Youth Sports Coach - Watch What You Say

By Nick Dixon
Article Link: Ezine Articles: Youth Sports Coach - Watch What You Say.

Volunteering to coach youth sports can be one of the most rewarding experiences in your life. It is a privilege to spend time teaching, coaching and mentoring youngsters in one of the most critical stages of their mental and physical development. Many kids do not have positive role models in their life. Many kids do not get the attention and the discipline that they need and desire. The main thing I want to discus today is the importance of thinking before you speak and the fact that your words greatly affect the self esteem of your players. Many coaches fail to remember that what a coach says can have long term positive or negative effects on a player. All youth coaches should remember these points regardless of which sport that they coach.

What you say can have long term positive or negative effects on a player. It is a coach's job and responsibility to see, identify, and correct bad player habits, mechanics and incorrect actions and behavior. Coaches should use an approach in such times that is constructive and that produces positive results. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a coach verbalizes displeasure when a player does something wrong as long as it is done professionally and compassionately. What is most important is that if you tell a player when something is done wrong, always make a point to tell that player as soon as possible positive feedback praising something that the player does right.

Maintaining a balance between correction and praising is one of the greatest attributes of a good youth coach. Coaches should always take a moment and think before they speak what is on their mind. Sometimes coaches say something that they wish many times over, that they had not. Once you say something to a player, the damage is done. Regardless of what you do or say, that child will always remember the hurt and embarrassment. Words of praise build confidence and self esteem. A coach's words of praise and kindness are sometimes the only positive words a player hears outside of school and church.

3 Important Points to remember:

1. Praise Every Player at Least Once Every Day - Kids look up to you. They hear every word that you say. They take every word that you say to the "heart". Always strive to find a reason to praise every player at least once or more during every game or practice. Don't make it false praise because kids are too smart. They know when you are sincere or not sincere in your praise.

2. Maintain a Healthy Balance - Make sure that when you correct a player for poor execution of a skill, drill or action, that you praise that player later when a job is well done. If all the kid hears are negative comments one right after another, that kids is going to eventually "tune you out". Keep a healthy balance between your words of correction and your words of praise. Maintaining a positive attitude and a positive approach when correcting bad execution requires a high level of patience. Patience is another valuable attribute of good youth sports coaches.

3. Maintain Your Composure - Think Before You Speak - You can never take words back. Once they are said, they are said! Take a minute to think before you speak when you are irritated and displeased. Words spoken out of anger often come out wrong and have the opposite effect on a player or team than you wished for. If you want your team to play and perform with composure then you must be an example or role model. If you "lose it" every time something goes bad then why should your players not do the same. Be calm and composed at all times. Players and teams emulate the behavior of their coach. If he is calm and collected when the pressure is on, they will tend to be also.

Cycling Your Periodization Plan

By: Michael H. Stone and Meg Stone (East Tennessee State) and William A. Sands.
From:  Olympic Coach Winter 2008.

Updated: Aug 27th 2009 2:20 PM UTC by Matt Fitzgerald

The “principle of the cyclic arrangement of load demands” consists of two concepts working simultaneously: 1) cycling and 2) stages (Harre 1982, p. 78). Cycles of training are organized so that work is punctuated with rest and so that athletes progress through a program that systematically varies the training tasks and load.
The overall cycle that each athlete goes through consists of repeating three stages: a) acquisition of athletic form b) stabilization of athletic form c) temporary loss of athletic form (Harre 1982). Practical experience has shown that athletes do not continue to improve in a progressive linear manner. Athletes require work periods that cause fatigue, and then these work periods are followed by rest and adaptation.
Training load is cycled by increasing load demands followed by decreasing demands. The second concept, stages, is again based on practical experience. Athletes simply cannot work on all of the demands of training and competition at the same time. The demands are too numerous, and available time is too limited. Taken together, these two concepts are united under the modern training approach called periodization.
The concept of periodization has been around at least since the 1920s (Nilsson 1987), and there are at least a dozen models of periodization. Caution should be exercised in their use due to the tendency to infer too much from individual models (Francis and Patterson 1992; Siff 1996a, 1996b; Siff and Verkhoshansky 1993; Verkhoshansky, U. 1981; Verkhoshansky 1977, 1985; Viru 1988, 1990, 1995). Further, most of the models have been tested only cursorily, if at all. Table 1.1 presents a list of several models.



Planning with Periodization

The most common method of developing a periodization plan is to divide a competitive season into three levels of cycles: a) macrocycles - several months in duration up to a year or slightly more: b) mesocycles - from approximately two to approximately eight weeks in duration; and c) microcycles - usually seven to fourteen days in duration.
The three levels of training organization permit a “divide and conquer” approach to the assignment of training tasks in a definite pattern for a definite period. Unfortunately, various authors have taken considerable liberty in using terms to describe varying durations, contents, and objectives of training within this context.
The three levels of training duration are placed within an overall structure of the training year that consists of a preparatory period, a competitive period, and a transition or rest period.
An athlete requires approximately 22 to 25 weeks to reach peak performance (Verkhoshansky 1985) before a type of fatigue or exhaustion occurs that is poorly understood (Poliquin 1991). Experience has shown that performance generally declines within these times constraints, but the mechanisms of the decline are unknown.
This idea of a limited time for adaptation leads to the concept of multiple periodization, which simply means that the training year is usually divided into two, rarely more, phases consisting of preparatory, competitive and transition periods (Bompa 1990a, 1990b, 1993; Siff and Verkhoshansky 1993; Verkhoshansky 1985). Perhaps unfortunately, many modern training programs force athletes to attempt to peak too often.


Description of the Periods

The preparatory period is usually divided into general and specific phases. The general preparatory phase is used for broad or multilateral training (Bompa, 1990b). The training tasks are aimed at improving the athlete’s overall strength, flexibility, stamina, coordination, and so forth.
The specific preparatory phase more closely resembles the sport and sport-specific tasks. Training during the specific preparatory phase are aimed at improving sport-specific tasks and fitness such as jumping, flexibility and strength in extreme ranges of motion and applying any newly acquired fitness to solving specific sport tasks.The preparatory period should be relatively longer for inexperienced athletes in order to allow for sufficient development of basic fitness.
However, in elite athletes the preparatory period may be relatively short due to frequent competitions and the necessity of elite athletes to remain close to top condition throughout the training year (Francis and Patterson 1992; Siff 1996b; Siff and Verkhoshansky 1993; Zatsiorsky 1995).
The competitive period involves the majority of competitions during the particular season or macrocycle. The fitness of the athlete should be relatively stable during this period, and training focuses on maximizing and stabilizing performance. The preparatory period is linked to the competitive period in that a well-executed preparatory period, with sufficient duration to achieve a high level of fitness at a reasonable pace, allows the athlete to demonstrate more stable performances during the competitive period ( Harre 1982; Siff and Verkhoshansky 1993;Verkhoshansky 1985).
The idea of performance stability is particularly important for athletes in resistance training, and may differ somewhat from sport to sport. For example, the tactical approach of a pole vaulter is quite different from that of a diver. The pole vaulter may often face performances that he or she has never equaled. This is seen in personal-best records. The pole vaulter may try previously unachieved heights in many competitions throughout a season. The diver should face this type of scenario only in the protected environment of training. The diver must perform what he or she has performed (i.e. dives) hundreds or thousands of times before, but must perform dives precisely in the decisive moment of competition. No byes or failed attempts are allowed in diving. Therefore, the diver seeks to stabilize performance at a level that is consistent with his or her skills, while the pole vaulter must assault and achieve new levels of performance during a competition and can use more than one attempt.
The transition or rest period involves one to four, rarely more, weeks of reduced training load to facilitate recovery from the rigors of previous training both physically and mentally (Bompa 1990a, 1990b; Harre 1982, 1986; Siff and Verkhoshansky 1993). During the transition period the athlete should attempt to maintain fitness while allowing injuries to heal, develop new goals for the next competitive season, evaluate the previous competitive season and basically ensure that the next competitive season begins with a renewed vigor and commitment.


