Coxing from a 14 year old’s perspective


Jaedon Peters is 14 years old and is currently cox of the Guildford Grammar School 2nd VIII, he is in his second season of coxing. Guildford Grammar School is located in Perth, Western Australia and is one of the leading rowing Schools.. The article was an English task in which the boys were asked to explain something they knew well to someone who knew nothing of their activity


By Jaedon Peters or every time you want to row, there is the need to have a coxen – from here on known as a ‘cox’. Many other occasions require you to be a cox. But how do you become a cox? This is a dilemma, but I shall not answer it here. Let us assume that you are the one called to become the leader of a crew and sit in the cox’s seat. Our immediate problem then is to determine how to do it.

All rowers can recall a cox that doesn’t know the slightest thing he or she’s doing. Some may take pity or choose to ignore them. Would it not be wrong to give them special treatment? Now looking at the situation in this frame of mind, I submit what I think is a complete solution. My solution will turn you into an elite cox and I shall present it analytically as, “the eight steps to coxing.”

  • One – respect your coach.
  • Two – know your crew.
  • Three – keep organised.
  • Four – know your calls.
  • Five – steering, steering, steering!
  • Six – feedback loop.
  • Seven – keep calm.
  • Eight – motivation!

There, that is all to it. It sounds too simple but that is the fault of my solution. The novice should be warned that these steps are not easy the first time and require attention.

One – respect your coach.

This phrase sounds simple but it’s not just greeting him or her. The relationship between the coach and cox is an important one especially during coxing. Firstly, you need to make an impression by respecting for their every need and see to it that the task is completed. If your coach wants you to do a drill with the crew, do it! This also means respecting other coaches as well.

Two – know your crew.

Knowing your crew is a tool that becomes useful as you move up into senior crews. This implies that you create a strong mateship with your fellow crewmates. If you respect them, they will respect you – as simple as that. A way you can gain their trust and respect is through your coxing. The way you steer, motivate, keep calm, give calls and helpful feedback all factor into this simple equation.

Three – keep organised.

One of the most important things in the shed is organisation. If you are not organised before heading out on the water, it leaves a lasting impression on your crew and coach. Don’t worry, keeping organised is easy – if you know what to do. These things may include: getting your crew to get the oars down, dingy and boat while you fill the water bottles, grabbing your cox box and – if your coach desires – your speed coach. You may not get this the first time but like I said in the beginning, these steps require attention.

Four – know your calls.

This applies as much to me as it does to the next cox. Your calls matter. It may be daunting the first time you try to make sure that you are clear and keep your focus. In the boat, the cox is the leader. Therefore, you should show confidence every time you’re out on the water. A cox that knows his calls is one that is attentive in what he’s doing. This grows bonds between the rowers and cox.

Five – steering, steering, steering!

Other than everything else coxes have to do, one job is more important than everything else I’ve told you. Steering is the very reason why we even have coxes. I can’t go a session without touching the steering. It’s the one thing that is key for successful coxing. Good steering requires the cox’s attention to the river or body of water they are rowing on. Make sure that you get to feel for the boat’s steering.

Six – the feedback loop.

As it suggests, this step incurs a steady flow of feedback from cox to rower and coach to cox. Never stay silent unless analysing rowers technique or otherwise told to do so. In other circumstances like racing, giving feedback sometimes becomes priority next to steering because most races are straight and then feedback becomes more important. Now you may be thinking that this subject implies opening your mouth and subjecting your crew to meaningless banter. No. Feedback needs to be thoughtful and should mean something to your crew. This is only one of the staples of being a good cox.

Seven – keep calm.

Keeping calm for a cox can be hard at times but this isn’t the easiest of steps. The following requires the cox has to maintain a relaxed or calm state of mind even in the face of danger or stressful times. Accomplishing this is only the start maintaining it is where the challenge really begins. One thing I suggest is not raise your voice as much, keep to a talk. If you find yourself in grief or in danger just tell your crew to ease the oar and check the boat – which means stop in cox speak. Beware there are hidden dangers in this as being completely calm may result in a total loss of concentration which is destined for trouble.

Eight – motivation.

Being a good motivator is a job that can’t be overseen because in certain situations this may be the difference to winning and losing so pay attention. Like many other of my steps it’s not opening your mouth, it needs to be meaningful and thought out. For example use something that your crew can relate to. Some examples include: the school you’re racing for, their parents, the spectators or even the coach. Basically anything can be good motivation, if only your crew can understand and respond to it but never say something that shows your immaturity as it can demoralise your crew.

If you can follow these steps, victory awaits you…

Happy coxing!


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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Andrew Verney

    Hello Jaedon,
    Since this exercise is for English, in school, it might be important to spell ‘coxwain’ correctly – rather than ‘coxen’.

    Otherwise – taking into account that you are only in your 2nd year of coxing, your comments are very informative & intuitive – not to mention correct. As you say, it is intended to describe what you do to the ‘uninformed’.

    To my mind, you succeeded. I hope a lot of school & club coxes read, and heed, your words. ( in my experience, perhaps ‘steering’ might warrant two mentions ! )

    All the best with your coxing,

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