Effective Coxing Without Coaching

By Marcus McElhenney | January 4, 2012

The number one problem that coxswains face is that they never receive any coaching. And in the rare case that a coxswain is at a program where they receive a little coaching, it is only in the form of being told what to or not to do. I have yet to meet a coxswain attending a program who is actually told how to do something. This is the major hurdle that we all face as coxswains.

So how do we improve as coxswains if we never receive any instruction on how to improve? Simple, we become our own coaches. This is a simple concept but something that very few coxswains are willing to follow through with. The first part of making any change is being diligent and keeping track of any attempts in trying to improve. This means keeping a log. It is the easiest and simplest way of keeping track of your improvement, or lack of them. The second part is trying something new. This is the hard part, as so many coxswains are afraid to step out of their comfort zone. But this is something that we need to do in order to change and improve. I learned this from my high school coach when he would encourage me to “reinvent” myself regularly. I would try steering a different way, or a new call. I would listen to my coaches and athletes to see what calls that used to liked. Then I would put them into my own words.

I would then try the new item I was working on and keep a detailed description on how my crews responded to the change. I would regularly revisit this new call/method to see if I could enhance its effectiveness. If I could, it would stay and become a more regular thing. If not, it would get dropped.

So every day I would be trying new things. We can work on our coxing whether we are doing steady state, drills, taking out the novices, racing…whatever. We learn the how by trying out new things that we have never done before. You will see a whole realm of combinations and possibilities on how to improve if you are ready to step out of the comfort zone. If you have any questions…just let me know.