When the top erg score athlete gets dropped…..


Help, I am watching a competent rower with a top erg score and good seat racer from our squad get dropped.  The coach says it is because she’s “not developed as an athlete” or applied her ability.

Well I am guessing you don’t think she should have been dropped.  Sadly it happens.

Crew selection should be objective but there are lots of reasons why others may have got picked before her.  Rather than try to change the decision now (the coach will only dig in heels and resist – unless the seat racing process was clearly unfair), I’d focus on next season.

Rowing in a ‘long game’ and the determined athletes win out – but it’s a bitter pill.

I had a personal situation when I got cheated in a seat race when the coach told the crews to swap lanes in a flowing river, so we were out of the stream and then claimed that was a ‘win’ for the other girl.  When in the final race, my crew beat the other girl  who’d just been swapped with me, I was told that race “didn’t count”.  So I felt robbed and still hold a grudge against the coach who decided it and the assistant coach who knew what was going on and didn’t stand up and say anything.

My objection was that they pretended they wanted to run a fair trial – if they’d just said we are picking the crew we like and

Rowing Seat Racing Rowing Seat Racing

you’re not in it.  Which would at least have been hones, maybe I would have felt less bitter.

So there’s a couple of things to do

  1. for the coach / club side.  Was the selection made on a measured basis and can they prove that they made the right choice?
  2. did the coach break the news to the athlete in an appropriate way (language, explaining the rowing pathway takes time etc)?

From the rowers point of view

Get her to read some inspirational rowing stories about people who took a long time to get to the top and had setbacks.  Seeing that her situation is not unique may be helpful in the long term as she decides whether to continue in the sport or change.

Getting to the next level in rowing is not easy or simple.  So if you want to mentor this girl I’d suggest

  1. tell her to read the Nicky Coles two part interview (part 1) and (part 2)
  2. tell her to buy Assault on Lake Casitas (the most inspirational rowing book ever)

    Assault on Lake Casitas by Brad Alan Lewis Assault on Lake Casitas by Brad Alan Lewis

  3. ask a local high performance coaching team if she can come out in a coach boat and watch the girls and guys training, have a coffee with them after and hear their stories so she can align her experience with theirs.  Get her to ask them if they ever had set backs, how did they mentally approach and overcome them and what did they do next?

This will help her to identify if she has the mental grit to fight back.
Or if she doesn’t then maybe rowing isn’t the sport for her…


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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. evan snyder

    Hi Becks,

    I agree with you in principal, but these things do happen. Also in reverse. Case in point, Sally Robbins, Australian rower who “lay down” with under 500m to go in the Olympics in Athens. She was considered one of the strongest rowers on the AU squad and had some of the best erg scores. She got chosen, but the results were a disaster. So “objective’ crew selection may work in the vast majority of cases, it too is not flawless.


  2. Graham Cawood

    It is easy to suspect fault in crew selections, and I pity the coaches who have to make these decisions.
    One way you can exhibit your ability without question is in a single. No crew – just you. In the single you can also scull and train to your own technique. I disagree with some of the techniques I see coached, and as a long-time single sculler have developed my own style – 2 breaths per stroke, hat-mounted mirror, 1:1 in/out, high rate, curved,relaxed back, feather in the water, flip catch, 30mm heel blocks,and others.
    Perhaps you are a loner generally,like me. Live for it.
    Have fun

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