Flashback Friday: July 2nd – 15th

The “inside arm, outside arm, wide grip” drill

QOTD: Could you explain lunging a bit more? Such as what it looks like on an erg, and how I would be able to tell that say, four seat, is lunging? I know that rushing the top quarter of the slide and skying blades is a sign of lunging, but how do I know for sure that they’re lunging and not just rushing/not controlling their hands?

Race skills: Calls for when you’re behind

Qualities of a varsity coxswain


QOTD: Our (predominantly) Masters club rows out of a college boathouse and we have been fortunate enough over the years to have some of their coxes cox for us over the summer. Now it seems we need to “grow our own” as the college rowers are less available and the subject of a coxswain clinic has come up. Do you have any suggestions about how to structure this clinic?

VOTW: USA Men’s 8+ in slow motion

“Do you really need that?”

QOTD: Hi! Love your blog! I was just wondering if you have any tips as far as steering a buoyed course and what to do during the first strokes of the race if for some reason the rowers’ powers are uneven and the boat gets lodged towards one direction. Thank you!

QOTD: I am very shy and talking to college coaches is super intimidating to me. I really want the chance to row in college and I don’t want my shyness to get in the way.


VOTW: Allen Rosenberg on coaching (and coxing)

QOTD: Hey! I cox a HS women’s bow loader 4+ and after looking over some footage from our past regattas, my coach noticed that many rowers are “missing water” and not getting the oars enough behind them enough at the catch to produce a maximum length and power stroke every time. She asked me to try to make calls and to focus on things that will help get the length behind them, and also to have them think about rotating out towards their rigger at the catch. Would you be able to clear what she means up for me, and possibly demonstrate the way something like this would be called? Thanks!

Books on rowing, pt. 2

QOTD: Hello! How do you get adjusted to a new team and location? I’m wondering because I am transferring schools and I’m really nervous about getting adjusted. I know that each team might have a different way of docking or calling different things. I’m coxing and I worried that if I don’t know those specific things because they are different that I won’t seem as authoritative.

QOTD: Hey there, I have a question about coxing. I’ve been coxing for a couple years now and just realized that I call my calls on different times. I mean, for power 10’s I’ll call the numbers when they are half way through the drive to the finish. But for starts, I will call the numbers at the catch such as (1/2, 1/2, 3/4, full, full) as well as 10 highs at the catch. I don’t know if I’m doing this right, but I’ve always done it this way and my crew goes with it. How do you personally do it?

QOTD: What can I do during an official visit that will help my chances of being a recruit? I am one out of 35, and they choose about 10. Also, do you have any links for previous posts on this subject? Thanks!

QOTD: In the past, I’ve had a lot of trouble with my coach thinking I’m talking back to her which ended up bumping me down a boat (I’m a coxswain). Last week she told me to have the rowers pause at arms and body and didn’t tell me how often so I just had them pause every 3 which is typically how often we pause and then she yelled at me that I wasn’t listening and that she told me to pause every 5 … what do I do? If I tell her she didn’t say it then she’ll think I’m talking back again.


Flashback Friday: June 18th – July 1st

Coxswain recordings, pt. 25 Three UW recordings from the San Diego Crew Classic

Qualities of a varsity coxswain

How to cox (and coach) novices Especially worth reading if you’re coaching learn-to-row camps this summer.

VOTW: The history of the Harvard-Yale race

Question of the Day: Hey! I have a couple questions.

1. I’m not very good at taking criticism. Mentally I don’t mind it and I try to use it and everything, but for some reason emotionally I seem to take it as an attack and always feel close to crying. I’m not sure why this is and I was wondering if you have any tips.

2. We just got a new coach and he’s doing a summer rowing program, which is great, but he’s trying to completely change my style of coxing. I understand that repetitiveness is something I need to work on, but he’s telling me that while I was coxing the rowers on the ergs that I was “singing” to them. He expects me to be much louder (which I can be when I choose to be- I prefer to save it and use it as a “wake up” call kinda thing to change the pace of the race) and also be more direct and short (which I understand that part of and agree with). How should I deal with this? Should I try to explain my ways (I did a bit) or just go with what he says? And how do you work on being less repetitive ?

