How is boat selection done

  • 04 Sep 2015 2:40 PM
    Message # 3510867

    The process of determining which athletes will row in what boats and events at any given regatta is one of the most challenging aspects of coaching.  Coaches look at many factors when determining boat selections including:

    • Size to strength ratio: Having a good erg score is important but we always evaluate this relative to the size of the athlete.  We expect a 6'2", 190 pound rower to be able to have a faster erg score than somebody that is 5'8" and 135 pounds.  We do give consideration for this, however using a small size is not a justification for a very slow erg time.  
    • Technical ability: Power is important in rowing but like a car with a large engine and a weak transmission and little tires, the power is not worth much if it can't be translated into power in the water.  Technical ability is critical and is something that the coaches are evaluating constantly.
    • Competitiveness: A primary activity of the team is competing, and our goal is to be as competitive as we can.  The desire to go out and do your very best in the face of tough competition on stressful days is critical in getting the fastest boats.  However we don't just look at this trait on race days.  Each day at practice is an opportunity to compete and we look for athletes that push themselves and each other daily at practice.
    • Sportsmanship: While a competitive spirit is critical it cannot trump the need to have a positive attitude about the sport and ones teammates and competitors.  We expect each athlete to treat everybody on the team with the due respect, regardless of skill, desire or experience.  The same goes for competition, both those that are faster than us as well as those that we can beat.  Rowing is the ultimate team sport and sportsmanship plays a critical role in identifying combinations of rowers whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  These are the truly fast boats.
    • Leadership: Leadership can take on many forms.  There are some that lead explicitly, actively focusing the team on working toward shared goals and being at the front of all the activities.  But the coaches also notice the quieter leaders, those whose actions make a loud statement.  The rower that never complains, never backs down from a challenge, takes the opportunity to work a little longer on improving.  These leaders are just as important as those that exhibit the traditional leadership skills.
    These factors provide a guideline for coaches to consider and each day we use a number of tools to more quantitatively evaluate performance and ability.  These tools include (but aren't necessarily limited to) the following.
    • Erg test and other fitness measurements: We know that ergs don't float and that we don't compete in cross-country races or box jump contests, but there is an undeniable link between competitive rowing and hi levels of fitness.  Having good fitness is critical to being fast on the water, however, simply having good fitness does not guarantee a rower will be able to move a boat.  We typically measure fitness with erg test pieces.  Occasionally we will supplement this with other fitness measures.
    • Technical evaluation: Whenever we are on an erg or on the water the coaches are looking at the technique of each rower.  If power is the engine, technique is the transmission and it takes both to make the top boats.  Good rowing doesn't guarantee a spot in a top boat any more than strong power.
    • Seat racing, time trials, competitive pieces: These are all techniques that coaches use on the water to evaluate the ability of rowers to make boats move quickly.  Each coach has different preferences when it comes to these tools (and this will be a topic for a future post) but the most successful rowers come to practice each day with the mindset that they are in a competition.  Even when not participating directly in competitive situations (seat racing and time trialing) rowers should still be looking to make their boat go faster and row better than the other boats on the water.
    • Attitude: It is very hard to measure attitude but it is critical.  We want everybody to be a team player and push and encourage everybody that they row with on the team.  This is challenging when the person you are encouraging may be the one that could ultimately take a coveted seat, but it is critical to be able to do this.  We want individuals that actively look to help maintain a positive team spirt and work to resolve any small issues before they become large ones.  We want to see individuals that push themselves daily to be better and that are willing to jump in and work wherever they can to make the entire team better, even if it means taking a day in the cox seat or filling a seat in a lower than normal boat.
    All this information is used to select the boats that the coaches judge will be the fastest on the water.  If you have questions about why you have been placed in one boat or another you should definitely talk to your coach.  The coaches are all tasked with making sure that each athlete understands why they are selected for a particular boat and what they can do to improve to a better boat if that is their goal.


Contact Us
The Indianapolis Rowing Center boathouse is located inside Eagle Creek Park on Eagle Creek Reservoir.  
The IRC director maintains an office in the Eagle Creek Park Office Building.

Boathouse Address - no packages
7350 Eagle Beach Drive
Indianapolis, IN  46254
(317) 991-1829   

IRC Directors Office - packages
Andrew Purdie, Executive Director
7840 W. 56th St.
Indianapolis, IN  46254

Postal Address
Indianapolis Rowing Center 
PO Box 53223
Indianapolis, IN  46220
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