George Washington University 2013 SIRAs Freshman 8+ Grand Final
Connor recently sent me a bunch of his recordings to listen to and they. are. all. so. good. I’ll be putting them all up in future posts so keep an eye out for them – there’s a ton to take away from each one, from execution to tone to calls and everything in between.
Something he does really well is using his tone to compliment the calls. A good example is at 0:47 when he says “get ready boys, shift in two, one, ready, two, SHIIIFT, BOOM…” and at 1:12 when he says “lengthen out half a beat … on this one, looong there…”. That transition between the high strokes and the shift to base was also flawlessly executed so if you’re trying to work out a good way to call that, that’s a great example of how it’s done cleanly and clearly.
At 1:30 he says “we’re gonna go off their move…”, which is cementing how invaluable you are to your crew if you can recognize when another coxswain is about to call a move and then capitalize off of it by making a counter-move that the other boat doesn’t know is coming.
Sometimes when coxswains say “this is our race” and it can sound really cheerleader-y and frankly, stupid, but his tone at 2:33 when he said “I’m on 3-seat, this is our race…” communicated a confidence that really made me believe that this was their race. Sometimes when coxswains say that they say it in that loud, aggressive voice that makes me question if they’re saying it because they believe it or because they think it’s what the crew wants to hear. If it’s really your race you should be calm and confident because you know you’re in full control and all you have to do from here is keep executing things right.
Between 3:18 and 3:36, everything. about this. is perfect. The build-up with his voice during the countdown followed by an appropriately-aggressive “slingshot, engage“…awesome. Same for 4:00 when he says “I got bowball!” – after saying “I’m on bow deck but I need more” at 3:46 this is a brilliant response to what the crew did when he asked for more.
I’m debatable about the “it’s gonna be an easy win” call at 4:51 but not because I don’t like them. On the contrary, I think they can be a confidence boost for the crew but the one time I said this to my boat, the crew that we’d just annihilated with a move at 750m to go (we’d gone from me sitting on their 5-seat to having a full seat of open water), our biggest competition in this particular race, made a huge move on us during the sprint and came within about four seats at the finish. After that I never said any race was going to be an easy win ever again, regardless of how much open water we had on the field. My advice is to be cautious with this call – it can definitely give you a false sense of security sometimes.
Last thing – at 5:42 he says “sprint for those shirts, sprint for the win, that’s it, take it…” This is an infinitely better way of saying “how bad do you want it, show me you want it, etc.”.
Other calls I liked:
“Pryyyyyy through…” The tone is great, as is the addition of “through” at the end since “pry” on its own is kinda awkward.
“Go now, break away…”
“5-seat’s getting his blade in for UVA, you’ve gotta get yours in too…”
“5 to breathe and swing”, particularly the fact that he called it when they were 1500ish into the race
George Washington University 2013 Freshman 8+ vs. Georgetown
At the start he says “can’t lean to starboard otherwise we’ll turn…”, which I think is a really important thing for rowers to understand. If there is ever a time for you to not be moving around and constantly adjusting your weight, it’s at the starting line when your coxswain is trying to get a point. You have no idea how frustrating it is trying to get a point, especially in windy conditions, get it, and then have to go through the whole process again because someone off-set the boat and it turned. Please, do your coxswains a favor and sit still during and after the period of time where they’re getting a point. Coxswains, you can also help them out by giving them some “adjusting time” (dependent on how much time you have between getting locked on and the start of the race) before saying “OK, I’m getting a point now”.
At 4:06 he calls for “five for relaxation”, which I think can be beneficial after you’ve made a big move and gained something significant on an opposing crew. It helps to bring the focus back in between your gunnels, relax the bodies, breathe, and sharpen up the strokes while still maintaining the level of intensity that got you where you’re at in the first place. This is also especially good if you’re planning another big move soon after.
“You see them now, you don’t let them walk back one fucking inch…” is a great post-walk or post-move call when you’ve just gotten through the other crew. Remind them that they’re in the commanding position and it’s up to them to keep you there. Don’t give anything back. Same for 5:18 when he says “oh yea, now we’re moving away” and at 6:02 when he says “you gotta work for it”. Notice how he said they still had to work for it after telling them they’ve got 3/4 of a length of open? You can’t get complacent when you open up a lead like that because you never know what that other crew has left. It’s your responsibility to remind them of that. Do the work necessary to get you ahead and then keep doing the work to keep you ahead.
At 5:31 he says “this is where we died last race”, which I think can have one of two effects on a crew. For me, I use calls like this as a challenge. Last time this is what happened but the difference between then and now is we’re better, we’re stronger, and we’re smarter – it’s not going to happen again. The two outcomes are that they’ll either remember this is where they fell apart last time and their brains will give into that and they’ll die again or the brains will respond with a determined “fuck that” and will rise to overcome the challenge. In order for this call to be effective and come off the way you want it to, you have to understand the brains of the eight people in your boat. If there’s even a question of the mental vulnerability of any one of them, you can’t use this call.
Other calls I liked:
“Fuck yea, I’m on their 3-seat, get ready to break them and crush their fucking dreams…“
“Through and through…”
“Blackout 10 motherfuckers!”
You can find and listen to more recordings by checking out the “Coxswain Recordings” page.