Chelsea Lucas 2008 Junior World Championships Team USA W8+ Grand Final
If this recording doesn’t give you goosebumps, check your pulse. This is one of the best recordings out there because it checks all the boxes – execution of the race plan, tone of voice, communication with the crew, etc. She does such a good job of telling them their location on the other crews throughout the race, specifically where they are seat-wise. The rowers could be blindfolded the entire race and still know exactly where they are – that’s what you want!
Once they get out of the start and settle into their base rhythm she shifts her down to a more relaxed tone (still intense, still focused, just a little more chill) but at 2:07 you can sense it starting to shift back up before she hits you with that next level of intensity at 2:14. She demonstrates a lot of vocal control through those first two minutes, which is definitely something worth practicing since that can be a hard part of the race for coxswains to maintain their composure in. As they start walking through crews she continues to do a really good job of telling them they’re moving and by how much with each stroke.
At 3:09 she calls for five to use the hips and then says “hips five, hips four…”, which is a good example of what I’ve talked about in the past with regards to knowing when during the stroke to say the numbers (if you say them). “Hips” is obviously a front end call since you’re engaging your hips at the catch as your press through the drive, thus it wouldn’t make sense to stick with the regular convention of calling the numbers at the catch, which is why she flips to calling them at the finish. Also, notice how all of her calls are “let’s”, “we”, etc.?
Another thing I’ve talked about a lot recently is motivational calls. “Make them remember this” at 3:51 is a great example of a good motivational call. (Her tone building into that call is flawless too.) Notice too how they’re progressively walking through Germany and up on Romania? She’s constantly telling them their position, which is also hugely motivating, especially in races that are tight like this one is. Even though there isn’t video of this race, you, the person listening, should still easily be able to plot out where the United States, Germany, Romania, etc. are based entirely on the positional updates she’s giving her boat. If you can get excited about where they started vs. where they’re at now just based off of listening to her calls, imagine what it’s like for the rowers who are actually in the boat. They don’t have to worry about where they’re at or what’s going on around them, all they’ve gotta do is focus on one thing, which is moving the boat and that is one of the most motivating things a coxswain can do for their crew.
We gotta talk about 4:44 too … if that isn’t the most motivating, most savage fucking call you’ve ever heard, what is?? There’s a reason why you hear so many coxswains nowadays use that and say it the exact same way.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll realize that between the start of the race and 5:10 they went from being 4 seats down on Romania to 5.5 seats up, which makes her call of “we’re 500m away from a world championship” at 5:10 so much more epic. Another example of a brutally motivational call. This is one of the ones you keep in your back pocket though for the big races – we’re talking grand finals at IRAs, last 250m at Henley, etc.
The ending is crazy frantic but it’s the right kind of frantic. It’s energetic, it’s electric, it’s just … hard to put into words. If you’ve been in a race like this then you know you can’t really describe it because even though you’re 100% in the moment as it’s all happening, as soon as you come off the water you’re like … what just happened??? Anyways, this is just a great recording and one of the very few that falls under the “gold standard” umbrella. Definitely a lot to be taken away from it and incorporated into your own coxing.
Other calls I liked:
“Lay it on…”
“Let’s close this gap, baby…”
“This one’s gonna be close guys, time to sit up and show ’em who we are…”
Steve Young USA Men’s 8+ Practice
This is a super short recording from inside the USA men’s 8+ during one of their steady state practices in the lead up to the 2013 World Cup. Right off the bat I love the “find that confident finish” call and how he immediately responds to the coach telling them to go to 3/4 pressure. How he builds into that 18 – “three quarter press 18, we’ll come up one beat … on this one” – is exactly how you wanna call a shift in rate, not just in terms of response time between when the coach calls it and when you actually do it but also in how he communicates it. Very succinct, no extraneous words, just where they’re at and where they wanna go.
The other call I like is the “long arm stretch” call near the end. I think that’s a good basic call to make to remind the rowers to get the arms out first before swinging over with the bodies.
You can find and listen to more recordings by checking out the “Coxswain Recordings” page.