Do you feel you have too much to do and your rowers are not improving or you don’t have time to coach them as much as you would like to? Do you think something needs to change?
There are few reasons I’m going to list that make Rowing a very complex sport. Rowing has lots of interesting facts that we take for granted that slow down the learning process and make it difficult for many to practice at all or some extra.
Why is DIFFICULT to be GOOD at ROWING? What makes it difficult and complex?
1- You can only get better at rowing, rowing on the water, many cannot do extra they are part of a program.
2- You cannot get good training on very extreme weather conditions: really cold, big wind, big rain, very humid-hot… So you cannot get good practice everytime you want, you depend on the weather.
3- It takes lots of time to get the boat on the water, out, clean it, where you are not getting faster. This time is time you don’t get extra repetitions of training or fitness development.
4- The equipment is very expensive and you need a place to store the boats, space to do land workout and motorboats. So you cannot do it when you want to or without supervision.
5- The movement is a totally new movement and you have never done it until you seat on a boat. So the more you seat on a boat and the more good strokes you take the more chances you have to be a good rower.
6- We don’t have an objective way to rank our rowers. Everything is very subjective and hard to quantify. So it’s hard for the coach and the rowers to understand a clear path to select the team boats. Like soccer or basketball…
7- Because the sport is so expensive, we cannot have enough professional coaches to coach the big numbers of rowers. At the end the coaches are managers, lifeguards and organizers. They have no time to really coach their Team much.
8- The rowing machine people row on and test is stationary and doesn’t simulate the dynamic movement of the water. So the results and practice you get from it doesn’t have a direct effect on how fast your crews will be. That is complex….
9- The rules on the water for safety, rowing comands and new words on how to describe the rowing stroke by the coach, the parts of the boat and how to handle the equipment are lots of new information. The new rowers are easily overwhelmed by how much complexity of this new sport.
10- The better the water to row on the more chances to learn faster and better. You normally cannot choose where to row, you normally row where you live or want to go to college. This makes complex to understand that this will have an influence in your training or rowing program and there is not much you can do about it.
So if I’m in charge of a rowing program and I know that I need to deal with all of that complexity what I’m going to try to do is to focus on how I can make it more simple for everyone. So SIMPLICITY and CLARITY will help me to:
1- Have a faster TEAM
2- Make rowers fast earlier.
3- Have more time to COACH ROWING.
Ok so these are few advices I have for you to make the whole experience more simple for your rowers and for you and as a consequence of that to achieve better results:
1- Write few pages about what they need to know that you can develop from information you can find on the internet and give it to every new novice rower. Talk about safety rules, rowing clothes, the rowing stroke, rowing parts names, how to handle equipment and to get in and out the boathouse and directions and rowing vocabulary used normally by the coach. YOU MUST TEST your rowers on that information. The earlier they learn that the fastest you will develop them.
2- Don’t tell them everything at once. Develop a curriculum so every session has a goal. Have them practice lots of repetitions of good strokes and evolve the movement from simple to more complex as they learn. Make things simple like have them repeat over and over again the correct movement. Spend time explaining what you want them to do. Be sure they understand ask them questions. Show them video of good rowing so they know what do you want them to do.
3- Don’t use the rowing machine as the only way to rank people. You are going to give false expectations to the bigger ones and stronger, and take motivation away from the ones that are still growing up or are not as big. Don’t rank people by the score when they are new to rowing. The score on the stationary machine doesn’t factor in body weight, maturity and doesn’t reproduce the rowing stroke on the water. The stationary rowing machine is a fitness tool and as a fitness tool doesn’t tell you how fast a rower is on the water. Be sure they understand that.
4- Do a test every few weeks to all the rowers so you can check somehow that your system is working and the rowers are improving. Get feedback from them and try to adjust your system depending on the results.
5- You have the rowers for few hours a week. They need to handle equipment, get fit, deal with the weather, learn the rowing stroke and be able to row with others. Balance, blade work…. So my advice is that you teach them the basics right so they can improve with practice overtime. You need to be sure they use every minute of practice to get better and not just to do something.
6- Don’t tell them too much at once. Don’t coach them non stop and giving feedback on the whole rowing stroke. Focus on one part, let them process what you say and let them practice that. Don’t make it too complex for them to do something. Let them take baby steps first.
8- Don’t think that the training program is the key or this drill or the other one. There is no secret to good and fast rowing. Just do simple things well, keep them focus and excited and do plenty of good repetitions slowing thing down. If what you are doing is working and it helps them to get better, do it over and over again.
9- Be sure you teach the simple things well. How to hold the oar? Where to put my footstretcher? How to seat up? How to turn the boat? How to feather and square? How to row? VERY SIMPLE….
10- Don’t let the results of the races tell you if you are a good or bad coach, is not that simple. Your goal as a coach is that your rowers get better and improve, develop the fundamental skills and fitness that help them be successful at the college and National Team level. If you coach novice rowers before college, you will be a good coach if your rowers get recruited because the coaches at the college level know that they have develop good skills, good fitness and good rowing experience that will help them to keep getting faster and succeed as they get more practice.