One of the best parts of being on a rowing team is traveling to regattas: competing, spending the day with your teammates, eating, and celebrating together. And then, the next day you get to scroll through all the pictures on Instagram and relive it all! Posting to social media is an easy way to share the day with everyone on the team (and show all your other friends how awesome you are!), but it can be all to easy to slip up and post something that can be hurtful. When posting pictures and comments about any teammates it's always important to remember basic protocol, such as those found in the graphic in this post. But perhaps the most important question to ask before posting about your teammates is, "Will this help my team grow?" Comments such as, "I hate rowing with her" will not help. "That was the worst row ever!!!" "Your boat sucks!" "The other team is a bunch of losers!" None of these remarks reflect positively on you, encourage growth, or show that you believe in your team. Because it is likely your teammates, and others, will see what you put on social media, you should always think carefully before you post.
This attached resource addresses the recent increasing incidences of Islamaphobic Harassment, and how to intervene in a safe and respectful fashion. How is this relevant to team building in rowing? Unfortunately, in high school teams, elite teams, large teams, harassment of any sort can happen. And, thanks to direct outreach, diversity in rowing is increasing, but isn't always welcomed. The steps outlined in this document are simple, immediate, and unlike many other forms of bullying prevention, center on the victim and bystanders, not an authority figure. Harassment leads to exclusion, lower self-esteem, and decreased levels of performance. In a team where individuals compete together, where their best performance leads to success, harassment is counter-intuitive. Even if you think the person you are bullying will not be in your boat, or if you are intentionally trying to drive them out of your boat, you are creating a toxic environment, one where others will see they are unsafe. If the person you harass prevails, it's possible they could deliver so much more if they had been supported. To be a positive team member, if you witness any harassment, teasing, bullying, or exclusion, simply follow the steps outlined in this resource. Invite others to follow your lead. Go one step further and reach out to those who might be vulnerable in the first place. If they are safe and strong, you are safe and strong, your team is safe and strong.
In rowing, you must compete with your teammates, but working well with your teammates is also essential to success. Perhaps the best way to foster positive relationships in this situation is possessing a flexible or "growth" mindset. As described by Carol Dweck in this Ted Talk, the growth mindset allows an individual to approach an experience positively. Failure is an opportunity to learn. Coaching is feedback, not criticism. Competition pushes you to be better, and provides a model for change. When you are able to adopt a growth mindset as a team member, you not only serve as support for those who need improvement, always demonstrating that time and effort equals results, but show that you aren't put off by those who are more advanced than you. One day you might be as good as them, and if not, at least you'll continue to improve! The team member with a growth mindset will not be destroyed by a poor erg test result, will not grumble when another rower wins a seat over her, and will help make any boat move through continually working harder every day.