STAGING Five top tips for junior rowers - British Rowing

Five top tips for junior rowers

Dan Cooper, Assistant Coach to the GB Junior Programme at British Rowing, provides exclusive advice for budding junior rowers


At the British Rowing Junior Championships (c) Nick Middleton

GB Assistant Coach for Juniors Dan Cooper has coached for over ten years. Below he gives his top tips so you can maximise your enjoyment of the sport.

1 – Enjoy the sport and the opportunity to train with friends

As Ratty from The Wind in the Willows said: “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”


As a rowing athlete, you are doing more than ‘messing about’ but you have chosen to be in a sport which allows you to be immersed in our environment, and you should enjoy working with others in it.

2 – Get the basics right

If you cut corners to go fast, your bad habits will slow you down in the future. There is always time in sessions to work on technical proficiency, such as completing static skills, while you are waiting for other crews to catch up in training. Find out from your coach what you need to focus on and then keep practising.

3 – Don’t get fixated on numbers

Rowers were successful before stroke coaches and ergo monitors. The information that these inventions give can be useful, if used in the right way, but at certain times they can be blockers to development. Try erging with only the distance and rate showing – you’ll be amazed how positive a session like this can be.

4 – Be on top of your academic work

The regatta season sits adjacent or on top of school exams. Therefore, make use of the time you have earlier in the season to get things prepared. Being able to time-manage training and revision is a key skill to success and the skills you learn now will help you through university and beyond.

5 – Talk positive

While rowing, it is very easy to find yourself thinking about the things that are going wrong and what technical faults you have. Have a go at trying to tell yourself what you want to achieve, rather than what you are doing wrong for a whole session. Of course, you will be aware of the things that need to improve, but this way your self-talk will always be positive and constructive.

Bonus tip – celebrate your successes!

Whether it be walking a single down to the water on your own for the first time, nailing that technical exercise, lifting that last rep in the weights room or winning a race; you have done that, nobody else, so enjoy when you get something right and reward yourself with a smile!

Read more about junior rowing here.