Category: Masters

Coxing Masters Novice Racing

Question of the Day

Hi – I’m a relatively new coxswain (~6 months) for a master’s team in my city. We have a few head races coming up late August/early September, and I’ve been asked to cox the super novice master’s team. I haven’t coxed a head race before, and while your existing posts are really helpful, I was wondering if you could give advice specifically for coxing a less competitive boat (not necessarily less competitive in spirit, but definitely in rowing ability)? I worry that there will be a lot of boats passing during the 5k course and that I won’t be able to make any calls off of other boats without them ending poorly (like if a boat is coming up from behind, I know to make calls about pushing off of them etc., but if those boats keep passing us regardless of what we do, I don’t know how productive those “pushing off” calls will be if nothing comes of them). How would you approach coxing a race like this?

Also, do you have any good coxswain recordings where the coxswain is both doing a good job and the boat isn’t winning? I feel like a lot of the exemplary recordings on this website are of boats that are able to be super competitive and while there is obviously some transfer of tips/knowledge from that type of recording to my current coxing, it also doesn’t always feel relatable to my own coxing situation (where I’m coxing super novice masters rowers). I’m excited to have a chance to cox my first head race with lower stakes but I still want to do right by the rowers and prep just as seriously as any other cox in any other boat, which is why I’m getting nervous about having the right calls!

I think accepting that they’re a super novice team that is probably going to get passed a lot is important. That doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t have a similar approach to coxing a normal crew but if our definitions of “super novice” are the same, you kinda have to match the complexity of your race plan to the skill level of the crew … which is to say you should basically go out with the goal of doing a few 10s/20s throughout the race but mostly row it for yourselves rather than as a competitive piece like you otherwise would, if that makes sense. I know that sounds kind of dismissive and negative but that’s the reality of coxing crews that are way below the skill level of the other people you’re racing against. You don’t have to change anything as far as intensity or spirit goes, like you said, but you do have to adapt your strategy and be realistic.

When I’ve coxed or coached novice crews in the past, being honest and up front with them has always been the key to them going into the race with a good mindset. If you say “yea, we’re probably gonna get passed a lot because we’re the least experienced ones out there” or “OK here’s the race plan (and then lay out something super unnecessarily detailed)” then they’re going to feel deflated, overwhelmed, or both before they even get in the boat. If you frame it as “yea, we’re the slow guys but we’re faster than we were a few weeks ago and we’re all getting our blades in at the same time now so let’s go out there and row our race … we already know other crews are gonna pass us and that’s fine but the primary goal is to focus on our boat and try to beat our 5k time from practice last week.” then they’re more likely to feel energized about the piece because you’ve neutralized the whole getting passed thing and given them something tangible to work towards (more tangible than passing another crew, finishing in XYZ position, etc.).

As much as I hate to say “be positive” because of how cheerleader-y it sounds, that is the tone you have to have when you have that conversation. (Keep in mind there’s a big difference between being positive but realistic and sugarcoating it because you don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. That’s not productive at all.) I’m not really an overly peppy person in that sense but I have a sarcastic, dry enough sense of humor that I can say “we’re slow AF” and still get people to loosen up and go into it with a smile on their faces. Whatever your personality dictates in those kind of situations, just roll with it.

You’re right that those “pushing off” types of calls probably won’t be super effective, especially if/when you know the crew is going to pass you. Them “ending poorly” is probably unlikely – at most you’ll have an undesired effect if the energy falls off – but again, it’s all in how you frame it. If you say “Sarasota’s walking, let’s hold them off, push them back, etc…” and then they walk through you in five strokes then yea, that’s pretty demoralizing. If you say “Sarasota’s coming up behind us, eyes on the guy in front of you, let’s keep it internal and make ’em work for it…”, again, that gives them tangible things to focus on and work for. If/when they’ve moved through you you can say “solid effort there guys, finishes looked cleaner and Sarasota had to call another five on top of their move just to get past us, way to fight…”.

When I coached my high school team a few years ago we’d have the novices do pieces against the lightweights and one of their goals was making it take longer for the lightweights to walk through them this time than it did last time – i.e. if it took them 18 strokes to walk through them last time, this time we’re gonna dig in and make it take 20. They knew they were gonna get walked through but their primary focus was less on holding them off and more on digging in, testing their own limits, and staying in their boat rather than getting caught up with what this other crew was doing. How long it took the lightweights to move through them was a secondary goal.

