Coxswain recordings, pt. 21

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 || Part 15 || Part 16 || Part 17 || Part 18 || Part 19 || Part 20

Did you know that there are over 130 recordings posted on the recordings page? I got curious and counted the other day…

If any college coxswains out there recorded themselves during their training trips, feel free to send them to me. I have some GoPro video from our coxswains that I’ll be uploading soon and including in next month’s post but if anyone else has any audio/video they wanna share, send me a link and I’ll include it.

Holy Names Academy Varsity 8+
The biggest thing I noticed about this recording was how much water the rowers were missing (they look like they’re catching at about half slide) and how the coxswain never says anything about it. For the first minute or so of the piece I thought that she was calling the strokes way too early (which can throw off the timing and rhythm) but after watching the blades for a few strokes it became really obvious how much they’re all rowing it in. This is the kind of stuff you have to be keeping an eye out for so you can call the rowers on it when necessary.

Overall her coxing wasn’t too bad. The only thing I’d really say “stop doing” is saying the time every 15 seconds because a) that got annoying fast and b) there’s no reason to. The race is like, five minutes long – you shouldn’t need to give the time in anything less than 45 second increments.

The other thing I wanted to point out is communicating with your stroke. Some coxswains are totally cool with their stroke seat making comments during a race, others get thrown off by it, and others hate it entirely. I’m OK with it when I’m coxing as long as they’re necessary and few and far between. When I hear a stroke making lots of comments during a race like this one did it makes me question how much faith they have in their coxswain. The only time I want my stroke to say something to me is if the boat feels rushed (because sometimes they can feel it more/better than I can) or if a crew we’re ahead of is walking on us (since I can’t see them). I couldn’t really tell what this stroke seat was saying but just keep in mind that the communication between you and your coxswain has to be, to an extent, planned out. Coxswains, if you’re one of the ones that gets thrown off when something interrupts your thought process while you’re coxing, work with your stroke during practice and have him/her purposely make comments (actual ones, not random ones) during pieces so you can get used to that feeling of being interrupted when necessary and can then figure out the best way to quickly analyze what was said without getting flustered or thrown completely off your game.

Western Washington 2013 NCRC Championships
Biggest thing I noticed here was something I’ve talked a lot about before – if you’re going to call a “focus 5” you have to call it for something. You can’t just say “focus 5” and expect something magical to happen. Same goes for when you call “focus 5 for length”, you’ve gotta make sure you’re saying what they should be doing to get that length. Saying “yea” in between each stroke does … nothing. Same thing goes for calling a “ratio 10” and saying “ratio” in between each stroke. All you’ve done is repeat it enough that it doesn’t sound like a word anymore. Watch from the start of that ten until the end of it; does it look like anything changed at all with the ratio? Not really, most likely because there wasn’t anything specific said about what needed to change with the ratio. Fastest way to get tuned out as a coxswain is to just talk but not say anything and if I had to guess, that’s what happened here.

I do like the “lock and load it” call that she makes around 2:25. Her overall volume and tone is pretty good too. I really liked how she called the sprint, particularly when she was telling them what splits to get after. That was really good. Throughout the second half of the race she did get a little too aggressive with calling fives and tens right after each other, which really drives me crazy, but in general the biggest thing you should take away from this video is that you can’t just say the same thing over and over and over and expect something to change if you aren’t actually saying what they need to do differently. Saying “balance” five times in a row, “clean” ten times in a row, “ratio” ten times in a row, etc. is not your job. You’ve gotta be able to feel the set is off and know instantly what needs to be corrected … and then say that. You’ve gotta be able to look at the bladework and see what part of the stroke needs to be cleaner … and then tell them how to do it. If your technique-spotting skills aren’t something you’re totally confident on, well, we are in the winter training period and most of us are stuck inside for at least two more months. Plenty of time to get with your coaches, watch video, do research, ask questions, etc. You’d be surprised how much better you’ll understand the stroke when you make educating yourself on it a priority.

Atlantic City HS Varsity 8+
This is definitely one of my favorite recordings that I’ve listened to in awhile. It’s hard to explain what it is I love about this style of coxing but whenever I hear it I think about that part in Mean Girls where the girl is talking about Regina and she says “one time she punched me in the face … it was awesome“. I really don’t know why. It’s like the aggressiveness in her voice punctuated by the sound of the oarlocks at the finish … I donno, I just love it.

Between 0:45 and 1:00, the way she calls the settle is really good. The “shift in two, shift in one” call is one of my favorites because it’s building the intensity while still keeping everyone focused and on the same page. I also really like how she calls out the “37 … 36 …” as they settle down with the rate. Times like that are when I think it’s OK to just say the stroke rate and nothing else because trying to throw in a call in between the strokes can sound a little frantic which can be counter-intuitive to what you want your actual message to be, which is to relax the pace while still staying powerful on the drive. The way she says “37 … 36 …” communicates that pretty well.

There’s really nothing that I dislike about this recording. She makes great technical calls (the “in two we swing … open it up, go, with the shoulders” call at 2:05ish is great), her motivation, intensity, tone, and volume are all on point … I’d row my ass off for this girl. Really, really well done. Lots to take away from this one.

2014 San Diego Crew Classic Capital Crew MV8+
I read that this coxswain from Capital committed to UW for next year. Not sure if that’s a rumor or not but if it’s true it wouldn’t surprise me after hearing this recording. It’s pretty damn good…

One thing that I think every coxswain can always work on is being calm when they’re down on other crews. He does a really good job of just telling the crew where they are without freaking out about it. This is one of the things I really like about Connor’s recordings too – he doesn’t let the place they’re sitting in phase him or have any kind of effect on the delivery of his calls. Keith, the coxswain in this recording, is the same way. Having a coxswain like that is a huge advantage (in my opinion) for a crew because if the coxswain is calm, the crew is calm and when the crew is calm they can be downright dangerous.

Another call I like is at 2:20 when they take five and he tells one of the rowers (“Ben”) to lead the send in the boat. I’m a huge proponent of calls like that where you’re calling out a specific rower and saying “you lead this”. If your 3-seat has been working on being direct to the water during practice and you call a five for sharp catches, tell your 3-seat to lead that five. Make the connection between who’s been working on what during practice and incorporate that into your calls.

Winter Park High School Bertossa Cup 2014
This style of coxing is perfect for pieces (5x5min, for example) during practice. There’s a good balance with the calls and the tone is just aggressive enough. During a race I would probably want her to be a little sharper and more concise with the calls (vs. dragging them out a bit here) but for practice pieces this is fine. Overall good coxing, nothing too much to point out one way or the other. Definitely give it a listen though because it’s just another example of good coxing and you really can’t ever have too many of those.

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