Coaching the Coxswain: A review by Phil Simmons


Phil Simmons, Head of Rowing at Kingston Grammar School, reviews ‘Coaching the coaching_the_cox_book_cover1.pngCoxswain’ by Chelsea Dommert.

As Chelsea says she has not written this book to offer “love praise and ginger snaps” she has written it to give those coaches an insight into the cox and why they make some of the frustrating mistakes we have all experienced. It should be added this is not a defence of the cox book or a moan from a cox that they “never coached and so what do you expect” rant but a useful tool to any coach who wants to learn more about ways to coach the cox from somebody who has been there. This book is an attempt to raise the standard of coaching coxes receive and therefore the standard of coxing. I think she succeeds.

Whilst many of Chelsea’s points seem obvious (and she is the first to point this out) you don’t have to travel far on any stretch of river to hear the comments from coaches she as a cox finds frustrating and often ambiguous. Chelsea has also recognised the varying terms across the Atlantic and includes a useful guide at the start to ensure all terms in the book clear. She clearly practices what she preaches!

Chelsea has split the coaching of the cox into three levels giving the approximate timescales she views as required The timescales are broad (3-10 weeks for level 1) but the number of training sessions per week has an obvious bearing on that. She has also included a section on preparing coxes for races

Each level finishes with a checklist of items for the coach to tick off after completion. This is a useful tool and means that the coach can be confident of having covered all the points and they can be checked before moving onto the next level. I’d recommend a regular review of these points as well, particularly with less experienced coxes.

Lastly as Chelsea says in the first line of the book, this is not a cox’s manual. This is a book for coaches. We are the ones that need to read it and act on it. In so doing you may recognise some of the errors you have made, and some of the things you get right!

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