How to prioritize and organize your calls

Previously: Steer an eight/four || Call a pick drill and reverse pick drill ||  Avoid getting sick || Make improvement as a novice || Protect your voice || Pass crews during a head race || Be useful during winter training || Train when you’re sick (as a rower) || Train when you’re sick (as a coxswain) || Sit in the boat || How to cox (and coach) novices

One of the key parts of ensuring you don’t get repetitive or run out of things to say during a practice or race is prioritizing your calls and organizing them (and yourself). When you’re racing it’s also a key part in ensuring your race plan is executed efficiently and cleanly. At one of the Sparks camps I was at last month I was coaching with Malcolm Doldron, who is the lightweight women’s head coach at BU (and a former coxswain), and he laid out a unique plan for organizing your calls that I hadn’t seen before, at least not in this configuration. If being more organized on the water is something you’ve been working on or you have it set as a goal for the upcoming year, try this out and see if it works for you.

Related: Mike Teti’s “Three S’s of Coxing”

The first part of this is prioritizing your calls, which should go something like this:

1. Safety + steering
2. Distance, rate, splits (if applicable), and time
3. Rhythm + technique
4. Motivation

The second part is organizing yourself and knowing where to focus and what to say. Malcolm suggested thinking of it like a clock. To orient yourself, you/the stern are at 6 o’clock, the bow of the boat is at 12 o’clock, and laterally at 3 and 9 o’clock you’ve got the crews you’re rowing with, along with the buoy or shore line.

Looking straight ahead towards where you’re pointed and at your crew should be your main focus. This also corresponds with whatever “safety and steering” calls you make, as well as the “rhythm and technique” ones. From there you’ve got the information that’s right in front of you at 6 o’clock (the data from your CoxBox and SpeedCoach) and then whatever’s on either side of you at 3 and 9. Thinking about it like this is similar to your race plans in that it gives you a framework to go off of vs. just getting in the boat and having all this stuff around you with no semblance of how to cherry-pick the important stuff and communicate it to the crew.

It took me a sec before I fully understood how he was laying it out but once I processed it I realized that this is pretty similar to how I organize myself when I’m coxing. I’ve never laid it out like this but I know that when I’m on the water I’m constantly shuffling between 12, 6, 3, 6, 9, 12, 6, 12, 9, 3, 6, 12, etc. Most of you who have been coxing for awhile will probably realize the same thing it but if you’re new to coxing or like I said earlier, working to better organize yourself and your calls, consider this an option for how to go about that.

Race skills: Calls for when you’re behind

Today I’m sharing one of my two articles that were included in the first issue of Coxing Magazine. The first article is on calling the start and the second is this one, which is on calls to make when you’re behind. To see more of what’s in the first issue, check out the website here. And, if you haven’t subscribed to the magazine yet, read to then end because I’ll be giving a couple copies of away.

When you’re behind in a race (let’s assume “behind” = one length or more of open back) there are three things you can/should do to get back into it and none of them involve invoking some sort of “magical” call. That call doesn’t exist. There are of course great motivational calls that you can have tucked away but you can’t rely on them to be the game changer when you’re down by open water. Skipping the process outlined below and resorting to spouting platitudes for the rest of the race is akin to putting band-aids on a bullet wound – they’re not going to stop the hemorrhaging.

Fix the rowing

If you’ve fallen off the pack then it’s safe to assume that the quality of the rowing has fallen off too. Your first task is to re-unify the crew by getting everyone to take the same stroke at the same time. Presumably you have a solid understanding of technique and the stroke your coach teaches so apply your knowledge of both to what you’re seeing and feeling in order to get the rowing back on track.

“900m in, one length of open back on Columbia. Let’s tighten up the timing and complete the strokes – we got this guys! The race starts right … NOW! Squeeeze through … squeeeze through – that’s it! Hold the back ends and breeeathe through the recovery … now. In our rhythm … let’s accelerate and swing together. Squeeeze swing … hands out together now … hands now … hands now … accelerate swing – there it is … accelerate swing…”

Match the speed of the crews in front of you

It’s hard to move on a crew who’s moving away from you at the same time so before you can start closing the gap you first have to stop them from advancing further. This is where you need to watch the rate and make sure you’re at the pace you want to be at. One tactic I’ve used in the past is raising our rate a beat to match the other crew(s) if it looks like they’re (effectively) rowing higher than us. The risk-reward here is very high so you have to make a quick assessment (mainly, can you raise the rate without spinning your wheels and then sustain that speed/pace for the next few hundred meters) and then commit to executing it.

