Coxswain recordings, pt. 30

Previously: Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4 || Part 5 || Part 6 || Part 7 || Part 8 || Part 9 || Part 10 || Part 10b || Part 11 || Part 12 || Part 13 || Part 14 || Part 15 || Part 16 || Part 17 || Part 18 || Part 19 || Part 20 || Part 21 || Part 22 || Part 23 || Part 24 || Part 25 || Part 26 || Part 27 || Part 28 || Part 29

Wellesley College WV8+ Final 2016 NCAA Championships

I posted the recording from Wellesley’s heat at NCAAs back in December (you can check it out here) and similar to that recording, the audio’s a little muffled here. This is actually a good thing to keep in mind too now that the spring season is getting closer – if you’re not using a GoPro, make sure you play around with different spots to put your recorder so you can find one that protects it from the water while still being able to capture a clear sound.

If you want to watch the NCAA’s footage of the race and listen to their commentary, you can check it out here – skip ahead to 3:23:00ish (the race starts about a minute after that). Wellesley is in Lane 2 with the black boat and blue and white oars. I’d also recommend muting the NCAA video and starting the recording when the race starts, that way you can listen to Ale call the race as you watch it.

From a coxing standpoint, this piece accomplishes three of the things that make up a good recording – there’s no screaming off the line, she gives consistent updates on their pace and position, and at the end of the race you have a pretty good idea of where most of the crews finished just based on the updates she was giving throughout the piece. All of that is rooted in communication so if you’re a sophomore or junior who is trying to put together audio to sent to the JNT or college coaches, I would highly recommend you make your communication skills a central focus during practice in the weeks leading up to your first race. Ale demonstrates really well how to do this effectively by keeping the information concise (aka saying only what needs to be said) and using her tone rather than volume to convey her message.

Related: What makes a good coxswain recording

One of the most well executed parts of the race was when they’re crossing 1000m between 3:16 and 3:42ish. Through the first 1000m there’s this focus of just chipping away at the field stroke by stroke in order to establish their lead and then as they come across 1000m it’s like OK, we’ve got now, if anyone else wants it, they’re gonna have to take it from us because we are not giving it up.

I think the best part of the NCAA commentary is near the end where Williams starts to take the rate up but Wellesley is still at like, a 33 or something, and the announcer says they have “plenty of stroke rate left to go up and not much water left to defend”. That’s probably the best position you could be in coming into the last 250m of a race.

Other calls I liked:

“Catches with her, shoulders with her…”

“Our confidence in two … one … two, our confidence. MOVE through that 1000 … MOVE through that 1000. Seize it now … seize it now, blue. We command this. Sit up, we’re across. Sit up, now this is our 500 because we’ve trained … LET’S GO!

George Washington University 1F vs. Georgetown University 1F

Right off the start, I like the “draw through” call on the first stroke. That’s an easy one to whiff, especially if your blade’s not all the way buried or you pull out of the catch instead of push, so having that call as a reminder is a good way to make sure everyone stays horizontal through the drive.

Out of the high strokes they make their shift down to base and at 1:47 you hear him say that he wants to shift down one more beat to a 35. His execution here (between 1:47 and 2:00ish) is really smooth, mainly because there’s no sense of urgency in his tone that the shift has to happen right freakin’ now like you sometimes hear in other recordings. He draws it out over a couple of strokes which allows him time to make very clear, direct calls about what he wants and most importantly (especially when it comes to rate shifts), when he wants it to happen. This is something you should regularly be practicing when you’re doing pyramid pieces or anything else involving rate shifts, that way you can establish a good flow in initiating it and the crew can get accustomed to the calls you’ll make when the rate needs to change.

Little goals are obviously a big part of any race plan and he does a good job here of (indirectly) tying those to the crew’s overall technique. You’ve gotta be careful about making too many technical calls during a race and becoming hyperfocused on that but I think he does a good job of balancing those calls with follow-up calls that say where they are now on Georgetown after taking a few strokes to get the blades in, swing through a headwind, keep the outside shoulder up, etc.

