How do you as a coxswain help your rowers when they are erging in the winter?
You can help them in a couple different ways but the most important thing you should do first is talk with the rowers and find out if they want to be coxed when they’re doing pieces. Erging is a personal battle of sorts that most rowers use as a way to test, work on, and improve their mental toughness and it can be tough to get in that zone if you’ve got someone randomly (or constantly) talking in your ear. If someone says “don’t cox me” respect that and leave them alone. Some people do need that encouragement (or ass kicking) during pieces though so if someone asks you to cox them through a 5k or something, talk it out with them ahead of time so you know what and when they want/need you to say something. This also applies for when you’re doing drills/technique work – some rowers would rather you save any comments or feedback until the “off” strokes or when the piece is over, that way they can stay completely focused on whatever they’re doing.
In that vein, if you’re doing technical workouts then you can also be another set of eyes for the coach (making calls as necessary for technique issues) and help keep the rowers focused on whatever the goal(s) is/are for that day. One thing I’d recommend though regarding pointing out technique things to the rowers is that you should talk it through with an experienced coxswain (if you aren’t one already) and/or the coach before you say anything, that way they can be sure that you understand it yourself and can communicate it to the rowers in a way that they’ll understand it.
Those are the two main things you can do to help the rowers in the winter but for the most part, the coxswain’s role is largely an ambiguous one (which I’ve talked about in the two posts linked above) because there’s not really much for you to do unless the coach gives you specific tasks, such as running workouts or something. There are plenty of things you can do for yourself during the winter (see the previous two links) so don’t feel like you have to be all up in the rowers faces when they’re erging just to make yourself feel like you’re being productive. That will, to be honest, just irritate them and won’t help you get better as a coxswain.