Even when you’re not on the water, coxes can do a lot to make their crew go faster. 2016 Olympic gold medal-winning cox Phelan Hill explains
Winter training can be one of the most challenging times for coxes. Large volumes of land training can make you feel like a spare wheel as you stand on the side watching your crew on the rowing machines.
So how can you feel part of the team when everyone is training on the ergo?
Land training is an important part of any rower’s training because it lays the foundations of race fitness. As a cox don’t shy away in the background or, even worse, view this period as ‘time off’.
Phelan’s top tips
- Attend as many of the land training sessions as possible.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t understand, ask the coach why he is doing a particular weights exercise.
- Use it as a great opportunity to learn about the training programme and understand what the coaches are looking to achieve.
- Look to bring the land training goals into boat work. For example, if your coach is emphasising leg work in the gym, then bring that out on the water by emphasising the leg push to the rowers.
- By attending ergo sessions you can learn about your rowers, see their faults and even look to coach and motivate them on the ergo.
- Remember that any fault on the ergo is likely to be replicated in the boat. So when you do finally get on the water you can remind the rower of the ergo session when you coached them, for example… “James, remember what we talked about on the ergo, let’s really ensure that we’re not opening our backs over the next 1k.”
- Be helpful! Recording your crew ergo scores is a great way of getting involved and also learning how your crew is performing. You will get an idea of who is going strong, who is still building up and who may need some help and support. Your coaches will also appreciate you helping with their workload too!
If your crew has a 2km test day coming up, why not use it as an excuse to get on the rowing machine yourself and set your own time? After you’ve done the piece have a think about how you felt, what you were thinking, how much you could take in and what support you would have liked.
There’s always something to be doing as a cox and your crew will appreciate your support through the long winter months.
Photo credit: Simon Way.