“1100m in, time to shut ‘em down. We’re at 35 right now, we’re taking it up to a 36 … pick it up together … on this one! LEGS commit, LEGS 36 – right here, stay in this rhythm now and attack … legs loose … legs loose … get stubborn now, hold on to them … legs yea middle four! Trust our rhythm, trust our speed … holding our margin now, that’s it…”

Make your move

The second you sense that the margin is holding, you have to capitalize on it and go. You can’t waste time or meters because by this point you’re probably well into the 3rd 500, which means you’ve got time for maybe one last 20 before it’s time to sprint.

“Four seats of open back now guys, let’s close that gap and make contact over the next ten … ready in twoin one … commit NOW! One go! Two go! Three commit! Load together send … that’s it, WALKING! Two seats back now … it’s yours, take it! Hit it harder with the legs, together in two … one … two, GO NOW! Legs go! Legs go! Do not sit, do not quit … together go! Bow to stern now, bow pair, reel it in! Six bend ‘em! Seven break them! Eight break them! Nine last 500 … ten stay on it!”

If you find yourself falling off the pace of the other crews, evaluate the situation, make a smooth transition to your “Plan B”, and aim to keep the energy high. Making a successful comeback might not always be possible but at the very least you should aspire to cross the line with pride and the calls you make are your best resource to help facilitate that.

If you’re interested in signing up for a subscription, you can use the code 2016LAUNCH and get 50% off the first year, which will make it $36 instead of $72. If you don’t have a copy of the magazine yet or want to check it out before you subscribe, I have five copies to give away to the first five people that email me before 9am tomorrow morning (July 15th). Include your name + address so I know where to send it and who you cox for. (Update: all copies have been claimed!)

How to Lose vs. How to Win

Previously: Steer an eight/four || Call a pick drill and reverse pick drill ||  Avoid getting sick || Make improvement as a novice || Protect your voice || Pass crews during a head race || Be useful during winter training || Train when you’re sick (as a rower) || Train when you’re sick (as a coxswain) || Sit in the boat

It’s obviously not that simple or black and white but that’s the easiest way to frame the points I’m trying to make.

There are two big tactical mistakes that you can make during a race that could cost you a win, a qualifying position, or a spot in the medals. (There’s probably/definitely more but our team had issues with both of these at various points this year so they’re fresh on my mind.) I say you because it’s your job to be aware of how you’re moving and how the race is evolving. If you’re paying attention and not just robotically going through the motions of reciting your race plan then you’ll be able to recognize these situations and say/do something to (hopefully) prevent them from having a negative impact on your crew.

Getting comfortable/sitting on a lead

The longer you sit on a short lead the more confidence you’re giving the other crew(s) to make a move on you. A coach I worked with a few years ago frequently said “hope is not a strategy” – you can’t sit on a six seat lead and hope that you can hang on until you cross the finish line. Leads are fragile and you don’t want to give the other crew(s) any opportunity to think you’ve peaked and “now’s our chance”.

Succumbing to another crew’s move

A crew has broken you if they can get in your head with a single move. In most cases this happens somewhere between 750m and 1250m; you’ll be even or close up to this point, their coxswain calls for a move, they walk four or five seats, and you completely fall apart or scramble to make a counter-move and then fall apart because you’re just spinning your wheels.

You also can’t guarantee a win (it’s foolish to ever think that, regardless of how you stack up against your opponents) but you can put yourself in a good position to succeed, which is what these points address.

Make your moves decisive

Rather than being the one who gets broken, be the one doing the breaking. Once you start moving, regardless of whether you’re walking on a crew or moving away, don’t stop. Racing is a game of inches (see also our race against Wisco) so every move you make has to have an unwavering amount of intent, focus, and discipline behind it. This starts with you – your calls and your tone can/will have a huge effect on how successful your moves are.

Execute the race plan

It’s there for a reason. Without it the race lacks structure which makes it impossible for you to manage and if you can’t manage it, you can’t win it. Know when to focus on your boat, when to focus on the field, what your cadence should be, what your moves are, where you’ll take them, what volume/tone is appropriate at different points throughout the race, etc. Your coach not giving you a race plan is not an excuse for you not to have one. Period.

Practice how you want to race

I’ve always viewed this as a standard that the coxswain is responsible for upholding, mainly because attention-to-detail is a core component of what makes a good coxswain and the devil is always in the details. You have to have the discipline to act like an athlete on and off the water and as the coxswain, you sometimes have to be the person that reminds them of that when you’re away from the boathouse and holds them to it during practice. You can’t practice with a lackadaisical attitude and then expect it to all come together on race day – it never works like that.

