A good coach will help you to go faster though time spend developing your power, fitness and technique. And if you’re lucky enough, they’ll also stand behind you and yell at you to go faster in a race (like the image above). There are a lot of “Coaching Video” options online – but that’s not what I’m on about here. (Although I’ll quickly mention RowAlong on YouTube)
Finding the Right coach
There’s a subtle difference between performance on the erg, and performance on a boat. To simplify it, the difference is that there’s no need for stability on an erg – but if you don’t remain in control and on an ‘even keel’ in a boat, at best you’ll go slower – at worst, you’ll end up in the water!
That doesn’t mean rowing coaches who coach on the water aren’t of use for Indoor Rowing – the big difference is that they need to know whether you want to float or not from a technique point of view. A technique that would sink a boat may squeeze an extra second or two out of a Concept2 erg.
So tracking down your local boat club and asking for specific Indoor Rowing coaching will certainly get you fantastic results – but if you can find one, an Indoor specific coach may do even better.
Tracking down an Indoor Rowing Coach
Good Indoor Rowing coaches are tough to find – in fact finding an Indoor Rowing coach at all is tough enough! This means that coaches like Sam Blythe at Fitness Matters have found a great gap in the market, offering private coaching and bespoke plans for rowers. On top of this is the ‘Fitness Matters Rowing Plan’ which he runs on Facebook. Over 100 other Indoor rowers are part of this – a plan written and guided by Sam. You may not get personal one on one coaching – but the feedback you will receive from him can be insightful.
Another name that you’ll hear often is Eddie Fletcher – who coaches British Indoor Rowing champion Graham Benton among many others. As well as being able to book direct sessions with him, he also offers training bootcamps through the Indoor Sport Services website.
For those lucky enough to live in New Zealand – Axel Dickinson is worth tracking down. Another Fitness Matters coach, his history as a rower and his results as a coach are impressive. Fot those who live around the world, he can offer online bespoke plans, working in collaboration with you to design a training plan specific to your rowing/fitness goals. These will be delivered to you on a weekly basis allowing you to plan your training schedule in advance. Coaching feedback will then be given on a sessional basis in order that he may expertly guide you through the week.
Sam Loch is an Olympic rower from Australia who has started to offer coaching to a very select number of people. Check out his website for more information, and to try to become one of his ‘chosen few’.
Xeno Müller has a long history of coaching people, on and off the water – and has broken records, so is certainly someone who you’d want in your corner. It must be said, this isn’t for those who don’t like opening their wallet! By far the most expensive option we could find. But if you have the money, and the time to make sure you’re making the most of every penny/cent – you may want to check him out.
Roworx.com is run by John and Jack Nunn. With a wall full of medals and a book full of stories, the powerhouse of both of them together to help your rowing can’t be under-estimated. Their website has a few methods for coaching, but one of them – the ‘F.A.S.T.E.R.’ programme, may appeal as it’s a remote coaching programme utilising video cameras to help them coach you better.
Continuing the Video Analysis theme, but looking at just technique, rather than giving you a training plan http://www.rowanalysis.eu/en/ offer a service where you put markers on your machine, and yourself, film a session (from the side) submit it to them, and they’ll then analyse, and critique your form.
If you’re based in the USA or Canada, the Concept2 website has a page to help you locate an instructor. Click here to go take a look.
It may also be worthwhile getting in touch with your governing body for rowing.
Check the coach can coach!
A word about making sure the coach you pick is good though. People like Sam and Eddie are well known and respected. But if you’re just searching the internet and someone pops up claiming to be a coach – you should try to see how they row, or at least how one of their other ‘pupils’ row.
A look at many of the PTs in gyms is a good example of this. It may sound like snobbery – but some of the things you see on a rowing machine in a gym are astounding. A good PT or coach would ease the user away from form that’s not only unhelpful to their development, but can also be dangerous for their body too (straining lower backs etc). So it’s a good idea not to just take someone’s word for it that they’re a coach for indoor rowing.
One thing the internet is great for, is finding more information. What follows are some websites with ‘Further Reading’. Some will give you great tips, some will re-inforce stuff you already know – others will go into details that you probably need never know. But everything’s worth sharing!
Sport Fitness Advisor An article looking at the scientific toll on the body during rowing. The information is gives is certainly interesting, but the links out to other training (like designing a strength programme, or Self Myofascial Release Exercises may be what really draws you in.
ErgRowing.com A great website with lots of articles that cover not only the physical training you need for a 2K but also the mental strength needed too. There’s an eBook you can buy with more detailed information too that’s well worth a read.