Question of the Day

How do you respond if you aren’t chosen to be recruited?

If you’re not recruited, it’s not the end of the world. In most cases the coaches would still like you to be a part of the team and would welcome you to walk-on if rowing in college is still something you want to pursue. There are only a handful of “spots” on the team for recruits and you want to make sure you save those spots for the best of the best. The athletes you know will or have the potential to be “game changers” are the ones you want to give those spots to. It’s that straightforward.

Think of it like the NFL draft – the top players that get drafted in the first round are drafted there for a reason. They’ve got something special. That’s not to say though that they won’t be a bust or get an injury or retire and someone chosen in the lower rounds will have to step up and take over. Perfect example is Tom Brady. Dude was pick number 199 in the sixth round and look where he is now. People chosen in the lower rounds have gone on to lead their teams to multiple Super Bowl wins just like how rowers and coxswains who weren’t chosen as recruits walked on to the team and helped lead their crew to an NCAA or IRA championship. You can still do big things and play a huge role on your team if you’re not one of the “chosen few”.

If you hear back from a coach that unfortunately they won’t be supporting your application, first of all you should thank them for meeting and talking with you in the first place. Being on the flip side of things now I’m seeing just how much work goes into the recruiting process and guys, I’ve gotta tell you, it’s a lot. You really have no idea how much time is spent on athletes that aren’t even a part of the team yet. Every step of the way, make sure you’re thanking the coaches for talking to you on the phone, answering your emails, inviting you to campus, showing you around the boathouse, etc. Secondly, ask them if you were accepted to the university and were still interested in rowing, would walking on be a possibility? I guarantee you they’ll say yes. If you were a potential recruit in the first place they were clearly looking at you for a reason so they’re not going to turn that down just because they can’t offer you a recruited spot. Experienced walk-ons do exist and they’re essentially treated the same as the recruits so it’s really not that big of a deal.

Last thing is to not look at it you’re being told to never pick up an oar or cox box again. You’re not. Take it in stride and move forward. And hey, you never know, maybe not being recruited will be a good thing for you. You can still have a great college experience without crew – it really all depends on what you want out of your four or five years on campus. Not being definitively locked into the sport for four more years gives you the opportunity to figure that out. If you decide you want crew to be part of that experience, walk on to the team. If not, go find an awesome club to join. Most schools have a ton to choose from so you can definitely find something to do in place of rowing if you want.

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Question of the Day

Hi! I’m a novice and I have a problem with my oar. My coach said that it doesn’t square early enough. I square just before the drive but he said I need to square earlier. I don’t understand how I can do this ? I feel like I will catch a crab if I square too early (which I did twice today). Do you have any solutions or a way to know how to square at the right time? Is my oar too close to the water on the recovery? Thank you, your blog is the best btw!!

When you say “just before the drive” I assume you mean just before the catch. You do need to square earlier than that, so your coach is correct. Ideally, you’d be squaring or starting to square over your knees, meaning that when you reach the bodies over position of the recovery your blade would be squared or starting to square. I usually like to have the people I’m coaching start squaring over their knees and be completely squared by 3/4 slide, that way all they have to do when they reach the catch is unweight the handle and drop the blade in. If you wait longer than that and start to square around 3/4 slide (this is know as a “quick catch”) you run the risk of going in the water late. (This is more so the case with younger rowers, not so much experienced ones.)

Related: I have practice tomorrow and I really have trouble squaring up on time. I always tell myself to gradually start squaring up at half slide but I’m always behind everybody else. I also try to follow the person in front of me but I’m always a millisecond behind everybody else. I’m a girl and this is my first season of rowing! I’m so embarrassed so please help me!!

If you’re catching crabs trying to square your blade then yes, your blade is probably too close to the water. That’s probably partially because of the boat being unset and down to your side and your hands being too high. Both of those things seem counter-intuitive but it only takes one person to offset the boat, so it is possible.

Next time you go out I would focus really hard on keeping your hands level coming out of the finish (imagine gliding them across a table top) and starting to square as soon as your hands are over your knees. It’s going to feel awkward and uncomfortable but that’s how most changes in rowing feel. I promise it’ll help a lot though. Just think to yourself “hands away, square, place, push”.

Question of the Day

Hi! I started rowing last spring for my college and I was sculling basically all the time. (I swept like twice I think, the first 2 learn-to-row things). However, this year, my coach wants me in a four. We had our first practice yesterday evening and it was awful. I couldn’t do anything right and I was a pain in the ass for the others. Do you have any general advice for a rower that goes from sculling to sweeping ? (I was rushing my slide and couldn’t get the blade in correctly either). Thanks!

If it was your first day in the four and only third time sweeping, there’s only so much fault they can put on you for practice sucking. I mean, if you’re used to sculling it might take a couple days to get used to sweeping. That’s fairly natural, I think. I would talk to your coach about the issues you’re having and ask her to maybe work with you a bit if you’ve got a dock rower or to maybe lengthen out the warmup a bit and watch/correct your form as you go along before you get into the day’s workout.

With regards to rushing, just … relax. Get used to following another person and taking your time on the recovery. Keep your eyes forward and watch their body move. Anticipate their movements and move with them. Focus on the sequence (arms – back – legs coming out of the finish) and matching your sequence to the person in front of you.

With getting the blade in right, there’s a million things that could be. It all starts at the finish though. If your recovery is poor you’re not going to have a good catch. Work out those issues and getting the blade in will start to become a little easier and feel a bit more natural. Get to the catch, place the blade, then push. Repeat that to yourself – place, push. Place, push.