Video of the Week: 1996 Atlanta Olympics M8+ Final

One of my favorite things about coaching at camps in the summer is the other coaches I get to work with. I’ve gotten to work with Michiel Bartman the last two years at the Sparks camps and this year I had the chance to hear him talk about his introduction to the sport and his experience at the Atlanta, Sydney, and Athens Olympics where he won gold and two silvers. TBH I’d tell people to come to Sparks just to hear this talk … it’s that captivating.

This week’s video is the final of the Atlanta Olympics when the Netherlands won the gold. I won’t spoil the whole talk he gave but here’s part of what he said about this race:

“When I rowed that race, that final, I don’t know anything of the first 1000 meters. I know that I heard the beep and I know just before 1000 meters when our coxswain said, when the Germans were a little bit ahead of us, ‘Germans are fading, we go now‘. That’s when I kind of like, woke up. In the last 1000 meters, I’m rowing in 3-seat, and it’s clear that we’re going to win … you start to hear the crowd, usually it’s just the people you row for, your parents and that’s about it, but here it was several thousand people in huge grandstands producing a lot of noise, which was totally foreign to me. So I already hear going into the last 500 meters the roars and then going into the last 250 meters, I think ‘we’re going to win’ and the next stroke I think ‘shut up, you’re not there yet’. And then we crossed the finish line … and you know, everything just comes together.”

Also, fun fact about Michiel – he was the stroke of the Dutch 8+ that raced Harvard in 2004. You’re probably familiar with the race.

Video of the Week: Inches

It’s crazy that I’ve been posting videos every Monday for three and a half years and I haven’t posted this one yet. It’s been my favorite rowing video for as long as I can remember … and it’s not even a rowing video. Not really, anyways. I made the decision awhile ago that I wasn’t going to post it on the blog until the time was right because I didn’t want to post it on just any regular Monday … it had to be before something big. Well, now’s that time.

Last year at Sprints we lost to George Washington by 0.1 seconds. 0.1 seconds. Practically a bow ball. We came in 4th by 0.1 seconds and missed out on qualifying the eight for IRAs. One inch. Well, not this year. 

The inches we need are everywhere around us. On this team, we fight for that inch. On this team, we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for that inch. Claw with our fingernails for that inch because we know when we add up all those inches, that’s going to make the fucking difference between winning and losing … between living and dying.

In any fight it’s the guy who’s willing to die who is going to win that inch.

Defining the role of the coxswain: Motivation

Despite not being that high on the list of things you’re responsible for doing, helping to motivate your crew is still an important part of your job as a coxswain.

Related: What do coaches look for in a coxswain + Motivation (tag)

I’ve talked a lot about motivation in the past and there’s definitely no shortage of inspiration in the quotes, videos, and recordings I post but if you want something simpler to go off of, here are the two most basic things you can do to motivate your teammates.

Lead by example

Be present because even on days when practice is boring, you can’t be. If you’re motivated by something, whether it’s a personal goal or a team goal, bring that energy to practice and on the water. Your interactions with the rowers, coxswains, and coaches, your engagement during team meetings, etc. are all things that might seem inconsequential but can actually be strong motivating factors for the people around you.

Know what your teammates want

If you’ve asked me any version of the question “what’s a good call to make to motivate my crew”, you’ll know that my first answer is ALWAYS to talk to your teammates. Everybody is driven by different things which means you have to pay attention and get to know the people on your team so you know where their motivation lies. Remember, your job isn’t necessarily to give them motivation, it’s to draw out what’s already there.

Both of these should be considered “non-negotiable” – you should be doing them every single day without thinking about it and without being asked. Given that most of us are in the midst of winter training and are likely to be stuck inside for at least another six weeks, doing both of these is a good way to start setting yourself apart from the other coxswains.