Types of Periods

There are a number of different types of periods of training depending on training goals, time of the season and capabilities of the athlete. Macrocycles are usually described based on common sense understanding of the nature of the competitions within the macrocycle. For example, there may be an Olympic preparation type of macrocycle due to the modification of competition schedules to fit properly with the Olympic Games. There may also be a Pan American, national championship, or other type of macrocycles depending on the most important goal of the macrocycle. The second level, mesocycles can be categorized by the objectives of the mesocycle. Mesocycle-level objectives are relatively similar across macrocycles, which aids in the consistency of their defining characteristics. Mesocycles thus become similar to inter-changeable planning “parts” that can be used and reused in different macrocycles. Table 1.2 shows a list of mesocycle types and corresponding tasks (Harre 1982).
The mesocycles can be linked to form an annual plan (Bompa 1990b), or a specific macrocycle (Harre 1982, 1990; Matveyev 1977). Microcycles are periods of training lasting from seven to fourteen days. Microcycles are the smallest basic unit of training planning that has strictly applied objectives. The training lesson is a smaller training unit, but the goals of any particular training lesson can be modified based on current circumstances. However, the objectives of the microcycle remain intact so that the subsequent training lessons are adapted to reach the objectives set for the microcycle (Verkhoshansky 1985). Various types of microcycles are shown in Table 1.3 below.


As described earlier, the cyclic arrangement of load demands refers to periodization, which is composed of two concepts used simultaneously. The first concept is that of cycling the training load by alternating between work and rest. The second concept is that of periods of training with specific, distinct and linked goals. The importance of these periodization concepts lies in the organized and systematic fashion in which training loads can be applied for the improvement of sport performance.
Excerpted from Principles and Practice of Resistance Training by Michael H. Stone, Meg Stone and William A. Sands; Human Kinetics Champaign, IL. 2007. Reprinted with permission from Human Kinetics.

Annual Planning, Periodisation and its Variations

Author: Tudor Bompa (CAN)
Fisa Level 3: Section 6- Annual Planning, Periodisation and its Variations.

Tudor Bompa

Tudor Bompa is the father of periodisation, a training system developed by the Soviets that aimed for optimal performance by varying the training stress throughout the year rather than maintaining a constant training focus. Bompa's training theory was laid out in his seminal work Theory and Methodology of Training

Bompa's understanding of assisted the Eastern Bloc domination of athletic competitions for three decades. He was on the faculty of the Romanian Institute of Sport.
As a coach, Dr. Bompa trained 11 medalists in various Olympics (2 gold medals) and World championships in 2 sport disciplines: track and field and rowing. He was himself an Olympic rower, and he later revolutionized the training concepts in cross country skiing. It is widely known that Jurgen Grobler uses these concepts when he plans his Olympic preparation. Bompa's book has simply been described as the Holy Grail of Training methodology and periodisation. A 'must have' for your training book collection.

North America: Periodization-5h Edition: Theory and Methodology of Training

United Kingdom and Europe: Periodization-5th Edition: Theory and Methodology of Training

Annual Planning

The annual plan is often viewed as the most important tool for the coach to guide athletes' training over a year. Such a plan is based on the concept of periodisation, which has to be viewed as an important concept to follow if one intends to maximise his athlete's performance.

The main objective of training is to reach the highest level of performance at the time of the main regatta of the year. But in order to achieve such a task one has to carefully plan the main activities of a crew, to create the best training menu, and to periodise the dominant abilities such as endurance and strength in such a way that will result in the highest probability of meeting the annual training goals.
Considering the above goals, and the high level of knowledge of my audience, I will be focusing in this presentation mostly on the concept of periodisation and its variations.


Periodisation is a process of dividing the annual plan into small phases of training in order to allow a program to be set into more manageable segments and to ensure a correct peaking for the main regatta of the year. Such a partition enhances a correct organisation of training, allowing the coach to conduct his program in a systematic manner.

In rowing, the annual training cycle is conventionally divided into three main phases of training: preparatory, competitive and transition. Both the preparatory and the competitive phases are also divided into subphases since their tasks are quite different. The preparatory phase, on the basis of different characteristics of training, has both a general and a specific subphase, while the competitive phase usually is preceded by a short pre-competitive subphase. Furthermore, each phase is composed of macro- and micro-cycles. Each of these smaller cycles has specific objectives, which are derived from the general objectives of the annual plan.

High levels of athletic performance are dependent upon the organism's adaptation, psychological adjustment to the specifics of training and competitions and the development of skills and abilities. On the basis of these realities, the duration of training phases depends heavily on the time needed to increase the degree of training and to reach the highest training peak. The main criterion for calculating the duration of each phase of training is the competition calendar.

The athlete trains for the competition for many months aiming at reaching his highest level of athletic shape on those dates. The accomplishment of such a goal assures very organised and well-planned annual training, which should facilitate psychological alterations. Organisation of an annual plan is enhanced by the periodisation of training and the sequential approach in the development of athletic shape.

The needs for different phases of training were inflicted by physiology because the development and perfection of neuro-muscular and cardio-respiratory functions, to mention just a few, are achieved progressively over a long period of time. One also has to consider the athlete's physiological and psychological potential, and that athletic shape cannot be maintained throughout the year at a high level. This difficulty is further pronounced by the athlete's individual particularities, psycho-physiological abilities, diet, regeneration and the like.

Climatic conditions and the seasons also play a determinant role in the needs of periodising the training process. Often, the duration of a phase of training depends strictly on the climatic conditions. Seasonal sports, like rowing, are very much restricted by the climate of a country.
As the reader may be aware, each competition and, for that matter, the highly challenging training that is specific to the competitive phase, has a strong component of stress. Although most athletes and coaches may cope with stress, a phase of stressful activities should not be very long. There is a high need in training to alternate phases of stressful activities with periods of recovery and regeneration, during which the rowers are exposed to much less pressure.

Periodisation of Biomotor Abilities

The use of the concept of periodisation is not limited to the structure of a training plan or the type of training to be employed in a given training phase. On the contrary, this concept should also have a large application in the methodology of developing the dominant abilities in rowing (endurance and strength).

Figure 1: The Periodisation of Dominant Abilities in Rowing

Periodisation of Strength Training

The objectives, content and methods of a strength training program change throughout the training phases of an annual plan. Such changes occur in order to reflect the type of strength rowing requires muscular endurance (the capacity to perform many repetitions against the water resistance).

