Lessons for Rowing from Leicester City’s Premiership win

Leicester City logo

A new coach is rarely an instant success for a club.  And yet the Leicester City tale from this season gives Leicester City logostrong clues about how this apparently instantaneous cup success came about.

Rowing coaching is not very different from football – each have a requirement to build a technically skilful squad, create a “will to win” to overcome adversity and a psychological focus and dedication in the team and coaching staff.

Reading the Guardian article there are clues that can help us all when deciding which coaches to work with – let’s run through them.

  1. Ranieri was Ranieri: charming, extremely passionate and knowledgable.”  – is your coach knowledgable and if yes, in what way? About regattas? About training programmes?  If not, can you offer to invest in their acquiring knowledge or getting someone who is more experienced to mentor?
  2. “Reasons why everything has spectacularly fallen into place, chief among them being the exhilarating mix of team spirit and talent within a group of players who possess a rare commodity in a game awash with money: hunger.”  What is hunger to achieve and how can a rowing club or crew harness it?  Hunger drives commitment to training, purpose to do well in every training session, enthusiasm for choosing rowing over social/friends and other activities. There are simple ways of setting up your training groups with clear boundaries for appropriate behaviours that focuses and rewards the appropriate attitudes.
  3. “Walsh has been a central pillar of Leicester’s success with his remarkable track record of uncovering rough diamonds.  Taking raw athletic talent and teaching and honing skill onto inexperienced athletes is a great way to build a club.  I’ve been at Marlow RC, at Tideway Scullers, and a couple of other clubs where a deep focus on teaching technique, oar handling skill and fitness has created a core group of dedicated athletes whose success later encourages others to join the club.  That base training in technique and drilling constantly is part of the underpinning for fast crews.
  4. “Ranieri, crucially, was happy to work with the club’s existing staff.”  When you start training or coaching at a new club, ploughing in and changing things on day 1 rarely enamours you to the committee, the Captain and influential members.  Finding ways to uncover the core skills and work out how you can best leverage those skills for your purposes.
  5. “…including the fact that he gave them a voice and, in the case of the more senior members of the squad, courted their opinion.”  This quote is about the previous coach – but it illustrates another key skill – which is to treat different athletes differently.  Senior members who are experienced athletes can’t be treated like novices.  Their insights can be drawn out by a coach so they feel they can contribute to the forward direction of the whole squad.  Do you tell your athletes what to do all the time?  Or do you ask for feedback?  Are you steamrolling the team or is each training session part of the process of achieving your  season goals?
  6. “Yet it was the response to a setback that provided the greatest indication of what Leicester were capable of achieving this season.” How you respond to adversity is a good indicator of the inner strength of a squad.  Can you bounce back?  How do you learn from a bad race?  Overcoming adversity builds a stronger crew – especially if we do it together.  Everyone goes the extra mile for their crew mates.  In a close race, this can be a win/lose influencer.  Have you got a plan for what to do when things go wrong?
  7. “Good fortune has played a part in their injury record yet pinning everything on luck overlooks the expertise and technology within the medical and sports science departments at Leicester, where Dave Rennie, the head physio, and Reeves leave no stone unturned.” So what do you do to ensure few injuries, good flexibility, core strength and mental resilience are also part of your training?  One season we did chin-ups after every outing (Silver medal at the Nat Champs in W8) – never did that before, nor after.  Did it contribute to our success?   Probably.

And so, in summary, are any of these a challenge that you can leverage for your crew, for your coaches, for your club?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.