VOTW: Adjusting the tracks

Coxswain recordings, pt. 22 Henley, Dad Vails, and Kent vs. St. Andrews

QOTD: I’m the senior girl’s cox for my school club and my crew is really struggling with having a slow recovery then accelerating to the finish and putting in pressure. When I call to go slow up the slide they might slow down 1 or 2 points or not even at all. And the pressure dies when the rating slows. Then the rating goes up when I call pressure. Do you have any ideas about how I can help them get into a slow steady rhythm but still put in pressure?



“Weigh enough” vs. “Let it run” Again, not the same thing.

QOTD: Can you explain the term “rowing it in”?

Coxswain recordings, pt. 13 

QOTD: I am going to be a senior and I have been looking at this one school that I could potentially row for. I have spoken with the coaches via email and I really love the school. The head coach seems to be interested in me but the thing is, I am not the tallest or strongest rower on my team and I am worried that I won’t be able to live up to the expectations of the college coach or college rowing in general.

QOTD: What is Radcliffe? Is that another rowing team? I’ve heard they also row under Harvard’s team?

QOTD: I used to cox women for all four years I was in high school. I’m in college now and on a men’s team. In an eight or a stern loader four I have a hard time seeing things in front of me since my rowers are so much taller than women I’m used to coxing. This had led to close calls with logs floating in the water and other obstructions. HELP!

QOTD: Hi today was my first day coxing and my coach told me I had to talk the whole time. I tried but I felt really silly and I had nothing to say. I would really appreciate just some things to say! Thanks!

Training: Carbohydrate loading and rowing

VOTW: The Social Network

Flashback Friday: June 4th – 17th

Tracking progress in your notebook


Reviewing the CoxOrb If your team’s in the market for new (better) cox boxes, definitely check out the Orb.

QOTD: Hello! I finished my last race of the season yesterday and my coach and I were talking about what I can do to benefit the rowers more next season. She said that I need to have a couple of calls that come from my deep belly of coxing abilities, that the crews recognize as “shit gets done” calls. She gave the example of “hit the last nail into their coffin” and said that that was too extreme for my team, but that I needed something equivalent to that to finish out close races with. Do you have any favorites? or any good recordings I should listen to? thanks so much!!!

QOTD: Hi, your blog is really helpful! I have a kind of strange question, but should female rowers wear anything under their uni/trou? Thank you so much!


VOTW: Recounting the coxed 4+ at the 1984 Olympics

“In” vs. “Over” vs. “On” They don’t mean the same thing and aren’t really interchangeable.

QOTD: Hi there!! So I am a junior school (Under 14′s) cox and we have moved into using bow loader quads, instead of the usual stern loaders we used to use. We have been racing in an oct for awhile so I am a bit out of practice with the quads. Anyways, in the bow loader, I obviously have a very restricted field of vision, so I was wondering if you had any tips on “reading” or “feeling” the boat, to pick up on faults e.t.c ? Also I sometimes feel like I stay quiet for too long, during steady state if there are no obvious technical calls, rate calls, or rhythm calls. Is there anything that I can say to make it a bit less silent and awkward for the rowers?

QOTD: Hi! I’m finishing my junior year in high school and I know it’s quite late for me, but after my past spring season I’ve decided that I want to cox in college. I’m uncertain about a couple things in the process though. First off, I emailed the head coach for my top choice college, and he emailed back that he would share the email with his recruitment coordinator, his assistant coach, to answer all my questions. So when I email coaches from now on, should I just always email the assistant coach? For another college, they don’t have an assistant coach listed, but they have a novice coach. Should I email them over the head coach? And lastly, what are some good things for a coxswain to include in those emails?

What to Wear: Official Visits, pt. 2

Books on rowing, pt. 1 If you’re looking for some books to read this summer, here are a few options.

QOTD: Hello! I’m not great at estimating distances but I’m learning and getting better – but my coach told me and the other coxswains on the team that it is better to call the sprint early and then ask for 10 more strokes than to call it a little late and wonder what could have been (strokes used in the race). However, I always feel bad if I tell the rowers we have twenty strokes left when we actually have thirty. What do you think? Is my coach wrong or do I just need to suck it up? Thanks!!