The only thing I’d suggest not doing from this recording really isn’t that egregious but there’s definitely better – or at least clearer – ways to call it. Rather than saying “200m ’til the 500m mark” just say “750 to go” or if you’re making a move at 500, “15 strokes ’til we make our move”.

Other calls I liked:

“At the 500, we’re gonna walk away. We’re gonna sting at the 5…”

“Stay loose, stay long … stay loose, stay long…”, said on the drive, recovery.

Coxswain recordings, pt. 29

Previously: Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4 || Part 5 || Part 6 || Part 7 || Part 8 || Part 9 || Part 10 || Part 10b || Part 11 || Part 12 || Part 13 || Part 14 || Part 15 || Part 16 || Part 17 || Part 18 || Part 19 || Part 20 || Part 21 || Part 22 || Part 23 || Part 24 || Part 25 || Part 26 || Part 27 || Part 28

2015 Henley Royal Regatta Thames vs. Barge, Thames Challenge Cup Semi-Final

This coxswain is #goals AF.  Listen and learn because she puts on a clinic here.

This is a great race from the 2015 regatta and a solid example of a style of coxing that most of us in the US aren’t accustomed to. The biggest difference is in how we call the starts. Our style is very regimented most of the time but this style is a little looser and focuses more on the technical side (“nice and loose off the back end”, “let’s start pushing that finish”, etc.) rather than calling out 1/2, 1/2, 3/4, full, “complete, complete, lengthen, full” or whatever your traditional starting sequence is.

I’ve called starts like this and I do like it but it requires a lot of focus from the crew because they don’t have you in their ear calling the starting five, power 20, lengthen 5, etc. The coach I did it with always referred to it as a more “mature” way of racing because it forces everyone, coxswain included, to be that much more tuned in to the race plan and what’s happening on each stroke, even if/when it’s not directly being said out loud.

Also, note how at 1:40 she says “here comes the wind”? You can see the texture of the water is different in front of the boat in the subsequent few seconds after she makes that call (in comparison to the calmer water in front of them as they came off the line). If you’re new to coxing or are trying to get a grip on how to alert your crew of where the wind is, this gives you a good visual of what the water will look like as you encounter, in this instance, a headwind. Remember, if it’s blowing towards you, it’s a headwind, if it’s blowing with you it’s a tailwind, and if it’s hitting you at an angle it’s a crosswind.

Related: One of my coaches was a coxswain and I got switched out the last third of practice to be in the launch with her. OMG BEST TIME EVER. Every time I had a question she’d answer it so well! More coxes should become coaches! One thing she was talking about was watching the wind patterns – like the dark patches in the water to let the crew know. I understand the concept, but I’m not really understanding why. Like, I tell them that a wind/wake is coming to prepare them?

The 15 seconds between 2:25 and 2:40 show exactly how you should communicate with your crew during a race, particularly one where you’re down. Her tone is level, she’s calm, she makes calls that keep the crew focused, and she doesn’t give them any reason to worry when she says where they are relative to Barge. She makes the call for “our rhythm”, which is always a great go-to call, and follows it up with calls that emphasize what she wants, not just in their direct meaning but also in how she says and annunciates them. She ends it by saying “they’re just sitting there … let’s start trucking through … we knew we’d be down off the start”, which is a good way of saying we knew this was going to happen, it’s OK but now it’s time to buckle in and get moving. There’s no sense of concern or anything there, which can admittedly be tough to master as a younger coxswain but it’s a skill that can really elevate you from just being mediocre to being good.

That move between 2:50 and 4:10ish is flawless. THAT’S how you make up 2/3 of a length between you and another crew. You can bet too that when she said “half a meter off their stern and they have no idea what the hell happened here”, that’s exactly what they were thinking.

When she slaps the side of the boat as she calls “now” at 5:38, you can see and almost feel the energy in the boat pick up. I’ve seen lots of coxswains do this and have done it myself too but be careful if you do – slamming your wrist into the gunnel hurts like a bitch.

