Coxing is an exciting and unique position in athletics. Unlike most positions in sport, coxing is mostly non-physical. Historically, the role of a coxswain was to steer the boat and to command the rowers to start rowing, stop rowing, or adjust as necessary. As the sport has developed, so, too, has the role of the coxswain. Nowadays, good coxswains combine elements of steering, race strategy, technical coaching, and motivation to help their crews reach their potential. Coxswains do not physically row the boat, but they contribute to its speed by providing leadership and direction to their rowers. They are also often relied upon to know or organize such things as race times, course flow patterns, or rigging. Many people refer to coxswains as the “coach within the boat”. This may be so, but it is important to recognize that coxswains are really part of the crew. They require practice and coaching, and should be given the same support that rowers receive. Fundamentally, a coxswain’s role is to make it as easy as possible for his or her rowers to perform their best. When making a decision, saying a call, or steering the boat, the coxswain should always ask: “Will this make the crew better or faster?” If it will, then it’s the right thing to do.
Want to be a coxswain? EBR offers coxswain clinics. Contact Deb@eastbayrowing.org for more information.