Question of the Day

I never know what to say at the beginning of a head race. I know what to say once we get going but not before, any ideas/tips? 🙂

This past season with my eight, I think the only thing I consistently said to them while we were staging was “we’ve got a plan, let’s get after it” or something like that. I tried not to talk too much before the starting line (with the exception of telling people to row) because I wanted them to focus in and not be distracted and I needed the quiet time to focus on getting us lined up in the chute.

Question of the Day

How long did it take you to learn how to dock correctly? It’s taken me this whole month, still trying to learn and it’s always a 50-50 whether or not someone on the dock has to pull our boat in.

It took me about 2-3 weeks to feel comfortable doing it as a novice (with our coach on the dock to pull us in and give hints on what to do if I needed it) and maybe a week or so after that (when it was just us with no one to catch us) before I felt like “OK, I got this”. My coaches were great because they’d have us dock, push off, row up a few hundred meters, turn around, dock again, and repeat the whole process until we’d gotten it right a couple times (like, at least five times) before the end of practice.

The trickiest part was coming in at the right angle. We practiced this in all kinds of weather – wind, rain, snow, etc. – so that I could practice coming in when I’ve got something working against me. Doing it over and over and over really helped me pick it up fast. The rowers were always super patient too (or at the very least they never let on how bored/annoyed they were), which was actually one of the most helpful parts of learning to dock.

Related: Any tips on how to properly dock an 8+?

One thing I realized pretty quickly is that you don’t need someone on the dock to catch you. Sure, it’s convenient when they’re there but it’s not at all necessary. What I would do is point my bow as close to the dock as I could and then when we landed, I’d have my bowman hop out and grab 6’s oar to get the stern of the boat in. Or, I’d just hop out and pull the boat in myself. Once the boat has stopped, for the most part, it’s not hard for the coxswain to stand up and step over on to the dock; you’ve just gotta be aware that it’s probably a foot to a foot and a half (if you docked right) of water you’re stepping over. I’m experienced enough with it now that I tend to bound right out of the seat while we’re still moving and think nothing of it.

It’s helpful to have someone on the dock but it’s really not necessary and definitely not something you should rely on. I think it’s way better for you to learn how to dock with no one there than it is to only learn how to dock when you’ve got someone to pull you in. I guess the only time I’d say it’s really necessary is if you’ve got a strong crosswind that’s hitting you from the dock-side and making it hard to get as close as you normally would. In those situations though, hopefully it would be common sense for the people on land to come down and help the boats that are coming in.

The key is to have control of the situation and to not get visibly frustrated. There were many, many times when I got frustrated but even when it failed miserably my rowers and coach always said that I seemed pretty calm. If you get frustrated and it’s obvious that you don’t know what to do or something’s not going the way you want, your rowers will be less likely to listen to your instructions and more likely to start telling you what to do. Stay calm, assess the situation, take your time, and be smart about it.

How to Avoid Getting Sick

Previously: Steer an eight/four || Call a pick drill and reverse pick drill

I’ve had a really bad cold for about two weeks now and while I didn’t get it at crew, it got me thinking about all the times I have gotten sick while participating in sports or marching band or other activities. It’s not fun and puts a wrench in training and rehearsals but 20/20 hindsight reminds me that it’s almost always preventable.

Clean the equipment.

Common sense, right? After a rower ergs, the first thing they should do is clean if off – the tracks, the slide, the monitor, and most importantly, the handle. Most boathouses will have a bottle of antibacterial spray lying around for this exact purpose. The handle should be obvious why it needs to be cleaned, but you should also clean the rest of the erg because sweating, coughing, bleeding, hacking up a lung, etc. can all lead to bodily fluids being spewed all over the place.

Don’t forget about the oars either, especially if you bled on them. You can easily clean these off after practice using water and bleach.

Minimize high-fiving.

After a hard work out or an erg test there’s usually some high fives going around and I’m all for it but in the winter, especially post-erg, I’m all about the air-five … followed up with a generous amount of hand sanitizer.

Wear the appropriate clothing.

There were numerous times in high school where one of my parents would say “you are not leaving the house wearing that!” in response to me wearing shorts and a t-shirt in late fall to marching band rehearsals or leaving without a coat in the middle of January (while it was snowing) to head to the boathouse. I rolled my eyes every single time because I knew I was either going to be inside the majority of the time (crew) or I’d get hot while on the field (with band) and end up shedding the extra layers anyways but regardless of what activity you’re doing, whether you’ll be inside or out, you have to wear the right stuff if you want to avoid getting sick.

Related: What to wear

If you’re inside and you want to wear your uni while you erg or lift, go for it but make sure you’re wearing something over it so you don’t freeze when you leave. The guys I rowed with in college would frequently wear their unis, a hoodie, and nothing else when going to and from the weight room and if you know Syracuse weather, you know that’s a bold choice between November and March. Similarly, if you’re going for a run during practice, wear the right stuff so your body stays warm. You’re more likely to catch a cold from being indoors where germs can fester more easily but keeping your hands, ears, neck, feet, and extremities warm will go a long way in preventing you from picking something up while outdoors.

Stay at home if you’re sick.

Seriously, if you’re sick just stay home. If you didn’t go to school that day or you went home early, definitely do not go to practice. If anything, stay home out of respect to your teammates. No one wants a walking cesspool of germs walking around coughing, sneezing, and hacking on everything. If your body is fighting a cold, do you really think it’s in any position to do a 2k or lift weights? It needs time to rest and ultimately it’s better to miss an erg test and make it up when you’re at 100% than to do it when you’re at 50% and potentially screw yourself.

If you miss a few days of practice from being sick, yea, it sucks but your teammates will appreciate you keeping your germs to yourself and just getting over whatever you’ve got. Stay home, catch up on Netflix, eat your chicken noodle soup, and get healthy before you return to practice. Also, go to the doctor. Don’t prolong your illness (and waste valuable time) by not going.

All of this is common sense but it’s easy to get caught up in the rigor of training and forget or ignore these little details. The more diligent you are tough about keeping the equipment clean and taking care of yourself, the better off you and your teammates will be.