One of the (many) things she does well is giving them super specific position updates – i.e. “we’re a meter and a half off their cox”, “we’re a meter off their bow ball … we’re a foot off their bow ball … bow ballll!”, etc. Don’t underestimate how motivating this is to the crew, especially if you can count it down like she does as they’re coming up on bow to stern.

Crossing the line, “we’re gonna act like this means god damn nothing, they should never have come over here” … like, damn, could you make a more savage call at the end of a race? I aspire to have that much ice in my veins.

She makes a great point though, celebrating wins is fine and normal and whatever but you should have some decorum when doing it too. My coaches always told us to save it for the final. Heats and semis were the battles but the final was the war and you don’t want to look like a dick by shouting, slumping over, etc. just because you won something as inconsequential as a qualifier, no matter how good of a race it was.

Other calls I liked:

“Let’s cruise now, tap it along…”

“In two … next stroke … now…” I like how she calls this. It just sounds crisper than saying “in two, one … two…”.

“You’ve got momentum Thames, we’ve got to keep moving…”

“Gimme five strokes holding the back end through…” Super basic call but she said it so succinctly and didn’t waste any time getting it out – one breath to make a call that that helped them take a seat over those five strokes.

“Hang and send…”

“Keep squeezing me away…”

“Whole crew, sit up now…” Another basic call but I like how assertive she is in calling it and how she gives them direction on when to do it. Little, little details like this add up.

Australia Men’s 8+ training row

This is a long recording (22 minutes) and there’s not much specific that I want to point out, rather I think this is just another good example of how to execute a long row – occasional technical comments but largely letting the rowers feel out the piece and process the changes that need to be made while giving the coach(es) plenty of opportunities to jump in if they have feedback to offer.

This is something you can/should discuss with the crew and your coaches too. I’ve been in boats that hated this much silence between calls and I’ve been in others where this amount of coxing was just right. Similarly, some coaches are content to let you take control and do the majority of the talking/coaching, others want to use this time to provide as much feedback as possible. Both can be annoying for the coxswain because long rows like this require a bit of forethought so you’re not just winging it with your calls but at the same time, it’s really annoying when you get talked over or interrupted every time you go to say something.

Conversations like this will obviously do a lot for making practice more effective but my end game with having them was to just save myself as much hassle and frustration as possible. There’s nothing selfish about that so don’t think you’ll look bad if you bring this up, particularly if dealing with overly talkative coaches on the water is a problem you’ve encountered in the past.

Team USA 2012 M8+ 10 at base pace

This is a quick and simple video that shows the eight going through some strokes at base pace. I don’t think this is Zach Vlahos coxing them so if anyone does know who it is, let me know. (Update: Asked Zach, it’s Ned DelGuercio.)

One thing he does that everyone should do at the end of the piece is say “clean paddle”. Just because you took a few hard strokes doesn’t mean you can row like shit now just because you’re not at pressure. That goes for coming off of longer pieces too. A small dropoff in technique is fine but you should still be at like, 90% when it comes to how proficient your strokes look. Anything less is just lazy.

Also, check out that docking. Drops pairs out on the approach, tells them to watch their oars, when to lean, to watch out for the corner … seriously, if you guys do those four things as effortlessly as he did them, you’re docking will improve tenfold in one practice. None of that is hard either so don’t equate “effortlessly” with the fact that he’s a national team coxswain. If you have functioning eyes and common sense it’ll be just as easy for you as it was for him.

Other calls I liked:

“Stabilize here…” I use this one a lot as a full-stroke call (“stabilize” at the catch, “here” at the finish”) if/when the boat’s off set.