The Anatomical Adaptation - Following a transitional phase, when in most cases athletes do not particularly do much strength training, it is scientifically and methodically sound to commence with a strength program. Thus, the main objective of this phase is to involve most muscle groups to prepare the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints, to endure the following long and strenuous phases of training. A general strength program with many exercises (9-12), performed comfortably, without "pushing" the athlete, is desirable. A load of 40-60% of maximum, 8-12 repetitions, in 3-4 sets, performed at a low to medium rate, with a rest interval of 1-1:30 minutes between exercises, over 4-6 weeks will facilitate to achieve the objectives set for this first phase. Certainly, longer anatomical adaptation (8-12 weeks) should be considered for junior athletes and for those without a strong background in strength training.

The Maximum Strength Phase - Ever since it was found that the ergogenesis of rowing is 83% aerobic and 17% anaerobic, the importance of strength has diminished in the mind of many coaches. In addition, the rowing ergometer has captivated the attention of most coaches. Often the rowing ergometer is used at the expense of strength training.

All these changes in training philosophy favoured the development of aerobic endurance to high levels. The results were to be expected: rowing races were never faster than now. However, what coaches should observe in the future is that to spend the same amount of time for the further development of aerobic endurance might not result in proportional increases in performance. One should analyse whether or not his athlete has maximised his endurance potential? Or, is there anything else which could improve the rower's performance?

In our estimation now is the time to add a new ingredient to the traditional training menu: maximum strength (which is defined as the highest load an athlete can lift in one attempt). This shouldn't frighten anybody! Nobody proposes to transform the rowers into weightlifters! As illustrated by the following figures, maximum strength has to be developed only during certain training phases of the annual plan.

Why train maximum strength anyway? A simplified equation of fluid mechanics will demonstrate this point: D ~ V²

That is that drag (D) is proportional to the square of velocity (V²).

Assuming that a coach has concluded that endurance has been developed to very high levels, spending more time on it might not bring superior performance. He might decide that in order to cover the 2,000m in superior speed the rowers have to increase the force of blade drive through the water (say by an average of 2 kg per stroke). But, according to the above equation for any additional force pulled at the oar handle, drag (water resistance) will increase by the square of blade's velocity. If one pulls against the oar handle with an additional 2kg (our example), according to the above equation, drag increases by 8kg! Therefore, the need to increase the level of strength has been demonstrated.

The duration of the maximum strength phase could be between 2-3 months, depending on the rower's level of performance and his needs. The suggested load could be between 70-90% of maximum, performed in 3-6 sets of 3-8 repetitions with a rest interval of 3-4 minutes.

The Conversion Phase - Gains in maximum strength have to be converted into muscular endurance; this type of strength is dominant in rowing. During these 2-4 months, the rower will be exposed to a training program through which progressively he will be able to perform tens, and even hundreds, of repetitions against a standard load (40-50%) in 2-4 sets.

The Maintenance Stage - Strength training must be maintained through some forms of land training, otherwise detraining will occur, and the benefits of maximum strength, and especially muscular endurance, will fade away progressively. And, rather than being used as a training ingredient for superior performance at the time of the main regatta, the reversal of such gains will decrease the probability of having a fast race.

A training program dedicated to the maintenance of strength will address the weakest link in the area of strength. It could be organised 2-3 times per week, following water training and could consist of either elements of maximum strength, muscular endurance or a given ratio between the two. In either case it has to be of short duration and planned in such a way as to avoid to unrealistically tax athlete's energy stores. Certainly, exhaustion is not a desirable athletic state.

The Cessation Phase - Prior (5-7 days) to the main competition of the year, the strength training program is ended, so that all energies are saved for the accomplishment of a good performance.

The Rehabilitation Phase completes the annual plan and coincides with the transition phase from the present to the next annual plan. While the objectives of the transition phase are through active rest, to remove the fatigue and replenish the exhausted energies, the goals of rehabilitation are more complex. For the injured athlete, this phase of relaxation also means to rehabilitate, and restore injured muscles, tendons, muscle attachments, and joints, and should be performed by specialised personnel. Whether parallel with the rehabilitation of injuries, or afterwards, before this phase ends all the athletes should follow a program to strengthen the stabilisers, the muscles which through a static contraction secures a limb against the pull of the contracting muscles. Neglecting the development of stabilisers, whether during the early development of an athlete or during his peak years of activity, means to have an injury prone individual, whose level of maximum strength and muscular endurance could be inhibited by weak stabilisers. Therefore, the time invested on strengthening these important muscles means a higher probability of having injury free athletes for the next season.

Periodisation of Endurance

During an annual plan of training, the development of endurance is achieved in several phases. Considering, as a reference, an annual plan with one main regatta (Olympic Games), endurance training is accomplished in three main phases: 1) aerobic endurance, 2) develop the foundation of specific endurance, and 3) specific endurance.

Each of the suggested phases has its own training objectives:

1. Aerobic endurance is developed throughout the transition and the long preparatory period (4-6 months). The main scope of the development of aerobic endurance is to build the endurance foundation for the regatta season and to increase to the highest level possible the rowers' working capacity (the cardio-respiratory system). The whole program has to be based on a high volume of training (20-28 hours per week).

2. The development of the foundation for specific endurance has an extremely important role in achieving the objectives set for endurance training. Throughout this phase, a representation of the transition from aerobic endurance to an endurance program has to mirror the ergogenesis of rowing (the aerobic-anaerobic ration expressed in percentage). Some elements of anaerobic training are introduced, although the dominant training methods are: uniform, alternative, long, and medium distance interval training (2-5 km).

3. Specific endurance coincides with the regatta season. The selection of appropriate methods should reflect the ergogenesis of rowing, its ratio being calculated per week (3-5% anaerobic alactic, 8-12% anaerobic lactic, and the balance aerobic endurance). The alteration of various types of intensities should facilitate a good recovery between training sessions, thus leading to a good peak for the final competition.

Variations of Periodisation

Figure 2 attempts to illustrate the periodisation of dominant abilities in rowing with the goal of peaking for the Olympic Regatta. This attempt is an adaptation of figure 1, but at this time it considers the time factor.

Figure 2: A Suggested Periodisation of Dominant Abilities for Rowing in 1992

Assuming that the coach may decide that in order to take his athletes to higher levels of performance, additional strength is desirable. In such a case a variation of the standard periodisation (figure 2) is suggested by figure 3.

In order to achieve this goal, two phases of maximum strength of six weeks each are proposed (total 12 weeks), each of them being followed by phases of muscular endurance so necessary in rowing (a total of 14 weeks). Such an approach is more desirable for elite athletes with very high endurance capabilities, whose progress in the past two years did not materialise. It is expected that this novelty in periodisation will bring the additional ingredient for a higher step in athletic proficiency.

Figure 3: A Suggested Variation of Periodisation for Rowing

In many walks of life improvements were often the result of challenging the tradition. It is expected that variations of periodisation signify such a challenge.




Developing a Coaching Philosophy (Part 2)

By: John Leonard
From: South Easter Aquatics
Article site link: Developing a Coaching Philosophy
PDF Link: Developing a Coaching Philosophy

As a new and inexperienced coach, there is much preparation for your first season. Of course, you are excited and eager about your first head coaching position. You most likely have planned what you are going to do and believe that you are ready. But are you truly ready? Have you thought about the how’s and why’s of everything you will do as a coach? It is important as you get started in coaching to develop a philosophy. For that matter, even the experienced coaches may want to reevaluate their philosophy.

