It’s important to acquire a deep knowledge of your sport in order to acquire mastery and eventually become an expert. Here’s a video (transcript notes below) of Marcus McEllenney the US national mens 8 coxswain at 2008 Olympics explaining What makes a Good Coxswain.
Becoming a good coxswain – everything boils down to awareness. Most coxes think that if they go out every day they get better and they think learning to be a good cox is linear. This may be the case for rowers but it is not for coxswains.
Acquiring skills is important – but when you start off you only have a few skills – some are missing and our goal is that you get an improved skill set and become a stronger coxswain.
Awareness is the centre of your skill set.
Most coxswains are not a good “student of the sport” they are very passive about the sport of rowing.
There are things good coxswains do or do not do which improves their coxing skills.
If you just show up and sit in the cox’s seat you WON’T get better.
Take the proactive steps to have a good training session. e.g. do you check the traffic patterns for a new river or lake before going rowing there? do you know what boats will get rowed today?
When cox are you going to just react to everything or are you going to be the one setting the tone and setting the pace?
If you want to be a good coxswain you need to be a student of the sport.
Have you taken quizzes and prepared and studied for school or for exams? Do you take notes for each outing and use the resource when you need to refresh your knowledge? You should.
“My rowers think I’m way smarter than I am because I write down all my rowers’ personal bests, their weights, their splits. I come across knowing much more because I had my notes. I’m studying to become a better coxswain for this crew. The best coxes are students of the sport.”
The calls, the motivation for a crew are the EASY stuff.
A black belt means you are a master of the BASICS….. you aren’t the best karate karateka on the planet.
Elite coxswains have mastered the basics. they don’t hit things, they don’t make mistakes – that’s what a good cox is… you are never going to be told how good you are because of something you are doing right. It’s more about what you do WRONG that gets you deselected… if the coach can’t think of any mistakes you make, then you are a good coxswain.
You don’t need to be perfect – just don’t make mistakes by being a good student of the sport.
h/t to Kayleigh Durm for the video link
Coxing and Coaching Resources
- 10 Ways to Be a Great Coxswain – by Coxmate who make awesome amplification gear
- Coaching the Coxswain ebook by Chelsea Dommert – written for the coach who has never coxed. Read an extract.
- Resources for coxes including free beginner coxing advice from Andy Probert and How to Steer the Tideway