Yesterday I set out the reasons why learning to row is hard.
Today I’m going to suggest 1o ways you as a coach can make it easier for you to teach successfully.
- Write few pages about what novices need to know that you can develop using information you can find on the internet and give it to every new novice rower. Talk about safety rules, rowing clothes, the rowing stroke, rowing parts names, how to handle equipment and to get in and out the boathouse and directions and rowing vocabulary used normally by the coach. YOU MUST TEST your rowers on that information. The earlier they learn that the faster you will develop them.
- Don’t tell them everything at once. Develop a curriculum so every session has a goal. Have them practice lots of repetitions of good strokes and evolve the movement from simple to more complex as they learn. Make things simple like have them repeat over and over again correct movements. Spend time explaining what you want them to do. Be sure they understand; ask them questions. Show them video of good rowing so they know what do you want them to do.
- Don’t use the rowing machine as the only way to rank people. You are going to give false expectations to the bigger and stronger ones, and take motivation away from the ones that are still growing up or are not as big. Don’t rank people by the score when they are new to rowing. The score on the stationary machine doesn’t factor in body weight, maturity and doesn’t reproduce the rowing stroke on the water. The stationary rowing machine is a fitness tool and as a fitness tool doesn’t tell you how fast a rower is on the water. Be sure they understand that.
- Do a test every few weeks to all the rowers so you can check that your system is working and the rowers are improving. Get feedback from them and try to adjust your system depending on the results.
- Teach them the basics correctly so they can improve with practice over time. You have the rowers for a few hours a week. They need to handle equipment, get fit, deal with the weather, learn the rowing stroke and be able to row with others. Balance, blade work…. You need to be sure they use every minute of practice to get better and not just to do something.
- Don’t tell them too much at once. Don’t coach them non stop and giving feedback on the whole rowing stroke. Focus on one part, let them process what you say and let them practice that. Don’t make it too complex for them to do something. Let them take baby steps first.
- Have everything well organized at the boathouse. Make every rower, parents and other coaches to take responsibilities Delegate so you can coach more and manage less…
- There is no one secret to good and fast rowing. Don’t think that the training program is the key or this drill or the other one. Just do simple things well, keep them focused and excited and do plenty of good repetitions slowing thing down. If what you are doing is working and it helps them to get better, do it over and over again.
- Be sure you teach the simple things well. How to hold the oar? Where to put my footstretcher? How to sit up? How to turn the boat? How to feather and square? How to row? VERY SIMPLE….
- Don’t let the results of the races tell you if you are a good or bad coach, is not that simple. Your goal as a coach is that your rowers get better and improve, develop the fundamental skills and fitness that help them be successful at the college and National Team level. If you coach novice rowers before college, you will be a good coach if your rowers get recruited because the coaches at the college level know that they have developed good skills, good fitness and good rowing experience that will help them to keep getting faster and succeed as they get more practice.
A guest post by Carlos Dinares