Many coaches do not believe in the value of developing a coaching philosophy.They do not realize how a philosophy can have an impact on their daily coaching procedures and strategy.However, a coach’s philosophy is actually a very practical matter. In fact, every coach, aware of it or not, follows certain principles based on their own playing experience. Most of our basic philosophy emanates from former high school and college coaches.This is a natural start, because it is the approach with which we are most familiar and comfortable.

It is also reasonable to assume that the philosophy of a person’s everyday life thinking and actions would be applied by most when it comes to coaching.For example, a salesman discovers that one of his clients is dishonest. He decides to sell to a competitor despite the fact that he will make less of a profit selling the same product. This may not sound like good business practice, yet many people are willing to adhere to their principles even if it meant making less money. How many coaches would stick to principles of sportsmanship or fair play rather than win the game?We can see a gap between what a coach may think is the right thing to do in every day life, and the actions they may end up taking on the field or court.

In your effort to form or analyze you own philosophy of coaching we must first know what a coach is. A coach can be many things to many different people. A coach is a mentor, a teacher, a role model and sometimes a friend.Most of all a coach must be positive. A positive coach has the following traits:

Puts players first:

A positive coach wants to win but understands that he is an educator first and the development of his players is his top priority. He avoids thinking the game is about him rather than the players. Has an unwavering commitment to what is best for the athletes.

Develops character and skills:

A coach seizes upon victories and defeats as teachable moments to build on self-confidence and positive character traits such as discipline, self-motivation, self-worth and an excitement for life. The desire to see the athlete learn and the ability to effectively improve their skill is the key to an effective coaching program.

Sets realistic goals:

Focuses on effort rather than outcome. Sets standards of continuous learning and improvement for the athletes. Encourages and inspires the athletes, regardless of their skill level to strive to get better without threatening them through fear, intimidation or shame.

Creates a partnership with the players:

A positive coach involves team members in determining team rules. Recognizes that communication is crucial to effective relationships with players. Develops appropriate relationships based on respect, care and character.

Treasures the game:

A positive coach feels an obligation to the sport they coach. Loves the sport and shares that love and enjoyment with the athletes. Respects the opponents, recognizing that a worth opponent will push the team to do their best.

There is no level, where as a coach, you cease teaching the game.As long as you teach, teach in a positive manner.You will produce the best players, and ultimately, the best results.

It is extremely important to develop a philosophy with the following statements in mind:

Your approach should be educationally sound.

Your drills should serve a purpose and not merely used for “killing” time. They should be structured to provide the necessary repetition for each athlete and should be relative to the athlete’s ability level.

Your approach should be appropriate for your players.

You may learn a lot of new offenses and defenses and they may be excellent systems, but are they suited for your players? Use an approach that is developmentally appropriate to your players.

Your philosophy must be ethical.

In basketball, for example many coaches instruct players to fake an injury in order to stop the clock. This is unethical. Consider what you do in all aspects of coaching. Coaching from an ethical standpoint is extremely important. Remember, you are a role model for your players

Stick to your philosophy.

Most coaches, especially on the high school level, have to develop the talent on hand. There may be some years in which the athletes may not possess the ability or skill to fit into your philosophy.You cannot change the players, but you can alter your approach.

Is there a better way of doing what you are doing?

Apply this question regarding all aspects of your coaching philosophy-the offense, defense, motivation or your athletes, etc. Keep an open mind. Learning should be a life-long pursuit and this should definitely apply to your coaching philosophy.

Explain why you do the things you do.

To instruct and to motivate your athletes, you have to justify what you do. Can you? You better be able to.The days of just simply saying, “Well, this is the way we are going to do it,” are long gone. There is no way that you can justify anything associated with your program or team to athletes and parents without an explanation.

Your coaching philosophy should be compatible with your personality.

Are you a risk taker? Patient or impatient? Deliberate or aggressive? You will be more successful if your philosophy and personality are both in sync.

Sportsmanlike conduct should be a top priority involved with your philosophy.

There are certain situations in some games, which could be considered unsportsmanlike by opponents, officials and fans. Running up the score, playing starters long after the outcome has been determined and taunting are just a few examples to be considered. If any of these exist within your approach to coaching, you may have to make some changes.

After analyzing all the factors that I have mentioned, develop your own philosophy by putting it into written form. It is extremely important to be able to express and to explain your approach to athletes, parents and supervisors. A written document can also give you something concrete to reexamine and to evaluate annually.


Developing Your Coaching Philosophy (part 1)

By: British Cycling.
Article Link: Developing Your Coaching Philosophy

In this months' CPD article we are introducing the concept of developing a personal coaching philosophy. A much underutilised concept, coaches rarely take the time to stop and fully consider what their own guiding principles to coaching are and how these will provide the underpinning foundations for their coaching practices.

The development of a coaching philosophy will be shaped by a multitude of factors and experiences will be personal to each coach, with coaches required to reflect on current practices and personal values. Ultimately whether a coaching philosophy is pinned to the fridge door or is stored as a mental note, it can be the single most important influence on how you work and crucially develop as a coach. 


Why Coach?

All sorts of people from a variety of backgrounds take up coaching for many different reasons. Knowing why you want to coach will help you to appreciate the different roles and responsibilities of a coach. It will also encourage you to reflect on your own attitudes, beliefs and motives within your coaching practice. This will help you to establish your own coaching philosophy on what you feel is important in coaching.

It is useful to reflect on this at times, as it can help you to make the right decisions. You may however find, that as you gather more experience of coaching your beliefs change. If this is the case, you will need to modify your philosophy accordingly.

When establishing your coaching philosophy you should also consider your motives for becoming a coach. For example, why do you want to get into coaching? For yourself or for others, or a combination of the two? Are you more interested in the long-term development of riders or short-term success? Is your burning ambition to coach a team to win medals at the Olympic Games or simply to help riders improve their skill levels?

Remember that your riders may not necessarily share the same motives as you. For instance, just because you consider some riders to be good enough to join the club team does not necessarily mean that they will want to. Their motives for taking part may simply be to get fit or have fun.

Whatever your reason for taking up coaching, you should always adopt a rider-centred approach. This means acting in the interests of your riders, not your own. If your only reason for becoming a coach is personal satisfaction and gain, you are unlikely to be effective and will soon become disappointed and frustrated.


How Should I Coach?

There are many expectations of you as a coach. One of these is that you will behave safely, responsibly, ethically and equitably. The way in which you behave will reflect your general attitude to coaching and, in the modern coaching environment, there is a need to ensure that you conduct yourself in line with acceptable good practice. This should be consistent with the principles of the British Cycling Code of Conduct.

There is not necessarily one correct way to coach. There are many different ways in which safe, responsible and ethical coaching can be achieved. To be an effective coach you need to be able to draw on an appropriate set of behaviours and act according to the context in which you are operating. Your coaching should always put the riders first, ie it should be rider-centred. This means empowering riders by involving them in making decisions regarding their development and actively encouraging them to take part in their own learning. It requires you to provide leadership, offer guidance, share decision-making and generally guide riders towards selecting and achieving their personal goals.

