Athletes Handbook

MRA Athlete Handbook

(Download: MRA Athlete Handbook)

Manitoba Rowing Association High Performance Rowers Handbook


This booklet is a compilation of common wisdom that most rowers accumulate after time on the water. The ideas are tried and true and will help you become a better member of the team. Like any other Sport or extra circular activity, Manitoba rowing seeks to provide you with an opportunity to learn about rowing in an inclusive competitive environment. Like any co-curricular commitment, we have an expectation for full participation.

Getting along with your teammates

1. Sharing responsibility: Rowing is the ultimate team sport. To be successful you have to make your team function effectively on and off the water. Remember, in order to achieve your goals you have to be responsible for pulling your weight.

2. Team Leaders: Coaches are team leaders. They are given the roles they are given because they have a certain level of commitment, experience and ability. Team leaders are essential to the success of a crew, so enable them to do a good job by supporting their leadership. Don’t be afraid to talk to them about what you think or how you feel.

3. Knowing when to talk: In general you should keep comments to a minimum during training. In other words, back-seat driving is a bad idea. When it is appropriate to make comments, always remember to balance your input with respect and honesty.

4. Your value to the Manitoba Rowing Training Group: Everyone in the program is equal. Together you are equally victorious and equally responsible for the success of the program. Rowing has no superstars.

Communicating with the Coaches

Nothing is more important to your development as a rower than communicating with your coach. Remember that even if you are confused, angry, intimidated, or simply in a hurry, you have to make time to talk to your coach if you want to improve.

1. Know the boathouse rules and anticipate problems: • You risk creating a barrier between yourself and your coach if he or she constantly has to reprimand you for infractions of the boathouse rules. You should also make an effort not to aggravate your coach by anticipating conflicts with practice. If you have to leave early or are going to arrive late, let the coach know ASAP. Know how to contact your coach; do not wait until it is too late.

2. Getting attention: • Actions speak louder than words. We communicate explicitly through our actions. Hard work, Dedication and Commitment attract attention regardless of ability. If you need to speak with your coach about something specific, after practice is the best time. It is also worthwhile to try to reach your coach on the phone during the day or in the evenings after practice. A bad time to get individual attention is at the beginning of practice. 3. Listening Carefully: • Nothing is more aggravating for a coach than being asked a question that has just been answered. When the coach asks for your attention you should give it.

Practicing Effectively

1. School work is more important than practice. Get it done and be focused on practice when you come to practice.

2. Be on time for practice. You have a responsibly to your training group to be there.

3. Practicing takes a lot of effort. You have to get there, work hard and deal with people, all while investing considerable effort. Naturally you are going to have to give up things that you would otherwise be doing. When you come to practice get the most out of it that you can. Do a good job so that you do not waste your and others time.

4. Elite level rowers make sacrifices to earn their seats. You will have to study hard, row on the weekends and during the holidays and be away at races quite a bit. If you want to the make a sincere commitment to high performance be prepared for the choice. The training group will be counting on your commitment. If you want to talk about the commitment necessary, talk to your coach.

Practice Attire

The rowing motion involves the entire body. Wearing appropriate attire is imperative.

1. Rowing Trou/tights. You must wear MRA issued gear for the appropriate conditions. This helps build awareness of our training group and identity.

2. No watches. Your coach will be your time keeper and will let you know when practice is complete.

3. No jewelry. (exception for wedding bands and religious jewelry)

4. Long hair should be tied back.

5. Nails should be clipped.

6. Don’t forget your water bottle.

7. Sunglasses may be worn.

8. Sunscreen is advised.

Practice Procedures

Before you Row Your personal equipment should be out of the way. Leave your unneeded equipment in your vehicle when possible. The training facility is NOT an appropriate place for personal equipment. The boathouse is our home…do not make a mess! As soon as you arrive, take the blades down to the dock. The blades should be carried two at a time in pairs. The blades should not be in a pile, but should align to where the seats will be.

Boat Check

Rowing equipment is quite sophisticated with a lot of moving parts and fragile components. It is also very expensive. Top rowers look after their equipment because it is tough to repair and replace. Never take your equipment for granted, keeping mind that our boats range in value from $9,000 for 1x to $35,000 for an 8+. Be responsible for your seat. Before getting “hands-on” take a quick check to make sure that your rigger has all the nuts and that you have a seat that is on properly.

Hands On

From the time you take hold of the shell to the time that it is replaced after practice all should be quiet except for requested feedback from coaches, or commands from bow. Focus should be placed on what needs to get done at practice and what you are going to work on while you are on the water.

On the Dock

Watch your footing. The dock may be slippery. Make sure that the shell clears the edge of the dock and is placed in the water gently. Once the shell is in the water, take off your shoes and place them on the shore. No shoes should touch the inside of the boat. Always listen for the commands of the coxswain to get on and off the dock quickly and safely. A good crew should be off the dock in 30 seconds.

On the Water

The coach and bow-person are in charge, stay quiet and listen up. Don’t waste time and be proactive about your positioning in the river. Returning to the dock Hold the boat off the dock to protect the shell and the riggers. After getting out of the boat, everyone undoes their oarlock and removes the oars. Then, place the oars on the far side of the dock. Good crews are off the dock in 25 seconds. When removing the shell from the water it should go straight to heads in one smooth motion. All should stay focused until the shell has been racked. The boat should be wiped down and placed appropriately on the racks.

