Question of the Day

Under 120lbs, 5’5″ and not the strongest rower – should I switch to coxing if I want to? Thanks.

If you feel like making the switch to coxing would be a good move for you, then by all means talk about it with your coach. You’re about the size of some of my friends who have coxed for men’s teams so definitely ask them if they need a coxswain. I don’t think it’s unusual or that big of an issue to go from rowing to coxing, especially if you have an injury that could be compromised by rowing or you’re just way smaller than your teammates, but outside of those reasons is where I start to get a little annoyed.

Related: I’m currently a novice high school rower but I haven’t been feeling really into rowing lately. I’ve wanted to cox since I started in September, but I’m too big to cox for the women. I’m 120ish and really want to cox for the men next season. However, I’m really nervous to talk to my coach about it because she considers me one of her better lightweight rowers. I know I still have a while to think about it since the season doesn’t end for a few months but how should I talk to her about this?

If you’re not the strongest rower (not you specifically, just speaking in general), why not … get stronger? Work out on your own, improve your technique, pay attention to your diet, etc. The only way to get stronger is to put in the effort. It bothers me when people want to switch to coxing because I feel like it gives the impression that coxing doesn’t take much work either. Like … I’m not willing to put the work in to get better at rowing so I’ll just switch to coxing since it requires less or no work. I don’t say this because it’s what I assume people think, I say it because I’ve seen people do this on teams I’ve been a part of and that was their main reason. Coxing actually does require a lot of skill that, despite not being physical like rowing is, still takes a lot of effort to achieve.

Comparing rowing to coxing is like comparing apples to oranges – they’re both fruits but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. One is not harder than the other because they’re both equally difficult, just in different ways. It pisses me off when people say that just because we don’t do anything physical, our jobs are easy and/or we don’t do anything useful.

Related: Is it unusual to change from rowing to coxing? I’m nearing the end of my novice season and feel like I could be a good cox in the future. I love rowing and am getting decent results but at 5’4 (shorter than one of my coxswains) and 120lbs (female) I have to work crazy hard to keep up with all the bigger girls. I’ll be sticking with the sport either way but it just seems like such a cool component of the boat to be.

It takes a lot of time to learn how to cox right and even longer to learn how to be a good coxswain. It’s not just something you can/should “switch to” because rowing isn’t panning out the way you wanted. Well, you could, I guess, since most coaches probably look at this issue a lot differently than I do but regardless, I feel like going from being a rower to being a coxswain has to happen for the right reasons. Unless you’ve already put the time, effort, sweat, and hard work into becoming an all around better rower and still can’t keep up with your teammates, I would hold off on making the switch. If your team needs coxswains that slightly changes things but my feelings on the overall issue remain the same.


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