team management for the dummy - help needed !

I was wondering if you could help me figure out something.
I've been paddling in an OC6 for 2 years now on the French atlantic coast, and sometimes trainings and even competitions get messy.
In this part of France, we do our best without skilled supervision, but we lack some insight.
The redondent issue :
Do you have a captain aboard every OC ? If so, is he the steerer ?
If not, how do you manage steering decisions like : race strategy, or urgent decisions (collision hazard, swell management ...)
Do you decide race strategy before jumping in and let do the steerer, or change on the fly (then who decides and be the final jugement to be followed by others ?)

In a competitive team, you obviously got a coach. Is he aboard ? Is he the captain ? is he the steerer ?
Is the steerer in charge of the ship whith full responsibility and last decision, or may he follow instructions from someone else in the OC ? and who ?

If someone has in mind traditional and modern different points and evolution of behaviour, I'd be glad to hear this too.

Don't laugh, I know we jumped on water before asking us the good questions, but hey ! at least we've got a big learning curve (a steep one I guess)
Don't forget it's absolutely none of our culture, so any help appreciated, even the 101 on team management !

Thanks in advance to the paddling community !

Submitted by fabrice on Mon, 05/30/2011 - 12:45am

Traditionally, the steersman is completely in charge on the water. Aside from the person calling changes, no one else should be talking (aside from a few words of encouragement or to give warning of an obstacle here and there), and criticizing the steersman while paddling is a major no-no. Stuff happens, of course, and everyone has a different style, but talking should generally be kept to a minimum. As for the coach, he may or may not be on board, but the steersman is still in charge on the water. In my experience, effective "player coaches" are rare, and few of the top crews had such an arrangement when I was paddling in Hawaii, although there are exceptions and things may have changed. This is coming from a traditional club perspective, and I'm sure there are numerous other ways of looking at it.

#1 Tue, 05/31/2011 - 5:19am

I agree with Jim, but I want to throw in a reminder about a head coach being very aware of safety issues and being able to assess the ability of each paddler.

#2 Tue, 05/31/2011 - 5:27am

Definitely! Safety is always the primary concern no matter what, right?

#3 Tue, 05/31/2011 - 5:35am

I agree too, and I'm particularly aware of safety. It's my top priority.
second being the crew pleasure to be on water, therefore my questionning on how to smooth things between individuals.
Some "reframing" will be done, thanks for your answers.

#4 Tue, 05/31/2011 - 9:39pm

"Smooth things?" What is there to smooth? The steersman is always in charge and if you no agree, then swim back to shore. Jepardizing the safety of the canoe and crew will not be tolerated. Once you jump into the canoe, you under control of the steersman. No like it, no jump in.

#5 Tue, 05/31/2011 - 11:30pm

yeah koacanoe I'd love to say so, as a matter of fact, I should have told first that I am the steersman under pressure ;-)
Some teammate is willing to control everything and be the captain, but in the meantime has agreed to let me in charge of the 6th seat, go figure.
After a crude argument the other day, he nailed me with the authority argument : "Well I do this because it's the way things should be traditionally" (understood he had some knowledge I hadn't).
Nevermind, that's gossip talk, sorry about that, I hate it, but I was quite down and needed the tradition to be rephrased through people I respect for their commitment in our sport, not from some random french know-it-all paddler.
In an interesting way, I asked the same thing to tahitians ... with the same answers :-)

Cheers to all, and have fun on the water.

#6 Wed, 06/01/2011 - 12:39am

With my mates, sometimes the steerer is the captain, sometimes it's seat 3 (who calls for changing sides). But we make it clear BEFORE we start.
You can say things to the captain if it helps. For example the stroker can say "beware, there's a swimmer 20 meters ahead" to make sure the steerer has seen the danger. But NEVER things like "why the hell are you placing that fù(k'n canoe in the current ?" or "Am I paddling alone ?"
If someone think he could steer better than the one actually steering, we just let him steer...

#7 Wed, 06/01/2011 - 12:44pm

Bottom line, if you've got a seat 1-5 barking orders then they aren't paddling hard enough.

#8 Wed, 06/01/2011 - 2:37pm

Team members, club members, crew members are essentially volunteers, so as a leader you have a carrot and a very, very small stick.

It is better to remind crew members of things a half dozen times in advance then scold someone during or after the race.

Praise in public, criticize in private.

Make it easy for your team mates to do the right thing, plan things out in advance, communicate clearly and frequently. Many people only remember snippets of an oral communication. An oral communication supplemented by an email is better.

Be as consistent with as many things as possible. If practices are hell or high water every Tuesday and Friday, the crew will plan around that and derive comfort from that consistency.

Prior planning prevents piss-poor performance.

However is in charge should make it clear they are in charge and those who follow should give the person in charge the benefit of any doubt.

#9 Mon, 06/06/2011 - 5:24am

Taken from this very forum:

Seat 1:
-Paddle so fast that no one can keep up, or so slow everybody fall asleep.
-Scream he can't hear the, "Hut."

Seat 2:
-Tell seat one that his timing sucks.
-Try to impose his own stroke rate to 3-4-5-6

Seat 3:
-Call "hut" whenever he thinks it will slow the canoe.
-Remind seat 1-2 their timing sucks.
-Ask who is steering

Seat 4:
-Wait forever before bailing.
-Loudly say once in a while how the rest of the team sucks

Seat 5:
-Steer the canoe as if seat 6 was not there.

Seat 6:
-Try to hit other canoes

#10 Mon, 06/06/2011 - 6:54am

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