Coxing High School Racing Recordings

Coxswain Recordings, pt. 26

Brookline Boys V4+ vs. Duxbury and Arlington-Belmont

This coxswain recently emailed me their recording so below is part of my reply to them. If you’re coxing bow loaders, take note of the first paragraph. Like I said, it’s a one-in-a-million chance but keep in mind that for the work you’re doing, your body isn’t necessarily in the most efficient position and forcing it to do even more unnatural stuff (such as making your voice way deeper than it needs to be) can lead to less-than-pleasant outcomes for you.

“I like the way you called your start and the intensity that you had. The only thing I’d recommend here is to be a little more natural with it and try not to force your voice to be super deep, particularly if you’re in a bow loader. I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago who said that while he was coxing his four over the summer he actually developed a stress fracture from tensing up his torso too much and trying to force out a voice that wasn’t natural for him. It was so bizarre but I can see how it’s possible – you’re laying down and essentially doing a crunch every time you force the air out to make your voice deep like that, which puts a lot of strain on the muscles around your rib cage. Something like that happening is probably one in a million but it’s definitely something to be aware of. Doing that also wastes a ton of oxygen and energy which just ends up causing you to become tired and out of breath early on in the race.

At 2:05 when you say “bow pair, what are you doing for our boat right now…”, I would caution against calls like that because it comes off like you’re saying you don’t think they’re doing anything or that they’re not pulling as hard as the stern pair. Even if that’s true, you don’t want to make it seem like you’ve lost confidence in literally half your crew. Instead, I would eliminate that part entirely and just say something like “bow pair, let’s channel your power into the next five finishes … squeeze it through and send the boat … ready, on this one“. That way you’re getting them to think about harnessing their power, you’re giving them a specific part of the stroke to target, and you’re putting a bit of responsibility on them for the next few strokes to really make the boat move. Ideally you’d follow that up with some positive calls during the five (“yea bow pair…”, “that’s it…”, etc.) to maintain the momentum and motivation too.

You’re doing a great job of telling the crew where they are on the other crews. This is where a lot of coxswains fall short and you’re nailing it. Great job.

At 2:39 when you tell Kyle to get his seat ahead of another crew “before this bridge”, in the future I’d just throw in how many strokes there are until you reach the bridge since that’s obviously something you can see but they can’t. I’d say something like “Alright Kyle, we’re 15 strokes out of the bridge, I want you sitting on their bow ball when we come out the other side – you’re leading this 10, ready, GO…”. Again, it gives that person a bit of personal responsibility while letting them know exactly what you want and how many strokes they have to do it in.

If you find that the splits are starting to creep up towards the end, instead of saying “get them back down” or something equally as vague, relax your voice and just talk to the crew. Take all the tension out of the air and get them to relax. They’re tired, they’re in pain, they can’t breathe, and they just want this to be over but you’ve still got 400m left … what are you gonna do? Take 5 to breathe, 5 to relax the shoulders, 5 to refocus, and 5 to recommit and reestablish the ratio. Focus your calls specifically on only those things when you’re calling for them. When you’re calling that last five, remind them to lengthen the recovery, power through on the drive, swing together, and feel the rhythm. From here you should be able to go right into the build for your sprint.

Last thing, when you’re calling for them to get the rate up, remind them to get it with power on the drive, that way everyone is going after that higher rate the same way at the same time.”

Winter Park High School 2014 Bertossa Cup

This style of coxing is perfect for pieces (5x5min, for example) during practice. There’s a good balance with the calls and the tone is just aggressive enough. During a race I would probably want her to be a little sharper and more concise with the calls (vs. dragging them out a bit here) but for practice pieces this is totally fine. Definitely give it a listen though because it’s just another example of good coxing and you really can’t ever have too many of those.

You can find and listen to more recordings by checking out the “Coxswain Recordings” page.

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