Be Prepared and the Best Cox Possible – A Coach’s Perspective


Future Coxswain

Well, the head races are on and the cox in these boat finds himself in challenging positions: Motivating the team. And coxing the crew for more than 25 minutes. Important enough to remind you on a few things 

The Basics in Coxing:

  • When in doubt, WEIGH ENOUGH, RUDER HALT, EASY OAR!!! I can’t stress the importance of this. If you think you might hit something, don’t risk it. Just stop! Your coach would rather you stop in the middle of a workout than damage the equipment.
  • Never act like you’re above your rowers. Power trips and excessive bossiness are guaranteed ways to lose the respect of your teammates,
  • Leave your personal life out of practice/on land. Practice is not the time for gossip. It is also not the time to fight with your teammates. You aren’t going to love everyone, but you need to learn how to put your feelings aside and work towards a common goal: getting faster and winning races.
  • If you want the respect of your teammates, you have to earn it. This means coming to practice prepared, not messing around in the boat, and running drills and workouts smoothly and efficiently. I’ll elaborate more on this in the “In the Boat” section below.

Coming to Practice. Prepared with the right sports gear

  • Dress Appropriately-there is nothing worse than being freezing cold/soaking wet/burning up during practice. Always dress like it’s 10-15 degrees colder than it really is.  If your team has survival suits for coxswains, USE THEM. If not, you will have to master the art of layering.  I’d recommend wearing several pairs of socks and heavy boots on colder days (I wore two pairs of socks and Uggs when I was in college). You should also invest in a waterproof/windproof jacket and waterproof pants. Both, Pants and Life Jackets are in the Rowperfect shop. Have a look. The VIVO 100 is very good for coxing. The pants aren’t the sexiest article of clothing, but when it’s cold and raining you’ll be glad your butt isn’t soaked. You should also ALWAYS wear a hat. When I coxed on cold days I would wear my HeadSweats hat underneath a big goofy hat with earflaps. I looked ridiculous, but it did the job!
Dexshell Ladies Pink Beanie Gradient
Dexshell Ladies Pink Beanie Gradient
  • Sports Gear: Hats and Sunglasses are a MUST. You need to be able to see where you’re going and what obstacles/debris might be in your way, so I’d recommend having a hat and sunglasses with you in the boat at all times. For morning practice I’d usually just wear the hat and put the shades on when the sun came up. I also highly recommend wearing a hat when it’s raining, as the brim will keep raindrops out of your face and eyes. There is always a lot of glare on the water (even when it’s overcast), so polarized sunglasses are the best (polarization eliminates glare-it does the squinting for you). How about our Winter Beanie: Waterproof and Warm.
  • Always have the essentials with you in the boat. This includes any tools you might need (wrenches, adjustable wrench, Vespoli coxswain tool), extra spacers or hardware, bandaids, tape (for blisters), and sunscreen. I also recommend my coxswains bring a small notebook and a pencil (pencil won’t run when it gets wet like ink will) to practice so they can write down drills and workouts, along with any notes I may have for them. On teams where lineups change daily, you might find it helpful to write down the names of the people in your boat. I also like to bring chapstick or gum with me in the boat in case my lips/mouth get dry…it’s a pet peeve of mine.
  • Know the drills and workouts before you get in the boat. When I was in college my coach used to send out a calendar of the workouts for the entire month. I made sure to know the workouts before I got to practice so I could ask questions before we got on the water. If your coach does this, USE IT! If not, write down the workout somewhere before you get on the water and make sure you understand exactly what will be expected of you and your rowers. Your coach would rather answer questions on land than waste water time trying to explain something.

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Ben

    You might want to check the beginning of this article for grammar and spelling. Also, it’s a little amusing that you’re telling coxes to put on weight (“weigh enough” is not what British coxes say, it’s usually “hold it up” or “easy there/oars”) (-:

    1. Tom Wall

      Yes you are right. And there is always confusion of britisch and american commands. Thanks for your comment

  2. Andrew Dennis

    I’d love to know what “rudder halt” is? Is that rowers shouting at the coxes for being a “snake wake”? 🙂

    Great article thanks.

    1. Tom Wall

      Hi Andrew,

      the German speaking countries are using the phrase :Ruder Halt” as easy oar. A direct translation would mean: Stop your Oar.

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