Photo Courtesy Eric G. Sack Photography
This post is about setting technical standards throughout your program so that you can get everyone on the same page and achieve vertical alignment.
For example, you might run a juniors program with a middle school program, a novice program, JV, and Varsity. Alternatively, you might have a masters program that breaks down into your learn to row group, novice, and various other experience levels. The question that I intend to provide an answer for is: How do you get all of the athletes in the program on the same page technically?
Ideally, you want your coaches and staff to be teaching the same principles as folks progress through your program. I think that consistency is important and also sends the message to the athletes and coxswains that the coaching staff is all on the same page.
As a result, I have developed an example editable benchmarking system that can help provide a clear structure for technical goals as athletes develop. The system can help coaches that are new to the program see what your goals for the technique are and you can get that consistency of instruction. Additionally, find video footage of athletes rowing with the technique that you would like for your program and show this to your athletes and coaching staff. This post relates to the rowing technique of your program, however, the same idea can be applied to coxswains as they gain experience and earn spots to drive faster and more experienced boats. Here is a link to my post about coxswain benchmarking to help assess the development of your coxswains.
The model I provide is a jumping off point, and when you download the Excel file (see link above and below), it can be edited and adjusted to fit your program. I would also suggest uploading the file for each athlete to a system such as Google Drive so that your staff and athletes can view the documents and update them as various benchmarks are reached.
The Benchmarking system has various levels of achievement. Ideally, you would evaluate your rowers three times a year. For a 10-month season, you might select Fall, Winter, and Spring. When you evaluate your athletes in this way, you (but more importantly the athlete) can see the progress that they have made since the beginning of the season. The first part of the document is shown below. This section of the document refers to the recovery. The file that I provide a link to below has other sections as well. It is all editable for your use and adoption and serves as a framework for your needs.
The section below shows a segment of the file relating to the recovery. Other technical areas include the catch, drive, posture, blade work, grip, timing, and flexibility.
|Legend: ( +✔) Achieving (✔) Progressing Well (+) Developing with assistance (Δ) Needs additional assistance or time|
|Rower has correct recovery sequence (hands and body – then slide)|
|Rower sits on the seat correctly (sitting off their pockets)|
|Rower establishes forward body angle early in the recovery and weight shifts toward the feet|
|Rower has appropriate slide control for rate|
|Rower carries the blade level with the oarlock on the first part of the recovery and then hands lift toward the catch|
Another idea to supplement this, is to have an archive of video footage. You could film the athlete on the ergometer, tank and/or the boat (preferably on the water is best, but it doesn’t hurt to have all of these). I think that it is a basic human need to feel that you are making progress. This solution provides many positives in your program.
I’m certain that this system can be improved, but it’s a start. Questions or comments? Email me at:firstname.lastname@example.org