Monday, December 29, 2008

Doing the Business with Jurgen Grobler

Coaches – Doing the Business with Jurgen Grobler
By David Bolchover
This article was sourced from the Row2k website.
David Bolchover is the co-author of The 90-Minute Manager, which outlines the lessons that business managers can learn from football managers. His next book, The Living Dead: The Shocking Truth about Office Life, will be published by Wiley-Capstone in October.

STOP a man in the street, ask if he has heard of Sir Steve Redgrave or Sir Matthew Pinsent, and he would probably be surprised that anyone would waste their breath asking. Of course he has heard of them. But mention the name of Jurgen Grobler and you would probably be met by a shrug of the shoulders.

Yet this quiet, unobtrusive coach has been the indispensable influence behind the scenes during the past 14 halcyon years of British rowing. The limelight doesn’t interest Grobler. Only his athletes getting gold medals does. “I see my job as a service, helping young athletes, motivating them to the podium,” he said. “If you read the newspapers, you will see only the athletes’ names. That’s right. I have no problems there.”

Public recognition does come along sporadically. In 2000, Grobler won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year coaching award and four years later he was given a lifetime achievement award by the UK Coaching Foundation. He was awarded the freedom of his adopted town, Henley, on his return from success at the 1996 Olympics. But after each award, Grobler returned eagerly to the background.

Grobler’s business equivalent is not the charismatic, rent-a-quote chief executive so beloved of the media, but rather the unsung middle manager who devotes his life to extracting the last drop of potential from the human resources at his disposal.

At least, that’s what a corporate middle manager should be doing. The conclusion from recent research based on Gallup interviews with more than 1m employees across a broad range of industries in different countries leaves no doubt as to the value of good managers: “Talented employees need great managers. The talented employee may join a company because of its charismatic leaders, its generous benefits and its world-class training programmes . . . but how long that employee stays and how productive he is while he is there is determined by his relationship with his immediate supervisor.”

Grobler certainly knows this. “To be successful again and again, I think every athlete needs a coach,” he said. “You notice when a good athlete wins, the first person he thanks will be his coach. He knows how important the coach has been to him, setting the right programme, preparing everything.” And Redgrave, speaking after yet another Olympic gold in Sydney in 2000, knew it too: “Without his (Grobler’s) support and help we wouldn’t be here.

Too often business ignores the lessons of sport, epitomised by the likes of Grobler. During our conversation at the history-laden Leander Club in Henley he repeatedly referred to an overriding desire to help young people make the most of themselves. The history of sport is shouting at business that teams can only achieve excellence under the guidance of a talented people manager who forfeits the pursuit of his own achievements to dedicate himself to helping others achieve.

Professional sport, the most competitive environment there is, has not only long recognised the sheer power of effective and committed people managers; it also understands that such individuals don’t grow on trees. Whereas companies continue to promote people to management positions just because they happen to be good at what they do, sport has learnt that true managerial skill is much less common than functional expertise, the ability to perform well doing the job or playing the game.

So, in Grobler, who never even attempted to forge a career as a rower for himself, we have the embodiment of some of the key messages sport can convey to business. He is a type of individual you will rarely come across in the business world — a man asked to do nothing but get the best out of others.

From as far back as he can remember, as a youngster growing up in the rubble of post-war Magdeburg in communist East Germany, Grobler was both fascinated by the sport of rowing and resigned to the fact that he would never make it as an athlete. “I just didn’t have the right body shape to be a successful international athlete,” he said. “But I was always interested in the sport — the teamwork, trying to find out how far you can push your body. I knew I couldn’t do it myself but I wanted to help young people achieve their goals.”

So he enrolled on a five-year degree in sports science in Leipzig, then the leading university in that field in the country. On graduating, he returned to his local rowing club in Magdeburg and first attracted attention in his midtwenties when he won the club its first medal, coaching Wolfgang Guldenpfennig to the bronze in the single sculls at the Munich Olympics of 1972. He then went on to coach the coxless pair Bernd and Jörg Landvoigt to successive golds in 1976 and 1980.
His record now is remarkable. He has a haul of 15 Olympic gold medals, eight with crews he has coached personally and seven as head coach or technical director of the rowing team, first with East Germany and then, since 1991, with Great Britain. Redgrave won three of his five Olympic golds under Grobler’s tutelage and Pinsent all four.

Add on countless World Championship golds, and you start to wonder what it is about this seemingly unremarkable man that makes him such a supreme manager. What differentiates the average managers from the Alex Ferguson’s and the Jurgen Grobler's, men who achieve success consistently over decades, with different organisations and despite changing personnel?

According to Grobler, it is “how much you love the job, how motivated you are as a coach”. This might, at first glance, seem trite, but many businesses still ignore the essential truth contained in it. To be really good at anything, you surely have first to love doing it. But any ambitious individual who wants to ascend the corporate heights normally has to push early in his career to become a middle manager of some sort, whether he has any desire to manage people or not.
The result can be uninterested, weak management and a consequently sluggish workforce, as workplace surveys bear out with disturbing regularity.

