Question of the Day

Hi there! Just a quick question: I’m a coxswain and I can’t do winter training due to a prior commitment. Is there anything I should be doing over the winter to prepare for the spring independently?

If you haven’t yet, I’d have a quick 10-15 minute with your coach just to go over the fall season, discuss your progress, your goals for the spring, etc. and get his/her input on what they’d like to see you work on so you’re ready to go full throttle when spring season rolls around. If you didn’t do fall crew (or your team doesn’t have a fall program) then I’d spend some time thinking about your last spring season, how you did, what you improved on/want to keep working on, the goals you have for this year, etc. and use that to help you prepare for the upcoming season.

Outside of listening to recordings if/when you have some free time, one thing that I’d really recommend doing is spending some time creating a hard copy of all your calls (an Excel sheet or Google spreadsheet would work best for this), particularly if you find that you have trouble coming up with things to say, being repetitive, or knowing what to say in response to certain situations. I’m doing something similar with one of our lightweight coxswains right now and to keep things simple we’re starting out with trying to get 5-7 calls each for the catch, drive, finish, and recovery. I would do something like that (I’d add maybe two calls or so for every year of experience you have – if you’ve been doing this for four years you should easily be able to come up with roughly 10 calls for each category), especially as you listen to recordings and hear things from other coxswains that you like.

The goal is to have a good mix of both tried-and-true calls and new ones that you want to test out once you’re back on the water. Not only will this give you a good variety to work with but it’ll also let you actually see where you tend to become repetitive (less calls = more repetition of those calls) and where you should try to develop more things to say. Outside of that, if you have trouble with understanding certain drills or want to know what drills would be good to do in response to XYZ happening in the boat, doing some basic research on those kinds of things would also be a good way to spend the winter months.

Don’t be afraid to take some time off too and don’t feel obligated to do a ton of stuff just to say “oh hey, look how busy I was during winter training”. I’m definitely a big proponent of coxswains using their time wisely during the winter months but I don’t think they should super-aggressively try to do a ton of things just to be busy for busy’s sake, if that makes sense. If you can spend a couple hours (1-2ish) a week (…a week, not a day…) doing something specifically coxswain-related then you’ll be fine in the spring.

And to be honest, if you do nothing specifically coxswain-related the entire winter season you’ll still be fine in the spring … you just won’t have the leg up that the people who did will have. It’s all about priorities and goals. If you’re just doing crew to participate in something, have a good time, aren’t part of a super competitive team (and you’re OK with that), etc. then obviously you can take a more relaxed approach. If you’re part of a good program with high expectations and/or you have plans to try out for elite summer programs, are planning to cox in college, etc. then yea … you should be putting in a bit of work over the winter.

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