Coxswains: How to Develop Every Practice

By Marcus McElhenney | January 2, 2012

Notice how the subject line of this Blog has the word practice in it?  It is there for a reason.  Coxswain after coxswain complain about how they want to get better but are not getting any attention from their rowers or coaches.  Well, are you practicing every day?  If you are in a boat, then the tools are there for you to improve yourself.  There is a lot going on each and every practice and knowing how to harness the knowledge and have the proper awareness of what is going on around you is the tool to succeed.

If you want to get better…it starts with practice.  Before we even begin, what kind of preparation have you done for practice?  Rowers need to eat and sleep right to prepare.  Are you doing what you need to be able to perform each and every day?  Have you prepared your calls, drills and focuses?  Then we can talk about the actual practice secession.  The rowers are using their tools around them to get better.  They are pulling on the oar, and pushing on the foot boards.  They feel the boat and listen to their coach.  They feel the athlete in front and behind them.  They take it all in and process it very carefully as to make sure they are making the requisite improvements.  As a coxswain, what are you doing?  Are you feeling the boat to see how it is moving?  Are you practicing your steering to make sure you are going razor straight?  Do you even know how to do these things?  What about listening to what is being said around you and how that affects the boat?

Chances are, no.  Most coxswains just jump into a boat and go along for the ride like a sack of Twinkies.  Some try to observe what is going on around them, but are always a step behind because they are not prepared for what is happening.  Many space out for periods at a time or just do not say or try anything new the whole practice.  They expect that they will get better when racing and will be good race coxswains.  This could not be further from the truth.  If you want to be a good race coxswain, you have to practice like one.

Basically how are you, as a coxswain, practicing and training every day?  When coaches talk about giving it your all everyday…they are talking to you too.