This post, as you might have noticed, isn’t about giving you bullet-pointed solutions or ideas – it’s about increasing your awareness so you know what to pay attention to when you do pieces during practice, watch race video, etc. From there you (along with your boat and/or coach) can come up with strategies to achieve/deal with each situation so that on race day you’re prepared to manage the race regardless of what happens.

End of the season calls + motivation

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.

STROKE

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

THREE

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

TWO

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

BOW

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

General stuff

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.”

How to Prepare for a 2k Test

Now that almost everyone is in full on spring-season mode I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about the best way to prepare for a 2k and how to do well on it. One of the more popular posts on the blog (#2 or #3 currently) is this post I wrote on 2k strategy  (linked below) back in 2012. If you haven’t read it yet, check it out.

Related: How to survive winter training: 2k strategy

Below are three more tips on how to prep for a 2k in the days before your test. Coxswains, pay particular attention to the last one.

Sleep

Seriously, get plenty of sleep. For at least the 2-3 days leading up to your test try to make sure you’re getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. If you have to wake up at 7am for school, commit to going to bed by 10:30pm or so. I always end up laying in bed scrolling through Instagram for about 30 minutes (or more) before I actually fall asleep so whenever I know I need to be in bed by a certain time I always factor in a 20-30min buffer, that way I’m actually falling asleep roughly around when I’d initially planned to go to bed. Your body needs time to recover and a lot of that recovery happens when you’re sleeping so if you’re not getting enough, especially before a 2k, then you’re kinda putting a ceiling on your performance.

Fuel properly

Same as the sleep thing, for at least 2-3 days before your test make sure you’re drinking a lot of water. I’ve started carrying around a 32oz Nalgene and trying to drink one of those every day. Obviously while you’re training you’ll need a bit more than that (I think most of our guys probably try to drink at least two full Nalgenes each day if I had to guess) so I would carry a water bottle around with you and drink it throughout the day so you can ensure you’re properly hydrated.

More than anything, staying hydrated will help keep your heart rate from skyrocketing during your test, which is important. When you’re dehydrated your blood is thicker which means your heart has to work harder to pump it throughout your body to your muscles, which in turn increases your heart rate. When you’re working hard like you are during a 2k you don’t want your heart rate to be spiking like that because it just makes you feel heavy and fatigued and uncomfortable a lot sooner than you otherwise would.

Related: So this might sound funny but why am I always hungry?I I’m a high school girl and I began rowing about a year ago so while I have my general bearings, I’m still learning something new about the sport everyday and I was just curious. Ever since I’ve started rowing I’ve noticed that I have a much bigger appetite than when I participated in other sports. Is it just cause I’m a growing teenager or is this every rower?

In addition to drinking water, make sure you’re eating good foods. If you don’t typically have a healthy diet try to start making small changes and replacing the food that’s not doing anything for you nutritionally with healthier options. Definitely make sure you’re eating breakfast, even if it’s just some toast or a banana, and try to eat several small meals throughout the day instead only two or three big meals. This will help keep you fuller for longer and avoid any mindless snacking.

Eating healthy while you’re training is a good habit to get into in general but it’s also important leading up to a test or race. It’s like fueling your Maserati with regular gas vs. premium. It’ll still run on regular but it’s not going to run as efficiently as it would with premium and it might end up hurting the engine in the long run. Same thing applies with the food you eat.

Have a plan

I posted this picture on Instagram a couple weeks ago after our guys did their second 2k test of the season. Something we’ve started doing with them this year is having them write out on a note card how they’re envisioning their race plan and taping it either on the side of their screen or down near the handle rest. It’s honestly more for them than it is for us but it’s also been a great tool for the coxswains as well because they can see what your goals are in terms of splits and overall time and use that to cox them.

Some of the guys have also written down specific things they want the coxswains to say (including if they want a specific coxswain to cox them, which you can see on that picture) which is also really helpful for us and them. If you don’t want to be coxed this is also a great place to write that down (large enough that it’s visible) so the coxswains/coaches know not to bother you.

Related: Words

When it comes to having and writing out your plan, it doesn’t need to be super detailed. All these guys are engineers so they’re super methodical about pretty much everything but there are a few guys who keep things simple and just write down the splits they want to hold for each 500m. Others write down little reminders to themselves, like “breathe” or a technical focus that they’ve been working on recently. There’s really no right or wrong way to do this, just write down what works for you.

Ultimately what it does it break down the race into smaller, more manageable components and gives you targets/mini-goals to go after … that way once you’ve passed them it’s a kind of like a little mental victory which can be a huge motivating factor as you get closer to the end. We’ve gotten pretty positive feedback from the guys (and the coxswains) so it’s definitely something I’d recommend trying at least once.

