Hi! I’m a novice cox and I don’t think I talk enough during practice. I call the drills and I call people out when they are digging their blades. I try to keep them together and I let them know if they are rushing the recovery but that’s about it. Most of the time I really don’t know what to say and I don’t want to undermine or talk over the coaches.
What will help in knowing what to say is developing a better understanding of the technical aspects of the stroke. Once you can relate what you’re seeing to what’s happening with the bodies and how that compares to what everything should look like, you’ll be able to give the rowers more/better feedback.
A good starting point is to talk to your coach about the drills you do. Why does he have you do those ones specifically, what’s their purpose, what part of the stroke are they aimed at, what is he looking at/for when you do them, etc. When you’re on the water, try connecting what you learned with what you’re seeing and make calls based off of that (either to affirm that they’re doing it right or to initiate a change).
Related: So, what did you see?
Obviously you don’t want to be actively talking while the coaches are giving instructions (unless you’re mid-piece or executing a drill) because that’s distracting for the rowers. Any comments you do make should be brief and to the point but in most cases, they can wait until your coach is done. Also, obviously, if the boat is stopped and starts drifting into shore or you get in another situation that requires you to move or make an adjustment, you should do tell whoever you need to row to take a few strokes. Coaches aren’t going to mind if you do that – what they will mind is if you’re not using your common sense and being quiet when they’re trying to give feedback or instructions to the crew. Unless you’re in the middle of a piece, there’s no reason why you can’t stop talking for a few strokes to let your coach say something. Otherwise though, it’s all you.