Interview with Tim McLaren, US Rowing Head Coach: Part 2


This interview was done when Tim was Head Coach and director of California Rowing Club.  He is now head coach, US Rowing.  Read part 1 here.

And onto other things…

When you work in a system you are dragged along by the philosophy of that system, often people try to replicate them from one country to another.  They sometimes fail to factor in the culture of the people.  Many countries moved to a centralised model and there are some more successful versions than others.

The UK is lucky because here is a healthy underpinning of strong clubs.  Outside the national programme there is a lot happening in rowing. lots of volunteers and people with a passion for rowing without the national programme being the prime focus. That is the result of the historical importance of rowing in UK particularly.

School rowing is very successful in many countries but it is that step after school when you have to catch them, coach and develop them and that often gets very shaky.  I am looking at that in UK now. I am looking at the best way to approach that and collect kids with ability who are interested in rowing at a higher level.  There is a lot of development there.

Your perspective shifts a little when you get older.  Coaches develop as well and they need to.  It is not only your coaching knowledge but your management of yourself and your athletes.  Coaches that are reading this will understand.  Athletes improve as they get older but coaches should do as well.  Sometimes you can.  Go back to who you learned from and their influences.  You learn a lot off the athletes try different things and they are the litmus test of your method of feedback.

It is good to have a group of athletes that can give you feedback.  Learn through trial and error and athlete feedback.  Trust your own intuition.  Particularly if you have rowed yourself  you have seen a lot of good athletes and you can learn from them  and should  try things and sometimes it is successful and develop those and carry on working on others.  It is a patience game.

I do a bit with development athletes like Cambridge and sometimes the people are inexperienced.  You can get good feedback off novices about what it feels like.  Anyone can give it; some articulate better than others.

Thor Nilsen (FISA Development Director) was in a meeting of national coaches were trying to describe the perfect stroke without a picture or a model.  Everyone has a different interpretation of the same words.  Evidenced by the different styles in different countries.  Look at the crews to see the outcomes.  This struck me early on.  Communication and interpretation are big things for thinking in coaching but in the end everything is limited by what you see.  There could be more training teaching people to see a little better.  One day I’ll do that.

Your athletic ability, coordination and your understanding limits your personal achievement.  Everyone brings faults to the game.  You are limited by how well it was explained, your understanding and how well you can transfer that understanding into action.

Rowing teaches you a lot about yourself.  The beauty of the single, some people get the mechanics better than others.


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