As a coxswain, you have a vantage point on the motion (both forward and backward motion) of your boat that no one else in the boat does: you are stationary while everyone else is moving. This means that you can feel the boat move under you, unmasked by a sliding seat.

As you work with crews that are more experienced, help them understand if they are creating check (that backward motion as they come up the tracks too quickly) in a way that can be avoided. Help them create forward motion instead of backward motion.

Checking for Check

Checking for check, so to speak, is easy. If you have a Strokecoach in the cockpit with you, simply hold it up with about 8” of the string suspending the unit below your hand. If you don’t have a stroke coach, bring a string with a couple of washers or bolts tied on the end of it. You don’t need anything fancy, just enough weight to illustrate when the boat is checking backward in the water.

As you sit in the cockpit (this only works in an 8+), you’ll be able to see if the boat has check simply by watching the weight at the end of the string. If it swings as the rowers come up the slide and go for the catch, they’re creating check, not speed.

Next, angle the suspended Strokecoach or weight so it's between you and seven-seat’s blade. If the weight swings before seven-seat drops their blade in, help them understand that they’re not dropping the blade before driving. Check each seat’s blade, but if seven-seat is dropping too late in the recovery-to-drive sequence, most likely everyone is doing it.

Check Equals Lost Speed

Work with your rowers to help them understand the (adverse) impact of rushing the recovery and driving before planting the blade. Check for check. Then use it to your advantage.

This is one of the dynamic tips on Decent Rowing’s web site ( Free and paid memberships to Decent Rowing are available and offer tons of content. We love these folks because they believe that coxing is a part of rowing that deserves its own content. Just like we do.