Coxswain recordings, pt. 15

Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4 || Part 5 || Part 6 || Part 7 || Part 8 || Part 9 || Part 10 || Part 11 || Part 12 || Part 13 || Part 14

After eight months or so of chilling on my desktop, these videos are finally getting posted! I have three or four more left to upload but I didn’t have time to listen to all of them/put them in YouTube-acceptable format this week so I’ll include them in September’s post. There’s only three recordings this time around but quality over quantity, right? Enjoy and let me know what you think, particularly about the last one!

University of Washington Men’s 8+ Windermere Cup 2012
Someone sent me this mp3 a few months ago after I said I’d love to get my hands on some UW audio (they are Coxswain U, after all…), which I was pretty excited about. I appreciate you guys keeping an eye out for these things for me!

0:22, “Now build it and here we go, get on it now…” I like this series of quick calls right before they start their high strokes. It’s a good alternative to not calling the first four or five stokes if you’re not into that kinda thing.

0:59, “One seat up, that’s fine…” Compare this to what a lot of coxswains do – “200m in, we’re one seat up, by 250m I wanna be on their bow ball, power 10!” – and it’s not hard to see why I like this, not just for what he says but for how he says it. If you’ve established your rhythm, are taking tight, clean strokes, the boat feels good, etc. then ride that and use it to your advantage for as long as you can, regardless of whether you’re up one seat or down three seats.

If you watch the time on the video, you’ll notice that 200m to 300m and 300m to 400m only took them roughly 20 seconds per 100m. That’s a little over 11mph (18km/hr). For comparison, Germany rowed the first 500m of the final in London at just over 13mph (21km/hr). I stopped paying attention to this after awhile but in the first third of the recording you’ll hear him call 200m, 300m, 400m, 500m, 600m, 750m, etc. While he’s probably rowed on the Montlake Cut long enough to know where each 100m mark is along shore, another way you can tell your crew where you are is by paying attention to the times. If during practice you’re pulling similar splits during pieces to what you’re pulling during your race then you’ll be able to guesstimate that each 100m is taking you roughly X seconds. This in turn means that even if there aren’t markers along shore telling you where you are, you can make a good guess based on what the clock on your cox box is saying.

At the 500m, I like the “five to set the swing” they took. Especially after the first 500m, which can tend to be a little frantic, it’s always good to take a couple strokes to re-establish that long, smooth stroke that you wanna maintain throughout the bulk of the race. Making focus-specific calls like he did here for swing is also important, especially when your busts are short like this one was. I liked the “good swing through the back” one the best.

2:44, “hands up to the front bow six, we want no missed [water]…” Love this call. If you see rowers starting to shorten up and/or miss water at the catch, this is a great call to remind them to sit up and get that length at the front end.

3:21, “keep walking away, give them nothing…” Simple, yet effective.

3:29, what is it with curb-stomping the shit out of people lately? I love the call, don’t get me wrong, but this is probably the seventh or eighth time I’ve hear a coxswain say that during a race in the last year.

3:55, I laughed so hard the first time I head this.

One of the other calls he uses a couple times that I liked was “with the push” when referring to the leg drive. “On the legs” can get old after awhile so I like this as an alternative.

Overall, this was a well-coxed piece. What I really liked and what you should be taking away is how there was a good balance of everything a coxswain should be focused on during a race – position on the course, position on other crews, splits (if you’ve got a SpeedCoach), technique (maintaining a balance between general calls and calls for individuals when necessary), etc. His voice is great too – calm at times, in your face other times, but intense as hell from start to finish.

ORU San Diego Crew Classic
He does a good job at the beginning here of instructing the crew (mainly “Ben”) in a clear, calm voice. At the start when you’re getting your point you want to make sure that your instructions are concise and easy to hear/understand. Save the “uh’s” and “um’s” for later. Don’t get frantic if you have to keep making small adjustments either.

1:38 – 2:27 Overall this starting sequence is pretty solid. You could argue that he’s counting a little too much but I’ll give him a pass on that because his tone and clarity is spot on.

2:39, “get ready for our move to keep us in contention…” You are literally two and a half minutes into this race. You’ve probably got 1700m of race course left. This isn’t really a call you should be making that early in the race – being three seats down is still in contention because, as I said, you’ve probably got 1700m of course left to work with. Don’t get freaked out if you’re dead even or ahead after your start. If you really feel the need to tell your crew your three seats down on everyone, at least say something like “3 seats down, that’s alright, we’ve got plenty of time to reel them in…”. Keep it positive and then go right into coxing them. You’re right in the pack so you’ve got plenty of things happening around you that you can use to your advantage and to help get your crew going. Focus on that and less on the fact that you’re down a few seats.

2:50, don’t take a ten for timing. They’re either gonna have the timing under control after three strokes or not. If they don’t … how are you racing in the finals of the Crew Classic?

The other thing about this ten is that all he does is count – at least make some calls related to whatever you called the burst for instead of just rattling off numbers. The rowers know how to count. If you’re not going to add anything to the burst, just make it a silent one or something or better yet, don’t call it.

3:57, “you’re in a battle for third place right now…” This was a missed opportunity. If you’re gonna say that to your crew, follow it up with a move. Saying “you’re in a battle” and then not going after those other crews with a ten or twenty is like a pretty good example of “stopping short” in crew. If you’re gonna say that, go all the way with it.

One of the things that he does well is build the intensity with his voice throughout the race. In the beginning he starts out fairly chill (maybe even a little boring) but by the time they get to 1000m and are even-ish with the lead crews, you can tell he’s really getting into it. You don’t have to always been at 100% during a race. It’s actually better to start high, back off a bit, and then slowly build towards the end, that way your calls are actually punctuated by something rather than being one-note the whole race.

By this point (6:35) I think they’ve take four or five bursts for timing. STAHPPP. There’s no excuse for that unless you’re a novice crew. If your crew’s timing is off you better be able to say “catches together now…catch chaaa, catch chaaa” and have them immediately respond to it. It’s like a snap-of-the-fingers kinda thing, it should be an automatic reaction. It shouldn’t take more than two or three strokes max to get it back.

Another thing he does well is tell them where they are on the other crews. He consistently says “2 seats down, 1/4 seat up, 1 seat up, 2 seats up, etc.” which is exactly what you should be doing when the race is close like this. Don’t assume that just because you’re beside a crew the rowers know where you’re at.

7:09 – 8:00, that’s how you call a sprint. I don’t know what was up with all the “up” calls but the aggression, intensity, clarity, and awareness was exactly what it should be at the end of a race.

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