The Coxswain Goal Card

Using the Coxswain Goal Card

by Sandra Chu

The Coxswain Goal Card is a reference tool that coxswains can use to improve their skills during indoor training.  Developed by Jodi Hope, Head Women’s Coach at the US Coast Guard Academy and adapted by Sandra Chu, Head Coach at William Smith College, the Goal Card breaks down practice objectives for coxswains into six categories:  Practice Management, Volume, Tone or Rhythm, Motivation, Technical, Content, and Fitness.  

The card is set up to log one practice per sheet.  To begin using the card, fill in your name at the top of the sheet and record the date for the practice you will be logging.  There are six boxes on the sheet that reflect your practice goals, with space underneath to tally the number of times you hit your objectives and to reflect on your performance.  You can use the sheet two different ways.  First, you can use it to simply find out what you are saying and how that breaks down in a practice.  Second, you can set specific goals each practice and then work within the practice to reach them.  It’s easiest to use if you carry it with you during practice on a clipboard.  Save your sheets to see how your progress is going and check in with your coaches for review every few weeks.

Practice Management Calls

This box refers to anytime that you make calls with instructions about the workout such as how much time to set clocks, changes in rating or drills, how much time has elapsed in their current piece, even how best to utilize rest.  If you are tracking, simply use the tally box to see how many times you are doing that and jot down some of the things you are saying.  If you are learning how to do this better, look at the practice in advance, and write down the calls you need to make, whether they are the specific calls or types of calls.  Keep a tally of your goal successes.  In the bottom of the box, write down some observations on how your successes or failures impacted practice.

Volume, Tone or Rhythm

Set specific goals for your changes such as “increase my volume,” “reduce my syllables,” “have a more aggressive tone,” “use varied tones,” or “make a rhythm change.”  Use the tally box to see how often you can successfully hit your goals.  Or, if you are tracking, just use the tally box and jot down what you did well.

Motivational Calls

Motivation can be personal or team-centered. Calls can be specific such as praising an individual by name for her effort or execution, giving another rower a reason to dig deeper, or reminding another rower of what she’s working toward.  They can also be more generic and team-centered such as “Stay tough, Tigers!”  If you track which rowers you are motivating, you might reveal that you trend toward certain teammates.  That can be good feedback for you that you need to expand your comfort zone and work with other rowers.  Or, it might be instructive feedback for them—maybe you don’t call their names because they don’t respond. 

Technical Calls

This box refers to anytime you ask an individual to make a technical change.  It can also be used to cox the group as a whole.  You can track the kinds of technical calls you are making to see if your technical knowledge needs to be improved as well as evaluate whether your rowers actually made the changes and what impact they had on speed.  Don’t forget to align your technical calls with your coach’s.

Content Goals

As you work toward broadening your content, use this box to try out new content, track the number of times you used unique content, or see whether you are using too much filler.  You can jot down phrases you want to try, or track the filler that you use to work on filler elimination. Use the bottom of the box to evaluate whether your new content is worth keeping. 

Fitness Goals

Just like your rowers, you can set fitness goals each day as well.  Whether you want to get faster on the erg, extend your workout times, build endurance or core strength—your goals can go here.

Use the bottom of the sheet to reflect on your practice performance.  Set goals for the next practice.  Track your improvements throughout the season.  You’ll be impressed with how much change you can affect when you take the time to invest in your process.

Download your Coxswain Goal Card and use it during your next practice. PDF version.