The way you coach will be influenced by a number of factors, including the following:
• Your coaching motives - The reasons why you take up coaching will undoubtedly affect how you coach. For example, if you wish to see young people develop socially and learn new skills, you will adopt a supportive, educational approach to coaching and place an emphasis on personal development rather than competitive success.
• The riders - If you adopt a rider-centred approach, as is recommended, you should adapt your coaching style to meet the specific needs of your riders.
• The situation - There are some situations in which a particular style of coaching is more appropriate than another. In certain contexts for example, where safety is an important issue, it might be more appropriate to adopt an autocratic and instructional approach to coaching, in order to maintain control and ensure that accidents do not happen and riders behave in an appropriate manner.
• Your personality - Coaches are human beings and, therefore, have individual personalities. Some coaches maybe extroverted, outgoing and lively in their approach to coaching, while others may be more introverted and go about their coaching in a quiet, calm manner. In truth, personality does not matter, provided that appropriate actions and behaviours are maintained, which relate to the situation.
• Your knowledge - The more knowledgeable you are as a coach, the more options you will have available to you to plan and deliver effective sessions. Knowledge will also help you to feel confident and create a positive environment for your riders. A coach lacking in knowledge may come across as low in confidence and may be perceived as lacking skills or the ability of knowing how to deal with certain situations.

As the above illustrates, the context in which a coach operates exists as a result of a number of issues and principles. As a coach, you must seek to identify your own answers to the questions associated with coaching, and create your own set of well thought-out values and strategies to apply during your coaching sessions. These are the backbone of your coaching philosophy. 


Coaching Philosophy

It is important for every coach to develop a personal coaching philosophy. Your coaching is strongly influenced by your coaching philosophy, which is what you feel is important in coaching. It is a set of guiding principles that reflects your personal beliefs, values, motives for coaching and your choice of how you will conduct yourself as a coach. It may provide answers for difficult situations in the future, will reflect your interpretation of what constitutes good coaching practice, and is based on your thoughts and actions regarding issues such as:

• your role in relation to riders and others associated with your sessions, such as parents, other coaches, officials and administrators
• the extent to which your riders are responsible for their own behaviour and development, setting goals and contributing to the design of the programme
• the relative importance of the outcome of competition in relation to the long-term development and well-being of riders
• the importance of adhering to the rules, the meaning of fair play and the use of banned substances to enhance performance
• the intensity of training and competition for children and young people
• the need for a single-minded commitment or the importance of balance in the riders' lives.
Reflecting on what coaching means to you, and why you do it, is important because this information will give valuable insights into your coaching - how you coach now and how you would like to coach in the future. You need to focus on your coaching goals and philosophy, and examine your behaviour to determine what sort of coach you want to become. You may also want to check whether your coaching reflects your philosophy. Are your aims and values apparent in the way you coach?

You may not yet have thought about your philosophy and beliefs (or values) - usually you develop them as you extend your knowledge, interact with people and gain wide-ranging experiences through life. Your philosophy and beliefs will affect your decisions and subsequent effectiveness. Therefore, examining them is important.

Your philosophy may be verbal or, preferably, written and should reflect your own coaching goals, morals and beliefs. Examples of common elements of a coaching philosophy include to:

• have mutual respect between rider and coach
• be open and honest
• be approachable
• be accountable
• educate the rider to become independent
• have mutual commitment for the rider to achieve individual potential
• coach in a simple, structured way that is underpinned by current exercise science
• be clear and critical in assessment
• seek feedback from riders
• be reflective about, and committed to, ongoing learning and development
• be equitable
• work within the rules of the sport.

Underpinning all of your roles as a coach are the British Cycling Code of Conduct, the British Cycling Health and Safety Guidelines for Coaching Cycling and any contract into which you and your riders have entered.

The above article is based on information developed for the new Level 3 coaching qualifications, but is equally as applicable to all coaches, no matter what level they may be coaching at.


Plan your 2k Ergometer Race Time and Strategy

By: High Performance Rowing.

Resources: Concept 2 and FRF

Reference point: French National Squad. Spreadsheet will be available on the 1/02/2012  to registered users.

High Performance Rowing was recently allowed an insight into how the French National Squad set out to predict a pace at which they can do their next 2k ergo trial. 

From the outset, if you intend breaking your Personal Best, you will need to commit yourself from the first stroke because lost time in the first quarter or first half of the trial is impossible to make up later. In fact, you should aim to be a fraction of a second ahead of each marker to ensure that you can meet your personal best.


Rate is a result of what you can achieve technically and how conditioned you are. The top international rowers will achieve a rate of around 40 strokes a minute. Novice rowers would expect to do around 26-28 while experienced club rowers around 30-34 strokes a minute.

Always adopt a rate that you have practiced.   

Race Strategy:

1) Possibly the most common tactic is to do the first 500 metre split the fastest, the last 500 metres the second fastest, the second 500 metres third fastest and the third 500 metres the slowest. The difference between the 500m split times, however, is usually quite small, with no more than four seconds between the fastest and the slowest.

2) The second is to ensure the first is a fraction of a second faster than the second and third 500m with these being at the target split.

When doing the test, ensure that rowers follow these guidelines for completing the 2km test.

2km Test Protocol

The following is a test protocol devised by the French Rowing Federation (FRF) which attempts to both maximise and predict 2,000m race performance.

1) The day before the test: 

- Athletes complete two 'maximal tests' over 100m and then 500m.

- 15min of active recovery is taken between the tests. This invilves very low intensity rowing (at 4-6 splits below UT2.

2) Following these 'maximal tests' the rowers will complete 30-60min of low intensity rowing to ensure the body is well recovered.

Purpose of tests

The 100m test is used to analyse the maximum speed possible, whilst the 500m time is used to plan the race pace for the 2,000m test. The table below sets out the target pace per 500m based on the 500m test time. We have no information available on how the 100m test result impacts on race strategy.

