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How to Choose a Rowing Club

I have been coaching a young athlete who has ambitions to row at the Olympics – one of … read more

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I have been coaching a young athlete who has ambitions to row at the Olympics – one of the things we discussed was how to choose the right rowing club for her.

English: Marlow Rowing Club Boat House Marlow Rowing Club Boat House(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Setbacks and Red Herrings

First, I was very frustrated by being asked for advice (which club to join) only to find that many people were being asked the same question.

What puzzled me most was her desire to try to join a rowing club NOW, without wanting to wait for a conversation with the club coach, the athletes or even a basic appraisal of the number of wins the club had delivered in recent seasons.

No, I don’t mind athletes canvassing views, but I was taught that your coach was the person whose advice you took.

There are lots of famous rowing clubs who go through down-periods and one of the ones being considered was in this situation. I didn’t want to say flat “no, don’t join them”, because I respect the views of the athlete and they need to buy into any decision.

But, what would you have done? Is this a problem of youth or did I frame my questions in the wrong way?

What do you want to get out of your rowing?

If you have bothered to think about this it will help you work out which clubs may be right for you.

Eight steps to decision making gives a helpful framework. The text is a few years old but still valid.

The main things it still misses are:

  • Research information – but you must also weigh the pros and cons e.g. regatta results, track record of getting athletes into top crews 
  • Work out how soon you can find out if you’ve made the right decision. Should you allow a full season? A year? Two regattas? Club-hopping is not regarded favourably by most – but getting extra help by going on training camp, training on ergs, seeking remote coaching guidance or email advice is acceptable.
  • Which advice is worth more than others? Your best friend will probably tell you what you want to hear; your coach will probably tell you what you NEED to hear. Who should you listen to?
About Rebecca Caroe
Rebecca is the host of RowingChat podcast and is a masters athlete and coach. Passionate about helping others enjoy the sport as much as she does. View all posts from Rebecca Caroe
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