Question of the Day

Hi, I’m going to start coxing the novice men for this upcoming season, as well as rowing myself, but I’m so nervous about my first outing – do you have any tips? I’m mainly worried about the steering, spacial awareness, and other boats.

The number one piece of advice that I can give you is this:ย even if you are nervous, don’t let that affect your demeanor in the boat. I kind of look at it as being the captain of the Titanic – you’ve gotta be calm all the time so as to not incite panic aboard the ship. If your crew thinks that you don’t know what you’re doing, they might try and “take over” and tell you what to do and before you know it, you’ve got eight different opinions coming out you and each rower thinks theirs is the right one. I’ve seen this happen with several novice crews, which honestly just makes me laugh because the rowers are always novices too, so what do they know? Bottom line, stay calm and execute practice confidently.

Related: Defining the role of the coxswain: Mike Teti’s “Three S’s of Coxing”

The first few times you go out, your coach is probably going to run everything from the launch so all you’ll need to do is focusing on learning to steer. As you get more comfortable with steering, then you can start talking to the boat, learning what calls to make, etc. (If you want some more advice on steering, check out the steering tag.) After your first few outings, spend a few minutes talking to your coach and getting some feedback from them. Ask if they noticed anything in particular that you’ve improved on since the last practice and what you can do to keep improving. Even though most coaches are clueless when it comes to coxing, every now and then they offer up some goodย pieces of advice.

Related: How to steer and eight or four and How to cox a boat in and out of the boathouse

Once you get out on the water and can see the width of the boat with the oars extended, you’ll get a good idea as to how much room you take up on the river. Number one rule of coxing – use your common sense. (There’s actually like, 876 (at least) “number one rules of coxing” … this is just one of them.) Don’t get too close to shore and try to avoid other boats at all costs (for obvious reasons). Experienced coxswains will know to just move out of the way of novices but you should never assume that another boat will actually move. Your best bet is to maintain a safe distance at all times.

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