I’m a 18 year old female student, rowing for the university and for another club. I currently train and compete and both of these clubs highest levels but I am not yet good enough to progress through to a high performance level. There is very little support for myself and athletes at a this level and the gap between seems to be rather big to tackle on your own. I was wondering what advice you would have for me as I wish to one day compete internationally.
I look forward to hearing from you.
It takes an average of 8 years to be competitive on an International level for rowing.
This is the time it takes on average to develop the skill to move a boat fast (not an erg) and to develop your body engine and strength to be able to produce the rowing stroke to go fast on the water in a sustainable way. So if you haven’t spent a few years developing and improving, it might be too early to make any conclusions about your rowing dreams.
Some athletes will get there faster, normally because they have one or several of the following:
1) They have very talented engines. This means they sit on an erg from day one and have an amazing test.
2) They are really tall and strong without doing extra work and they get the movement easy. It will take less time to make them fast.
3) They sit in a Team boat with other talented athletes. They take advantage of technical skill of the group to be able to perform at High level without that much skill themselves.
4) They work extra than the rest and improve faster.
So if you aren’t any of the one above you need to understand that they will be the rowers that will get there on the fast track that just might not be for you.
So I recommend to not obsess about early success or failure and get yourself to the best coach and the best system so you can spend your time developing correctly.
Here is an objective list of 4 subjects that ANY ELITE ROWER after the 8 years of really good training with a top system and top coaches will score REALLY HIGH! If you score the best on the 4 of them you will be one of the best rowers in rowing history if you have the best system and the best coach for you and the right people around you to help you get there. Any top rower will score really high in at least 3 out of the 4.
Have ever seen that rower that pushes every workout with everything it has. Have you seen that athlete that is excited to wake up to go workout and is always positive and happy. Have you ever seen that rower that never gives up. Have you ever seen that rower that can do the work alone and doesn’t need the coach or anybody to be motivated. Have you ever seen that rower that knows that he will get there and will work night and day until he gets there without any doubt. Have you seen that rower that can push herself beyond anyone else. If you are this rower and do all the things listed above you get a score of 10 out of 10!
Are you tall and have long arms and big hands with long fingers to reach longer? Do you have good flexibility on your ankles and hips? Are your body measurements ideal for rowing? Are you the rower that every coach turns around and wants to recruit just by how you look? Are you just born to be a rower meaning you look like the rowers that are winning the Olympics? If you can answer a yes to all of that you get another 10 our of 10.
Have you broken 21 minutes on a 6km test on the stationary C2 or 18:30 if you are a man? Have you broken 6:40 or 5:45 on a 2km test on the C2? Have you recorded amazing results on your lactate test and VO2 max test? Are you able to run faster than anybody around you? Have you been successful internationally in any other endurance sport? Are you able to produce very high watts on a test bike? Are just better than anyone else training around you doing the same training? If you have answer yes to all of those you have a good engine and will be able to sustain the effort required to compete at the highest level.
4) BOAT FEEL:
Do you think you can feel the boat and understand how to make the boat go the fastest with what you have? Do you have good rowing rhythm? Do you consider yourself a good athlete with good athleticism? Are you a good dancer? Are you coachable? Do you adapt and change fast to the instructions of your coach? Do you look natural and flow with the boat when you see yourself on video? Are you used as a rowing example to others? Do you think you row like the best? Are you a real boat mover? Do you get all the speed you can out of the effort you put into it?
So now you can see what are some of your strengths and weaknesses might be. My advice is to see where you are and develop a strategy to position yourself in the best place possible so you can develop to your top overtime. There are things that you don’t have control over like the length of your arms, how tall you are, or if you have natural rhythm or not, but there are many that are a 100% under your control.
So target those you can control and take responsibility of all of them with no excuses. If you want to be the best rower you can be then you will workout, rest, and eat the best you can, find the best coach and system for you to develop, and instead of looking at the difficulties as problems, you will take them for what they are and focus all your energy on what you want to achieve and just do the work everyday.