QOTD: Any words of advice for making the transition from coxing at the high school level to coxing in university? I had my first practice this week (the uni has a club program in the summer) and it’s safe to say that the practice was a little … rocky. Is this normal for the first practice? My coach was really great about it all, saying I have the whole summer to get up to speed and I made sure to take full responsibility for any errors or spotty bits in my communication so as not to start off poorly with the rowers (I’m a girl coxing the men’s team, by the way). But I guess I’m just worried about all the usual things … gaining respect, executing the workout and drills properly, meeting the rowers’ and coach’s expectations, etc. I could rant all day to you about this but I suppose it just comes down to: do I have too high expectations of myself in wanting things to go smoothly right off the bat? How long do you think it will take to get in the swing of things? Sorry if this question isn’t quite coherent

Flashback Friday: May 7th – May 20th

Training: The Mental Game

QOTD: Hi! I have my last race coming up in a couple of weeks and I’m coxing four boats at it. The first boat is our Varsity 4A who I am very used to and have been coxing all year. The second boat is a LWT Novice 4 that was kind of thrown together last minute because we needed to boat everyone. The other two are masters boats for my club team that I’m obviously not a part of because I’m in high school, but they needed an extra coxswain and their coach is my old coach, so he asked me. Do you have any tips for coxing races generally and not super person-specifically, but still well? The two masters boats have real shots at medalling so I want to make sure I do my best with them, even though I’ve never met or worked with any of them before. The LWT4 doesn’t really have much of a shot just because who we’re competing against but I still want them to feel like they had a good end-of-season race. What do you think? Thank you so much!! PS: The two masters boats will be bowloaders and since I won’t have very good boat sense with them because they’re not my teammates, I don’t know how well I’ll do with technical calls.

QOTD: Hello! I’ve seen you mention before that coxswains are supposed to be completely silent during seat-races and that was a huge surprise to me because I’ve been a high school coxswain for three years now and we always talk during our seat-races. We race our boat against the other boats making calls like those that we’d make during races. My coach is a retired olympic rower so I figured he knew how to run seat-races but then I read what you said and it seems to make more sense to have a seat-race be all about the rower. I was just wondering what your thoughts were on this (having coxswains cox the seat-races). Thanks!

Race calls




Coxswain recordings, pt. 12


QOTD: What checks the boats run? Recently in our octo the run of the boat is checked but I don’t know how to prevent it and what to call to make it better. Thanks love this blog, so helpful! 🙂


QOTD: Today my coach posted the line ups for our race this weekend. I am racing in the 2V8+. It is a pretty good boat, but we have a novice coxswain. She has coxed for us before, but she often crashes into other boats and in the last race she called a power 10 for the muffins at the food tent! We have tried to give her suggestions for what we want to hear, but she just doesn’t listen. Is there any respectful way to ask my coach if we can have another coxswain?

QOTD: I consider my crew to be very lucky. We possibly have one of the best coxswains around. She can steer like a BOSS and has the patience and the nature of a saint. However I think we pushed her to her limits at one point and I don’t think I have ever seen her that angry. I often read this blog and I always read tips on what makes a great coxswain, how to deal with your rowers, and things not to do however I would like to hear from a coxie’s point of view is what are the things that rowers do that really sets you off edge and how we can avoid those things. I know coxies are all different (…and I have had some interesting ones at times) but it would really help if you could give some pointers from a coxswain. As rowers our biceps are sometimes bigger than our brains so it would help if you could give us some insight. Thanks…oh, and great blog!

QOTD: My boat qualified for Nationals! Yay! Now what? I’ve never coxed in such a big event. Any tips?

VOTW: Old Glory vs. Cal

Flashback Friday: April 23rd – May 6th

Hi guys – two quick things. First, if you haven’t checked out Wednesday’s post yet, go check it out. I talked about some new things I want to do with the blog and how you can help support that. If you could fill out the Google Form that’s linked in there, I’d appreciate it. Thanks to everyone that’s filled it out already!