Question of the Day

How do you deal with running out of things to say in a long head race (4000m+)? I don’t know what to say so I either repeat myself endlessly or go quiet and then say something stupid…

Check out this post and the links that are included in there.

As long as you have a plan I honestly don’t think that running out of things to say is possible. If you look at the race as one 4000m piece instead of several 500m chunks filled with landmarks, technical focuses, individual reminders, etc. then yea, you’re going to make things a lot harder on yourself. Breaking it down into more manageable sections though lets you focus on different things which ultimately makes it easier to plan out what you’re going to say. Keep in mind that “plan out” doesn’t mean the same thing as “script”. You can not script a race and think that you’re going to be able to recite everything you came up with on the land once you’re on the water. It’s just not possible. My goal whenever I’m racing is to have a handful of calls that I know I want to incorporate based on recent stuff we’ve done at practice, things we’ve talked about as a crew, etc. and then the rest of the race will be filled with the basics – landmarks, positioning, time, and general stock calls – that I’ll call on the spot as the race progresses.

If you feel like you’re going to forget something then write a brief outline of the race on a Post-It note and tape it to the boat. I’ve done that for the last two HOCRs (this is from 2014) just as a backup in case I need it and even though I haven’t had to rely on it too much it’s good to have in case you get caught up in something outside of the boat and need to quickly re-focus to what’s happening inside the boat.

As far as saying something stupid, I think we’ve all been there. The thing you learn though is that very rarely does anyone in the boat remember the things you said that you thought were stupid. It’s very, very rare that the crews I cox have been able to remember much, if any, of what I’ve said during a race once we’re back on land. The only reason we remember it is because we’re the ones that said it so it sticks with us longer. It’s really not that big of a deal though. If you thought it sounded stupid just remember that for next time and work on finding a better way to communicate whatever it was you were trying to say. If you need inspiration, check out the coxswain recordings I’ve posted. There are a lot of great calls in there, most of which I’ve tried to point out.

Race plans for practice pieces…

Last week I was going over some audio with one of our coxswain’s from one of the race pieces she’d done during practice the previous week. On Fridays the two varsity eights go head-to-head, sort of, in a 7k race that begins at the 2k starting line in the basin and finishes at the HOCR finish line. One of the things I asked her was if she had a race plan going into the piece or if she just kind of “went with it” and coxed them without one. She said she just went with it, which I kind of figured based on her audio. I suggested putting something together for this week’s piece so that it would have a more organized and focused feel to it, rather than the focus of the entire 7,000 meters being on catching/beating the other crew that went out first.

Having a plan for races is important, obviously, but so is having a plan for the pieces you do during practice. They don’t have to be meticulously planned out or even be that similar to the plan you use during actual races – just as long as you’ve got a couple specific things to focus on throughout the piece other than just beating the other crew. What’s down below is what I detailed to our coxswain as to how I’d do it if I was doing one of those pieces. What I’ve laid out is obviously going to be different for you since it’s unlikely you’re doing 7k pieces on the Charles but the goal is to get you to look at the pieces you are doing and thinking about how you could break them up into smaller, more manageable chunks. The way I broke up this piece, as you can see, is based entirely on the bridges. Remember, landmarks are your friend.

7kmapStarting line –> Mass Ave. (1000m) One of the other things we talked about was how to start this piece since they’re rowing right into it with just a few strokes to build into their rate (vs. taking a “high” 20 and a “settle” 10 to come down to their base pace). If you’re doing something like that, I’d treat it similar to a head race and do something like 3-5 to build to the line, 20 at rate, and then 5 or so to lengthen out and settle in. For the next ~750m your primary focus should be on establishing a rhythm. (If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of rhythm, how to determine if your crew has it, etc. check out this post and scroll down to the 1:45 mark of the GW 1V vs. Holy Cross recording, which is the first one on there.)

Mass Ave. –> BU (1500m) This section should focus on making general technical calls to the entire boat based on what you’re seeing/feeling and working to incorporate some of the technical drills/changes that you’ve been working on over the last week. You should also be making calls that reference the rhythm you established in the first section.

