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Winter Tanks

This weekend is the second session of our winter tank program for 2016. When we sent out our initial email and Facebook posts advertising the opportunity, we got the usual “what’s this about” questions. What we’re doing is giving rowers an opportunity to hold an oar this winter and spend an afternoon or two really working on rowing without worrying about split times or how many 500′s they have left. IMG_3220

We know that coaches are limited in their time each week with their athletes. Two hours with 20 kids on ergs is hard to focus on one problem in depth.  We cap each session at 8 rowers in order to spend some one on one time with each of them. Small groups with enough time during the afternoon to really focus on how to row, what the stroke feels like, and making corrections so that they have a better chance of becoming good habits.

Our program is meant to supplement what you do with your team. We won’t do any hard pieces, except maybe 10-20 strokes here and there to demonstrate a lesson or how to apply power. We’ll take time to get it right, ask questions, and build good technical habits.

At our first session last weekend for instance, we used a boat strap attached to an oar to demonstrate suspension. One athlete held the strap while a rower used his back to row, and then used his legs, and the athlete holding the strap could really feel the difference in how much stronger the legs were than the back.  This will reinforce the lesson of using your legs on the drive, something that we all know but now they have related the lesson to the actual power output by feeling the difference.

Spaces are available for the next few weeks. Email us to sign up and join us for an afternoon this winter!

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What this camp is about…

High school rowing has exploded in the past decade, with teams and programs popping up all over the country, especially in the Mid-Atlantic. Having coached high school, and now coaching in colleges, we (camp staff) know that what realities most teams, coaches and athletes face. We know that no team can do everything, as much as a coach might want to, and we know that there’s more to rowing than just one type of boat or one type of rowing.

So what we’re trying to offer high school rowers during the summers is an opportunity to do something a little different. If they’ve rowed 8′s but have never sculled, for example, they will here. We are very lucky to have the resources to be able to offer kids a different rowing experience from what they are used to.

Most high school rowers don’t get to row pairs, for instance. Those are very tippy boats, and not really worth it to row once, you really need to row it for a few sessions or days to feel the affects. We can spend a few days getting used to the boat, and then the lessons that a small boat teaches about technique will translate to the big boats when you go back to your team. How great is it to say that you rowed a single or a pair when you go home?

Having a few days to spend learning safety skills is something that we value tremendously as well. If you can row a single, or are going to learn how, then you need to know how to get back in the boat by yourself if you flip. Last year at the boys’ camp we spent an entire rowing session doing just that, and will again this year and the years ahead. Safety is the #1 lesson we teach.

Rowing skills are like riding bikes. You never forget what you learn, and you never go back to not knowing how to scull. Gaining experience in different boats can only help a person’s rowing skills. We try to provide different experiences than what a high school rower would at home.

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The one thing to take home from camp this summer

Earlier this year we posted entries on what 5 things to look for in a rowing camp or 5 reasons to go to a camp, and we thought about the same kind of entry here to wrap up camp season, but really the things that you should take home from camp can be summed up with one big thing:

1. The motivation to get better.

You may or may not actually be a “better” rower the day you go home from camp. But chances are, if the camp was effective, you know how to get better, you know what to work on, and there’s motivation to do so. Don’t come home from camp thankful that you’re out of the dorm room or you can sleep in for a few weeks before school starts again. Come home and make a plan. Take what those coaches said to heart, and get better. Explore better technique, better food, and what it will take to strengthen your core.

Did you row a single? A pair? An 8 for the first time? What was different about the new boat, and how will that help you next season when you’re in your team’s boats?

Do you know new things about the erg? Or row on a “new” erg (dynamics?)? How will you get faster now?

Did you learn about strength training, and what it can do for your rowing or life long fitness?

Camp doesn’t end when you leave to go home. Take home the lessons you learned through the week or weeks and apply them to your training before the season starts again. Champions are made in the off season.

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5 things to look for in a rowing camp

1. Coaches: What is the experience level of the coaches? There are great coaches all over the place. It doesn’t always matter if they are college, high school or national team coaches, what’s important is that you’ll learn something, and most of the time you can find out what the coaches are like at a camp from others who have been to that camp, or by checking the camp website.

2. Program: Sculling? Sweep? Racing? Technique work? What kind of camp are you looking for? Is there something specific that you want to work on, like actual race experience, or learn to scull if you’ve been sweep rowing for a few years?  There are many different kinds of camps out there, some that are a week long or several weeks, some that offer coxswains very specific work, and some that do only technical work, just as examples. Find the right one for you, which requires some research

3. Location: How hard is it to get to camp? Summer schedules can be tight these days, with limited time to get in everything you and your family wants to do before school starts again. Does it make sense to travel for a day to get to a camp, or is there one close by that would be worthwhile? Or, is that camp so worth it to you that you can take the time to travel?

4. Price: We’re all concerned about cost these days, and camp is going to cost something, but its important to understand the value you’re getting for you money. Everything counts when it comes to a camp. Your dollars pay for the living arrangements, the food, the boats, the coaches, the gear you get, everything. Are you getting the coaching that you need (or want)? If you’re going to shell out a few hundred dollars for a week in the summer, then you should make sure you know what you’re getting for it.

5. Reputation: What’s the word of mouth? Rowing is a small world, and chances are someone has been to the camp you’re thinking about and can tell you something about it, what it was like for them, the good and the bad, etc. Sometimes, if a camp is new, there might not be a reputation there to base a decision on, and the best thing to do is look at all of the above and make your decision on the best info you can gather.

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5 Reasons to go to camp this summer

It may be cold and you might think you’ll be on the ergs forever, but spring is coming, and summer isn’t far behind, which means you need to start thinking about CAMP!  If you’ve never been to rowing camp, there are plenty of reasons to make this year your first.  If you’ve been before, you’ll be surprised what you can get out of it the second or third time around.

Here are 5 reasons you should think about coming to camp this summer:

1. Hear from different coaches: You’ll hear a different perspective about the stroke or maybe just a different explanation of what your high school coaches have been saying for years.  Sometimes hearing something said in a different way makes it easier to understand.  Coaches are all different, and that’s a very good thing for you.

2. Row with different people:  Rowing is a small world, and the more you row with different people, the larger your network will grow.  When you go to races in the fall and spring, you’ll see the friends you made at camp, and you might even end up on a team with them in the future!

3. Sweep or scull for the first time: Do you row nothing but 8′s all year at home? Or scull year round? Camps give you a change to try something new and expand your abilities. Each type of boat provides its own challenges, and learning to row sweep or scull will help you become a better rower.

4. Row a different boat: Even if you can sweep and scull, chances are you only do one of them on your team, and most likely you’re in one boat (8, double, etc.) the majority of the season.  Go to a camp where you can row something different, like a pair.  It will pull you out of your comfort zone and give you some experience to take back to your team during the year.

5. Because camp is just awesome: It’s summer. Have some fun. Row because you love to and want to get better!

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Talkin’ Camps

A video of camp director John Leekley at RowingTalks, a coaches clinic held at Washington College.  He talks about the benefits of camps for both rowers and coaches

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