Question of the Day

Coxed a varsity boat today for the first time. I felt awkward, I didn’t know what to say to them other than to make the calls. Normally with my novices I know what techniques to tell them to change/fix but it’s awkward with the varsity. Also, what’s a ratio shift? My stroke today told me to call it so I did. It’s just another way of saying “down on the recovery,” correct?  Do you have any tips? Thanks!

Don’t be nervous with the varsity boats. Unlike novices, they know how to row (presumably) but, like novices, they still need to be told what to do. The only reason it was probably awkward is because they’re not a crew you’re used to so you don’t know their tendencies. Next time you go out with them get a quick rundown from the coach or the coxswain who has been with them before and get some info on who does what so you’ll be able to make your coxing less “auto-pilot” and more personalized (if that makes sense).

A ratio shift is normally called if there’s a lot of rush happening on the slides or slide control is just nonexistent in general. Standard ratio is 2:1 or 3:1 (2 seconds on the recovery, 1 on the drive), but if there’s rush or something else happening it can shift to 1:1 or 1:2, etc. A “ratio shift” calls for the rowers to lengthen out the recovery and shorten the time on the drive. Unless the rush is really bad and you’re getting whiplash from it, it’s not always something the coxswains can feel (although sometimes we can see it) so communication with your stroke is imperative – they’ll almost always know when it needs to happen.

Related: There’s a lot of like, I don’t know how to describe this really, lurching in the boat? Because I think the girls slide forward to fast and that makes us go back instead of forward if that makes sense. how would you correct this? Thanks!

When you do call for it, you just say “let’s take a ratio shift in two … that’s one … and two, on this one”. I like to throw in a “lengthennn boom” or something similar on the first stroke of the shift to help them accentuate the slides and really take the catch. You’ll feel a bit of an increase in power when you do this too due to the quicker drives.

Definitely don’t take your stroke telling you to call for it as a bad thing, like they didn’t think you knew what you were doing or something. I mean, it’s possible they thought that, which is understandable since you’re a novice, but they were most likely just trying to help themselves by helping you. That’s one of the reasons why I liked coxing the varsity as a novice because the rowers, particularly my stroke seat, taught me a lot about technique and what to feel/look for.
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