Coxswain recordings, pt. 13

Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4 || Part 5 || Part 6 || Part 7 || Part 8 || Part 9 || Part 10 || Part 11 || Part 12

CRI Women’s 2V4+ 2014 Saratoga Invitational

This one is from the 10-lane circus that was the Saratoga Invitational this year.

The start is called well in terms of the aggressiveness, the words that are used, etc. but a lot of the calls are unnecessarily drawn out. That applies to the majority of the race too. It’s like you know things are happening at a fast pace but the way you’re hearing it it’s coming off like it’s in slow motion. I always feel like it takes way more effort to call things like that too than it does to just … talk.

I get the impression with a lot of coxswains that they try to drastically change their voice when they’re coxing to make themselves seem more intimidating, in control, aggressive, etc. but ultimately it just comes off as … I don’t know if “fake” is the right word but something in the neighborhood of disingenuous would probably be right because you know that’s not what that person actually sounds like.

Seriously, guys, all you really need to do is take your normal voice, bump up the volume a couple a notches (like, 2-3 at most; the mic takes care of the rest), speak like you do when you’re heated about something, and use your core to help you project. Know what calls should be drawn out and which ones (aka most of them) shouldn’t be and enunciate accordingly.

At 2:40 she says “they’re just sitting”, which reminded me of something I read recently about how just sitting on a crew is lazy. Yea, they might be holding you off but it also shows that you’re not doing anything extra to overcome that. You should never say “we’re sitting on them”, “they’re not gaining anything”, etc. Instead you should make a call that kicks the crew into another gear for 10-15 strokes so that they can either walk on or away from the other boat. Don’t let anyone sit on you and don’t you sit on anyone else.

Also speaking of moves, at 2:57 she says “tied for fourth right here, let’s get us up…”. This is a perfect spot to reference pretty much any of GW recordings and to also reiterate how much listening to other coxswains’ audio can benefit you. At this point they’re probably, I donno, 700ish meters into the race. Being in 4th isn’t a bad position to be in right here, especially when you’re racing nine other crews. You’ve still got 800 meters left in the race and roughly 650m to work with in terms of making a significant position-changing move.

Related: It’s OK to not be in first place

In those GW recordings you’ll hear several times where they were down to another crew (or a couple of other crews) by roughly the same margins and all their coxswain said was “that’s OK” or “it’s alright, here’s what we’re gonna do”. You never hear him say “we’re down, we need to get up” when there’s still 750+ meters of water left ’til the finish line. Saying something like that just makes it seem frantic and like you’re getting left in the dust, especially when you’re coxing a crew of people who can’t see what’s happening with the crews sitting in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.

The biggest takeaway from this recording should be to make sure the majority of your calls are short and succinct. I spent a lot of time thinking “just get to the point” with a lot of them because they were drawn out so much when maybe only 5% of them actually needed to be called that way. The race also felt much longer than normal because the calls were really long. Overall the coxing was good but how the calls were presented is where the most work is needed.

Other calls I liked:

 “Place and go…” I like the sharpness of this call. It’s also a good alternative to “catch, send…”.

Western Washington University WV4+ 2014 WIRA Heats

This is probably one of very few examples where a coxswain is abnormally quiet and yet still coxing pretty well. The intensity comes across even if the typical coxswain-volume isn’t there. There are a few times where it gets a little to yoga-instructor-trying-to-get-you-to-meditate but for the most part, this is pretty good.

There’s a lot of great individual calls made throughout the piece that do a great job of conveying what needs to happen without making it seem like it has to happen now now now. I also like the calls to the various pairs to accomplish different things. An important point to remember though is to not forget the “how” part of the calls. At 1:43 she says “let’s get a little more run” but doesn’t say how she wants the crew to actually execute that (long(er) on both ends, holding in the finishes, big acceleration on the drive, etc.). Not doing that runs the risk of everyone doing their own thing to accomplish that task instead of executing a unified approach (that you give them).

The last 250m (last 60 seconds or so) is called well. That “coxswain volume” starts to come out, the intensity’s been bumped up, and you can just sense the confidence behind the calls. Overall this was a great coxing job and like I said at the beginning, probably one of very few examples of good coxing where the coxswain is very quiet and almost too calm for the majority of the race.

Last thing: “I see the finish line…” – yea, don’t say that. They can see the finish line too from the starting platform if they turn around and look for it.

Other calls I liked:

“Right with your pair partner…” I like this as an alternative to saying “right with stern pair”, “right with [stroke]”, “all together”, etc.

“That’s it, you’re right on your rhythm…” This is another call I like as a way to just let the crew know that the boat’s feelin’ good and moving well. I like where she used it too, right at the end of a ten. That’s a good place to call it because during bursts is where there’s a lot of potential for the rhythm to be lost if someone (or multiple someones) get a little frantic with the slides. Making a call about how the rhythm feels good at the end of a burst like that reiterates to the crew that they’re rowing well and because of that the boat is responding.

You can see all the recordings I’ve shared by checking out the “Coxswain Recordings” page listed on the front page of the blog.

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