Role of the Coxswain


One of the highly debated subjects of the role of the coxswain within the crew is what is the purpose of a coxswain?

We discovered this blog, talking about the coxswains’s role in a boat. Very debatable.

From an outside perspective a coxswain is described as the “cheerleader within the boat.” They’re equipped with a microphone and speakers to dictate motivation to the crew during races. Another role people describe is steering the boat; either sitting at the front or the back and steering the boat since all the rowers are facing the opposite direction.

While we know some of this to be true, and some of it to be false, and along with many other responsibilites that comes with the title coxswain; the main purpose for a coxswain is to make everyone else’s life easier.

I know I just simplified everything we do into one sentence but it’s the truth that so many of us often forget. As you get up to higher levels of rowing and rowers are getting more experience in small boats, the ugly truth is that they are perfectly capable of steering a boat without us. They can also motivation themselves, run drills themselves, and PR all without us.

The role of the coxswain: steering only?

This week I got the pleasure of coxing for a visually disabled mixed four. Even with their disability they row in blind boats (not intended to be punny, just boats without a cox) and earlier this year rowed a double in the Head of the Charles without even being able to see the course. When I got asked to cox them I was really nervous since I had no idea what they were going to be expecting of me. But they weren’t looking for me to give them magical motivation or technique calls that were going to fix all the boats problems. They were just looking for someone to steer, run the workouts, and communicate with the coach — someone who would make their practice easier.

Don’t get me wrong, the role of the coxswain is important. Coxswains are a huge part of the boat. From fixing technique to giving that extra push during a workout, coxswains DO have an impact within the boat. But what I’m saying is that when you do these “extra” things and forget why you’re there, thats when you’ll be running into issues. All too often people forget their role and whether it’s getting too into the piece and forgetting about your course or not following the coaches instructions, that’s when you’re making it harder on your rowers.

Rowing is hard enough as it is, lets not make it even harder on ourselves by going off target and forgetting the basics.

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