Lightweight rowing – A slide deck of advice for coaches


Deaths have occurred in lightweight rowers. This slide deck helps coaches and club committees understand the sports science behind dieting, body type and appropriate weight loss for sport.

Lightweight Rowing Presentation from jwburk


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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Kathleen Dameo

    The Scholastic Rowing Association of America hosts its 80th annual scholastic regatta on Memorial Day weekend this year which draws teams from all across the country. The SRAA recognizes that the safety of the rowers is the top priority.

    Like the Virginia program to which John White referred, for the past 8 years, the SRAA has required a pre-season lightweight evaluation from every potential lightweight rower which testifies to the safe ability of the lightweight rower to “make weight” by the date of our regatta. We use similar standards to those presented by John White: weight, body fat percentage and hydration. A certified athletic trainer, and no one else, must do the testing. This trainer must certify the accuracy of the information as well as certifying that the rower can “safely make weight” by the regatta date. Unlike the Virginia program, because we only see the rowers once, the SRAA cannot prescribe how the rower is to lose any needed weight, but we do refer coaches to the NWCA (National Wrestling Coaches Association) for guidance.

    In addition, the SRAA regatta weighs rowers only once during the two day regatta and that one time is the morning of the first day of racing. It is a “one and done” weigh-in. Either they make weight or they don’t… Period. This weigh-in procedure is conducted by the same two fully licensed US Rowing referees every year. Many regional teams have used the SRAA requirements as the impetus to develop safe weight programs for their rowers.

    Safety and the well being of the rowers come first.
    Kathleen Dameo, SRAA Board Member in charge of Weigh-Ins

  2. John White

    I would like to take this opportunity (once again) to say VASRA has a Rowing Weight Control Program (since 2006) that is designed specifically to address the issues mentioned by Rebecca Caroe (and some of the commenters to her posting). The RWCP is it is administered by the individual team school Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC), managed by the team coach(es), and monitored by VASRA at its regattas. Yes, we have an advantage in that all our rowers are high school students and the responsibility for athlete health is managed within the school athletic systems.

    The crux of our program is lightweights are identified, BEFORE the competitive season during a four-week window, by body fat (OK, body composition) measurements. This determines the athlete minimum weight at 12% body fat (female) or 7% (male). If your minimum determination is above the weight maximum (130 women, 150 men), you cannot row lightweight – period. Those who can safely lose weight are placed on a program modeled after the wrestling weight management program. Weighing is REQUIRED at least weekly to ensure compliance. Additionally, no one – doctors, nurses, coaches, parents, NO ONE – can override the ATC eligibility determination.

    For the complete RWCP see:

    During the nine years VASRA has had the program, I have seen lightweight participation increase as natural lightweights join teams knowing they can earn a seat not in competition with heavier teammates who are now not allowed to lose (unsafe) weight. I only occasionally see stress for the marginal-weight athlete at regatta weigh-ins … the vast majority are 115-125 lb (women) and ~140-145 lb (men) … I call them athlete sticks … who are delighted to be able to row in fair competition and weigh-ins are just a necessary part of the procedure.

    We have a few head coaches who understand the value of the RWCP and have their entire team in the program in order to monitor general health of every rower regardless if they row lightweight.


    John D White

    Past President

    Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association

    H 703 534-9756,

    C 703 517-5487

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