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

Coxswain recordings, pt. 28

Previously: Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4 || Part 5 || Part 6 || Part 7 || Part 8 || Part 9 || Part 10 || Part 10b || Part 11 || Part 12 || Part 13 || Part 14 || Part 15 || Part 16 || Part 17 || Part 18 || Part 19 || Part 20 || Part 21 || Part 22 || Part 23 || Part 24 || Part 25 || Part 26 || Part 27

Over the next few weeks I’m going to start cleaning up the recordings posts, getting rid of ones that have been deleted, and making the posts more reader-friendly. Part of that will entail breaking up some of the longer posts with 5-6 recordings in them (tbh what was I thinking putting that many recordings in one post) and shortening them to around three recordings each (some might have two if they’re really long, others might have four if they’re really short). To avoid spamming you with email notifications whenever these “new” posts go up, there might be periods of time where the site will be inaccessible. If you see that, don’t worry – the blog’s not going anywhere, I’m just working to make it better.

UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON 3V PRACTICE

First thing you should take note of in this video is how good both the coxing and rowing is … and this is their 3V. Don’t take the attitude of “oh well it’s Washington, of course their 3V is good”. If you want to cox at most Division 1 programs – men or women – you’ve gotta be about this good, give or take, just to get into a lower boat. The youngest or “leftover” coxswain isn’t necessarily the default coxswain for these crews anymore, especially when you’re on a big team.

On your current team there might be competition for a single boat whereas for most teams competing in the grand and petite finals at IRAs or NCAAs, there will be competition for all the boats because there are more coxswains than there are crews. Whatever your “A-game” is now, this audio should be a wake up call that that ceases to be good enough the moment you join a collegiate team. I’m not saying that to freak you out either or make you question your ability to cox in college, I’m just putting it out there because it’s an expectation you need to be aware of and prepared for.

Back to the audio. One of the things I really like is how spaced out her words are. She’s not slowing her speech down or drawing anything out (on the contrary, she’s talking at a pretty normal pace and tone for the majority of the piece) but there’s a crispness and to each of the words that makes understanding her effortless.

I also liked the transition between the high strokes and the stride – the “press long” and “long stretch” calls were a good addition there as they brought the rate down. I say “breathe” a lot too because it’s an easy default call but it’s also easy to get repetitive with so the more alternatives you can come up with (in the vein of “press long and “long stretch“), the more effective you’ll be at initiating or maintaining that stride.

WELLESLEY COLLEGE WV8+ HEAT 2016 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS

I coached with Ale this summer and she sent me several of her recordings from her time at Wellesley College where she coxed the 1V to an NCAA title this year. The audio’s a little muffled (I think she said it was in her bag or uni) so it might be a little hard to understand her – just turn the volume up and listen close.

This recording is from their heat and one of the things that immediately stood out was how calm her tone is while still being intense and assertive as fuck throughout the entire race. You can hear that at 1:08 where she says “one seat Amelia, NOW“. Preceding that she does an excellent job of telling them where they’re at (“35, 250 in, sitting on Bates’ 8-man”) and what they’re going to do (“we’re going to stride”) and part of what makes that “NOW” call so effective is how effectively she changes her tone between the two sets of calls. She increases her volume not by yelling but by inflecting the level of intensity she wants to see in the rowers. There’s a huge difference and if you can nail that skill, your worth as a coxswain is gonna go up a lot.

Related: The language of the first 500

Further on in the piece at 4:07, they’re coming off a counter-move and she says “totally neutralized their move, in two let’s swing it back…” to re-establish their pace and rhythm. Calls like this after a move are smart because it’s easy to get a little frantic when you’re countering someone’s move or making one of your own and coming into the last 500m of the race you want to make sure you’re moving as effectively as possible so there’s no unnecessary energy being expended.

Other calls I liked:

“Hook it, move it…”

“We go with our winning rhythm, taking 6-seat of Bates in two…”

“We trust our rhythm, we trust our speed…”

“Sit up across the thousand…”

“One press together, catches in sharper…”

GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY MV8+ 2015 PRINCETON CHASE

If you’ve never been to the Princeton Chase, the 30-60 seconds of “light … light … light … pause … continuous, light … etc.” is pretty standard because there are so many boats corralled together in a U-shape along the end of the lake.

