Chapters 4 & 5 – How to run a learn to scull course


Finally we draw to a close with the final two chapters on Running the Course and After the Event is over, an after word and a list of skills drills and exercises.

Chapter 4 Running the course


Running a course takes careful organisation and advance planning in order for it to run smoothly.  Some time invested in advance will help you and the team to have fewer last minute hassles and panics.

In Advance

Write out some lists:
1.    Coaches – who is coaching on which day.  Sometimes people aren’t free to help every day and this will help you plan who works with which group and to check that the juniors coaches are appropriately qualified and you aren’t left short-handed
2.    Attendees – when athletes sign up to join your course, get some background information from them such as their skill level.  Draw up a list of each athlete grouped by skill (beginner, intermediate, advanced). 
3.    Dietary requirements – list any athletes who are vegetarian or have special dietary needs
4.    What to bring – for coaches.  Write out everything you expect a coach to bring with them.  Include megaphones, bicycle, rating watch, life jacket, waterproof clothing.  Specify what items the club can provide and how many you have e.g.  Throw Lines (6), Megaphone (2).  Be clear which coach will be able to use the club equipment.
5.    What to bring – for athletes.  Write out everything you expect athletes to bring with them.  Add to this a list of what is provided by the club (food, equipment, changing rooms etc).  Give this list to the person doing the publicity so they can include it.
6.    A rough timetable of events for each day.  Include arrival time, briefings, land based teaching / video / ergo, water work, washing down boats, debriefing, meals and tea breaks, when to leave.

On the day

Running a learn to scull / row course takes a lot of organisation on the day as well. 

Here is a check-list that you may want to use.
1.    Print out the training programme and give a copy to each coach
2.    Have a coaches briefing 15 – 30 minutes before athletes arrive to review the training plan for the day, the groups and who is coaching which group.  Get feedback from coaches about the previous day and what progress was made.  This is important because you may need to adapt the training programme if the groups find it too progressive or are learning faster than you planned.
3.    Record keeping – write down important things that happen.  E.g. capsizes, athletes who are ready to move up into a new group because they are learning fast, who has been in crew boats so you can rotate athletes.
4.    After the session, plan the next day’s activities

Chapter 5 – after the event is over


After all you hard efforts, it is important to get feedback about what participants thought about the course.  This can be an email to them afterwards with some questions or just face to face with their coaches after the last day.

Questions you may want to ask
1.    What did you like best about the course?
2.    What did you like least about the course?
3.    What did you learn?
4.    How did you find out about the course?
5.    How can we improve the course?
6.    Did you get value for money?
Remember to ask the same questions to your coaching team and the other helpers – they may have useful insights and suggestions for another time.

If you get some nice “quotes” forward them to your publicity colleague and ask them to write a short article about the course and what people did, what they said and include some photos taken during the course.  This can be sent to the local newspaper as well as published on the club website.  It’ll also provide quotes for the publicity for your next course.

Objections to running a course

I have put forward many proposals to club committees over the years and not all of them have been successful.   Therefore, before you present your masterplan, it pays to spend some time thinking about the objections that may be put forward and how you can counter them.
What about club members who want to use the boats at that time?
We’ve never done it before
Nobody will come
We don’t have enough coaches
Think not just about counter-arguments, but try to have some ‘proof’ that demonstrates the objection is unlikely to be valid.  For example to the objection about the availability of boats, have a list of private single sculls that people are prepared to lend to athletes wanting to train at these times. 
To the objection about coaches – get actively training members of the club to join the coaching team.  They have all got enough knowledge to teach beginners and probably intermediates from personal experience.  Have a list of these people ready in advance.

We’ve never done it – tell them you have read this eBook and consulted the author.

Nobody will come – have a list of your own friends who say they will join the course ready and consult the membership secretary in advance and get a list of people who’ve approached the club to join in the past year but didn’t join – say you’ll contact them as well.   


Dear reader.

For the purposes of clarity, throughout I write “learn to row and learn to scull” interchangeably.  But my editor insisted that this was confusing and so I have put “learn to row / scull” to cover both or either option.


Sweep rowing
Cox Box

Drills and Exercises

Single strokes one oar at a time – zig zag
Elbows high and heels down on the stretcher
Checking each elbow & flat wrist exercise
Steering – looking over each shoulder in turn
Left hand lead exercise
Body swing only sculling (straight legs and straight arms)
Double push down exercise at hands away exercise
Legs only sculling
Straight arms sculling
Wide grip sculling
Legs only sculling
Single strokes to the finish
elbows high and heels down on the stretcher
Left hand lead exercise
J- curve
Single strokes to hands away
Double push down exercise at hands away exercise
Recovery exercises – single strokes to weight on the feet
Loose legs up the slide
Double quick hands and double slow slide
Wide grip sculling
Quarter slide push exercise
Roll-ups exercise

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Subscribe to our Newsletter for more information:

Our Rowing Network

Did you like this post? Support this blog and our network by donating

Feel like Rowing again? Visit the Shop at!

Accessories, equipment, boats, clothing

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Sarah Beevers

    I have attended a few of these courses as a guest coach and one of the things I found most useful was only done at 1 club. They had a feedback sheet on each participant or crew (if they had set crews) which was brilliant for both giving the participant feedback and ensuring continuity between the coaches. There is often a different coach for each session or the participants rotate between coaches, it is often hard to ensure continuity and ensure that they do not repeat information too many times or miss out important things presuming the last coach must have told them. It also means that as a coach you can arrive and look through these notes and know exacty what you are up against.
    I hope that this is helpful, I’ll keep looking through and help out in any way I can.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Posts

Whether it’s sports, nutrition or equipment, you’ll find what you’re looking for in one of these categories


Everything about rowing – browse through our large archive or search for articles of your choice


Search Blog


Rowing Network

Do you like our posts? Support this blog and our network by donating


Get all latest content and news!