How To Motivate And Reward Your Rowers


Do not reward yourself with Food - you're not a dog

It is a simple question.

It is a very good question.

It is not unexpected for motivation to drop. The time of day you row often plays a part – Darkness is depressing.  There is a good reason why Vitamin D is called “the happiness hormone.

Now is the time to get all rowers firing on all cylinders for the season. The question we have is – how do we best motivate the rowers?  If you are working with rowers this season, here are a few points you might want to keep in mind.

 1) Motivation is different for every individual. If you could simply apply one technique to every member then leadership would be easy and you could just buy a book. You will not find “the one” method that will work across the board. Knowing the individual rowers is essential to finding the methods to move them forward.  General motivational theory is important.  But general is not the same as global.  The same techniques will not work on everyone.

2) Use time efficiently to get around rule #1. Given the activities which take place during the day – there simply isn’t enough time to understand every individual rower’s motivation for the season. This is why coaches should concentrate on their strengths and minimize the administrative. This will give them time to understand the individual rowers instead of spending time figuring where to park the launches. Teams should have support staffs to help the coaches take care of these other activities.


Use shortcuts as starting points for motivating rowers. While we can’t understand every rower’s motivation, we can try to simplify our learning curve by making some common assumptions about the rower’s conditions.  For example, if I find a room filled with 20 people and you asked me to make some assumptions about them – I would be totally lost.  If – however – you told me that they were all waiting to be interviewed for a job greeting musical artists for the local top-40 radio station, I could probably start to guess at some of their motivations and what they might be concerned about.

So in developing plans to motivate our rowers, we will use general motivational theory and shortcuts where possible.  What are some of those shortcuts we can use?  How about “Man or Woman”? – or – “Junior or Master”? – or – “Accomplished or Mediocre Rower”?  We are looking for simple and powerful distinctions to help us motivate our rowers.  I’m sure you can come up with others – although too many doesn’t simplify our problem, it only makes it more difficult.

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