Most rowing clubs are short of coaches. It is a rare phenomenon to find a club with a surplus of willing volunteers to take on a task seen by most as onerous and difficult. As I said in my last blog clubs need to use what they have to hand; if 16 year olds and Masters who learnt to row after 50 is what you have, then use them. Don’t get hung up on needing to find perfect coaches. Lack of experience is a challenge, but overcoming challenges is something rowers can do!
So, go and look. Do you have experienced younger rowers that could help coach junior beginners? A 16 or 17 year old can be a great help to a crew of 13 or 14 year olds. Try using all your experienced juniors by putting them out occasionally, but regularly (say once every 2 weeks) in mixed crews with the beginners. Have the best juniors in the club coach a beginner crew once a week to help the regular coach out.
Look among your veterans (Masters in some dialects!) and find someone willing to have a go. Ask among the parents and recently retired rowers for interest and I am sure that you will get some people who will express an interest but offer a couple of standard caveats or “yes but’s”.
When you ask people if they want to coach two answers are common: “Yes, but I don’t have time”, and “Yes, I would like to but I don’t think I could”.
The answer to these perceived blocks to coaching is simple – support your coaches more. A good club coaching structure should be able to support beginner coaches and part time coaches as well as your experienced coaches.
The answer to lack of time is part time coaching. Set up your coaching structure so some of the more experienced coaches take a new, time poor, coach on as an assistant and mentor them and when they are confident set them loose for occasional sessions with the crew. Brief them thoroughly and set them a clear goal and then the experienced coach either gets a session off or has a free session to help somewhere else in the club.
Similarly with people who are keen to coach but lack the knowledge or the experience – provide training and support. Set them up with a mentor; give them little sessions, or parts of sessions, with clear goals so they can see progress.
Look in your club or community for someone to take a support coach role for your club. If you are very lucky your local or national rowing Association will do this but that is increasingly rare these days. British Rowing seem to be offering this. Is it working?) How about that retired international who lives locally, is she willing to spend 2 hours a month leading a coach meeting? Or online; is there someone who can answer questions and provide assurance over the net?
Basically the question is: Does your club do enough to support your coaches? The simple framework is to get the coach to honestly look at what they are struggling to do and find someone within the club to help them do it.
If the problem is time arrange part time coaching.
If it is lack of knowledge find a source of knowledge. People, the net or books.