Secondly, Columbia’s heading to California for the two weeks prior to IRAs to train before the regatta. (We fly out on May 18th.) We’re rowing out of River City and are currently on the hunt for some launches (preferably wakeless) to rent while we’re there. I’m not super familiar with all the teams in that area (or the Bay area in general) but if you row or cox for one of them, could you email me your coach’s contact info so I can get in touch with them? Or if anybody knows of any sailing or community boating centers that might have launches too, that’d be helpful. The only one I know of is Sac State Aquatic Center. Thanks guys!

Words. Wise words as we come into Sprints, IRAs, NCAAs, etc.

Race skills: Coxing from behind

Getting off the line with world-class speed Lots of good info from Bryan Volpenhein.

QOTD: Hi!:) So, I have been quite “upset” with my boat. You see, I’m a very competitive coxswain but half of my boat is … not, you could say. Anyways, I want to share my feelings and tell them that I leave practice feeling pissy because of their lack of motivation and the fact that it was such a horrible practice. But I also don’t want to add drama and tension in the boat. I’m that always nice, sometimes getting pushed over, type of coxswain but I have been learning to stand up and put them back in line but it always makes me feel guilty and thus kind of “sucking up” (hugging them, compliments) to the rowers. I want to be feared AND loved but I just can’t balance it out. There’s also a few girls who always WHINE and COMPLAIN every single time we do workouts. I just want to shut her up and tell her to suck it up. But my mind tells me no and just ignore it. Any advice? I so need it! Thanks!

VOTW: How to make minor shell repairs

QOTD: How can I get back my passion for rowing? It used to be my life and there was nothing else I wanted to do. At 15/16 I wanted nothing more than to be in the position I’m in now. Recently though I’ve been finding myself falling out of love with it, I even thought the other day I can’t wait for the season to be over. I don’t know if it’s the negativity on my team becoming contagious or what but I hate myself for it.

QOTD: Hi! First off, your blog is so helpful! I’m finishing off my novice year as a rower this spring, but I am switching to coxing full time for the fall season. Do I get another novice year as a coxswain too? Second, my coach told me to only touch the rudder when the blades are in the water, and I understand that. But does that mean that I touch it for the drive, put it to straight on the recovery, and then touch it again on the drive? Or should I only touch it once on the drive and that should be enough? Thanks!


QOTD: So, I have been coxing for two years, and really enjoy races. However as it’s regatta season coming up, I need a bit of advice on race. How much do you want to be talking in races? My rowers said they want me talking constantly, but my coach advised not to because the rowers usually end up blocking it out. Also, do you have any calls you find really motivate your crew? I don’t want to just be reciting calls without them meaning anything but then I don’t know what to fill the gaps with. We have had loads of really successful coxes from our club so I’m under lots of pressure to be good! :/ Also, sorry I know this is a lot, but I am 5’3″ and weigh 105lbs, is this too big or heavy for a junior 14s coxie? Thanks a bunch, love this blog!

VOTW: Why losing matters

QOTD: I’m a HS varsity men’s coxswain, but our club spends a lot of time sculling in quads and rowing small boats. As a result, I spend a lot of time sitting on the launch. However, I don’t exactly know what the best way to make use of that time is. Usually I just watch the rowers quietly and mention the occasional technique mistake if I don’t think my coach sees it, but I’m not really sure what the protocol is. Should I tell the rowers directly if I’m seeing something off? Should I try to talk to my coach about what lineups I think are working and what aren’t (he very occasionally asks my opinion on who should get seat raced and stuff like that)? Or is it better to just watch and note what’s going on so I can use it when we do row coxed boats?

QOTD: As a novice coxswain, I find it hard to ask for more of the rowers. I feel like I can’t push them other than asking them to stay at their stroke rate. All I say is, “great job,” “beautiful” “catch them” and other things about proving ourselves. How can I remedy this?

QOTD: Should I make corrections to my point (using bow pair) while the coach is speaking? I always feel rude but the boat sometimes drifts off!

QOTD: How do coxswains come up with a “signature call?” Any tips? Do you have one?

