Question of the Day

Hi, can I get a coach’s perspective? Every time our two 8+s do race pieces together and my boat’s a little behind, our head coach is always shouting through her loudspeaker for me, as the cox, to do/say something to get us even and pass. It doesn’t help that I’m in the “faster” boat. It gets me frustrated because it’s not like I’m not trying. What do I do? I’m definitely putting in 110% effort into my coxing but I’m just not sure anymore … what would you do in this situation? Thanks!

First, I would talk to your coach. If she’s constantly yelling at you to do something (which get’s irritating – been there, experienced that), there’s clearly something she wants to see and she thinks that eventually you’ll figure out what that is and do it. Talk to her and tell her what you’re doing, what you’re saying, etc. and then ask her for her thoughts. What does she think you should be saying that you’re not? Is she seeing something with the technique from the launch that is putting your crew at a disadvantage that you can make a call for? If she can’t give you answers to those questions, she’s just yelling to yell for no reason. I hesitate to say “ignore her when she does that” but if she can’t at least give you a reason for why she’s on your ass all the time, I’m not sure what else to suggest. If you’ve recorded yourself, give the clip to your coach and have her listen/critique it.

Related: My girls really like when I cox off of other boats, even if we’re just doing steady state. I’m in the 2V boat so they all want to beat the 1V at ALL times. I find it easy to cox when we’re next to another boat/in front of it. However, I never quite know what to say without being negative and annoying when we’re CLEARLY behind another boat. Yesterday afternoon we were practically three lengths behind the v1, and we STILL didn’t catch up even when they added a pause. What do I say at times like these? I always end up getting rather quiet since the overall attitude of my boat is pretty down. I feel like whenever I call a 10 or get into the piece at this point it does absolutely nothing, since my rowers have practically given up.

Secondly, talk to your rowers. When they get down like that, what are they thinking? What do they want to hear? What can you do to help them? Write everything down and then make an effort the next time you do pieces to incorporate some of what they said. Record yourself so you can hear what calls worked and what didn’t. Keep the ones that work and tweak or discard the others.

Don’t let your coach throw you off. I know it can be frustrating and distracting, but you’ve just got to find some way to tune her out and focus on your boat. There’s nothing wrong either with telling her that it throws you off when she’s yelling at you to do something to make the boat move. Coaches, especially ones that are/were rowers, tend to forget that there is no magic call or switch that we flip to make the boat go faster. We aren’t generating any power so if she wants to see the boat even up and pass the other crew, maybe she should focus her efforts on telling the rowers what to improve on instead of thinking that all of the changes have to come from the one person without an oar in their hand.

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2 thoughts on “Question of the Day

  1. T says:

    I’ve experienced this before and I find that rowers respond really well to power 5s/10s for ______ seat. Or like a 10 to show you how they walk on another boat. Or I guess if your coach is yelling at you like that you can be like “coach doesn’t think we are rowing hard? SHOW him/her you know how to race”

    • beantownkmd says:

      Yes! I like to do something like 5 for 7 seat in our boat to get us even with or past 7 seat in the other boat. I also like doing 10s for each pair in my boat to walk on the same pair in the other boat.

      I used to say “show him/her you can row” etc. when our coach would yell at us (not *yell* yell, but say something to us while we’re racing) but more recently I’ve started saying something like “prove it to yourself, show the girl behind you, let me see what you’ve got, etc.” The reason why I took our coach out of it was because at the end of the day, we don’t really need to prove we can do anything to anyone but ourselves. We’re the ones racing so it’s our own barriers we need to overcome, not the ones our coach(es) perceives from the launch.

      One thing I’ve said to a few of the boats I’ve coxed is to think of how you’re rowing right now and then pretend you’re rowing in the boat we’re racing against. Would you be intimidated by our rowing? If the answer is anything but YES then we need to amp it up. I like saying that because then it’s not me telling you to row harder, it’s YOU evaluating whether or not you need to go harder. YOU know where you’re at and YOU know whether or not you’re giving it everything you’ve got, so it’s just another tool I use to get my rowers to think about their contribution to the overall boat speed.

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