Basic gear for novice coxswains

I’ve talked a lot about how coxswains should have a bag they carry with them when they’re on the water but as a novice you don’t really need all of the same stuff that experienced coxswains carry. There are definitely things I could add but this is just a “bare bones” list for when you’re just starting out. To see more tools frequently used by coxswains, check out the “tools” tag.

Sunglasses + hat

A good hat and pair of sunglasses can work wonders for a coxswain because they’ll help keep rain, wind, glare from the water, and (obviously) the sun out of your eyes. The less time you spend squinting the more time you can spend paying attention to everything that’s happening around you.


Besides your cox box, a wrench is probably the second most important tool that a novice coxswain should have. Being able to quickly run through the nuts & bolts before you go out and tighten them up ensures that you won’t lose any loose parts while you’re rowing. If you do have something come loose on the water though, having it on hand can be the difference between a quick stop and having to cut practice short. Just make sure you label them with electrical tape or nail polish so they don’t get lost. The type you’ll need will depend on the brand of boat you have – some use 10mm, others use 7/16in – so make sure you know what size you need before you pick one up.


There shouldn’t be a practice that goes by where you haven’t written something down in your notebook, especially as a novice coxswain. You can use it to keep track of lineups, practice plans, questions you have, warmups, drills, erg results, calls, observations from the launch, feedback from the rowers/coaches, etc. Any small pocket-sized notebook will work fine but one that has waterproof paper will ensure that it holds up against the elements if your bag gets wet or you’re using it in the rain.

Pen + sharpie

These go hand in hand with your notebook. Having a sharpie on hand is also great if you need to label something, like where the center line on the steering cables is or which riggers go with which boat.


This is a tool you should be using on a regular basis (alongside your notebook) to help you develop your tone, calls, and overall presence in the boat. A good recorder shouldn’t cost more than $30-$50 either, which is much more affordable than the cost of replacing your phone should it get wet while you’re on the water.

Waterproof bag

Regardless of what kind of bag you have, it should always be waterproof. A small bag like this that you can throw over your shoulder or wear around your waist is perfect for the few things you’ll need to carry with you because it keeps them dry and organized … but most importantly, dry.


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