This is an email I sent over the weekend to our varsity coxswain who will be driving the four we’re taking to IRAs this weekend. As I’ve said in the past, being in the launch every day has its perks and while it may be boring at times it can be a useful tool once the end of the season rolls around. I tend to take a lot of notes when we’re out, either in a notebook or on my phone, and it’s nice to be able to pull them out now and get a few ideas for calls or new things to say that we haven’t talked about in awhile. Even though you could take a lot of what I said down below into the boat with you verbatim, there’s really only a few explicitly laid out calls in here. There’s a lot to be inferred though so coming up with calls on your own shouldn’t be hard.
“Here’s some of my notes on the guys from the last few months. The whole not being able to see them thing means you’ve gotta rely on what you know they have a tendency to do and these are their tendencies. Incorporate these into your calls this week (throughout the entire practice, not just the 500s and 250s we’ll be doing) so you can pull them out on Fri/Sat/Sun without having to think about it.
No wind up
No up and down movement with the shoulders at the catch – lock the blade in then hang on it (“suspend send” for three is a good call here…don’t say “for the next three” or anything, just call it…)
Keep the hands moving out of the finish – he’s got to be a metronome if he’s gonna stroke this four and it’s on you to not let up for a single stroke if you see the rate fall off.
Release clean, feel the boat send away followed by smooth, relaxed hands out of the finish
Lean into the rigger
Keep the shoulders low
Patient with hands out of the finish
Don’t lunge at the catch
Hold the finishes, has a tendency to wash out at higher rates/pressures
Sit up/posture in general, particularly through the back end
Stay loose in the shoulders (tends to get tense when told to sit up)
Don’t get grabby at the catch
Back it in, don’t miss water at the catch
Hands down and away – specifically say “[his name]” when you make this call so he knows you’re talking to him
Stay connected with the feet at the finish
Hold the finishes in
Don’t cut off the lay back, get all the swing through the finish – especially important since he’s in bow now
Suspend the weight, feet light on the stretchers
Accelerate with the hips
No lift out of the catch
Find speed through the legs
Smooth turnaround at the finish, keep the hands and seat moving (important for [STROKE], he adds the tiniest pause over the knees and that’s where [THREE] + [TWO] get ahead of him)
Build together through the water, don’t force it via rushing the hands out of bow ([THREE] + [TWO] in particular but applies to the whole boat)
Stay relaxed and long
During the “10 to relax” after the start, focus on actually getting them to relax and swing rather than just calling another 10. You shouldn’t need to count this out, instead remind them that every stroke needs to be relaxed but intentional, free of tension, etc. and then make repetitive swing-related calls for several strokes as you begin to establish your rhythm. Keep your voice calm but focused here.
Third 500 – the focus has to re-shift back to their form as fatigue sets in. Catches sharp, posture tall, cores solid, chins up, hanging on the handle, sequencing, mind over matter, etc. – all of it has to be on point. Every single thing you say, more so in this 500 than any other 500 during the race, has to have a purpose otherwise all you’re doing is taking speed away instead of adding it.
During the last 500 when you build for the sprint you have to be unrelenting when it comes to those rates. I know we’ve talked about not getting picky when it falls off by a beat but during the sprint that can’t happen. As the rate goes up remind them to sustain their rhythm and speed by picking it up together and staying light on the seats. As [THREE] said, the organization during this chunk needs to be better. There can’t be any second-guessing, tripping over your calls, periods of silence, etc. especially if you’re tight with another crew.
Be prepared. Eliminate all distractions. Be relentless. That’s your only job this week.”