French Rowing Federation 2,000m Race Strategy (based on 500m Test)
500m test 1st 500m (92%) 2nd 500m (88%) 3rd 500m (88%) 4th 500m (91%) Predicted 2,000m
1:15 1:21.5 1:25.2 1:25.2 1:22.4 5:34.4
1:16 1:22.6 1:26.4 1:26.4 1:23.5 5:38.9
1:17 1:23.7 1:27.5 1:27.5 1:24.6 5:43.3
1:18 1:24.8 1:28.6 1:28.6 1:25.7 5:47.8
1:19 1:25.9 1:29.8 1:29.8 1:26.8 5:52.3
1:20 1:27.0 1:30.9 1:30.9 1:27.8 5:56.7
1:21 1:28.0 1:32.1 1:32.1 1:29.0 6:01.2
1:22 1:29.1 1:33.2 1:33.2 1:30.1 6:05.6
1:23 1:30.2 1:34.3 1:34.3 1:31.2 6:10.1
1:24 1:31.3 1:35.5 1:35.5 1:32.3 6:14.6
1:25 1:32.4 1:36.6 1:36.6 1:33.4 6:19.0
1:26 1:33.5 1:37.7 1:37.7 1:34.5 6:23.5
1:27 1:34.6 1:38.9 1:38.9 1:35.6 6:27.9
1:28 1:35.7 1:40.0 1:40.0 1:36.7 6:32.4
1:29 1:36.7 1:41.1 1:41.1 1:37.8 6:36.9
1:30 1:37.8 1:42.3 1:42.3 1:38.9 6:41.3
1:31 1:38.9 1:43.4 1:43.4 1:40.0 6:45.8
1:32 1:40.0 1:44.6 1:44.6 1:41.1 6:50.2
1:33 1:41.1 1:45.7 1:45.7 1:42.2 6:54.7
1:34 1:42.2 1:46.8 1:46.8 1:43.3 6:59.1
1:35 1:43.3 1:48.0 1:48.0 1:44.4 7:03.6
1:36 1:44.4 1:49.1 1:49.1 1:45.5 7:05.1
1:37 1:45.4 1:50.2 1:50.2 1:46.6 7:12.5
1:38 1:46.5 1:51.4 1:51.4 1:47.7 7:17.0
1:39 1:47.6 1:52.5 1:52.5 1:48.8 7:21.4
1:40 1:48.7 1:53.7 1:53.7 1:49.9 7:25.9
1:41 1:49.8 1:54.8 1:54.8 1:51.0 7:30.4
1:42 1:50.9 1:55.9 1:55.9 1:52.1 7:34.8
1:43 1:52.0 1:57.1 1:57.1 1:53.2 7:39.3
1:44 1:53.0 1:58.2 1:58.2 1:54.3 7:43.7
1:45 1:54.1 1:59.3 1:59.3 1:55.4 7:48.2
1:46 1:55.2 2:00.5 2:00.5 1:56.5 7:52.7
1:47 1:56.3 2:01.6 2:01.6 1:57.6 7:57.1
1:48 1:57.4 2:02.7 2:02.7 1:58.7 8:01.6
1:49 1:58.5 2:03.9 2:03.9 1:59.8 8:06.0
1:50 1:59.6 2:05.0 2:05.0 2:00.9 8:10.5
1:51 2:00.7 2:06.2 2:06.2 2:02.0 8:14.9
1:52 2:01.7 2:07.3 2:07.3 2:03.1 8:19.4
1:53 2:02.8 2:08.4 2:08.4 2:04.2 8:23.9
1:54 2:03.9 2:09.6 2:09.6 2:05.3 8:28.3
1:55 2:05.0 2:10.7 2:10.7 2:06.4 8:32.8
1:56 2:06.1 2:11.8 2:11.8 2:07.5 8:37.2
1:57 2:07.2 2:13.0 2:13.0 2:08.6 8:41.7
1:58 2:08.3 2:14.1 2:14.1 2:09.7 8:46.2
1:59 2:09.4 2:15.2 2:15.2 2:10.8 8:50.6
2:00 2:10.4 2:16.4 2:16.4 2:11.9 8:55.1
2:01 2:11.5 2:17.5 2:17.5 2:13.0 8:59.5
2:02 2:12.6 2:18.7 2:18.7 2:14.1 9:04.0
2:03 2:13.7 2:19.8 2:19.8 2:15.2 9:08.5
2:04 2:14.8 2:20.9 2:20.9 2:16.3 9:12.9
2:05 2:15.9 2:22.1 2:22.1 2:17.4 9:17.4
2:06 2:17.0 2:23.2 2:23.2 2:18.5 9:21.8
2:07 2:18.0 2:24.3 2:24.3 2:19.6 9:26.3
2:08 2:19.1 2:25.5 2:25.5 2:20.7 9:30.8
2:09 2:20.2 2:26.6 2:26.6 2:21.8 9:35.2
2:10 2:21.3 2:27.7 2:27.7 2:22.9 9:39.7
2:11 2:22.4 2:28.9 2:28.9 2:24.0 9:44.1
2:12 2:23.5 2:30.0 2:30.0 2:25.1 9:48.6
2:13 2:24.6 2:31.2 2:31.2 2:26.2 9:53.0
2:14 2:25.7 2:32.3 2:32.3 2:27.3 9:57.5
2:15 2:26.7 2:33.4 2:33.4 2:28.4 10:02.0
2:16 2:27.8 2:34.6 2:34.6 2:29.5 10:06.4
2:17 2:28.9 2:35.7 2:35.7 2:30.6 10:10.9
2:18 2:30.0 2:36.8 2:36.8 2:31.7 10:15.3
2:19 2:31.1 2:38.0 2:38.0 2:32.8 10:19.8
2:20 2:32.2 2:39.1 2:39.1 2:33.9 10:24.3

Strength Training for Men - Part 2. FISA Coaching Conference Video. 

By: Jurgen Grobler (Men’s Head Coach GBR)
From: FISA Coaches Conference, Budapest Hungary. November 7-11 2007 presented a journal entry on this topic of Strength Training for Men by Jurgen Grobler. Having now confirmed accuracy of articles and sources, we are now able to present the following videos. If you would like to see the slides and notes more clearly, please see Strength Training For Men - Part 1.  

Jurgen Grobler FISA Coaches Conference 2007 - Video









Coach education - some ideas for improvment

By: Wayne Goldsmith

Provided by:

The world needs more coaches. Good coaches. Passionate coaches. Committed coaches. Innovative coaches. Coaches are the driving force of change in sport and every sport needs more great coaches.
Many nations - including the UK, Canada, South Africa, France and Australia are investing in coach education, coach development, coach mentoring, coach accreditation and ‘coaching the coaches’ programs.
To ensure that these programmes are effective, several common mistakes and pitfalls must be avoided. Here are some tips for those who are involved in coach education:

  • Don’t over complicate sports science. Sports science is an important part of athlete development and effective coaching but unless coaches understand it they will not use it – or they will use it badly. Sports science needs to be included in quality coach education programs but with a focus on keeping it simple, practical, applied, relevant and most importantly effective.
  • Align the coach development pathway to the athlete development pathways. The whole point to coaching is to create an environment which provides appropriate coaching to athletes at the appropriate time in their development. Effective coach development pathways must run parallel to and complimentary with the athlete development pathways.
  • Look beyond competency based training. Competency based training promises a lot but can fail unless the framework and resources are established adequately to train the coaches, train the assessors, ensure consistency across the national system and ensure it all maintains currency and relevance over time. Thus, a successful competency based programme is administratively laborious and involves checklists, and rigorous assessment procedures. It can be too complex and unwieldy to be workable outside the vocational training industry and academic sector. More importantly, there is a lack of evidence that competency based coach education programs produce better coaches and athletes. Unless competency based programmes can be thoroughly resourced and expertly managed alternatives to competency based programmes should be considered.
  • Consider the human side. While sport and pedagogical sciences are important, particularly at the higher levels of competition, the most urgent considerations for most of the world’s coaches are aspects such as dealing with parents, dealing with the inconsistencies of teenagers, finding time to balance coaching, family and work and the more simple, practical side of coaching.
  • Mentoring can be effective if adequately resourced. Mentoring is like politics. Everyone talks about it but few understand it. Every nation with a Coach education network talks about mentoring but programmes are often less effective than they could be due to lack of time or money to adequately fund and drive them.
  • Keep abreast of the latest findings regarding periodisation. Traditional models of periodisation are like black and white TV, the Betamax video and the dinosaurs - outdated and out of place in this century. Yet the old favourites - one week microcycles, one month macrocycles and three month phases are still being taught.
  • Focus on “how” and “why” rather than just ‘what’. The "what" of coaching changes all the time. The future belongs to coaches who challenge what’s happening now and think about the ‘how’ and ‘why’ to find new ways of forging the frontiers of sport.
  • Create courses which reflect where the sport is going -i.e. present. There is a natural tendency to stay with what worked in the distant past. As sport changes and develops methods of the past are no longer as effective. The past is the past - coaching is about helping athletes achieve in the future and must be future focused. Coaches need to be kept up to date with the latest findings in sport science and coaching methods.
  • Ensure that teachers are up to date with regular re-accreditation and education. Retired coaches and players can make good teachers. However, this is only the case if they are flexible enough to continue evolving and to continue learning as the sport evolves and as knew knowledge from the sport, pedagogical and social sciences emerges. Continuing professional development is essential if teachers are to remain the best of the best.
  • Embrace different delivery modes. Traditionally, coach education occurs in a classroom. There are opportunities to enhance coach education using various modes of delivery including practical sessions on the playing pitch as well as taking advantage of modern technologies enabling interactive discussion and e-learning via the world wide web.

