Ned DelGuercio Discusses Coxswain Rivalries

“You have to respect your rival. Having competition forces you to get better. The other coxswain is your teammate too, and when a team has coxswains that work well together, it’s a special thing.” – Ned DelGuercio

I walked on my freshman year and (2 years later) am being seat raced against the recruited coxn for the varsity boat. I know I want it more than him but I also know that he has more experience and is probably a better technical coxn. Do you have any tips from your coxn-on-coxn competitions?
– Anonymous

Let’s break the issue down into parts. First, recognize that your goal should not be to “beat” the other coxswain. That can lead to negative thoughts and a bad attitude, which is bad for any team. Your goal however, can be to earn that seat in the varsity. To do this, you need the right combination of basic skills (steering, calls, race execution, etc) and chemistry with the group. Your crew needs to trust you because in the end, they allow you to be their coxswain. In my experience, they usually pick the right one. He or she will usually be the best match for that specific group. Coaches can see this as well.
“You have to respect your rival. Having competition forces you to get better. The other coxswain is your teammate too, and when a team has coxswains that work well together, it’s a special thing.” – Ned DelGuercio Click to Tweet
Next, let’s address the fact that you recognize the other coxswain has more experience and “is probably a better technical coxswain.” You can use this knowledge to work on your limiting factors. If you can clearly see your rival doing a better job at certain things, then you have to get better at those things. This will yield better returns than trying to max out your strengths while ignoring your weaknesses. Coxing is more about being consistently solid in all situations rather than being fantastic in one area. Coaches and rowers don’t want a “specialist”.
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Try and learn from your competition. When it’s clear they made a mistake, try and avoid doing the same thing. When you know they did something well, take note and incorporate it into your arsenal. Definitely ask your coach what they see and what you can improve on.
You mentioned that you are being “seat raced” against the other coxswain. When you get switched, the biggest impact you can make is through steering. Give your crew a stable platform and a straight line to help them win the piece. It’s impossible really for you to win or lose a seat race. Your rowers will win or lose it for you. Make them comfortable and allow them to do their job.

Most importantly, you have to respect your rival. If they weren’t there, it would make earning that seat less of an accomplishment. Having competition forces you to get better. The other coxswain is your teammate too, and when a team has coxswains that work well together it’s a special thing. Everyone benefits, and everyone gets faster.

– Ned DelGuercio

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Ned DelGuercio
Ned DelGuercio, known as one of the toughest coxswains around, came to the team in 2005. His career highlights include gold medal wins at the World Rowing Championships in the M4+ in 2007 and the LM8+ in 2008, as well as a gold medal from the 2007 Pan American Games in the M8+.

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