As a coxswain on the rowing team, training trips can be an incredible opportunity to bond with your team and make progress towards your goals. However, training trips are really hard work, and can put the entire team to the test. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your training trip and come back stronger than ever.
Set clear goals for the trip:
Before you even pack your bags, take some time to think about what you want to achieve during the training trip. Think about what you want to do from the coxswain seat, and then also what you want to accomplish as a team while you are away.
From your seat, decide what would make the best impact before the trip starts. I recommend focusing on being adaptable, steering well on foreign waters, and being a strong leader, keeping the team upbeat and positive through the long week of hard work.
In terms of the team, think big picture. Do you want to improve your team's technique? Increase endurance? Commit to consistency? Whatever your goals may be, make sure they are specific and measurable so you can track your progress and celebrate your accomplishments.
Be on during practices:
Training trips usually involve 2-3 practices per day, which can be intense and physically demanding. It's important to stay focused and give your full attention to each practice to get the most out of them. This means being a few minutes early to the dock or bus, being prepared with all the necessary equipment, and bringing a positive attitude.
From my past experiences on training trips, coxswains are often rotated, and lineups can be mixed and inconsistent. Use this as an opportunity to be flexible and adaptable. If you get to cox different people every day, use this to your advantage... Get feedback from a wider pool of rowers, and use changing lineups to differentiate yourself and your skillset from the other coxswains.
If you are on a river, start to learn the turns and the shortest course. If you are on a lake, focus on going straight. Always communicate with the coxswains next to you when you need more room, are taking a turn, or are throwing in a pause. This will reflect well on you and the other coxswains, as well as make the practice run smoother.
Stay organized and on top of your responsibilities:
As a coxswain, you have a lot of responsibilities, including managing your boat each day, communicating information and schedules with the whole team, and making sure everything is going seamlessly. It's important to stay organized and on top of these tasks. This may mean knowing which boats are rigged for which side stroke, communicating when the bus to dinner is, or making sure your boats are strapped down to the trailer at the end of each practice.
Whatever your coaches expect of you, make sure you are staying on top of it. Ask yourself "How can I make this experience go smoother? What can I do to make this a more positive and easier experience for both my teammates and coaches?"
Stay positive and bring good energy:
Anyone that has been on a training trip knows that training trips are hard! Having your entire team in a confined space, away from home, and practicing so often is taxing. Every day someone is gonna have a great day, but also someone else is gonna have their own personal hardest day of the trip. Be there for your teammates when they lose a seat race, or are emotionally getting close to their breaking points. Hype up the boat when things are going well!
Be as empathetic and intuitive as you can, reading the rowers and helping give them the support and the tools they need to be successful in the boat.
Fuel and rest are important, even though you are not rowing:
It's crucial to make sure you're fueling your body properly and getting enough rest. Sometimes as a coxswain, it seems like it is less important for us to be well nourished and rested, but this is huge. Skipping meals or not having downtime can affect your performance. Make sure you're eating nutritious meals and getting plenty of sleep so you can perform at your best.
Take time to bond with your team:
Training trips are also a great opportunity to bond with your teammates and build team cohesion. Take some time to socialize and have fun outside of practice. Whether it's playing games, watching movies, doing crafts, or going on a team outing, these activities can help you build stronger relationships and create a positive team culture. It is important to get a little break from rowing sometimes, so use this time to help your team unwind and get to know each other outside the boat.
Being effective during a training trip as a coxswain requires setting clear goals, staying focused during practices, taking care of your physical and mental well-being, staying organized, and bonding with your team. By following these tips, you can make the most of your training trip and come back ready to take on the rowing season.