Don’t worry about the calls. Worry about steering effectively first and following the rules of the course. The nice thing about coxing a novice crew for a low-stakes race is that you really don’t have to prep as much or as hard as you would if you were coxing like, the Princeton 2V at HOCR. Basically my point is don’t overthink this. Look at the course maps ahead of time, familiarize yourself with the starting area and any tricky spots (i.e. anything marked by a buoy), and have a general plan (i.e. a couple spots where you wanna do 10s/20s) and a rough idea of the calls you wanna use based off of what’s been working during practice. Don’t listen to other recordings and try to implement calls you hear/like because it’s unlikely they’ll be right for a crew that’s “super novice masters rowers”. If you can adapt it to make it work, by all means go for it, but test it out in practice ahead of time so you know if it has the desired effect and if it’s worth using during the race. Don’t try to memorize a bunch of calls that sound cool because you will forget them, which will just cause you to freak out during the race because you’re drawing a blank and can’t think of what to say.

Related: Coxswain recordings, pt. 11

There’s probably others but the recording I immediately thought of is this recording of GW’s freshman eight in the petite finals at IRAs in 2013 (also found in the post linked above). I don’t believe they were ahead at any point in the race but he still coxes it really well and you can tell at the end that they’re not bummed about where they finished (5th ahead of Dartmouth, 11th overall in the field). I get what you’re saying about some stuff not feeling relatable but a) you’re coxing (super novice) masters so that’s to be expected (nothing against masters but it’s to be expected) and b) the relatable stuff shouldn’t be winning, losing, competitiveness, etc., it should be tone, execution, and communication. 10th grade tennis players probably can’t relate to Federer or Serena but the fundamentals of their game are still the same and that’s the important stuff to pay attention to and incorporate into your own style of play (or in this case, coxing).

Coxing Masters Q&A

Question of the Day

I graduated college (men’s ACRA club) last spring and get asked regularly to cox competitive master’s boats. I always have fun coxing once I have been on the water for a few minutes, but am looking on advice for how to get comfortable with these crews faster.

I started coxing in college (your blog has been a huge help!) and was our top cox junior and senior year but I don’t have a ton of experience with jumping into a boat full of strangers. I don’t have the time to join/commit to a club right now (full-time work and night school for masters) so I enjoy filling in but it is definitely different than having a boat of rowers that I know well and vice versa. After thinking about it, I realized my biggest two challenges are:

1. Being comfortable “calling out” guys who are more than a few years older than me.

2. Coxing boats where I know few/none of my rowers (IE. Was asked by a friend to cox an 8+ he was bowing, then was asked by the stroke to fill-in for his club. So in the first boat I felt okay because I knew one person well, the second offer is intimidating since I wouldn’t really know anyone.)

I’m sure the more I do it, the more comfortable I will be but I was wondering if you had tips for any of these?

If you’re coxing on an infrequent basis or regularly with new crews that you’re not familiar with (meaning a new crew every time you go out), I think you’ve just gotta get over the “fear” of not knowing anyone and accept that that’s the trade-off that comes with not being able to join a team full-time. Obviously working and grad school take precedence so it’s not something to feel guilty over but you just have to recognize that you’ll be sacrificing those regular interactions that help you get to know the rowers better.

Related: Hi! I am a coxswain who has coxed on my school’s team for 5 seasons. I seem to do better when put in a boys boat (I’m a girl). In the past, I have attributed this to the fact that the girls on my team are incredibly immature and difficult to deal with. It’s gotten to a point where no cox on my team wants to cox a girls boat. How would you approach this? Also, I have recently gotten an opportunity to cox for a local club’s masters women’s boat. How would you adjust to a such a different group?

Most of the masters crews I’ve coxed have had some sort of regular meet-up, usually a weekly thing at various bars around town, where they’d get together on a weekday after work to grab beers and hang out for a bit. Not everyone could make it every single time but at any given point I think at least 3/4 of the boat was there. The boat I coxed right after I moved to Boston would also go to breakfast at a diner near the boathouse nearly every morning before we all went off to work. Going out with whatever boat I was coxing when I could was a great way to get to know them and it really translated to how comfortable I was when we were on the water, even if I was only going out with them when they needed someone to fill in for their regular coxswain (which is what I ended up doing once I started coaching at MIT). If the people you’re coxing do something like this, make time to join them. You don’t have to go every time but even going just once would be great.