Powerhouse Stretch (2000m) Coming out of final 1000m of the 2k course, where you’ve just been talking to your crew as a whole, I would start to break down the boat and talk to the individuals (or if you don’t want to go person by person you can break it down to pairs). Here I’d spend 15-20 seconds per person (adjust the time to be a little longer if you go by pairs) and point out what I’m seeing with their stroke (good and/or bad) and remind them of any technical changes that they’d been working to incorporate over the last week. If your coach spoke directly to them when you were on the water about something, try to repeat what they were saying to reinforce the message. If you aren’t seeing anything that needs correcting, let them know that their stroke looks strong/solid/consistent, great job backing up [whoever is sitting in front of them], I like that aggressive finish, etc. Positive reinforcement like that works wonders on a rower, especially when you’re doing a long piece. Normally I wouldn’t recommend doing something like this (talking to the individual rowers) during a “race” piece but because this one is so long and you’ve got the time/space available, I think it’d be beneficial. Plus, for those of you that have trouble coming up with things to say, this would help solve that problem.

Weeks –> Anderson (500m) This chunk right here is actually made up of two smaller sections; pre-Weeks and post-Weeks. Pre-Weeks is the first 100m of this section and is just for the coxswain because they’ve got to make sure they’re putting themselves in a good position to come through the bridge. And yes, I think out of the 7,000 or however many meters you’re rowing, the crew can spare a measly 100m to let you do your own thing. One of the things I was telling another of our coxswains was that you shouldn’t/can’t be afraid to take a few strokes off when necessary if you need to direct your attention to something else. If you’ve demonstrated that you’re in this just as much as the rowers are and have been coxing them accordingly up to this point, they’re not gonna care. The second part of this, the post-Weeks section, is where I would call for the crew to take five strokes to sit up, recommit out of the turn, and mentally prepare themselves to start racing the other boat. (You’ll notice that up to this point I haven’t said anything about the other crew that’s out there with you – nothing at all about racing, telling your boat where they are, etc. Trust me, I did this for a reason.) During the second half of this part, as you’re coming into the bridge, is where I’d be telling my crew where they are on the other boat, how far ahead/back they are, and what your goals are for the rest of the piece in terms of where you want to be in relation to the other boat as you cross the line.

Anderson –> Finish line (2000m) This last 2000m is all about racing and where your tone should noticeably change from “practice” to “race” mode. This is also where you can start actively taking power bursts in the forms of 10s and/or 20s. Before this I’d recommend sticking to 3s and 5s since the primary focus from the start to Weeks is largely technical. Remember though, just because you can take them here doesn’t mean you need or have to. It’s a judgement call on your end so be smart and don’t dilute their effectiveness by overusing them.

You’re probably wondering why I didn’t say anything about racing until you get to the final 1/3ish of the race. Here’s what I think … I don’t think you should be trying to race from the very beginning (unless your coach explicitly says “treat this like a real race”) because you’re either going to be playing catch-up or keep-away the entire time and not actually using the time to focus on the adjustments you should be implementing from practice. I also think that if the rowers go into it thinking they have to race for 7,000m then they’re just gonna hulk on the oar the entire time and not think as much about their technique. The first 2/3ish should have a largely internal focus, meaning you and the rowers are concerned only with what’s happening inside your boat. The final part of the piece is where you should be maintaining the good rowing from earlier and incorporating the changes from earlier as you shift into pure race mode.

It’s important to know that during the earlier part of the piece, your tone shouldn’t be casual like it is during a regular practice when you’re calling warmups and drills. You want it to be firm enough that the rowers know this is a hard piece but not so aggressive that you forget the purpose of the beginning of your race plan. On a scale of 1 to 10 you should be at about a 6.5-7.

The final important thing to keep in mind are the goals you give your crew for the end of the piece – make sure they’re realistic! Don’t say “I want to catch them by the end” if they’re five lengths away and you’ve only got 1500m left. It’s likely not going to happen, your crew will probably see the whole piece as a failure because you didn’t catch them, and then they’ll get pissed at you. Just avoid all of that by being honest about where you are and where you wanna be. If you can reasonably catch the other crew in front of you and cross the line even with or ahead of them (or continue to hold them off/walk away if you went out first at the start) then tell the crew that’s what you’re shooting for.

If they’re far enough ahead that you don’t think you can catch them but you know you can definitely close the gap, tell them the goal is to close the gap from five lengths of open water to two lengths. Don’t go by seats because that’s too small for them to picture and you to visualize when the gap is that wide. It’s not a realistic unit of measurement unless you’re actually within a length of them and will be overlapping with them at the finish. You can also go by time (which you should be able to see because you started the timer on your cox box at the start … right?) and say “we’re X minutes into it, let’s try to break Y” or “they started 15 seconds ahead of us, let’s get that gap down to six…”.

Hopefully all that makes sense and you can easily apply it to the pieces you’re doing while preparing for head race season.