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Semantics for Rowers

BY BILL MANNING
PHOTO BY TOM WALSH

Coaches may influence culture, but athletes create it—through the sum of their attitudes and actions. When positive attitudes align and standards of behavior are shared, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts; good culture is a force multiplier.

Below are representative attitudes and actions of rowers at different points in their journey. The chart shows how rowers typically behave as novices, varsity athletes, and champions. It’s a tool for self-evaluation and provides coaches with a framework for helping rowers understand where they stand on the continuum of commitment and what they can do to achieve more satisfaction and success.  

NoviceVarsityChampion
ParticipantCompetitorCompetitor
Self-centered (me first)Team-orientedTeam focused
FollowerContributorLeader
Needs directionOK on their ownTakes initiative
InconsistentConsistentReliable & dependable
Slow to accept feedbackReadily accepts feedbackSeeks out feedback
Makes excusesNo excusesSeeks solutions
PassiveAttentiveActively engaged
Harbors negativityInfluenced by othersRelentlessly positive
LatePunctualEarly
Attends practice when convenientAttends practice consistentlyStructures the day so as to not miss practice
No prioritiesAcademics first, athletics secondAcademics & athletics both important and done equally well
Misses trainingMakes up missed trainingDoes more than asked
Avoids stressManages stressThrives under stress
Neglects healthSeeks help when sick/injuredPro-active taking care of him/herself
Socializes like non-athletic peersSocial but smartDoes not compromise goals for social life.
Repeats mistakesLearns from mistakesLearns from other’s mistakes
Wants immediate gratificationDefers gratificationDefers gratification
Talks and/or worries about the oppositionFocused on beating the oppositionFocused on producing the best performance possible on race day.
Avoids discomfortAccepts discomfortEmbraces discomfort: “comfortable with being uncomfortable”
Rows hard when aheadRows hard in close racesAlways rows hard
Likes to raceWants to race successfullyNeeds to race successfully
It’s all about the gearWears gear at practiceKnows medals are more impressive than gear

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