Related: So I’m the most experienced coxswain on my juniors team, and was asked to cox a master’s eight. It isn’t a racing boat or anything. Some of the masters just wanted to try sweep. The thing is both of my coaches and a few of the board members for the juniors team will be in the boat, as will my dad. I’m afraid that if I mess up, or if my coach isn’t a fan of my style, it could affect boat placement going into spring. Any advice?

As far as being comfortable calling out people who are older than you, I talked about that a bit in the second post I linked to. It all comes down to confidence and remembering that in the boat, they’re just rowers and aren’t any different than the guys you coxed in college. They might be closer to your parents age than your age but the goal is still the same, which means how you cox them should be the same. They’re not gonna scold you just for saying “Bill, little late at the catch on that one…” or “Marjorie, hold the finishes here…”.

I wasn’t sure how to approach coxing masters when I first started either but it quickly became apparent that with few exceptions, they were just as willing to listen to me and take my feedback as any other group of rowers I’ve coxed. Just add this to the list of things that coxswains overthink that no one else actually cares about.

Coxing Masters Q&A Racing

Question of the Day

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.

I wouldn’t be super concerned with the masters boats – your main goal there should be to just steer straight. (Obviously that should be the goal every time you race but in this case it’s really your only responsibility.) I’d ask your coach if he has a race plan he wants them to follow and if he does, go over it with him so you understand it and then just execute it on race day. Don’t worry about technical calls or anything like that unless they specifically ask you to make some (this is something you should ask rather than waiting for them to bring it up).

Masters crews tend to fall into two categories – the ones who are doing it recreationally and should never (ever) be left to their own devices and the ones who are fairly competitive and a little more self-sufficient. If these guys have a chance at medaling then they probably fall into the latter category, in which case they might just ask you steer and handle everything else themselves. When I’ve coxed one-off races with masters boats they usually tell me up front that to keep things simple since I’m new to the boat all I need to do is get them from Point A to Point B and the bow seat will make whatever calls they need outside of rate shifts and transitions. It’s not the worst arrangement and it definitely takes a ton of weight off your shoulders when you’re meeting them for the first time the day of the race.

You have two jobs on race day … steer straight and execute the race plan. If you do those two things well then you’ve done your job. With your lightweight boat, if they’ve raced before then I’d ask them to tell you one thing that motivated them in their race or if they haven’t raced, give you something they want you to say to them during the race (either technical or motivational). That way you’ll at least have something you can fall back on during the race if it starts to feel a little dry. I’ve said this a lot but you can also incorporate them into whatever moves you take, i.e. “lets take 5 for the legs, here we go middle pair…” or “let’s take 10 to take two seats, go get your seat [3-seat]”. Stuff like that can bring a good energy to the boat and it literally takes no effort on your part.

Usually my approach to “generally” coxing a race is to just do what I know works. There were plenty of times in high school where my main boat would be my eight and then on top of that I’d also have a four that we put together that week as an extra entry so everyone could race twice. If it was a light four comprised of four people from my light eight then I’d cox them the exact same as I would the light eight. If it was four people in the 1V and I’d been coxing the 2V then I’d ask the 1V coxswain for a few calls that she’s been using and incorporate that into my race plan, which would more than likely be the same one that I’d use with my regular boat. Very, very little changes for me when I get into a new/unfamiliar boat, especially if I’m only gonna be with them for one race.

Coxing Masters Q&A

Question of the Day

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?

I think the simplest way to do it would be to advertise it to any/all local coxswains, partner up with the college coxswains you’ve been working with to have them teach part/all of it, and make it known that the masters club also just happens to be looking for coxswains.

Structure-wise, I’d probably make it a three-hour thing on the weekend (like 9-12pm) or since it’s the summer, something in the afternoon/evening (say, 2-5pm or 4-7pm). Regardless of whether the people you bring in are total novices, experienced coxswains, masters rowers-turned-coxswains, etc. I think it’s worthwhile to start off with something like this, that way everyone knows right off the bat where motivation falls on the hierarchy of things people expect coxswains to do (hint: it’s not even remotely close to being your most important responsibility), and/or this, again just so they can get a sense of what their priorities should be. It can also serve as a good reminder for the experienced coxswains that execution and steering trump everything else.

