Commands - talking to your crew

One of the most important roles as a cox is communication. It is essential when giving commands to your crew that they firstly know what you expect them to do and secondly when you want them to start. These are most of the commands used by crews in Cambridge and by KCBC coxes:

Stopping/Caution:

Most of these commands you can give just to some of the rowers, such as stroke side, or bow four, so you might say 'take the run off, bow four', or 'hold it up, stroke side'.

Manoeuvring:

Add onto the end who you want to do it - such as 'TAP IT BOW' or 'BACK IT DOWN STERN PAIR THREE STROKES'

Spinning the boat:

First stop where it is safe to spin (turn the boat around), and wait for it to become clear. Then tell the crew the following: (for an anti-clockwise spin, which is the normal way on the Cam)

'SPINNING THE BOAT, STROKE SIDE BACKING IT DOWN, BOW SIDE ROWING ON, STARTING WITH STROKE/BOW SIDE, GO' Different lengths of stroke:

Different pressures: (ie how hard the rowers are pulling) To make sure each rower knows when to change the length or pressure, as everyone must change together, the following command is recommended:

'NEXT STROKE, HALF SLIDE' (To be said over one stroke)
'GO' (To be said at the finish of the next stroke)

Or for example:

'NEXT STROKE FIRM PRESSURE FOR 10 STROKES'
'GO' (Said on the finish of the stroke)

When your crew is switched on and concentrating you can usually get rid of the 'next stroke' bit, which makes commands quicker. There's nothing more frustrating as a coach that telling the cox to do something, and the cox taking about 10 strokes to do so.

As an added complication, everything can be done either square blades or feathered blades. This refers to the angle of the blades when they are out of the water. Square means the same as when they are in the water - ie perpendicular to the water. Feathered means that when you take the blade out of the water you feather it - turn it parallel to the water. Then when approaching the catch you square the blade - turn it back perpendicular to the water. Most rowing is done with feathered blades, and square blades is used as an exercise. When changing between the two methods, use the same method given above, but say the 'GO' on the catch of the stroke, rather than the finish.

When starting the crew from rest you need to tell them the following:

So you might say:

'ALL EIGHT, FROM BACKSTOPS, NORMAL LIGHT, ARE YOU READY?, GO!'

or

'STERN FOUR SIT THE BOAT, BOW FOUR FROM BACKSTOPS, BACKSTOP PADDLING NO BODY LEAN, ARE YOU READY?, GO!'