Advice heard recently from a Harvard and National Team Coach: "find your own voice." Going into selection at any program, many coxswains will be similarly qualified. Often, it will be who we are that separates us from others. However, as simple as it sounds, it can be difficult to keep our "voice" constant. We look to cement our position while continuously changing, updating our skills and abilities. Sometimes it may seem that adopting a new persona is what's needed to excel. But in reality, putting on facades or attempting different personalities is both exhausting and unsustainable.
These are three places where athletes have told me a coxswain's distinctive identity can shine through:
Moving the boat on land. This sounds so minuscule compared to the time spent on water. However, a teammate said that the way a coxswain brings down the boat shows which cox is ready and composed for the upcoming row. Doing this small task effectively and confidently sets the tone for the rest of the practice.
Positive feedback. Often, we're calling for corrections whether that be technical or pressure-based. But, do we always follow up on if there was a change? The way we follow-up on a call gives space for our personality to shine through. Whether it's a "Yessss," "BEAUTIFUL," "That change gave me one split 4 seat," the way we communicate small wins can show who we are.
Land practices. Are we participating with the team? Are we doing video or audio review during this time? Are we helping coach erg form? The way we find productivity during a land workout gives us a chance to show our teammates that we're trying to build speed any way we can. The way we do it gives us a chance to distinguish who we are as coxswains.