. Sometimes the weight of a boat’s success feels like it is riding squarely on our shoulders. We’re expected to keep up with multiple technical, tactical, mental, and logistical elements at once—from steering to running a workout to interpersonal boat dynamics to school work.

The stakes are high on race day, but in the end it is only sport.

Coaches often think of themselves as needing to be somewhat distant, but we need them to be more of a resource. A self-sufficient coxswain will perform better if they know their coach is there to answer their questions and give them constructive feedback. The coxswain is often one of the primary leaders of the boat, but they need to understand that despite their best efforts and intentions, they cannot control every outcome. A coach needs to help them identify the primary issues hindering performance and provide them with the tools to solve them. Ultimately, the most important thing is to keep everything in perspective. The stakes are often high on race day, but in the end it is only sport. Learning to keep what is important first, especially for student athletes, is imperative, and coaches can play a role here by helping their incoming freshmen to manage the increased demands and expectations on them. In the end its a collaborative effort, much like making a boat go fast.


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