#Diary Of A Rowing Coach

Rowing coaches of the world, unite!

Anonymous asked: So I've been really busy lately and I've been debating whether I should continue coxing or not. I'm unable to cox in the fall due to other activities and I feel so out of the loop (for lack of a better phrase). I feel like all the other coxswains improve so much over fall and then I end up in the last boat. When I return, I feel like the rowers don't even respect me. I feel like I should quit but I don't want to quit and then wonder what would happen if I just stuck it out. Please help!

Your observations are probably 100% correct: rowers and coxswains will always feel a little hostile towards people who aren’t also dedicating themselves to rowing 24/7. Coxswains DO improve a lot over the fall, as head races are often referred to as “coxswains’ races” due to the amount of precision steering and marathon motivation that goes on in them. 

As for being in the last boat and losing the respect of rowers, you’re right about both of those as well. Unless you are some sort of coxing genius, you will almost always be in the last boat, if for no other reason than you spent the least amount of time at practice and your coach isn’t comfortable with your level of competency. The same goes for the rowers: they’ve been working their asses off for months and you took time off only to come back expecting them to respect you like you’ve been in the trenches with them the whole time. 

Unfortunately the only way to eliminate this problem is to re-evaluate your priorities. By not coxing all year round, you are sending a clear message to your coach and teammates that they are not your priority. If you love the sport, you might want to rethink your fall activities and dedicate yourself the way everyone else has. I don’t think quitting is a good idea, but if you intend to keep splitting your time you have to be prepared for the consequences. 

Anonymous asked: I want to start rowing and aspire to be a coxswain. Because of my size (5 feet tall), I was wondering if I could start out coxswaining or if I needed to physically row and if so, for how long.

Okay first things first: it’s COXING. 

Given your size you can probably skip the learn to row part, BUT with that being said, I think the best coxswains are those who know how to row and who can relate to their rowers. Understanding the mechanics of the stroke will help you make better technical calls, and understanding how much pain your rowers are in during the 3rd 500 will help you motivate them more effectively. I rowed for a year before I started coxing and by the time I switched to a forward-facing seat I knew exactly what I did and did not like hearing in the boat (just a hint: absolutely, positively, DO NOT spend an entire piece counting out tens. You’ll have a mutiny on your hands by the end of practice). 

All programs are different, and therefore I can’t tell you how long you should row before you switch to coxing. I’d recommend talking to your coach and explaining that you ultimately want to end up in the coxswain seat (at 5 feet tall they’ll almost certainly put you there anyway) but that you also want to learn how to row because you think it will make you a better coxswain. Your coach will appreciate your motivation and he/she will see you as a valuable asset to the team. 

Be sure to check out my Coxswain Tips page before you get in the boat, as it’ll give you an idea of what your responsibilities will be. Good luck! 

Anonymous asked: I am a rower but I think I am too short to row in college so I considering coxing in college instead. Do you think this is a good idea?

Height isn’t everything. If you’re 5’5” and can absolutely crank on it you’re just as likely to make a good boat as someone 6 inches taller. If you’re on the slower end of the team, coxing might be a better idea. Just make sure you get some time in the coxswain seat before you go…your college coach will be unlikely to boat you if he/she has to start from scratch, and depending on the school you will almost definitely have competition for the seat in the top boat. Good luck!

…in bed. Um…okay…sweet, I guess. Wtf kind of fortune is this?

…in bed. Um…okay…sweet, I guess. Wtf kind of fortune is this?

Anonymous asked: I'm a girl, 5'11, freshman. I didn't row in the fall (I swam, have been swimming for 6 years) but my team just finished pre-winter training and my coach says stuff like "you're looking good especially for a new rower" and "impressive". My team is highly competitive and I'm worried I won't make the team in the spring. What do you think is a good score for a 2k for a novice trying to get on a nationally ranked team? I'm so scared that quitting swimming was a big mistake.

You’re 5’11” as a freshman. Unless you’re horribly uncoordinated (which I don’t think you are if you swim) or horribly lazy and out of shape (which I don’t think you are if you swim) you’ll probably be one of the best people on the team. I’d say anything under 8 minutes will be more than acceptable to a novice coach, and even if you can’t hit those numbers right from the start I’m sure you won’t have any problem in the future because YOU’RE 5’11” AS A FRESHMAN. 

Anonymous asked: You should create an instagram and post one tip everyday type thing. I am reading your tips right now and they are so helpful! Thanks so much

I thought about doing that, but I’d rather clutter my followers’ feeds with awkward pictures of myself as a child and pictures of my ferrets doing weird/cute shit. 

If you’re into that kind of thing, follow me @sginolfi

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