Rowperfect gets asked this frequently by concerned parents. Below we summarise a speech given by the National Junior Coach at the British Rowing Conference in 2008.
Additional reading for Parents of junior rowers
- the Sporting Parent guide to communication and understand how you should be talking with your child about their sport.
- The Parents Guide to Rowing (UK centric but useful for everyone)
- Read Developing Juniors for Rowing including the annual cycle of assessment, selection and target erg scores.
How much and how often should juniors train?
There is a cunning cheat-sheet developed by British Rowing-how-much-and-how-often-juniors-train…. This summarises what a range of ages should do for training volumes and freqency, including notes for late developers and late starters should be doing.
- J11-J13 – mainly skills, up to 3 short sessions per week (time on water not distance covered). Rowing shouldn’t dominate their age – they do other things, music, drama, cubs / brownies. Don’t push them into it too early
- J14 – still only 4 sessions a week. Weight lifting technique only. Light bars – no weights. Teach them to work on the water and build the technique on the land.
- Junior level – at J17/J18 they should be at their best…. 7/8 sessions building to 10 depending on exams and time (maybe 14 after exams). One session per week off.
To make the Junior world championships team they have to be capable of training 2-3 times per day for a week at a time (e.g. at camp and final trials seat racing). This means they are preparing for the next level. Capable of doing a 20km UT2 outing. With rest between sessions. If they get injured or sick, they won’t make the grade.
This volume of training depends on
- Coach availability
- Equipment available
- Safety – numbers on the water
- Times athletes are available
- Club’s requirements
- Demands and needs of the individual and the club
- Aspirations of parents and coach
Make it enjoyable, it is not just about performance. We have a duty to look to the long term development of the individual as a whole. Education in more than just rowing. They have to learn time management, have a family life (Sunday lunch), academic qualifications (the boys at Hampton who succeeded at rowing had better than average results because they learnt how to manage their time), manage social life, manage their health (growth spurts), other activities (music, Church, drama).
Keep the variety, fun, teach skill development and quality MUST be in the programme. This is essential.
Teach sculling and sweep and both individual and crew boats
Teach the Rowing Basics:
- Correct use of the hands, bladework (correctly taught at the start they won’t have to un-learn it later)
- Core strength – not necessarily a separate session – but part of the programme – it can be water technical sessions with core exercises within it.
- Rest and recovery – as important as the sessions. Without good rest the next session won’t be good.
- Are they eating properly?Use a cycle of hard / medium / light weeks
Try to have at least one complete rest day per week (not a day off rowing in order to go running!)
We the coaches have the responsibility to see the individual athletes have the tools to survive the programme.