After racked shake hands with your boat after each row. No matter how you felt the practice went this is done to show your respect for your teammates. Get the launches put away and assist others with docking. Listen for a coach’s instructions on where to meet to chat quickly about practice.

Taking care of yourself

1. Know your body. If something doesn’t feel right tell speak with a coach.

2. REST: Adequate rest is necessary for muscle growth and development. You should be getting 9-10 hours of sleep a night. Rest is the most important component of recovery.

3. STRETCH, a dynamic warm-up and static stretching cool down are essential to good recovery.

4. EAT, make sure that you eat a reasonable breakfast and lunch. Bring a snack for directly following the workout. Eating within 20 minutes of your workout is a necessary component of recovery. Some ideas include, bagel w/ peanut butter, granola bar, fruits, chocolate milk and yogurt.

5. Take care of blisters and small cuts, especially on your hands, before they get infected.

6. Carry a water bottle all day. Stay hydrated! If you are thirsty it is too late.

Blister Care: Use correct grip to avoid getting bad blisters.

Keep your hands clean. Clean open blisters every night with simple soap and water. If desired hydrogen peroxide may also be used to prevent infection. After cleaned, super glue can be used carefully to cover the blister. Tape and band-aids are not an ideal cover for blisters as they increase the moisture and friction in area. Super Glue can be applied as a covering if necessary. The best is for your hands to blister once and toughen up. Do not pick and peel at your blisters as this can lead to tearing of the skin and causing more damage.

The Ergometer

The ergometers will be used at the beginning of the season and then on days throughout the season when bad weather presents itself. Wear the same uniform for indoor workouts as for water workouts. Pay attention. Days on the ergs are great opportunities for individual attention. Goals related to ergometer performace are listed in the RADAR Erg Performance Standards.

General Practice Etiquette

1. Be respectful of each other.

2. No swearing.

3. No gum chewing.

4. Only use equipment specified by the coach, when specified by coach.

5. No horseplay around the boats. This includes when they are on the dock, in the boathouse, or in slings.

6. Do not speed if you are driving to practice. Preempt accidents by using good judgment.

7. Do not use cell phones during practice.

8. While at Provincial Training Sessions, you must wear Provincially issued training gear. This demonstrates the purpose and reason behind your training.

Travel Etiquette

1. Represent Manitoba Rowing Association on and off the water. Good sportsmanship and manners are expected at all times.

2. Athletes undertake travel with the expressed purpose of training/racing. All other activities are secondary and are left up to the coaching staff’s discretion.

3. If a coach receives a complaint about an athlete or group of athletes, they may be barred from racing.

4. It is up to each athlete to be aware of departure times for away races. Busses and vans may not wait for late arrivals.

5. Travel Attire: to be decided by the coaches.

Regatta Etiquette

1. Pay attention! Know where you are supposed to be when. It is important to be around to focus and launch your boat on time. Stick with your teammates.

2. Trading shirts: It is rowing tradition that a loser gives their team shirt to a winner. Therefore if you see someone wearing your team shirt, it tells others that they have beaten you. Do not trade shirts just to increase the diversity of your wardrobe. Likewise it is not appropriate to row without a shirt on.

3. Medals: If your boat wins a medal it is appropriate to tuck your medal under your shirt once leaving the medal stand/dock. This shows respect for your competitors. Everyone knows who won.

Team Policies

These Policies are here to foster a sense of responsibility, commitment, and dedication to the team as a whole. As members of Rowing Community, we are committed to the growth and development of our development athletes. Through these policies, we encourage honesty, integrity and honor. Do your best to embody these ideals.

Attendance Policy

Our organizational success depends on each member valuing his/her role as a committed participant of this training group. Value your practice time and be considerate of the time and effort that your teammates are investing. Missing practice shows a lack of consideration for your teammates, coaches and personal goals, it may also demonstrate that you are not yet responsible enough to handle the commitment. Everyone is equal on our team, and everyone is expected to honor their commitment and dedication to one another.

1. If you do not attend school due to illness, do not attend practice. Make sure to inform your coach. You must be at school to practice.

2. A note about academics: It is our expectation is that we are teaching young student- athletes time management, responsibility and, most importantly, accountability. While not all students are created equal, all students have ample time to prepare for tests, projects and most other school related activities. We expect that our athletes will be pinnacle performers in both the classroom and on the water. We believe that rowing is an important co-curricular activity that provides a much needed healthy/physical release allowing students to best use evenings to prepare academically. Students who are not involved in co-curricular activities are more likely to waste more time and not learn appropriate time management skills. We encourage students to communicate with teachers and counselors to know about assignments/tests/projects in advance in order to appropriately prepare so that conflicts do not arise.

3. Unexcused practice absences will be treated as follows: • Boat-placement of the unexcused athlete will be reconsidered. •Athlete will be asked to reconsider placement within the program.

Why Sculling? Sculling will be the priority for Manitoba Rowing Association Development for a number of reasons.

1.It allows athletes who are developmentally younger to train safely and effectively without putting undue load on growing bodies. 2. Creates physiologically balanced athletes. 3. Creates more understanding for the physics involved in rowing, I.E. one must move their weight. 4. Allows for complete transparency with regards to selection of boat as relevant competition is possible. 5. Better prepares Manitoba athletes for future rowing.