From there I’d just keep things simple and talk about the basics of steering, boat handling (aka how to get it out of the boathouse and into the water (PS that’s a good post to share with the novice coxswains you know)), and what the stroke actually looks like. I don’t think you need to get super in-depth with any of the technical stuff because that can get boring (fast) and it’s just not necessary (yet) for what you’re trying to do. I would also spend a bit of time at the end talking about the masters program, what you’re looking for, who would be eligible to work with you (i.e. anyone, only people two years of coxing experience, etc.) and then get a list of emails/phones numbers from everyone so you can stay in contact with the people who are interested in coxing for you.

Definitely get the college coxswains involved though. You’re more likely to attract junior coxswains that way and it can be reassuring to masters rowers-turned-coxswains to hear from people who actually know what they’re talking about (vs. just having another adult who’s maybe “coxed” three times explain what coxing is all about).

Coxing Masters Q&A

Question of the Day

So I’m the most experienced coxswain on my juniors team, and was asked to cox a master’s eight. It isn’t a racing boat or anything. Some of the masters just wanted to try sweep. The thing is both of my coaches and a few of the board members for the juniors team will be in the boat, as will my dad. I’m afraid that if I mess up, or if my coach isn’t a fan of my style, it could affect boat placement going into spring. Any advice?

It won’t. It would be really stupid of your coach to keep you out of certain boats just because he didn’t like your style of coxing. I was emailing with another coxswain about a very similar situation a couple weeks ago and a lot of what I told him applies to you too. In this situation, yea it might be awkward to have your dad, your coach, and some of the board members in the boat but when you’re on the water they’re none of those people – they’re just another group of rowers. Something that I’ve noticed with masters rowers over the last few years (both men and women) is that they tend to forget that on the water I (and the other coxswains) don’t look at them the way their employees, colleagues, etc. look at them – they’re not doctors, lawyers, university administrators, hedge fund managers, venture capitalists, small business owners, non-profit managers, contractors, advertising execs, etc. to me. They’re just rowers. If it comes off like you’re intimidated by them because of who they are off the water then you open the door for them to put on their manager/department head/executive hat and try to run the show because that’s what they’re used to doing every day. Don’t forget though, you’re used to managing people every day too, the only difference between the two groups being age.

The majority of masters rowers are great and come out just to have a good time with friends so trust me when I say all you have to do is the exact same thing you do during practice with your normal crews. Obviously you should make sure you’re on top of your game (that means steering good lines, not hitting things, communicating clearly and concisely, etc.) but if you excel at all of the basic coxswain skills any other day of the week then you’re not going to have any issues with these guys.

Below is another part of the email I mentioned earlier that I hope will help you out. Remember, you wouldn’t have been asked to do this if someone (your coach, I’m assuming) didn’t think you were capable. Don’t take the situation too seriously and have fun with it!

“The biggest piece of advice I can give you is if you get nervous, keep it to yourself. Act like every single thing you say and do is a deliberate action, not something you debated doing before making a decision. Be confident and have a good time! Coxing masters, even competitive ones, can be a lot of fun. They’ll probably joke around with you which will hopefully lighten the atmosphere a bit so just approach it like you would any other practice. Communicate with the coach, ask questions if you don’t understand something, need it repeated, etc., be clear with your calls to the crew, and use this as an opportunity to learn. Every crew is different so you can probably apply something you’ve done with your high school team to these guys and you’ll probably be able to take something away from this and apply it to your high school practice next week.”

Masters Video of the Week

Video of the Week: For the masters rowers…

This guy rowed at UCLA and then was away from the sport for 22 years before getting back into it as a masters rower. It’s pretty cool seeing the progression in his training and the success he has once he begins racing. Just goes to show though that even if you’ve been away from the sport for two decades, all it takes to get back into it is passion, persistence, and a good physical therapist.

Coxing Drills Masters Q&A Rowing Technique

Question of the Day

I recently had an anxiety attack in the boat (they didn’t notice and it was still safe). Part of the reason may have been because I’m not sure what to say. I’m good at short calls but as a junior coxing adult men (average age 45) I lack the confidence to make long calls and exercises that weren’t given to me. Do you have any suggestions of calls I could start with? We have been focusing on control on the slide and finishes. 🙂 Thank you!

