I feel excluded. Do I quit my rowing club?
Do not quit yet when you feel excluded in your rowing club.
In the first place do some personal therapy right away. Take a sheet of paper and write down why you are feeling “excluded”. Also, include what behaviors cause that excluded feeling in the rowing club. Then date it and keep it somewhere safe. Put a diary note for 4 weeks in the future to read and review the document.
How to change rowing club attitudes
Clubs are made up of individuals – people who are there in a voluntary capacity to enjoy the sport and participate in the journey of learning and competing. Here are ways ONE person can influence the attitude and behaviors of a group.
- Become the “champion” for anyone else in the club who you see is receiving the same behaviors as you had. So this could not only be that they don’t get a ride to practice, but also that they get left to sit in the coach boat or that they don’t get a partner for gym work. Then you step up and choose vocally and in public to work with them, to volunteer them a ride, to choose to sit next to them at morning tea. Say it loudly, in public or on group email…. “Hi Benny would you like a ride with me, I can drive past your house.” So everyone else knows you and Benny are cool together.
- Next, watch the responses and attitudes of the rest of the group of athletes. Do they follow your lead?
- After 2 weeks, find one other like-minded athlete and tell them you are working hard on creating cohesion in the group. Ask if they will also do the same. Tell them not to explain WHY just to do the same things you do to others who may be feeling excluded.
- Finally, watch the responses and attitudes of the rest of the group of athletes. Do they follow your lead?
When the feeling of being excluded in the rowing club comes from the coaching team
Now, if your personal feeling of exclusion comes from the coaching team – you need to do something different. Approach the coach and ask for a private meeting after training. Specifically, ask him to give you 3 tips of things you can do better in order to support her/his work with the group. In addition, make clear this is not just about your personal performance, but about how you can help the group dynamic work well.
Don’t mention you feel excluded in your rowing club to the coach – just step up and offer to help. Listen carefully and try to do what s/he says. Don’t worry whether s/he notices what you are doing, don’t show off to them. Just do it.
Build personal resilience
Now go back and re-read your document about why you felt bad. Update it to reflect on the situation now (4 weeks in the future) Furthermore compare the two. Have your feelings been modified? Have the behaviors changed?
Always remember that resilience is a very useful life skill and learning how to bounce back and put aside personal disappointments and grievances will be useful for the rest of your life (outside rowing too). Nobody flies through life and work without setbacks. Nobody.
Top athletes always have a story about when they experienced setbacks and what they did to overcome them. Start writing YOUR story now by overcoming this feeling of exclusion.
As Eira Parry of High-Performance Parenting says “It’s fine to make a mistake. What marks you out is how you pick yourself up from it.”
A Background Story
When Jamie Koven tried to make a comeback to the US Rowing team he met with Tim McLaren the head coach to have this exact meeting described above. Tim was interviewed in Rowing News magazine and said this was the first time in his professional coaching career that an athlete had asked him how he could help (normally athletes are self-centered and only want to ask about themselves, not the group needs or the coach’s needs). This was the first time he had ever had an athlete approach offering to help him and how nice and refreshing it was.
Any other advice from readers? Put them in the comments below.