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A review of Chelsea Dommert’s ‘Coaching the Coxswain’ by Chris Kerber

Chris Kerber, Head Coach of Men’s Lightweight Rowing at Cornell University, reviews Coaching the Coxswain: a guide for a … read more

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Chris Kerber, Head Coach of Men’s Lightweight Rowing at Cornell University, reviews Coaching the Coxswain: a guide for a Rowing Coach who Never Coxed.

As coaches we spend a majority of our on and off water time perfecting the athlete behind the oar through condition programs, stroke technique and race day savvy.  We also spend a good amount of time preparing the coxswain to help orchestrate on-water practices, training sessions and race execution.  As coaches we also seek the many resources available to us that can help us coach and build the coxswains acumen.   Chelsea Dommert’s  65+ page comprehensive ‘how to’ guide provides a single destination for coaches of coxswains.  It explicitly details a coxswain’s basic job descriptions, terminology, safety and how to effectively assure the teaching/learning process is working.

Coaching the Coxswain is highlighted by a three part, easy to follow training guide that takes you from the first day your novice coxswain enters the boathouse to the essential race day execution.  There are multitudes of ‘in between’ areas covered by Chelsea that may seem obvious to the rowing coach who has rowed but never coxed.  Chelsea leaves no stone unturned, building a foundation of skills and non explicit tasks that can truly develop a coxswain’s craft and how to steer around poor coxswain-ing habit and qualities.

What’s most compelling about Chelsea’s mastery of the subject matter and her unique perspective is her ability to communicate the content to the coach and cox audience. For instance on steering,

Tell your coxswain that she has to be patient after she applies steering. The shell does not turn right away.  It takes about one and a half strokes for the steering to take full effect.  If you [coach] don’t tell her this, she’ll think a small amount of steering was inefficient and she’ll steer more.

I recommend this read for coaches and coxswains alike – for the coach who wants an additional resource to build the cox training tool kit in your program and for the committed coxswain who is eager to develop and go beyond tasks assigned to enhance your own program.  These essentials will help you build enhanced communication, expectations and leadership skills.  After reading Chelsea’s Coaching the Coxswain you’ll be a better coach and your coxswains will be in a better place to succeed!

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