Regardless of whether anyone noticed or not, coxswains having an anxiety attack in the boat isn’t safe, no matter how minor it is. It’s just not. I have anxiety (and panic attacks) too so I know it’s not something you have a lot of control over but that’s part of the problem – you don’t really have any control over what’s happening, which is also what tends to exacerbate some people’s anxiety in those situations, and it can leave you feeling distracted, dizzy, etc. (neither things that you want your coxswain to be feeling ever).

I’ve heard several stories from coaches about people having panic attacks in the boat and it can go from relatively minor and “I’m OK *deep breath* I’m OK…” to pretty serious and “We’ve gotta get him/her outta the boat now” (which they’ve gotta try to do while the person is sitting there having a combined panic/asthma attack). It’s just not something that you want to risk have happening, for the sake of that person especially, but also for the rest of the crew. You also don’t want to have  your entire practice derailed either because of it but most people tend to not want to say that out of fear of being seen as “insensitive” to the issue (even though that’s a legitimate concern).

Not to minimize your situation but if you’re having an anxiety attack in part because you’re not sure what calls to make, as a coach, that would make me question your ability to handle being a coxswain in general or at the very least, your ability to cox a masters crew. Before you do anything else though I would really advise you to talk with the coach of that crew (if you haven’t already) and let him/her know that coxing them is intimidating to you and either figure out a plan for the two of you to communicate more on the workouts or to find another coxswain who can handle working with them. Jumping from coxing high school crews to masters can be tough at first and not everyone is cut out for it. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad coxswain or anything if you’re not but if it’s becoming too overwhelming to the point where you’re having a panic attack (or multiple attacks) while you’re on the water over something as simple as making calls, you really owe it to them to relinquish the seat to someone who is better equipped to cox them.

As a junior, assuming you’ve been coxing for three years now, you should have a solid arsenal of calls and drills in your back pocket that you can pull out if/when you need them. The coach should obviously let you know what he wants to do that day but he shouldn’t need to spoon-feed his coxswain every workout he wants done, drill he wants called, or call he wants made. If that’s what he has to do he might as well take out coxless small boats.

I’m not sure if by exercises you meant the actual workout or drills so I’ll try to hit both of those. Workouts are completely dependent on your crew’s training plan for the week (assuming you have one). When in doubt if you aren’t given a workout to do with them or you’re sent off on your own and told to put them through something, just do a long steady state piece, particularly if you’ve been focusing a lot on technique lately. 2×20, 3×15, at 18-22spm etc. are good ones to do.

As far as drills go, double pause drills are great for slide control (I like to pause at hands away and 1/2 slide) as are exaggerated slides, assuming your crew is skilled enough to row with good technique at borderline-obnoxiously low stroke rates (think 12-14spm). Catch-placement drills are another fun drill to do that help work on slide control. The main focus is on catch-timing (hence the name) but moving the slides together on the recovery is obviously a pretty big part of that.

When I make calls for the recovery/slide control, I like to draw out whatever I’m saying and get them to match their recovery length to the length of whatever I’m saying. I’ll say “relax”, “control”, “smooth”, “long”, “patience”, etc. for about three strokes, which gives the stroke a chance to match up his slide speed with my voice and for everyone else to fall in line with him. From there I’ll call it like that as I need to. The biggest thing I try to remind them of is that in order to have any forward momentum, they’ve got to have good ratio. You can’t have good ratio unless you’re patient on the recovery.

Another thing to remind them is that on the recovery they shouldn’t be pulling themselves into the catch or really doing that much work at all; all you’ve gotta do is let the boat run under you. If you looked out of the boat at the shoreline while on the recovery it should almost look/feel like you’re not even moving because you’re letting the boat do all the work.

For the finish, it depends on what you’re working on – clean releases, getting a good send at the end of the drive, etc. For clean releases, simple square-blade rowing is probably the most basic drill you can do because all you’ve gotta do is apply weight with the outside hand to extract the blade. You could also do this with the outside hand only if you wanted. Posture is critical when working on finishes too so make sure that’s something you’re making calls for.

Another drill is rowing with feet out since you’ve gotta have a solid finish with the arms to help you maintain your connection to the stretchers on the last part of the stroke. It’s not strictly a “finishes” drill but my coaches have always used it to help enforce good finish posture in my boats when we’ve been working on that part of the stroke. If you’re working on building power throughout the drive and finishing the stroke off with the max amount of send, you could do half-pressure catches building into full-pressure finishes. Not only does that work on quick catches but it also helps them feel the acceleration on the drive, all culminating in a full-pressure finish.

