College Coxing Ergs High School Recordings

Coxswain recordings, pt. 28

Erg room coxing clips montage

This is some audio from inside the erg room where the rowers were doing 500m pieces. As you can hear she gets pretty technical while coxing them. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – all her calls were pretty good – but just make sure that what you’re saying fits the purpose of the workout. You obviously don’t want to be coxing their technique while they’re doing race pieces or vice versa. And as always, make sure you’re adhering to the golden rule of coxing rowers on the erg: don’t cox those who don’t want to be coxed.

What I liked about what she was doing is that she coxed them on land just like (I assume) she would in the boat. Just because you’re inside doesn’t mean you have to do anything different and that’s where I think a lot of coxswains feel like they fall short in the winter. This is a great opportunity for you to practice your calls, test some new ones (specifically as they relate to individual technique issues/tendencies), and play with your volume and tone. On top of that, maintaining that consistency from the water to the ergs is really great for helping the rowers become used to your style and calls.

Marist University 2014 Spring break Training trip, pt. 1

There are a lot of really positive things to point out in this video, the first of which is his overall voice and tone. For those that have asked for good examples of that “coxswain voice”, this would be a great one. Remember though, that “voice” doesn’t really have anything to do with your actual voice, your volume, or anything like that – it’s more about what you say and how you say it (assertively, confidently, etc.). One of the things I like in particular is that, similar to the GW recordings, there’s a clear difference between his “calm” voice and his “get the fuck after it” voice. I think that’s an important thing to establish early on and definitely something that should be cemented by at least your third year or so of coxing.

When I was emailing with this coxswain I asked what happened at 0:37 and this is what he told me: “The comment was directed at a fishing boat that was out of the picture. We had been getting waked out all week by fishing boats and this guy thought it was funny to try to wake us as we went past.” People like that are the worst and for some reason they do think it’s really funny to wake out rowers but it’s always best, especially for junior crews, to just not engage them (even if/when they do deserve to get flipped off).

I like the “Right on 28, take it with relaxation and composure…” call at 0:57.  This is one of the things we spent a lot of time in the fall working on so I’m definitely going to steal this call and use the next time I’m out. If you try to muscle the blade through the water and yank on it every stroke you’re not going to accomplish anything outside of slowing down the boat’s speed so it’s important for the coxswains to make little reminder calls like this, particularly during rate changes, to reinforce staying loose and getting the power through the drive with the legs.

At 1:12, this is something I tend to do when I’m doing pieces like this. Even though they might not technically be competitive pieces … let’s be honest, they kind of are. I like to take advantage of being able to see the other boat and make calls like this to my crews, either to give them a bit of a boost or to keep the momentum going that we’ve already built up.

At 1:16 he makes a call to the starboards to get the blades in because they’re getting pulled around by the ports – don’t be afraid to say this to your rowers. I’ve encountered way too many coxswains lately that don’t or won’t speak up in situations like this and it’s driving me crazy. If they want you to steer straight then they have to row in a manner that allows you to stay off the rudder as much as possible and that’s something you need to communicate to them if you find that you’re constantly having to make steering adjustments to compensate for some less-than-stellar rowing.

“…big back ends” at 2:09 is a good call for the finish to reinforce the draw through with the arms and having a smooth transition between the legs and upper body as you complete the stroke. It’d also be a good alternative to the “squeeze” call.

Related: Heeey so at the moment we’re doing a lot of work on the finish and the release but I am struggling to come up with calls that really work. I have a few basic ones but not many so I find myself repeating them over and over and over and over. Do you have any calls for technique at the finish and release that i could borrow or modify to suit my crew?? TY x

Between 3:01 – 3:05, this is just good, smart strategy. When you’re on the outside of an upcoming turn and you’re close to another crew, you want to neutralize whatever advantage they’ll get from having the inside line before you actually get to the turn. In a race this would have been a good spot to take a 20 to move. You can hear him get frustrated at 3:30 because the other coxswain’s not turning – sometimes you’ll find yourself in that situation and you’ve just gotta roll with it. It’s obviously gonna throw off your turn because you’re stuck on the outside but it’s your job to adapt and move on. There’s no need – especially in a practice situation like this – to vocalize your frustration to the rest of the boat. Ultimately this was a super minor inconvenience with no real consequences so injecting that little bit of negative energy into what has otherwise been a pretty good row is just unnecessary. 

A couple of you have asked what “hacking” means (you hear him say “don’t hack…” at 3:31) and in the simplest terms it’s basically the same as not going directly to the water and instead rowing it in, except in a slightly more aggressive manner than normal since you’re probably rowing at some kind of high rate and/or pressure. You’ll definitely know it when you see it if you get a chance to see a side-view of a crew. It can be tough to see from where we’re sitting but if you know someone is doing it or hear your coach say something, make some calls about staying light on the seats, being direct to the water, anticipating the catch, etc.

5:15, I love this. In our email I asked Chris what the rationale was for taking three strokes instead of say, five per pair and this is what he said: “The 3 strokes down the boat was something that the guys in my boat and I talked about my freshman year. Not really sure what started it or how it came up in the boat meeting but it has been something that has stuck around with me since then. The guys really like it and it’s just a quick way to get everyone focused and helps us hit that next gear. One thing that we had talked about off the water is that when that one specific pair is “on” for those 3 strokes, the other 6 guys have to back them up because they know it’s their turn soon and they know their teammates will do the same for them. That’s sort of the reason why it’s 3 instead of 5, keeps it quick and simple and doesn’t gas anyone too much. We do it in races sometimes if I think it’s necessary or want to switch things up (mostly when we are even with a crew and the guys start to focus on the other crew and not what is going on in our boat).”

Last thing to pay attention to is how he coxes them through the strokes after the piece ends at 7:10 – reminding them to stay sharp, maintain the ratio, not worry about putting any pressure on the strokes, etc. Rather than making a super vague call like “stay in time” or whatever, try to incorporate in more active calls like those ones to keep the crew engaged and continuing to row well even after the hard strokes are over.

Other calls I liked:

“Just fuckin’ tap it along…”

Marist University 2014 Spring break Training trip, pt. 2

At 0:54, when he says “hold it up” I asked if he made that call for the set, stroke rate, pressure, or something else and he said: “The “hold it up” call was, again, something we had been working on all week. Our 4 seat had just switched to port after rowing starboard his whole rowing career. He was having a lot of trouble holding his finish through and the boat would crash to port around the back end. It was just a little personal reminder to him to stay connected throughout and not lose hold of the back end.”

I like that “pick each other up” call at 1:57 just as a reminder to everyone that the rate’s only going to come up if the entire crew goes after it and, as he said, backs each other up. I’ve made similar calls in the past as a nod to my stroke to let them know that I got their back and that getting the rate up is a collective thing, not just one person’s responsibility. If you notice your stroke getting frustrated with the rate, calls like this are always good to toss in.

Did anyone else notice the tape under the stroke seat’s inside hand? I asked about that too and Chris said: “The tape is actually raised in the middle and he puts his pinky just on the outside of the bump. His grip tends to slide wide throughout the piece so he marks it to make sure his grip stays where he wants it. It is also a bit superstitious, as most of us are. He actually rows with all of the oars and whichever one he has the best piece with is then “his” oar for the spring season.” I thought that was a pretty good idea and a neat hack to try if you’re having similar issues with your grip.

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

Leave a Comment

Comments (3)