Question of the Day

I’m a sophomore in high school and this is my second year coxing. When I was a novice, my coaches would give me an outline of a race plan they wanted me to follow. Now that I’m varsity, I have a pretty good idea of how to make one on my own. But I want to make sure I have a really good race plan before the season starts. So I was wondering if you had a good race plan for a 2,000 meter race?

I wouldn’t spend too much time thinking about your race plan just yet because a) it’s only January and b) you most likely don’t know what boat you’re gonna have yet. Until you know your crew, their tendencies (what part of the race is their strong spot and where in the race they start to fall off), strengths, and weaknesses, you can’t really make one. Whatever you come up with now would more than likely change completely by the time April rolls around.

Related: Training: 2k test strategy

For me, my race plans were always skeletons until the day before the race. I always had the basic premise figured out well ahead of time but I wouldn’t fill in the details until the last minute because the specifics were usually based on whatever my boat and I had been working on during practice that week, as well as race(s) from the previous weekend. Typically it looked something like what’s below. Since I was part of a scholastic team and not a club team we primarily raced 1500m so that’s what this is based off of.

Start: High 20 @ 38-40spm, settle 10 to 34-35spm

500m: 10 for X

750m: 5 to sit up, refocus before the mid-race move

1000m (give or take 100m): High 20 to move on or away from a crew or the field

1250m: 5 to build into the sprint at 36-38spm

 1400m: Take the rate up again if necessary and charge the line

Once I had an idea of who we were racing, what we needed to focus on, etc. I’d fill in the details and give myself an idea of where I wanted to call each technical 10 (if my coach and I thought it was necessary to have them – if we didn’t, I wouldn’t include one unless something I saw during the race that warranted it). Regarding bursts to take seats, I’d call them as I needed to since you can’t really plan that kind of thing. The rule of thumb that I always try to abide by is that you should stick to the plan until it has to change. The “plan” is more of a loose guideline than anything else anyways. Races are very fluid and you’ve got to be adaptable to that. There’s nothing more frustrating than a coxswain who goes into the race and is hell bent on rigidly following his/her race plan to the tee, regardless of what’s going on, and forgetting to actually observe everything that’s happening outside of the 3ft x 1.5ft seat they’re sitting in.

Related: Hi, I am a exchange student and I joined our crew team. Since I am pretty small I am a coxswain. I am now moved up into our first boat but I never know what to say during a race. The problem is I am not a native speaker and so I have even more problems to make good/clear calls. Do you have any tips for Nationals (YES we qualified) and Stotesbury?

This is one of the reasons why I don’t think you should be formulating one 3.5 months before the season begins. It gives you tunnel vision that’s hard to break and you become less likely to absorb the things you’re hearing and seeing during practice. Wait a few months, spend some time on the water with your boat, and then put one together. Don’t forget to get input from your crew and coaches too.

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