Winter Rowing in the Snow outdoors

Winter training tips for Coxswains and Coaches

So it’s getting colder and darker here in the Southern Hemisphere and we can’t get onto the water as often so indoor training is the norm.

What can the Coxswain do?

Coxmate has researched a bundle of tips for you.  

The Ready All Row blog advises improving your coaching skill.  Can you spot when athlete are making technical faults?  Not just when on the rowing machine, also when lifting weights, doing body circuits or running.  Fine-tune your calling while the crew are on the rowing machines.  The great part of this is that you can focus wholly on the calls and don’t need to worry about steering.  So get the tone, timing and delivery perfect. 

The coxswain who is a coach, Yasmin Farooq of Stamford, advocates getting coxes to run the training sessions on land in the winter in this article.  And she has some great advice on how to improve your calling style including

  • This is a great time to ensure you’re doing a solid job of calling “transitions” efficiently. When changing ratings and intensities, make sure you’re consistent in your building calls and lengthening calls. Are the transition calls you’re using ones that can easily be used during racing? Keep these simple and clean.
  • Make sure your calls support the technical direction of the coach. Reinforce those calls with “Rhythmspeak.” If the coach tells the team s/he wants quicker leg drive for example, make sure you call “legs!” right when the legs go down. Also, take this time to get creative with your calls. Look for themes and mental imagery that the crew can use and that specifically support what your coach is teaching. “Knees down,” “Press,” “Jump,” “Push,” and “Blast off!” are some other leg drive calls that come to mind. Rhythmspeak calls should also reflect the intensity and stroke rate that you’re using at the time.

Third bit of advice is in regard to coaching on the ergo from the Believers in the Stern blog

  • The wise coach creates a role for the coxswain during the erg practices – in fact you can use it as part of your coxswain selection criteria.
  • Many rowers do not want to be coxed on the erg (and may threaten to punch your head in if you try). Erging can be a very personal battle of self against machine with no room for a third person; you don't want to get between that particular hammer and anvil.
  • However, a few rowers find being coxed helpful under certain circumstances. Let your rowers know you are glad to cox erg pieces for them as a service on request, but do not force it. Some rowers prefer to be coxed by other rowers. If one of your rowers does request it, talk through the piece ahead of time so that you know exactly what is wanted. Be wary of trying to cox technique on the erg unless you are very sure you know exactly what you are doing; mistaken advice can lead to bad habits. That said, reminders of slide control are usually helpful because the mechanics of the erg tempt slide rush even in people who otherwise would never do it.

Mary Whipple’s 9th Seat blog advises you to be very knowledgable about the goals of the ergo workout and not to be afraid of joining in on the machines if you aren’t needed in another role.  Doing the workout yourself builds respect from the crew. 

  • Know the workout and what the goal of the workout is
  • Learn the rowers who want to receive encouragement and those who do not
  • Learn how to set the drag factor on an erg, how to set the monitor for the workout, how to recall the memory to record the workout
  • Know how your coach wants you to record the scores, know if you need to record the average split, time, meters, heart rate or wattage
  •  If there are too many coxswains to record then don’t be afraid to jump right in for the workout

Lastly if you’re feeling in need of a good read

How to survive Winter Training for Rowers and for Coxswains.