Question of the Day

So, I have been coxing for two years, and really enjoy races. However as it’s regatta season coming up, I need a bit of advice on race. How much do you want to be talking in races? My rowers said they want me talking constantly, but my coach advised not to because the rowers usually end up blocking it out. Also, do you have any calls you find really motivate your crew? I don’t want to just be reciting calls without them meaning anything but then I don’t know what to fill the gaps with. We have had loads of really successful coxes from our club so I’m under lots of pressure to be good! :/ Also, sorry I know this is a lot, but I am 5’3″ and weigh 105lbs, is this too big or heavy for a junior 14s coxie? Thanks a bunch, love this blog!

In terms of how much you should be talking, always go with what the rowers ask for. I talk pretty consistently when we’re racing or doing pieces because I don’t feel like there’s any reason why I shouldn’t be. If the rowers want/need you to always be talking, then that’s what I do. In my experience my crews have told me that even if they aren’t specifically processing some of what I’m saying, my voice and how I’m saying what I’m saying is what’s keeping them engaged and their focus in the boat.

Related: Interesting question: How often do you think a cox should talk during a race? I feel really awkward and useless if I stop talking for more than a few seconds, and when I rowed our cox would talk almost constantly during races. However, at a regatta briefing the other day the OU Captain of Coxes implied that coxes should only be talking every few strokes. I guess it depends on the standard and nature of the crew, but what do you think?

I really cringe when coaches tell coxswains how to do stuff like this because so often it comes from their own personal experience as a rower and is based off of what they didn’t like about their coxswain. That’s fine but … your experience isn’t everyone else’s. The same applies to me though too – what my crews have asked me to do might be different than what your crews want you to do.

The best thing you can do in situations like this is to take into consideration the advice you get from outside people (your coach, me, etc.) and then go straight to your rowers and say “Re: talking while racing, I’ve heard X and Y … which applies to us?” and find out straight from them what they want. Communication is key!

Related: I just read your post about intimidating your opponents, which is perhaps one of the greatest things I’ve seen, but I wanted to ask what are some of your favorite/most effective calls?

Regarding motivating calls, check out the post linked above. This is another spot where you should talk with your rowers and ask them what would really get them going during a race. Don’t over think it because the most effective calls are usually the simplest ones. Several of the recordings that coxswains have sent me lately have included really simple calls that just relate to their school/team, such as “Yea Tigers!”, “Go Big Red!”, “Here we go, Huskies!”, etc. When you’ve got time, scroll through all the coxswain recording posts and look at/listen to some of the calls I pointed out.

Related: Coxswain recordings

As far as your height/weight goes, you’re five pounds under the minimum of 110lbs – you’re fine. That’s probably the most common size for female coxswains so no, it’s not too big or too heavy.

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