Question of the Day

I’m a guy who almost exclusively coxes women at the moment. However, I rowed for an entire year up to this October and I’m pretty naturally athletic. I still run and cycle pretty quickly. When we do land training, I feel like if I got on an erg and joined in I wouldn’t be helping as I’d be faster than most of them – and your cox being quicker than you would be pretty demoralizing. The only time I’ve joined in was when we did a 5k run and I agreed to be a backmarker and make sure nobody got left behind the pack by encouraging them to keep running and not give up. Do you think I’m right that it would be demoralizing for the girls if I joined in or do you think joining in would have a “leading from the front” aspect which would be beneficial for the squad?

I definitely agree that your cox being faster than you might not make you feel too good about your own abilities. I think you’re in a unique situation though where your rowers would understand the physiological differences between men and women that come into play here. You should make clear that you’re not trying to one up them, you’re simply trying to workout with the team. I’d make sure that you stick to that too … don’t take someone’s 5k time as a challenge and try and beat them. That’s not your job. I like what you said about being the person at the back of the pack … that’s what I would expect any coxswain to do when you go on a run. Unless there are two coxswains out running (where one can be at the front of the pack and one can be at the back), I think sticking to the back and making sure everyone makes it through is the best thing you can do.

I would talk with them and just explain that you’re trying to be a leader by participating in the workouts with them and then get their opinions. Do you think it bothers them when you work out with them? If you’ve gotten the impression that it’s not helping the crew, I’d talk to them and your coach to figure out an alternative way that you can be of use to them while they’re doing land training. If it turns out it’s not a big deal, I’d keep doing what you’re doing and work out with them. I would however, let your stroke seat or the team captains set the standards as far as how hard/fast/etc. the rowers should be pulling and you just fall in line with that, if that makes sense.

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4 thoughts on “Question of the Day

  1. Fiona (@fc2001) says:

    I’m in a women’s squad who had a dedicated male coxswain last season (and, possibly, this season again). He was a rower before he coxed, for a year, and he was easily as strong as the strongest girl in our eight last year. He dealt with it by being part of our land training – circuits, core, ergs etc – without doing it all. He’d join in circuits, core, and he’d run with those of us who did running, but he would rarely (never, as I remember) erg with us – he took on the role of coaching / coxing the ergs instead, which was very helpful, and that way we never felt like he was trying to ‘compete’ with us physically.

    In answer to your other question, it probably is more common over in the UK for men to cox women. At our club, everyone coxes everyone because we’re so short of good coxes that’s just how it works. But yeah. My coach would rather have had a male coxswain with a proven ability to shift a boat well than a lighter woman with a lesser ability to motivate in the seat – he never made his judgement on gender or weight, but on ability.

    • beantownkmd says:

      If coxswains are going to workout with the rowers, I think that’s exactly how it should be done. If they’re erging, you should be coaching/coxing them because…that’s your job. Everything else is fair game though.

      I like your coach’s philosophy – more coaches need to base their coxswain selections on ability rather than “who’s the smallest”.

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