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Coxswain Tips: Listen and Count at the Same Time

Coxswain Tips: Listen and Count at the Same Time

Question: When I’m counting out strokes for a drill, I often lose track of which stroke we’re on, especially if the coach is talking. I know that what the coach is saying is important, but I don’t want to mess up the drill. How can I listen and count at the same time?

There is a stroke counter at the top right of your CoxBox screen. If you’re starting the drill from a standstill, press and hold the stop/start button (the big one) to reset the clock and counter before you direct your rowers to begin rowing. Quickly glance at the counter during the drill to know when to make your calls.

If you’re starting the drill “on the fly,” you can still get the counter to start from zero at the right time. Press and hold the stop/start button to reset the clock and counter as you normally would, but wait to release it until the recovery immediately before the first stroke of the drill.

Another thing you can do is count on your fingers. Yes, the way you learned to count in kindergarten still works: put all the fingers of one hand on one side of the gunwale (your hand should be braced there anyway for stability), and move one finger over to the other side of the gunwale on each stroke. This works best on repeating drills, when you only have to keep track of three or four strokes at a time. This does not work very well when you have a lot of active steering to do.

The overwhelming number of things you have to remember will start to feel like muscle memory with experience (promise). The boat will seem as if it’s navigating on auto-pilot, basic commands will come out seamlessly, and your counting will develop a rhythm of its own.

How do you keep track of strokes and other information during a drill? Comment below and if we like your idea, we’ll include it in a future post.

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