How to measure a Rowing Coach – what is success

Measuring TapeMike Davenport’s done it again. Made me think.  Mike’s e-mail newsletter that I have signed up to receive from the Coaching Sports Today website arrives regularly and the recent article about a dashboard captured my imagination.  He uses the metaphor of a vehicle dashboard to describe the things we should check about our performance as coaches.

“Similar to the dashboard in your car a coaching-dashboard has instruments, or metrics, that give you feedback. Feedback that can tell you whether you’re on track, getting better or not, or if there’s anything that you need to pay attention to (like running out of gas).”

In my job as a Development Officer for Otago Rowing I work with coaches to try to help them improve.  If you want to improve something you have to know how good it is now and then to measure it after the process to see if it has improved.  So, how do I measure the coaches I work with, or any coaches for that matter?

Most people would focus mainly on athlete performance.  How many races and championships have been won by this coach’s athletes?  Interestingly, Davenport’s list of metrics doesn’t mention these.

These are Mike’s measures:

  •  Graduation rate
  •  Number of recruits
  •  Retention rate
  •  Fundraising amount
  •  Effective practices
  •  Athletes personal bests
  •  School records broken
  •  Dinners with my family
  •  My weight

Recently I was at a little rowing club in a little town and a car full of young men came cruising by in their pimped car. They came to a stop and it became apparent that they were one of last year’s crews.  The coach was pleased to see them and after they cruised on she told me that she was so proud of them.  They had rowed competently last year, achieved the goals they set but, much more importantly they had grown up, matured into fine young people and, for two of them, moved away from a social scene that was heading towards trouble with drugs and the police.

No races won but something of real worth achieved.  How can we measure this kind of success?

I thought about this and tried to relate it to my coaching; have I helped any young rowers grow into better people over the last year? I don’t know to be honest but I did find a simple measure that gave me some reassurance.  I was at the Otago Rowing Championships and was ambling along the front at Ruataniwha and met some girls I coached briefly last year.  They were all glad to see me and it was great to be surrounded by a group of 15 year olds who were pleased to see me and were bubbling over with joy about rowing and life.

So maybe we can use the smile of a happy rower as a way to measure our success as coaches?

One thought on “How to measure a Rowing Coach – what is success

  1. Sarah hayward says:

    Hi, I think this article is so encouraging. I am a coach tutor and also a junior coach in swansea south wales uk and have a similar ethos. Yes I would like my charges to win big championships but more importantly to become rounded members of our society. Two of my juniors went on to university and saved the rowing club there from failure. They are both successful coaches in there own right and one has gone on to be selected for the British rowing youth forum. Not high achieves in the physical sport but great contributors to our sport and society as a whole. I am so proud of them.

    Our junior section has a retention rate of 80% even though we have no club house few boats and no pontoon. The junior section has 65 members which for a small club is brilliant.

    I wish more coaches (and teachers- controversial!) thought more about these measures rather than pure competitive achievements.

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