Book Review: The Good Coxswain Guide


Sudbury Rowing Club  Good Coxswain Guide series

Before Christmas, we asked for volunteers to review the Good Coxswain Guide series of booklets.  Written by Andrew O'Brien they form a great library resource for anyone who coxes or who coaches coxswains.

Here are the first three book reviews and our grateful thanks to Sudbury Rowing Club and Vesta Rowing Club whose members took time out to write these.

They are now available for sale in the Shop as electronic e-books . Each one costs £6 or £65 for the full set with a free bonus Log Book to record progress.

My name is Ellie Adams (photographed above), I am 11 years old and I am a cox and sculler at Sudbury Rowing Club.  I have been asked to check out some of your coxing guidebooks by a member at the club.  I have read two or three of them and I think they are good, they give you lots of information and are very helpful, especially all the pictures and diagrams. I think that lots of coxes like me should use these books to improve their skills.  I also like the way the books are split into different categories, this is helpful at the club as it allows as to borrow different books at one time.  I thought that the 'log book' was a good idea to record all of your outings as a cox with different crews and boats; therefore you can know what to improve on next time you are out. I think Sudbury Rowing Club will find these books very useful and will use them often.
Thank you for letting me try these books out.
Ellie Adams
Sudbury Rowing Club – Junior Squad

Like many other clubs we have seen an increase in people wanting to learn to row over the last 12-18 months which has led to a growth in our junior and novice squads.  This has provided us a whole new audience to teach about the skills of coxing and has meant that as a club we have had to think again about how to train coxes.  
Having recently read 'The Good Coxswain' series of books I think they will be a positive step for us to helping find and nurture the potential in our new coxes.  The books are split into categories (1 – 12) so it is possible to focus on one element of coxing skills at a time.  Each book contains a guide detailing what is covered in that section, a glossary of terms (very important as sometimes we forget that we use a different language rowing!) and the informative text is accompanied by diagrams and pictures which help to explain the subject to all ages and experience levels.  The books also have tips and quotes from coxswains, rowers and coaches which help to make it more real to the reader.  These books are written in a way that explains things to those new to coxing, both junior and adult, but also contain tips and information that a more experienced cox can use as a refresher when they need it.
As a club we have recently trialled our own coxing course but we can now organise the content of the course to align with the categories of the. books to reinforce.  The fact that the books are in separate sections will also allow them the sections of interest to be 'borrowed' or used for a quick refresher whenever needed.
The final book (no. 12) in the series covers the difficult and sometimes overlooked area of how to coach the cox.  Coaches are used to coaching the rowers in the boat but when dealing with new and novice coxes the advice in here really focuses your mind on how to release the potential in your cox.
The 'log book' is such a simple idea I do wonder why we never thought of it ourselves but I think it is a good way of getting the cox more involved in their development and it will help document their coxing CV if we ever need to supply it (for coxing the tideway for example).
I also own 'The Down and Dirty Guide to Coxing' , which is another reference book I would recommend to coxes, but 'The Good Coxswain' series for me does have a distinct advantage for those of us in the UK as it uses the same terms as us (i.e. bowside and strokeside)!
Katherine Cass
Sudbury Rowing Club – Vice Captain, Learn to Row Coach   


I decided to start coxing in December 2008. Unlike most coxswains, I had no previous rowing experience, so starting out felt really quite intimidating. There is such a huge amount to try and learn. Once you have basic steering skills, there’s rowing language. When you know your bowside from strokeside, you need to start fine tuning calls, work on timing of calls, annunciation, sharpening your steering and all this whilst keeping your crew safe on the Tideway and trying to tweak their rowing technique.

The majority of my existing coxswain experience has come from learning ‘on the job’, talking to other coxes and listening to the after outing sum up. I desperately wanted as much reading material as I could get to help with rowing terms and basic skills. Whilst information is on the internet, it’s few and far between. So when I saw Rowperfect had started to stock books which were for coxes, my inner rowing geek jumped for joy.

The Good Coxswain Guide Books are designed to be a handy source of information. Their aim is to cover complete basics of coxing for novice coxes to simplified explanations of drills etc for senior coxes. The guide books are also a resource for coaches who would like direction on how to coach coxes. They come in booklet form so they can be easily used as a quick reference. Separated into 12 different sections, they address core coxing topics, without all the jargon.

For someone who is thinking about becoming a cox or has just started, these booklets are invaluable. They explain everything from getting the boat out of the boathouse/shed to what the different components in a boat are called and what they do. I certainly found the section on creating a race plan useful (booklet number 9) and I am always on the lookout for tips to improve my landings (as is my Bowman!). What I also thought was a good aspect, is the section on how you can still be useful and an integral part of the crew when land training. To quote the first booklet, ‘I knew how to do it, I just didn’t know why’ was exactly my attitude and these booklets explain the Hows, Whats, Wheres and Whys succinctly. Each booklet has a glossary section and then a summary to reinstate what you should’ve learned.

My only criticism is that, for coxes who have steered more races and outings than they’ve had hot meals (granted a bad analogy – we are after all – always trying to make weight!!), the booklets would be quite redundant. Certainly adding further booklets to the series which concentrate on more advanced topics would be a superb idea.

To summarise, I found the booklets useful and enjoyable to read. They simplify ‘rowing speak’ without being patronising and all booklets have diagrams and/or tables to explain things further. I’d recommend owning them and I’ll certainly continue glancing at them from time to time to brush up my knowledge.

Celeste Boruvka, Vesta Rowing Club Coxswain

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