One of the things Connor consistently does well is incorporating individual rowers into his calls. You’ll hear him at 2:06 say “calm around the back, right Hugo?”, at 6:06 “Ben, you’re fuckin’ killin’ it…”, at 9:53 “Joey, I like the change man, good shit…”, etc. and that kind of engagement helps get the most out of each of those guys. If you’re just reciting your race plan during a race and only paying attention to stuff outside your gunnels, you’re leaving a lot of free speed on the table.

Related: (Connor swears a lot – I think it’s a non-issue but it is something to be mindful of, especially if you’re a junior coxswain.) I’m trying out for New Trier Novice Rowing in a couple days (go NT! I was super excited to see New Trier in the 8+ Midwest Championships recording!) and wanted to know what the real rules are on swearing in a race. I heard that you can get DQ’d but it is super rare and most coxswains swear anyway. What are your thoughts? 

Once they’ve got everything established, at 3:06 he starts to bring a bit more personality and energy into the piece and makes a call for five to bend the oars and swing back. As I’ve talked about before, primarily in the post linked below, this is how you can/should call a burst in order to get the most out of it. You can hear the energy in his voice before and he engages them by saying “let’s fuckin’ go ham today boys”, which is just way more effective than saying “power 10!” or simply “5 to bend the oars”.

Related: Race skills: All about Power 10s

One thing that I consistently get questions about from coxswains is how to avoid being repetitive and sometimes it’s hard to do, as you can hear at 7:24 when he says “guys, I’m gonna sound like a broken record but we’ve gotta get the blades in”. I love that and don’t see any problem with making a call like that. There’s good repetitiveness and bad repetitiveness and this is a perfect example of how to execute a string of calls in a “good repetitive” way. A big part of why this works is there’s no sense of pleading or franticness in his voice. He says what he sees, just with a more direct sense of urgency, and follows it up with five to sharpen the bladework. He ends it by telling them the changes they made worked and now it’s time to maintain it and move.

Other calls I liked:

“We’re gonna stride it out one beat with a big boom, ready, on … this one GO … BOOM, yea … BOOM, yea…”

“One leg drive, one swing…”

“Tall at both ends…”

“Remember the fundamentals…”

“It’s all us … it’s all us .. it’s gotta be all us…

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

What makes a good coxswain recording

This is a short clip from a talk that Marcus gave during the Sparks winter camp last December on coxswain recordings. In it he talks about how just because you have a good recording doesn’t mean you’re a good coxswain (#preach) and the three things USJNT coach Laura Simon listens for when she’s evaluating the audio sent in by prospective coxswains.

These three things are not groundbreaking, they’re not innovative, and they’re not hard to do. If you’re looking for ways to improve your audio, this should be your starting point because they are, as Marcus said, “the bare minimum” of things most people want to hear.

Coxswain Recordings, pt. 27

Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4 || Part 5 || Part 6 || Part 7 || Part 8 || Part 9 || Part 10 || Part 10b || Part 11 || Part 12 || Part 13 || Part 14 || Part 15 || Part 16 || Part 17 || Part 18 || Part 19 || Part 20 || Part 21 ||Part 22 || Part 23 || Part 24 || Part 25 || Part 26

Michigan Men’s V8+ Head of the Charles 2014
Something I noticed in this recording was a distinct lack of decisive calls/moves. There was a lot of “get me XYZ”, “we need to XYZ”, “I need you to XYZ”, etc. but there was never a follow up that actually said what needed to happen in order to accomplish whatever the coxswain was saying needed to be done.

One thing this coxswain does in contrast to some of the other head race recordings I’ve posted is she stays very chill throughout most of the race. There’s obviously a benefit to this style of coxing but I think you end up walking a fine line between “composed” and “low-energy”, and for me it came off as more low-energy than not for most of the race. There were times where she’d put a bit more emphasis on her calls (she did better with this towards the end) and others where she’d try to rush through them – several times when she’d say “one … two, on this one” it felt like she was saying both numbers on the same stroke because she’d say them so quickly. You might as well just say “on this one” and skip counting the strokes. Point being, I wish there was a bit more energy and more targeted calls since a lot of it came off as just filler.