Masters Q&A

Question of the Day

Hi, OK so I have a strange question. So after many months of my mom always saying how much she wanted to row, she has decided to take a LTR class. She is extremely worried about her lower back hurting while getting in and out of the boat. Do you have any tips to help her maybe try to save her back?

This is actually a pretty common question among adults. They’re not nearly as nimble and spry as we are so squatting down to get in the boat can be a little tricky on the joints. For most adults the issue is their knees or hips, primarily because of arthritis or just the general effects of getting older. Low back concerns surprisingly, at least from what I’ve seen, aren’t as prevalent.

After watching a lot of the adults get in and out when I’ve coached some of the adult learn-to-rows I’ve noticed two ways of doing it. The first is the normal way, just a little bit slower. The second is to sit on the dock parallel to the boat and then just lift your butt onto the seat before swinging your legs in one by one. The adults that are more worried about the boat moving under them, tweaking a muscle, etc. tend to do the second one. The more active-looking adults are keen to do it the normal way simply because it’s part of rowing – that’s how it’s done and if you don’t have any limitations preventing you from doing it that way, that’s how you should do it.

Just like with younger rowers, low backs don’t tend to hurt unless you’re opening up too early, have weak core muscles, and/or you’re disengaging the legs and trying to move the boat with just your upper body strength. Make sure you tell her to really focus on getting the sequencing down properly to avoid any of those issues. As long as she focuses on rowing well right now instead of rowing hard she’ll be fine.

Masters Video of the Week

Video of the Week: NINE

This crew was organized by a woman in my masters eight named Diane Cotting and let me tell you, she. is. amazing. Not only in the normal way that people are amazing but she truly just goes above and beyond the definition of the word in so many ways. People would be lucky to have someone half as enthusiastic as her in their boat every day. Watch the video and read this article that USRowing did on her.

This is also a good video to watch if you’re coxing masters women because you can kind of get a sense as to why they do this and what they get out of it. It’s so different from coaching high school or collegiate women but at the same time, it’s exactly the same.

Coxing High School Masters Q&A Teammates & Coaches

Question of the Day

Hi! I am a coxswain who has coxed on my school’s team for 5 seasons. I seem to do better when put in a boys boat (I’m a girl). In the past, I have attributed this to the fact that the girls on my team are incredibly immature and difficult to deal with. It’s gotten to a point where no cox on my team wants to cox a girls boat. How would you approach this? Also, I have recently gotten an opportunity to cox for a local club’s masters women’s boat. How would you adjust to a such a different group?

That’s rough. It sounds like something your coaches need to address (or should have) rather than something the coxswains should be forced to put up with/suffer through or handle on their own. Have you guys tried talking to the coaches about the issues you have coxing them? Are they difficult to deal with because they don’t listen, are unnecessarily combative, and just straight up bitches or are they difficult to deal with because they’re teenagers and doing typical annoying teenager stuff? Regardless of the reason, I think it’s worth bringing up and discussing with the coach so that they can do something about it. It’s also possible that they might not know what’s going on or that the coxswains feel this way so they never realized there was a problem needing addressing. Until then though, if you get put in a boat with them try not to get frustrated. Avoid displaying any outward signs of being irritated that you’re coxing that boat because that’ll either piss off the rowers and give them even more reasons to make things difficult or it’ll just amuse them and give them a reason to antagonize you.

Regarding coxing a masters boat, the biggest difference for me in going from coxing people my own age to coxing people who are closer to my parents’ age was coxing them with the same amount of intensity. It felt weird coxing them like I coxed college or high school crews because they’re so much older than me but once I talked to them about it they said they want to be coxed hard like that, so that’s what I started doing. After a few practices it didn’t feel weird any more. I’d suggest just talking to them and finding out what they look for in their coxswains. Are they a competitive team who expects to be coxed as such or are they just out there to have a good time and get away from the stress of daily life, so they don’t need to be coxed as hard? Don’t be intimidated by them and don’t feel like you can’t call them out on any technique problems like you would a normal crew. They want to be corrected so they can improve just like rowers your own age so make sure you’re talking to them and giving them the same feedback that you’d give your regular crew.