A Podium Programme – Darren Whiter


Darren is high performance coach for U23s….

He will talk about..

  • Evaluate, review, debrief and prepare
  • Physiological development
  • Technical development
  • The podium coach

Converting top places into medal performances in Beijing.

“Tactics are for amateurs, planning and preparation for professionals” Field Marshall Slim

“Victorious armies often make the mistake of preparing for the ware they have just fought rather than the next one” Winston Churchill

A systematic winning review know the outcomes and understand why. Performance predictability is important strength for UK Rowing.

Planning to Perform

  • What are the key demands for the athlete in this sport? What proportion are for racing and training and the specific demands of a gold medal race.
  • What is the limiting factor in rowing…. and our limiting factor?
  • Physiology required for rowing

  • High force, low cadence
  • A race is 80-90% aerobic
  • The skills are quite gross
  • Pacing strategy is more physiological than psychological
  • Oxygen uptake is a limiting factor
  • Physical preparation

  • Endurance: the ability to sustain a high aerobic power output required to maintain boat speed for 2k race
  • Strength: the ability to apply a high force to the feet and the handle especially in the start phase. After the start the biggest influence in power which gives distance in between strokes
  • Power: the ability (can’t type fast enough Darren speaks quickly)
  • Darren showed the ARA training model available from the ARA
  • The programme is high volume classic steady state which has these benefits.
  • It gives a stable and progressive form over months / years
  • Development of economy of movement and skills
  • Low psychological stress
  • Weight control
  • Enables best training of utilisation of oxygen at muscular level
  • Low acute injury risk
  • Big tapering end results
  • Disadvantages of Steady state

  • Time
  • Risk of chronic overuse injury
  • Boredom
  • Slow progression of form
  • Enough stimulus of central lung / heart?
  • Regression of fast twitch fibres
  • Risk of overtraining

Programming is a balancing act

Training versus recovery is the most important of all.

Rowers supervise their own recovery (coaches supervise training).

A typical week’s programme is 25-30 hours and about 200km, 14-18 sessions, over 6/7 days of which 2-4 are weights and the rest is endurance.

Sessions are usually simple with a basic structure soothe athletes can focus easily and delivery good quality.

Jurgen Grobler “The best training is simple training”. Doing the basics very well under extreme pressure.

The programme can make people immune-stressed and makes them vulnerable to viruses. Work hard on hand cleaning, alcohol wipes, First Defence nasal spray.
“We spent the whole war looking for the magic technological bullet. We never found it. Battles continued to be won or lost depending on the basic fighting courage and ability of the man on the ground”. US General in Vietnam
[Darren likes military metaphors]
There is the opportunity for lots of technology but we also do the basics very well.

Robin Williams “the criticality of skill failure in racing”.

Successful rowers do the basics well.

  • Posture
  • Effective stroke length
  • Sequencing of drive phase
  • Distance per stroke
  • All the way through the speed/rating progression

Posture we want the back to be pretty static (10-12 degrees only). Load should be low in the boat. Sit tall, drive low.
Stroke Length distance per stroke = length of stroke. Vertical shins, arms loosely extended, shoulders neutral
Effective power phase sequencing large muscles first and add weaker ones to assist. Bodyweight then legs, back, arms. A leg-based stroke. Legs = 50%; trunk 30% and arms 20% of total power.
Power and distance per stroke distance in between strokes = power per stroke

  • The podium coach qualities
  • Planning a programme
  • Communication to individuals
  • Prioritise key actions and cut out irrelevance
  • identify end goal and
  • Good motivators
  • Personal discipline and focus
  • Self confident aura
  • Converts opportunities
  • Looks after the rower best interests
  • Willing to seek advice
  • Composure under pressure
  • Able to stand back from rower
  • Reviews their performance constantly
  • Synthesise the technical, physical and mental side with teamship.


What techniques do you use to prevent overtraining?the coaches delivering the programme consistently monitor rowers to see they are handling the training load well. Monitoring / testing.

How is the programme periodised? This year we have a lot of camps. We do a little less at home and do more on camp. the sequence of events dictates the workload mostly.

What should a young coach focus on? The most important thing is to recognise that others have gone ahead of you to discover what works. It is unnecessary to keep trying things that don't work. Use the experience of others. Be a good motivator to your athletes. They often need more than appears.

How do you reassess athletes who miss training due to injury? Illness is generally straightforward alter training on the day they come back. The coach deals and if backs off for more than 3 days it goes to the medics team. They set the exercise programme with chief coach and get nurtured back in at the appropriate time. It usually takes a bit longer than we think. For long term injuries the squad doctor runs it and the coach monitors the rehab programme.

Rest and recovery? Programme is mostly left to the athletes. Al Smith the team physiologist did some presentations to the squad about this. Simple nutrition, hydration, sleep quality, hot/cold treatments, be hygienic.

Are there opportunities for coaches to visit and watch the reality not the theory? There are opportunities to visit Caversham. Speak to Rosie Mayglothing who can arrange this. [Rosie says this doesn't always need a more experienced coach you and work with people at your level they just have a different perspective.]


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