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    Ready to Row

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    This year marks my 20th in rowing, which means that for the better part of the past two decades, the first two months of the year have usually been spent thinking, “How do I get ready to get back on the water?” Over the years, my to-do’s have evolved and become more intentional but they’re always rooted in what’s going to set me (or the coxswains I’m coaching) up for success in the coming months.

    Set your intentions.

    What’s your “why” for showing up, for coxing? What skills do you want to develop? What skills do you need to develop? What can you refine from last season? What are you hoping to accomplish this season? What resources do you need to achieve your goals? Are those resources available to you and, if not, how can you get them?

    What are your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the technical aspects of coxing, being a team leader, and being a steward of your team? What efforts will you make to ensure the coxswain culture on your team is strong? Before you act, plan, and before you plan, think.

    Establish (and commit to) your own workout routine.

    You might think this has to do with the weight-restricted element of our roles. It doesn’t. Its purpose is twofold: First, it creates a dedicated pocket of space in your day for you. You can’t show up for your crew if you’re not showing up for yourself first. Second, it provides an opportunity for you to challenge yourself physically and mentally.

    Some of my most effective calls in the boat have come from times when I needed to push myself through a workout I didn’t want to do, when I was struggling in the last mile, or when I wanted to celebrate how strong I felt. Thirty minutes of any kind of movement a couple days a week is enough. If you don’t know where to start, I recommend Peloton Digital. (I’m @beantownkmd on there if you want some coxswain solidarity.)

    Check the equipment.

    Cox-Box batteries, microphones, speakers, and connection wires. SpeedCoach batteries and stroke/bow seat sensors. Rudder strings. Fins. All of this is stuff you should check and inspect before your first day on the water. Take the initiative and ask to do it with your coach or boatman. SpeedCoaches are performance tools but Cox-Box microphones, rudders, and fins are critical to safety on the water. And your No. 1 job, regardless of what anyone tells you, is to keep yourself, your crew, and your equipment safe.

    Coxing is like riding a bicycle. I promise you haven’t forgotten how to do it between your last row and now. Rather than worrying whether you still remember how to shove off the dock correctly, use your time more productively by putting yourself in the best possible position to be successful, whatever that means to you. Doing the prep work now ensures that when your crew is ready to take those first strokes of the 2023 season, you’ll be able to say confidently, assertively, and excitedly, “Ready all. Row!”

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