Coxswain Selection


Coxing is a critical and essential component of a rowing team, and is given its own set of selection criteria, both for current coxswains and those wishing to attain the role. The Pioneer Rowing team places a high degree of responsibility and expectation on its coxswains, and only the most suitable individuals will be accepted. Please also see our detailed coxswain manual.

The COXSWAIN (pronounced “cox’n”) is every bit as important to the team as the rowers themselves, and has as mentally demanding a task as the crew does physically. They are responsible not only for safely steering the boat, but must also give valuable feedback during practices, and motivation and tactical advice during races. Physically, the cox needs to be small in stature: 120lbs for women’s boats and 125lbs for men’s. Coxswains are generally 5’3” or shorter. Small is a distinct advantage in this case, and sought after. Mentally, the coxswain needs to have a strong, positive, and intelligent demeanor. They are required to multi-task constantly, and are ultimately responsible for the safety and well-being of both their crew and their boat.

The coxswain has a tremendous amount of responsibility to account for, but because of that they hold a special place on the team. There is an accelerating symbiotic relation between rowers and cox in that the better each can perform, the better the other will perform for them. Crews and coxswains often have a fierce loyalty for one another, and develop a sense of trust and respect for one another that is somewhat unique in athletics.

As with rowers, development of a good coxswain is a gradual process and it takes several seasons for the cox to fully come into their own. Successful coxswains are those who continually seek out knowledge of their sport and ways to improve themselves, are self-motivated, open-minded, highly communicative, and are able balance peer feedback with an all important self-confidence.


Individuals will be offered the chance to cox entirely at the coaches’ discretion. One will not necessarily be given the opportunity merely upon request. Failure to make selection as a rower is not a prerequisite for coxing.

To be considered, prospective coxswains must have already demonstrated that they are:

  • Intelligent
  • Articulate
  • Confident
  • Mature
  • Outgoing and vocal
  • Of positive attitude

Without these attributes, it is not likely that an individual will be able to perform the task.

Coxswains will be continuously evaluated on a number of technical and social factors, and their continuance in the role will be assessed at the end of each of their initial three seasons.

Rower/Coxswains, those wanting to both row and cox, are not generally encouraged. We prefer that one area be focused on. On occasion, if our coxswain ranks are limited, the team may have need for a rower to cox, and will likely do so only during practices.

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