Question of the Day

Hello! I just starting coxing in the winter season and I’ve been really quiet while coxing erg workouts because I never know what to say to encourage someone. What are your staple phrases to use to encourage someone during an erg test/workout or during a regatta?

The first thing you should do is always ask the people erging if they want to be coxed. Some people need it, other people hate it. In my experience most people are OK with subtle technique reminders but don’t care too much for the “yay, go you” motivational calls, mostly because they’re largely unnecessary unless someone is really struggling. This obviously varies by team though. If you want to say something encouraging, say it to the whole group – something like “looking strong, guys” or whatever. Don’t be cheesy though. I beg of you. If whatever you’re going to say sounds like it could be on a Hallmark card or part of a “deep” Tumblr text post, don’t say it.

Related: Advice for coxing a 5k on the erg? There are only so many times I can remind my boys to keep their back straight and drive with their legs.

When I’m coaching or coxing an erg workout I typically just walk around and watch people’s form. For the most part I’m fairly quiet too. I like to use the time to observe rather than talk because my theory is that when we’re on the water, that’s my time but when we’re on land and they’re on the ergs, that’s their time. When I’m walking around, I’ll lean down and say something if I see something stand out with their technique or if I see their splits climbing above where they should be but usually it’s just a quick reminder like “get the arms all the way out”, “chins up”, “watch your split, get it back to 1:49”, etc. If there’s something that requires some more detail, an explanation, etc. then I’ll just wait until they’re done erging before I say something to avoid distracting them.

Related: Hello! Our rowers’ first 2x6k test is soon. As a novice cox, what should I be looking for to help them out with technique and motivate them?

“Staple phrases” is tough because there sort of is no such thing – my staples are different than most other coxswains staples and their staples are different from other coxswains’ staples. As I’ve said many, many, many times before, the best way to figure out how to motivate someone is to just ask them. What do they want to hear, what do they need to hear, what reminders do they want/need, what are their goals, etc. From there, all you have to do is repeat that to them when you feel they need it (or they tell you they do). You could always go through the “calls” tag too if you wanted – there’s a lot of stuff in there so I wouldn’t recommend doing that unless you’ve got some free time on your hands.

Related: The worst coxswain calls

All that being said, you’re a novice – you really shouldn’t be saying that much because you don’t know anything yet. The only thing worse than not saying anything is saying stuff that you yourself don’t understand. Walk around with the experienced coxswains, ask them questions, learn about technique on the ergs, get to know the rowers, talk with the coaches about the goals of each practice and why you’re doing the workouts you’re doing, etc. Spend time educating yourself at and outside of practice and then as you start to get more comfortable with the terminology, technique, etc. then you can start coxing the rowers (if they want you to).

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