Coxswains Can Learn to Teach Themselves

By Marcus McElhenney | January 1, 2012

Why do you think coxswains can learn to teach themselves?

Trial by fire.  That is how all coxswains learn.  There are few out there that are actually getting any coaching, let alone specific coxswain coaching.  We all know this, yet we as coxswains embrace the challenge anyway.  At an early age I realized this and set out to learn as much as possible.  I did this mostly by shadowing the coxswains around me.  Then when I was better than them, I followed the best athletes, then the best coaches.  I tried to learn as much as possible from those around me to better improve myself.  The results are clear and eventually led to an Olympic medal.  The downside is that it takes a lot of time to improve and there is a lot of unnecessary trial and error.  But what I did find out were ways to guarantee that I improved myself by paying attention to what is going on around me.

I was able to fine tune this idea more when I started coaching junior rowing.  Here I spent the time to teach my coxswains to teach themselves, plain and simple.  They knew they were not going to get the time and attention that the rowers were, and if they wanted to improve they had to take every opportunity to get better.  By showing them where these opportunities were and how to navigate them as quickly and efficiently as possible, my athletes quickly became some of the best coxswains in the country.  The proof came when one of my coxswains was recruited to a number of Ivy League Universities after only a couple seasons.

Inspired by the enthusiasm I saw around me in the coxswain community, I decided to try and help as many of these athletes as possible and decided to team up with Ryan Sparks at Sparks Consulting.  Here I have been able to work with coxswains all over the country and have seen their immediate and rapid improvements after being shown how to improve themselves.  They have proven to me that they can be taught to teach themselves to be the best coxswains in their high schools or universities.  That a novice walk on who we work with can become better then a 4 year veteran of the sport in only one season.  That a high school cox can get offered a scholarship even though they are too tall and too heavy, just because they know how to improve themselves.

The long and the short of it is simple.  I can do it because I already have.  I have done it myself and have shown many others the way.  Let me know if you would like to get better by taking the guess work out coxing.