There are ten really great ways of educating coaches - ways that can prepare them to lead their sport into a better, brighter future.

  • Teach coaches to listen to and understand the needs of each individual athlete they are working with. Much has been written about Gen X and Gen Y and the one common theme that everyone has identified is the need to treat them as unique individuals. There are no more one size fits all golden rules about coaching, sports science, developing athletes……….we have to teach coaches to work with people!
  • Don’t assume all coaches want to be elite coaches. A common tendency is to design courses to prepare coaches for the next levels of the coach education pathway. This can mean an emphasis on content that is not relevant to the coaches’ current needs. This is like teaching advanced aerodynamics to people who just want to learn how to make a good model airplane. The majority of coaches are not career coaches. They are usually some poor parent who got thrown in the deep end and got forced to coach the local team because no one else had the time or knowledge to do it.
  • Teach the things that matter. Coaching is about passion. About communication. About leadership. About listening. About caring. About creating the quality of confidence in young people.
  • Sustainable success in sport as an athlete is about character, values and human qualities - we must base coach education on how to inspire and teach these qualities in athletes. Talk to experienced coaches about what matters in the long term and they talk about attitude, passion, drive, integrity, honesty, self belief and desire. We need to design coach education courses to help coaches produce it?
  • Use resources and presenters which are appropriate and relevant. Seems obvious but often presenters aren’t matched to the stage or level of the coach. If having sport scientists or academic choose the ones who have an applied background in sport and are able to deliver in a ‘coach friendly’ manner. Make sure that they can identify what’s important for coaches and how the material can be applied by coaches to improve their coaching.
  • Keep courses relevant and up to date. With the Internet being so widely accessible, there are no excuses for allowing courses, information, presenters or resources to become out of date.
  • Keep the assessment simple. Avoid burdensome assessment of competencies. Keep it simple. Assess coaches when they are coaching. We are not splitting the atom. We are just teaching kids to throw better, run faster, swim quicker and jump higher.
  • Spend as much time training your course presenters to be the best in the business as you do designing the courses they present! Think of the best teachers you ever had. Was it the content that made you love coming to their class? No - it was them and their unique, special way of delivering information. You can’t even remember what they taught you but they inspired something in you - they lit a fire which got you excited about learning. So the question is - do your coach educators excite coaches to learn and to be the best they can be?
  • And now the most challenging concept…don’t teach ‘WHAT ‘- ‘TEACH HOW’. The content of coaching courses is usually promoted to course participants a “law” - i.e. what you learn in the course is the only way to coach athletes. There are no “laws”, no “golden rules”, no “must do”, no “always”, no “never”, no “have to” in coaching. Avoid being too definitive and indoctrinating. Rather encourage coaches to be creative, innovative and to do it their own way. Avoid pulling out the old coaching manual and teaching the “law of hockey according to …….” or the “law of swimming according ….” . That approach stifles creativity, limits learning and restricts the potential of the coach - and ultimately limits the performance potential of their athletes and the progress of the sport itself.

There you go - some ideas to ensure coach education is creative and effective.


Boat Orientation & Skill Level in Sculling Boats

Constanze Loschner & Margy Galloway - New South Wales Institute of Sport, Sydney, Australia

Provided by:   

The amount of yaw, pitch and roll induced in the boat by a sculler will affect the efficiency of boat propulsion. The purpose of this study was to analyse the movement of a rowing boat (Single Scull) in three dimensions and relate the results to the rowing style of the sculler. The study examines the relationship between the boat orientations and the seat and hand position. In rowing, the pitch of the boat is influenced by the movement of the seat and the rowers' body mass. The roll and yaw of the boat is dependent on the skill level of the athlete. All movement in any of these three directions will influence the boat velocity.


The speed of the boat (and therefore the athletes' performance) is very dependent on the stability of the boat. Being able to keep the boat balanced around all axes will decrease the water resistance (hydrodynamic drag) and will be energetically more efficient for the athlete to maintain or increase boat speed. The rower's seat and body mass move along the longitudinal axis of the boat and the system (boat, athlete and sculls) is unstable. The crossing of the handles during the drive and recovery phase adds asymmetrical elements to the rowing motion and so to the roll and the yaw of the hull (Wagner, Bartmus, de Marees,1993). Until now there has only been one study that has examined boat motion in three dimensions. In that paper only example data for two rowers was reported. If boat orientation information was available, it could be linked with aspects of the rower's technique and ultimately lead to improvements.
The purpose of this study was to measure boat orientation during single sculling and to relate the results to characteristics of the rower and the rowers' technique and performance.

Materials & Methods

Thirteen single scullers were directed to row at four ascending rating steps (20,24,28 and above 32 strokes per minute (str×min-1)) for 20 strokes each, separated by one minute of light rowing. The athletes were all experienced elite level rowers with the potential to step up into the international level over the next two years. The composition of the testing group was: 6 male (2 heavyweight, 4 lightweight) and 7 female (5 heavyweight, 2 lightweight) rowers.
The biomechanical testing boat was set up and adjusted for each athlete incorporating their individual requirements (pins, seat, footstretcher height, pitch and position). The transducers were all calibrated before each test and the data were sampled at 100 Hz and telemetered to the shore.
The measurements taken to describe the body movement of the athlete were: as an indication of hand position, the oar angles (electrogoniometer) on both sides mounted over the pin and, as an indication of trunk position, the seat displacement (cable and drum driven potentiometer). The boat angular velocity in all three dimensions was measured with three gyroscopes and the boat linear velocity with a magnetised impeller and coil sensor.
The gyroscopes and the velocity sensor were placed in the centre of the longitudinal axis of the boat. The three dimensions measured were determined as: X-axis (Yaw), Y-axis (Pitch), Z-axis (Roll) (Figure 1).
Figure 1 .Definition of boat axes and orientation

X-Axis: Yaw
Change of boat direction around the vertical axis of the boat
Y-Axis: Pitch
Change of boat direction around the horizontal axis of the boat
Z-axis: Roll
Change of boat direction around the longitudinal axis of the boat
Negative Value
Bow turns to Bow Side (left side)

Positive Value
Bow turns to Stroke Side (right side)

Negative Value
Bow goes up

Positive Value
Bow goes down

Negative Value
towards Bow Side (left side)

Positive Value
towards stroke side (right side)



The angular velocity of the three boat directions was integrated to evaluate angular displacement (degrees) with a resolution of 0.1 degrees. The frequency bandwidth was limited to 0.15 - 20 Hz. The whole time series was examined for transient effects of wind gusts, for example, and these sections excluded from the data analysis. Only the within-stroke changes in orientation for each rower were considered. The data was subsequently normalised to percent of stroke and each rower's strokes averaged.