Blood in the Water


Flashback Friday: April 9th – 22nd

VOTW: Technology + Rowing

Coxswain skills: Working with a bad coach

QOTD: Hi!! So what should you do if you think a teammate doesn’t like you? All I’ve been getting is bad vibes, and whenever I try to be nice and talkative she just like doesn’t even listen. I really don’t wanna start something, but all I have been is nice to her! I can deal if she doesn’t like me, but man I don’t want that to affect the boat you know? And it hasn’t except for sorta today maybe? Not exactly sure but just wanted tips on how to deal/work your way around if someone may not like you for no reason at all. I might be viewed as competition but I have NEVER said anything hateful, rude, or bad to her at all. I keep my mouth shut at the right times and I am a very laughable, comfortable, relaxed person to talk too. In the conversations we have had (only a few), she’s barely said anything and I just end up not getting an answer. And she gives off really, really dirty looks to me. She seems like thats her face, but she likes some other girls on the team real well so I’m not sure … I don’t wanna push it because I got bigger, better problems to attend too but just kinda putting this out there.

Race skills: Race warmups

Pro tip: Maintaining the set when you’re on the rudder

Seat racing coxswains

Reverse pick drill progression + what “bob drills” look like

VOTW: Inside the minds of champion athletes

How to: Scull your bow around



Coxswain recordings, pt. 11

QOTD: Hey! Lately, I haven’t been getting boated much during practices and have only been boated for one race. Some of our assistant coaches have claimed that I’m better than the other coxswain and that it’s become more of a matter of favorites. Any tips on how I can show the head coaches that I want to be boated for races, especially with one more race plus Pac-12s coming up? I don’t know what else to do other than prove myself each time I’m on the water (which isn’t often) and going over recordings with our coach once I’m back on the water.

QOTD: How does a cox/rower know when/if it’s time to quit crew? Especially as a collegiate walk on. I want to make it the four years, but…

QOTD: I’m a collegiate rower. I have excellent technique except for one thing – I don’t catch quickly enough. I am in time with the rest of the boat, but it’s the issue of going straight to the water and burying my blade completely before driving with my legs. Most of our boat has this issue. I’ve tried asking coaches how to remedy my issue, but they haven’t given me anything very effective yet. Do you have any advice? Please and thank you! I appreciate it.

What to wear: Coxing in the rain

QOTD: I honestly have no idea how to know how many strokes until we finish a race, piece, etc. Like, do I just guess?

QOTD: I keep overly saying “sorry” in the boat, even when I don’t need to. Any tips on how to stop?

Flashback Friday: March 26th – April 8th

QOTD: Hi Kayleigh! Obviously rowers need to adjust their foot stretchers, spacers, shoe height, etc. but I never know when the right time to let them do that is. If the dock is pretty empty then I will let them do it before we shove off but when it’s busy and a lot of them need to adjust I just don’t know when to let them adjust. How have you usually done this in the past? Thanks!

Coxswain skills: Race steering

How to: Sit in the boat I always get a surprising amount of questions about this.


VOTW: Biomechanical analysis of the rowing stroke (great video for novice rowers and coxswains to watch)

The Language of the First 500 – definitely a must-read.

QOTD: What are stationary drills? How can there be drills if the rowers aren’t rowing? What are some examples?

QOTD: What are some “rhythmic calls” you use? I know ones such as hook, send and catch, send but I was wondering what others are used.

Don’t over-tighten your riggers… Another must-read for all coxswains and rowers.

How to: Cox a seat race

QOTD: I just started coaching, and am worried that I might be a little overwhelmed by dividing my attention between driving the launch and watching the rowers. Any advice on watching what’s happening in the boat while multitasking?

Racing skills: 10 regatta tips for coxswains

What to pack when traveling to a regatta

QOTD: My coach has enlisted the help of the rowers who’ve finished their last season at school to help with a learn to row program for the new recruits. We’ll be taking them out in quads for a couple of weeks. Do you have any advice on how to teach them to get the basics down? My learn to row experience is just a big blur now!

QOTD: Hey! How do you deal with loads of self-doubt and just self-deprecation as a coxswain? I know that’s my worst habit and it really is detrimental to my performance on the water. I go out there ready to go, and then I do one thing wrong (like this weekend I took a turn wide and that was def not helpful) and I feel like it’s the end of the world because I do a ton of little stupid things a lot, and I feel like I should know better after 8 years. Help?

Miscellaneous coxswain gear – if you’re still trying to figure out what “gear” you need