Quickest way to improve your coxing

By Emily Coffman
One of the most common beginner mistake in the coxing world is believing that the only way to improve coxing is in fact by coxing a boat.

You Tube videos of the rowing stroke
You Tube videos of the rowing stroke

I know that might seem logical but over the years I have found some of my biggest “ah- ha” coxing improvements have been made on land. These three techniques have helped me advance my coxing so whether you’re looking for that extra step to beat out the top coxswain or just looking for another way to practice during the winter months I’d give these techniques a try.

1. Listen to your recordings

Go back to your old recordings. Maybe you’ve recorded yourself and hated the way it sounded or maybe you’ve recorded yourself and never played it back (or maybe you haven’t recorded yourself before and in this case start NOW!) but either way chances are you’ve never analyzed yourself before. Listen through and write down everything you say. I mean everything, including any sounds or filler words you say.

Then as you go back through take note of any patterns you notice. Do you say “and” before most commands? Do you use mostly references to body swing? Neither is necessarily bad but at what point do you get sick of yourself saying these things? By getting to know your own coxing better you can critique yourself before your rowers do it for you.

2. Listen to other recordings

Now that you’ve analyzed your own coxing style you can move onto listening to others. By listening to others you can pick up on their patterns and phrases and see how they compare to your own. It might sound simple but when you call “power off the footboard” for the millionth time in one race and you no longer get a response what do you call then? Listen to these recordings and see what calls they use and you can slowly merge them into your vocabulary.

3. Watch footage of a rowing stroke

Now I know you can do plenty of this during practice but here’s a way to use the most out of your time by watching at home. Find footage of the rowing stroke, on youtube and I’m sure you’ll find hundreds. As you watch, chose one rower, one technique problem they could fix, and focus on it.

If you were their coxswain what call would you say to make a change? Write it down. Then come up with at least two other ways to correct the same mistake and write them down as well.

By coming up with multiple solutions OFF the water, when the problem arises on the water theres less thinking you have to do on the spot. Everyone wants to make their job easier and this process is the best cheat-cheat of all.
Try these techniques out and let me know how they worked for you. Have any other suggestions? I’d love to hear those too. Feel free to email me at emilyjcoffman@gmail.com

Emily is a Division I University coxswain in the United States

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