Discussion: The results of this study indicated the variability of the boat movement in all three dimensions throughout the whole test. Although the timing and amplitude of the leg drive (Range = 0.61 m, mean SD = 0.006 m) and arm drive (Range = 111.4 degrees, mean SD = 0.792 degrees) was remarkably similar among all rowers, the boat orientation showed high variability among these athletes. Analysing the three dimensions separately there are some clear differences, which seem to affect the boat run.

Pitch The pattern of the 'Pitch graph' for all subjects showed the same changes throughout the stroke. The range of motion was from 0.3 to 0.5 degrees. There was a moderate correlation of 0.68 between the rowers' mass and the pitch range of motion. Thus about 50% of the variability in pitch motion can be accounted for by the mass of the rower.

There are three significant points that relate to the transfer of the body weight (at the first half of drive phase - peak velocity of leg drive; finish of the stroke - release of blades; first half of recovery phase - Start of leg drive). The change in the pitch correlates with the transfer of the weight of the athlete and the distribution of vertical forces between the seat and the stretcher. The bow reaches the lowest point during the finish of the stroke and the change of direction of motion of the rowers' trunk.

Yaw:This group of subjects produced a yaw ranging from 0.1 to 0.6 degrees. 0.5 degrees correspond to a 2.5 cm movement at the bow of the boat. The changes appeared especially during the first half of the drive phase, where the major forces were applied to the blade and the footstretcher as well as when the oar handles cross over during the drive phase.

Roll The range of direction changes around the longitudinal axis was the highest of all three dimensions being from 0.3 to 2.0 degrees. The 'roll' of the boat started just after the catch. Some athletes were capable of keeping the boat very stable around the longitudinal axis.
The more drastic changes of the boat orientation, the more the boat velocity was affected. This could be one explanation for a lighter athlete being able to row faster over a short distance, even with less force applied to the boat.


The results demonstrate a high relationship between the:

  • Boat orientation and boat run
  • Boat orientation and technique, technique adjustments (skill level, weather conditions)
  • Boat orientation (Pitch) and Weight of the athlete.
  • Information about the boat orientation provides athletes and coaches with another performance indicator that can be applied during training and performance assessment.


Wagner,J., Bartmus,U., de Marees,H. (1993). Three Axes Gyro System Quantifying the Specific Balance of Rowing. International Journal of Sports Medicine,14,35-38


Net Power Production & Performance at Different Stroke Rates & Abilities During Sculling 

Constanze Loschner - New South Wales Institute of Sport, Sydney, Australia

Article link: Net Power Production & Performance at Different Stroke Rates & Abilities During Sculling   


During on-water rowing, power developed by the rower may be delivered to the oars through the hands and to the foot stretcher through the feet. The proficiency of the rower will be partly determined by the effectiveness with which this power is coupled to boat propulsion. Velocity cost, the average power required to maintain the boat velocity divided by that boat velocity, describes how expensive a rower's technique is in terms of the power delivered in moving the boat through the water. Propulsion is defined as any action that directly affects the forward progression of the boat. For example, the transverse component of the handle force is a necessary accompaniment to the longitudinal component of the total handle force and requires power but has no effect on propulsion. This paper examines the relationship between patterns of power production and absorption and the velocity of the boat.


Three female international level scullers rowed an instrumented single scull at steady state cadences of 20, 24, 28, and 30 strokes per minute. Scull velocity was measured with a magnetic turbine and pickup coil, pin force with multi-component force transducers, stretcher force with strain gauge transducers, and oar angle with servo potentiometers. This information was sampled at 100 Hz and telemetered to a laptop computer on the shore. Approximately twenty strokes for each rower were time normalised and averaged at each stroke rate. Power delivered to the boat by the rower was calculated as the product of boat velocity and the pin and stretcher forces. Power delivered to the oar handle was calculated as the product of the handle force and handle velocity. Handle velocity was the result of the angular velocity of the oar and linear velocity of the boat. The oar was modelled as a simple lever with the water acting as a fulcrum to calculate handle forces from the pin forces. Motion in the horizontal plane only was considered.

Results & Discussion

For all three rowers power was absorbed by the rower just after the catch but rapidly changes to power generation for the boat, reaching a peak at about 30% of the stroke (Figure 1). The power reaches a second peak during the recovery phase as the rower exerts a propulsive force on the foot stretcher. Power generation during the recovery phase was comparable to power generation during the drive phase.
The pattern of propulsive power for rower A is relatively smooth and is generally of lower magnitude in both generating and absorbing modes and especially in the recovery phase, compared with that for rowers B and C.
The pattern of power production for rower A resulted in less variable boat velocity (Loschner and Smith, 1999). The smaller the range of the boat velocity the less power required for a given average boat velocity (Dal Monte and Komor, 1989). The mass of Rower B was considerably larger than rower A or C causing a larger drag force on the boat and thus requiring more power output for a given velocity. However rower C was slightly lighter than rower A and a different cause(s) must be found for the poorer performance as measured by velocity cost.

Figure 1 - Total propulsive power delivered to the oar handles and stretcher at
28 strokes per minute for rowers A, B, and C.

Rower C had a relatively irregular propulsive power curve with the largest power absorbing components near the catch. The outcome of this irregularity was a more highly variable boat velocity which in turn required a higher power output for a given average boat velocity. This relativity among the three rowers as described here for a stroke rate of 28 was consistent over the other three stroke rates with differences in the amplitudes of the variables only.

The consistency over stroke rates can also be seen in the values of work efficiency (WE). The values of WE varied among rowers but were constant over the stroke rates. Rower A, although scoring low on velocity cost (VC), obtained the lowest score for WE. WE was the ratio of propulsive work done (the integral of propulsive power over time for one stroke) to the total work done. As the transverse oar handle work done was similar among the rowers this lower value for WE for rower A was due simply to the lower propulsive energy expenditure that was most evident in the recovery phase.

It could be expected that VC would increase with higher BV since the drag force increases exponentially with boat velocity. The power output required for each boat velocity did have a tendency to increase exponentially (Figure 2 below).

Rower A is a world champion junior women's sculler and some of the characteristics of her rowing revealed in this analysis may provide some insight into which techniques make for efficient and effective rowing.


The rowers studied in this project were highly consistent in their work effectiveness over four stroke rates spanning cadences of 20-30. The lower velocity cost achieved by rower A was partly due to a less variable boat velocity produced by a smoother power production. Velocity cost increased with boat velocity.

Studies with larger numbers of rowers in homogeneous groups are required before firm generalisations to other rowers can be made.


Dal Monte A, Komor A (1989) Rowing and Sculling Mechanics. In Vaughan C (Ed) Biomechanics of Sport. Florida: CRC Press. 54-117.
Loschner C, Smith R (1999) The relationship between pin forces and individual feet forces applied during sculling. Proceedings of the Third Australasian Biomechanics Conference. Griffith University, Australia. 31 January-1 February.