She did do a great job steering though and ultimately I think that’s the big takeaway from this piece. Her turns were good, she was right on the buoy lines, and did a good job of managing the water when she was coming around the first turn with Drexel at the beginning.

Hobart Rowing at the Cornell Invite
This coxswain has good energy but there are times where she’s trying to say a lot of things in a short span of time and that ends up making most of her calls (many of which are pretty good) rushed and, presumably, hard for the rowers to process. There were some things that I think maybe weren’t that important that they needed to be said but for the most part she was passing along good information so my only suggestion here would be to slow down the train of thought and space out the calls a little bit more.

I like her tone and that she’s regularly giving the crew updates on where Cornell, Syracuse, etc. are amongst all the technical calls she’s making. One of the calls she made as they’re coming past the Ithaca and Cornell boathouses was “we’ve gotta get the blades in a little bit quicker if we’re gonna fly” – I like that because it’s a simple way to say what they need to do and what the outcome will be if/when they do it. Another thing she communicates well is her line vs. the coxswain behind her’s line and how in order to stay on the course she’s currently got, the crew’s gotta get a bit more send off the finishes in order to open up some water between them and the other boat. Rowers might not understand all the nuances of coxing but if there’s one thing they do get (most of the time), it’s the importance of maintaining the fastest course and holding your line. Everybody has to work in tandem to make that happen and how she communicated that was really effective.

Radcliffe 1V HOCR 2014
This is just a short 40-second long clip from the start of Radcliffe’s turn around Magazine Beach but I wanted to share it because I like this coxswain’s energy as they move through the crew on their port side. She starts off saying she wants to take them out early before calling a ten that begins with her saying “here we go, on this one NOW … we go NOW” in a really intense, clear, direct voice that sets up the rest of the move really well.

Coxswain Recordings, pt. 26

Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4 || Part 5 || Part 6 || Part 7 || Part 8 || Part 9 || Part 10 || Part 10b || Part 11 || Part 12 || Part 13 || Part 14 || Part 15 || Part 16 || Part 17 || Part 18 || Part 19 || Part 20 || Part 21 ||Part 22 || Part 23 || Part 24 || Part 25

Two recordings this month – the first is from Marcus McElhenney coxing an “exhibition” race against OUBC with a mixed lineup of members of the 2008 (I think) USA men’s squad (including the Winklevii) and the other is the last of Katelin’s recordings, which is the final of the 2010 World Cup III (you can check out the heat of that race in the this post).

Marcus McElhenney USA Men’s 8+ vs. Oxford University Boat Club
The first thing you hear is Marcus getting the crew set before the start. I like that he says “stern pair, hands only” because the “hands only” part isn’t something a lot of coxswains do. When you’re trying  to get aligned, unless you’re several seats back (and even then…), the rowers don’t always need to be taking full-slide strokes. Sometimes hands only, arms only, etc. will get the job done. Awareness of the distance you need to move and the amount of manpower it’ll take to get from Point A to Point B is a crucial skill that you’ve gotta learn so that when you’ve gotta make small adjustments like this, you can do so quickly and efficiently with no hesitation.

At 0:41 you also hear him say “my hand is up, do not go…”. Rule #1 of racing – if you’re not ready, don’t go. This would be a good habit to get into with your crews as you’re getting your points at the start so that if you find yourselves in a situation where you’re actually not ready, the crew won’t flinch when you say “don’t go”.

2:35, “use your 5:50s now!” This is a good call for power, motivation, etc. (I can see it being used a lot on the men’s side.) Many of his “motivational” calls are team related too – use your 5:50s, show Mike Teti what you can do, you’re the USA Men’s 8+, etc.

6:47, “if you can hold them now, we can take that turn.” I like this because it shows he’s thinking a few steps ahead of where he’s at now. He’s taking the information he’s getting from what’s around him, looking at the distance between where they are and the turn, and assessing the situation … and he’s doing all that in the middle of the race without letting it impact any of the other stuff he’s doing. This is also a good call to make to your crew, especially for a head race when you’re jostling for positions.

