BY BILL MANNING
PHOTO BY TOM WALSH
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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.
Novice Varsity Champion Participant Competitor Competitor Self-centered (me first) Team-oriented Team focused Follower Contributor Leader Needs direction OK on their own Takes initiative Inconsistent Consistent Reliable & dependable Slow to accept feedback Readily accepts feedback Seeks out feedback Makes excuses No excuses Seeks solutions Passive Attentive Actively engaged Harbors negativity Influenced by others Relentlessly positive Late Punctual Early Attends practice when convenient Attends practice consistently Structures the day so as to not miss practice No priorities Academics first, athletics second Academics & athletics both important and done equally well Misses training Makes up missed training Does more than asked Avoids stress Manages stress Thrives under stress Neglects health Seeks help when sick/injured Pro-active taking care of him/herself Socializes like non-athletic peers Social but smart Does not compromise goals for social life. Repeats mistakes Learns from mistakes Learns from other’s mistakes Wants immediate gratification Defers gratification Defers gratification Talks and/or worries about the opposition Focused on beating the opposition Focused on producing the best performance possible on race day. Avoids discomfort Accepts discomfort Embraces discomfort: “comfortable with being uncomfortable” Rows hard when ahead Rows hard in close races Always rows hard Likes to race Wants to race successfully Needs to race successfully It’s all about the gear Wears gear at practice Knows medals are more impressive than gear