Question of the Day

Is it ideal to sound like a “scary coxswain”?

That depends on your definition of “scary”. Some coxswains are considered scary because of their intensity and the fact that they’re intimidating as hell. Others are scary because they sound like they’re going through an exorcism. I don’t like when coxswains are told they need to sound angry or scary because it gives them the wrong impression, which is a problem I often find with novices because they’re told they have to yell and be angry so they do, and then they end up sounding ridiculous, they aren’t effective, and/or they lose their voice. You can tell them to get angry, but they should never sound angry in the sense that they’re screaming and yelling at the top of their lungs for no reason.

Related: 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?

It all goes back to language and tone of voice for me. Like I said, I don’t like when coxswains are told to sound angry, scary, etc. – instead, they should be told to put some intensity and purpose behind their calls and then the definition of “intense” should be discussed. What does it mean to you and what does it mean to your crew? If you go through the recordings I’ve posted so far you’ll see where I’ve written about coxswains with good (and great) levels of intensity in their voices (and others with not so much). You’ll notice that most of the time they aren’t yelling or forcing anything either. It’s all very natural and conversational but still in your face, focused, and demanding at the same time.

So, I guess my answer to your question is both yes and no but it all depends on what you define as “scary”.


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