Q: What is the job of a coxswain?
A: Everyone thinks the coxswain sits in the stern and constantly says “row,” or “stroke.” Wrong! The job of a coxswain is far more complex. They drive the boat, keeping the crew safe and giving them a great chance to win. Coxswains encourage and focus the crew, making sure rowers work together. Coxswains direct the crew on land in moving boats and in most other activities. They are also coaches, correcting the rowing technique of their crew in practices and at races to help them get better with every stroke. When a boat is ready to work, the coxswain’s in charge.
Q: What makes for a good coxswain?
A: Coxswains are light. They must be light so their rowers don’t pull excess weight around the river. Coxswains are leaders. They have the motivation, confidence, and commitment to make their crews work hard and focus on rowing well in any circumstance. Coxswains are smart and focused. You can’t coach the technique or drive a great race if you don’t understand how it’s done. Some workouts/drills are complex. Coxswains run those drills so the coach doesn’t have to. And coxswains are athletes. Athletes respect athletes, so coxswains at Granby must earn the respect of their rowers by being athletes themselves.
Q: What equipment is needed for coxing?
A: Here’s a list of what you should have as a competitive coxswain. Not all items are absolutely necessary, and in those cases, alternatives are suggested.
- Running shoes – We do plenty of running. Good shoes prevent injury.
- A watch – Racing is all about time. So is practice. A coxswain must time races and workouts. You need a watch with a timer.
- Warm clothes – If the water’s good enough, we’ll go out when it’s really cold. Some teams row in the snow. Coxswains get much colder than rowers. Baggy clothes are fine for the coxswain, so layers are ideal. We’ve got some extra clothes at the boathouse if needed.
- Watch Cap – Most body heat is lost through the head. If you want to keep warm, the simplest way is a good hat.
- Sun Glasses – Sunlight damages eyes just like it damages skin. Get a cheap pair that protects from UVA/UVB rays.
Q: Do coxswains get to row? Do rowers get to cox?
A: Of course, you can do both. The jobs are not mutually exclusive. Granby Crew has had a long line of students who did both, including several state champions. If you’re good at a job, then we’ll let you do it. In fact, doing both jobs helps you understand what is required of both positions. Every coxswain should row, and understand how to move boats.