How to find your rowing strengths and weaknesses


A coaching mnemonic for rowers

Over the years I have coached all age groups and have used the mnemonic F.I.T to help focus minds and discover where the strengths and weaknesses are in particular rowers.

I have a board in the boathouse that I use to address both new and developing rowers.

Coach athlete discussion. Coach athlete discussion. Image Credit: NFHS

It asks the question ‘Are you FIT to row?’

The answer is often “Yes, I am fit”, maybe in the physical sense yes, but do you have the potential to become the complete package. Perhaps fairly obvious, but my belief is that we need three elements to be successful, all of which are inter-dependent:-

  • F – Fitness, in the gym and on the water
  • I – Inside, the heart and the head, grit
  • T – Technique, technical ability to row a boat fast on your own or in a crew

It fascinates me how the relative percentages of these elements in individuals, affects each rower’s success.

I have had rowers who have the heart and grit, but may be lacking in one or both of the other areas. Equally, I have had rowers who are technically superb, but fall short of success due to a moderate commitment to fitness or the determination and confidence to win.

Selection based on erg times

This belief is partly why, in selection, I question the primary dependence on erg times. In my experience, some rowers cannot achieve a record erg time, but put them in a boat and their contribution to the boat in terms of commitment and technique, is of huge benefit. A contribution that may have been missed based purely on erg time selection. I have seen good erg rowers with times close to 6 minutes, that struggle to achieve good technique.

How to use FIT with your athletes

Through training I try and give individuals percentages against each element as they progress. The trend is hopefully upwards, but sometimes there is a setback. I have found the summary to be helpful leading up to an event, to highlight which one needs more work. My view is, look for those who are not only ‘fit’ to row, but who are really FIT to row.

A guest post by Steve Swan, Coach Captain, Taunton Rowing Club

Read Steve’s other article on Rowperfect


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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Carrie

    When a rower looses her mental edge and keeps replaying the negative record of what she dislikes about her sport, what tools would you use to reprogram that individuals mindset and get them back into themselves, into the moment and back into their college sport…Rowing

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