Question of the Day

Hi! So sometimes my coach will send out my four (bow loaded) with two 20 minute pieces where for 10 minutes there is a certain rate and then the other 10 minutes another rate. My coach normally won’t come out with us or will focus on other boats. I get really annoyed because I’m a novice and all the rowers are varsity so obviously they want feedback on their rowing but I can’t see them nor do I know what they’re doing wrong. I feel bad because during these pieces I won’t talk I’ll just say the rate and time and I can tell they’re getting annoyed and they feel like they’re not getting any better. Do you have any suggestions on what to say and how to keep talking the entire time?

Before going out, talk to your coach about what they want you to focus on that day. Get specifics. Ask them what they want the rowers to be working on, what the changes are they need to make, etc. Write all of that down and then when you’re on the water, make calls based off of that. Even though you can’t see the rowers you can still remind them of what they should be working on. It puts the bug in their ear.

Talk to the rowers. What do they want/need to hear? What specifically about their rowing do they know they need to work on and how can you help them/what can you say that would remind them to do or not do X, Y, and/or Z?

Related: Today during practice we just did 20 minute pieces of steady state rowing. My crew gets bored very quickly and their stroke rating goes down, so I decided to add in various 13 stroke cycles throughout the piece, but I regret doing it because it wasn’t steady state. I’m just confused as to how to get them engaged throughout without sounding like a cheerleader but at the same time keeping up the drive and stroke.

Also work on feeling the boat. Being in a bow loader puts you in a much better position to feel what’s going on compared to when you’re in an eight. When they do something right, what does that feel like? When they’re doing something wrong and you call for a change, what does that feel like? If you know what it feels like when someone is rushing, you can call for a ratio shift or whatever without guessing if that’s what you need to do.

Related: Boat feel

Don’t just say the rate either. Rowers hate – hate – when the only thing their coxswain says is “24. *five minutes later* 24 1/2.” Remind them to stay long, relax the recoveries, push and send, lift the hands into the catch, lighten up the seats, accelerate through the finish, breathe, jump on the first inch, no hesitation around the corner, keep the chins, eyes, shoulders, and chests up, engage the legs, etc. Throw in a 5 or 10 every minute for whatever – maximizing the run, cleaning up the releases, sharper catches, etc.

I would also talk to your coach and ask them if they’d mind spending some more time with you guys because as a novice there’s only so much you can do, especially with no instruction, and the boat feels as if they’re hitting a plateau because they aren’t getting any coaching. At the very least, ask them to give you specific things to focus on while you’re out instead of just saying “go do 2×20 minutes, have fun!”.

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