Question of the Day

I know a coxswain’s number one job is to steer straight but one of my fellow rowers decided that sounding aggressive and making good calls is what MAKES a cox. There’s a girl who she says “just sounds like a cox” but hasn’t perfected steering/navigating yet. The view is that you can teach a cox to go straight/proper channels with time but you can’t teach them to sound passionate, aggressive, motivating, etc. What do you think?

Yea, I mostly agree. It’s very easy (well, not easy, but easy by comparison) to teach the basic skills – steering, what to say, etc. – but it’s damn near impossible to teach a coxswain how to be passionate, encouraging, assertive, intuitive, self-aware, etc. if they aren’t already all of those things.

Related: I was reading on a rowing forum a commenter said that good coxswains are born not made. They can be guided to be successful but not much more than that. Is there any truth to it?

When I was a novice people told me I sounded exactly like a coxswain should before I’d picked up any of the actual necessary skills because the majority of the personality traits of a coxswain are my part of my natural personality. It’s just who and how I am so already having that foundation in place made coxing come very naturally to me. My coaches could focus on teaching me how to steer, spot technical inaccuracies, etc. and know that I had everything else already covered.

Related: Mike Teti’s “Three S’s of Coxing”

What makes a coxswain is both set in stone and completely flexible. As experienced coxswains, we all just kind of know what makes a good coxswain in the general sense but what makes a good coxswain to each individual crew can be completely different. The basic stuff (steering, execution, leadership, etc.) is all a given – you just cannot be a good coxswain if you aren’t strong in those areas – but your individual style is what makes you good for your crew.


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