Hi…I’m a rower, coming to you for a little bit of advice on something from a cox’s perspective. I’m in a squad of women and at the moment we tend to swap in and out of boats a lot. My question is, would you – as a cox – rather have a set crew you are working with from very early on in a season or do you mind the idea of continual ‘scratch’ crews? I just don’t feel it gives me as a rower a chance to develop effectively and I wanted to see what a coxswain’s feelings on it would be.
Easy – I’d much rather prefer have a set crew.
When I was in high school, we got on the water in February. We were like the freaking post office … rain, wind, sleet, or snow, we were on the water the second week of February like clockwork. From the time we got on the water until mid-March, novices learned how to row, varsity worked on technique, and lineups were tweaked. The second week of March, lineups were set for the season (which ended the last weekend in May). If changes were made, it was one person switching out on a Monday and by Wednesday it was decided whether or not that person would stay in the boat for the regatta. Friday was always our travel day and we raced on Saturday and Sunday so lineups had to be set on Thursday in order for us to be able to do get a practice piece in before we left.
From my perspective, I would hate constantly switching crews because:
I, as a coxswain, wouldn’t be able to get a good sense of the boat tendencies if different people were always switching in and out
The boat would be unable to develop any sort of chemistry
The rowers wouldn’t be able to focus on technique if they were being switched in and out of boats and/or consistently following a different stroke
I agree with you in that it doesn’t give the rower an adequate opportunity to develop their skills. It’s the same for coxswains … they can’t develop their skills either for the same reasons.
It’s frustrating, but maybe your coach has a plan – talk to them and see what it is. Ask if this is going to be a normal thing, the constant switching, or if the boats will ever be 100% set. Explain why you don’t think it’s helping you develop properly and ask if they have any advice on how you can improve while you’re in the midst of all these rower/boat transitions.