7:45, “I’ve had enough of this sittin’ around shit!” Pretty sure Marcus has said that to coxswains who were hustling fast enough at camp. 😉 I’ve made similar calls when we’re just sitting on a crew and the change in words helps, obviously, but it’s the change in tone I think that makes the biggest impact. You can just sense that there’s a different sense of urgency when he says this compared to what he was saying before this call. In this call you can hear that he’s demanding more of the crew even though he’s not specifically saying “give me more”.

8:40, “you know these guys can sprint, you know they can sprint!” This is smart because it reminds the crew that even though they’ve taken the lead now, it’s in no way secure yet and they can’t underestimate Oxford just because their (USA) bow ball is in front. This is why it’s always a good idea to have an idea of what the strengths/weaknesses are in the crews you’re racing against. I don’t think you need to get all stalker-ish and scout the hell out of them but if you hear things like Columbia has a strong sprint or Washington takes a move at 750m and leaves everyone in their dust … you’ll know that if you somehow get up on them, you can’t take that position for granted because these other crews might still have something in their back pocket that they’re waiting to break out and use against you.

I also like how at the end he keeps them focused on rowing well at the end of the race. I hear a lot of coaches really harp on not being dramatic at the end of the race and immediately getting them rowing inside arm only, maintaining some semblance of timing, etc. is a good way to avoid that.

USA Women’s 8+ 2010 World Cup III Final
Similar to Marcus, whenever her hand goes up or comes down, she tells her crew. The start of the race is typical Kaitlin, just like all the other recordings I’ve posted, she’s super chill but still being very direct, very focused, and very in her boat.

At 0:45 – 0:47 when she says “we’re gonna take our first lengthen in two … one, send it … two, now…”, you can hear that nothing changes with her volume, the only thing that is different is the inflection in her voice and that naturally lends to a more aggressive punch behind “two, now“. If you’re trying to work on maintaining your composure and being calm while also still being intense … that’s a perfect example.

3:36, “Trust the plan, trust your rhythm…” Love this. When you’re behind, don’t get frantic, don’t panic, just trust your teammates and your race plan.

5:15, “In two we lengthen and go with legs, ready? One … two, TONE CHANGE NOW. Boom, that’s it… Boom, Katie! YES, walking!” Not only was their a tone change in her voice, there was an actual physical change in the tone of their race. This was their move and she did an incredible job of facilitating that by being relaxed and focused up to this point so that when she said “tone change!” not only did they hear it in her voice but they felt it too.

What do you think?

Coxswain recordings, pt. 25

Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4 || Part 5 || Part 6 || Part 7 || Part 8 || Part 9 || Part 10 || Part 10b || Part 11 || Part 12 || Part 13 || Part 14 || Part 15 || Part 16 || Part 17 || Part 18 || Part 19 || Part 20 || Part 21 ||Part 22 || Part 23 || Part 24

This month’s recordings post all feature Kaitlin Snyder and her races with Washington in 2008 and 2009 at the Crew Classic. If you missed the other recordings I’ve posted of her you can find them here and here, as well as in this playlist on my YouTube channel. You’ll see me say “awareness” a lot in this post and that’s because it’s one of things she excels at. It’s a crucial skill for coxswains to have (if you’ve been to Sparks you know how much Marcus harps on this) and there are several examples in here for where it can/should be applied.

Sorry there’s no captions this time, I’ve been preoccupied with other projects and just didn’t have time to listen and write everything out.

UW 2008 San Diego Crew Classic
Washington lead for most of this race but going into the 1000m Cal had a two seat advantage before UW took a move to retake the lead. They finished first in 5:39.9, two seconds ahead of Princeton (5:41.8). Harvard finished third and Cal fell back to fourth.

1:06 I love how she called the stride here and that she said “you know how to do it together”. The start of the stride is executed really well – the change in her tone is great when she calls “striiide POWER, hold the knees…”.

1:35 “Strong Husky rhythm…” I like any call that references the team because it reminds you who you’re rowing for and gives an extra kick of motivation.

