Can you help us write about how to coach novice coxes?


We have been tracking the searches that lead readers onto our website.  And one of the common enquiries is

"How do I coach novice coxswains?"

Any readers who can help us write an article for the blog on this subject, please get in touch .

  • If you have a story to tell about a cox you knew / rowed with / coached.
  • If you have unsuccessfully coached (anonymity guarantted, if you choose!).
  • If you have successfully coached.
  • If you are a cox or former cox and can remember your first lessons in coxing.

The replies will be used to illustrate the techniques you suggest.

If you can help, either write a comment below this post or use the Rowperfect contact page to write a private email.

Thank you all.


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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Adrian Ellison

    Coaching novice coxes;
    I would suggest taking the cox out in the coaching launch for the first two or three sessions, and getting him/her to watch and listen to the coach and crew (and, if possible, listen to what an experienced cox is saying).
    Before getting into the racing-shell for the first time, the cox should be told and shown the basic commands to get the boat and crew safely from the boathouse onto the water – I found it really helpful to have a written crib-sheet to take home and learn all the commands I’d later be needing! It should be emphasized to the budding cox that his/her first and top priority is to look after the crew’s and equipment’s safety. Steering with the rudder should be as gentle and subtle as possible (so encourage plenty of thinking-ahead!) and any good performance should be noted and praised. An experienced stroke in the crew is invaluable in being able to talk to the cox, telling him/her what to say in response to whatever is going on in the boat – adding to and supporting the external coaching from the launch. The novice cox will probably experience a sensory overload, and will benefit most and quickest if the coach and crew agree to work on one particular skill first, even if it means sometimes ignoring other areas which could do with some attention. Steering the boat safely and accurately should be the first focus, whilst the cox listens to the coaching instructions and tries to absorb their meaning, relevance and application. The cox can, and should, be involved in this process – the coach or stroke can ask the cox, “That’s better, can you feel the difference?” When the crew has perfectly executed a drill or made a technical change as requested, the cox should again be told; “That’s better, that’s how it should feel.”
    Very slowly, the cox will gain experience, confidence and skill – it is just like learning to drive a car – the theory may be simple, but only practice makes perfect. As the cox starts to take command and control of the crew, it is important to his/her further development that the coaching from the crew and the coach should continue, positively where possible (“This is how you should say………..” or “This is how you should do ……….”) – but don’t be afraid of criticising mistakes and teaching how to avoid them in future. Oarsmen and women are criticised (by some coaches, anyway) almost constantly – the cox is part of the crew and should be subject to the same input – no tolerance of repeated mistakes, but lots of praise and encouragement for improvements.
    As an unfit, vertically-challenged youth, I immediately discovered an idyllic and unique position in coxing where I could boss around up to eight much bigger, stronger athletes, who would unquestioningly obey my every command, would not just allow, but actually encourage me to tell them what to do, immerse me in the crew brotherhood, buy me drinks, thank me for taking part in their training, and share their triumphs (and failures) with them. In my case, I can honestly say that getting involved in rowing as a cox has utterly changed and shaped every aspect of my life ever since! I’ve made lifelong friends, visited parts of the world that I would otherwise never have seen, had amazing successes (and a few major failures too!) and even had my fifteen minutes of fame – all thanks to someone at Reading University who wouldn’t take “No” for an answer until I agreed to cox his novice VIII. I wouldn’t even have met my wife if I hadn’t taken those first steps, and been lucky to have had so much encouragement – and maybe a bit of luck – since then.

  2. rebecca

    Adrian, thank you so much for a really detailed answer to our question.

    For readers who don’t know him, Adrian coxed Steve Redgrave to his first Olympic Gold in LA 1984 and, as such,knows a lot about coxing! I was also privileged to have him steer my Tideway Scullers School eight in the Womens Eights Head 1999 (we did quite well).

    I particularly like your last paragraph. Any crew or coach should think about themselves in this role – do I/we thank our coxswains, buy them drinks etc?

    Rebecca Caroe

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