Note the balance (up to this point and throughout the entire recording) in her tone between being calm and being aggressive. There’s an awareness there for when to employ each that is a huge advantage for her crews.

2:41 “Bend now…” This is another drive/catch/legs call that I really like. There’s nothing groundbreaking about it but it’s simple and just another way to call for power.

2:45 “You’ve got good water, take advantage of it. Row smart Roko…” This is a good reminder to the crew (and individuals if/when necessary), especially if the conditions aren’t perfect. When you see good water in your lane make sure the crew knows so that you can sharpen up and take full advantage of it before you hit the next gust or batch of chop. This is another instance where awareness can give your crew a huge advantage.

3:17 I’ve talked about this before, calling out guys in your boat who might not necessarily be stern pair to lead the crew through a move. In this case, Simon and Roko were 3-seat and 5-seat … so not even a pair, just two individual rowers that lead the rest of the crew through this move.

3:25 The 3rd 500 is almost always one of the toughest parts of the race which is why your energy has to be high here. How she called “3rd 500 now” is a good lead-in to this section and through her tone you can tell that she’s not fading which is going to help keep the crew from fading.

4:08 Most of the time when I hear coxswains call 10s they get super overly ambitious and say “power 10 to get even” when they’re a length down on the boat they’re trying to walk on. Here they’re taking a 30 for inches. Inches. I also like the added call to lengthen both ends of the slide. You guys know this but the further you get into the race and the more fatigued you become the more likely you are to start shortening up – this was a well-timed call to get them to get their length at the catch and hold on to the full stroke through the finish.

Related: All about Power 10s

4:27 “Splits are dropping and you are in the fucking lead!” Perfect example of when you see/feel the crew responding to your calls, the moves, etc. to tell them.

4:44 This chunk through here is what I really like hearing in recordings – coxswains demanding more from their crews, in this case inches and leg drives.

4:59 This is a call worth stealing – “those are your fucking jerseys!”.

5:07 The last minute shows how you can call a burst, in particular a long one like this 30, and not count every single stroke. If it’s a well practiced move like this was then the rowers will know, not just because they can count but from muscle memory so to speak, how long the 30 lasts. What I like about this is she tells them when the last 10 is instead and then when the 30 is done instead of starting the 30 and not saying anything else about it, which is something I hear a lot in recordings.

5:23 “Up two for 10 with power…” I like calls that like this that emphasize something rather than just saying “up two for 10 in two, one … two …”. Whether it’s awareness on your part because you want to remind the crew of something, you see something starting to fall off, or it’s just part of your race plan, I think this is a more effective way of calling your build strokes, especially as you get into the last 300ish meters.

5:40 This was excellent awareness to see that Princeton started moving early and to make the call to go with them. This shows how important it is to not just be focused inside the boat but to keep your head on a swivel and be aware of what’s happening around you so crew’s don’t sneak up on you like Princeton tried to do here.

UW 2009 San Diego Crew Classic Heat
I think my new goal when I get time to go on the water is to work on refining how well I balance my calm/aggressive tones. She does it so well and it just makes me want to do it better.

The defining part of this recording for me was at 5:25 when she said told them to “stay in time … stabilize at the 38” then recalls back to builders they did the other day and how their directness at the front end then was what they needed right now. Sit up, loose shoulders … now they’re connected, now they’re walking, now they’re moving. Again with the awareness thing but that’s really all it comes down to. Knowing what your crew is working on, knowing their strengths, weaknesses, etc. and knowing just what to say to them to snap them back into rhythm.

UW 2009 San Diego Crew Classic Final
Listen to how she calls the move at 900 and then carries that energy over into the third 500, in addition to what specifically she’s saying. All listen to how towards the end of the race (when the pack is tight) she’s keeping the focus on her crew instead of making a lot of calls about where the other crews are. She still tells them where they are but the primary focus is on getting her boat rowing well and maintaining it because without that, the moves they make won’t be as effective. Again … awareness helped give her crew the edge.