A paltry 2% of UK Human Resources professionals interviewed by Personnel Today in 2003 stated that the people management skills of line managers in their companies were “excellent”, while 74% blamed ineffective line managers for low morale.

Grobler’s love of coaching has two primary effects. First, it enables him to think nothing of working flat out for all hours to go that extra mile, examining every last detail to prepare his athletes for victory. His own work ethic, enthusiasm and total commitment, he believes, also produce farreaching knock-on effects. They are in themselves a galvanising force, rubbing off on the athletes and making them strive harder to achieve their goals.

“As in any other business where you want to be successful, this is not a 40- hour-a-week job. You have to devote all the time necessary to make the young athlete achieve. You have as a coach always to be in front, in the driving seat. You have to say to the athletes, ‘Look guys, I can’t do the training myself, but I will be there an hour before you so that everything is set up. I will help you.’ I always think that’s a big motivation for the athlete. They know there is someone there who will really help them and believe in them right through the tough times.”

The second consequence of Grobler’s passion is that his thirst for more work destroys any potential for complacency, prevents him from resting on his laurels and pushes him forward to strive for future goals. When I asked him if he had any regrets, there was a telling silence. Eventually he shook his head and said: “I’m always thinking about the next one. Always looking forward.” And right now he needs to do plenty of looking forward, to 2008 certainly and possibly to 2012.

Redgrave retired in 2000. Out of the four who won the coxless four Olympic gold in Athens last year, Pinsent and Ed Coode have also now retired, and James Cracknell is taking a year out. There is clearly much rebuilding to be done before the Beijing Olympics in 2008 if the British rowing team is to continue its remarkable run of success.

Grobler said the monumental task of sustaining the level of achievement in the face of the departure of these rowing legends has provided him with a renewed sense of mission, and, if he needed any, yet more enthusiasm. “This is a big challenge. I am maybe even more motivated than I was at the Athens Games,” he said.

Grobler’s doubters should remember that the German is a proven master at bringing change and improvement. First he revitalised the ramshackle rowing club in Magdeburg, putting it on the Olympic map with a hotel and state-of-the-art fitness centre.

When he arrived in Henley in 1991, invited to replicate his East German success by the British rowing establishment, “it was just like Magdeburg 20 years before. A boathouse and a river, and nothing else”. With the help of lottery funding and driven by Grobler’s vision, the Leander Club now boasts the best training facilities and a refurbished boathouse, decked with
trophies and myriad memories of triumph.

Dilapidated facilities were one fundamental difficulty he faced on his arrival in Britain. The other was a dearth of the professionalism to which he was so accustomed in East Germany, where sport was “the Mercedes-Benz”, the prized asset of a dysfunctional system. “In my first Olympics here, it was all about ‘taking part’. I didn’t understand ‘taking part’. This was something totally new to me. I had to go there and win,” said Grobler.

He might have learnt in detail the methodology of sports science and fitness training in East Germany, but coaching for him is much more than reading from a manual. It requires combining technical knowledge with a profound understanding of the mental and physical attributes of the individual he is dealing with.

“A coach might have a training programme to follow, but he will have a feel as to whether the athletes have to back off or push on. You need to find that line, that ceiling. Not to go too far. Push them two steps forward and then back off a little bit. That’s feeling.”
Each athlete is an individual and no coach can afford to ignore that, he said. “Matthew (Pinsent) and James (Cracknell) and Steve (Redgrave) are not copies. They are totally different. In one way, you have to bring them together as a crew. The result has to be the same, going as fast as possible from A to B with each rower. But to motivate them, to bring them to the same level of performance, you will have to go a different route with each athlete.”

Because Grobler treats each individual in a different way, there is always the chance that some may consider that others are receiving preferential treatment. This is where mutual trust comes in. The coach must know, on one side, that the athlete will not shirk any effort to achieve. On the flip side, all athletes must learn that the coach only has the good of the team at heart — there are no favourites. “The coach has to establish a partnership with the athlete. Like all good partnerships, it has to be based on trust. Nothing should be kept under the table.”

Grobler constantly conducts one-to-one discussions with athletes so he can gauge the mental state of his charges. “A successful athlete-coach partnership must be coach-driven but the coach cannot function without good feedback from the athletes. An important part of the coach’s job is to listen.”

Few people like confrontation and the amiable Grobler is no exception. But he forces himself to engage in honest criticism: “It’s never nice. But you must always start from a base of trust, partnership and openness. We shouldn’t be shy of bringing things out on the table. We could just make every day nice, with no problems. But you will never improve that way.”

Grobler normally reserves his sharpest criticism for one individual — himself. If an athlete is underperforming despite his or her best efforts, he takes it personally, and he challenges himself to come up with a more effective strategy for that individual. “I feel responsible and always say that we are in the same boat,” he said. “If the athletes win, it’s their victory. If they lose, then it’s the coach’s fault. I feel a lot more down than the athletes sometimes. I am always first say to myself, ‘Maybe I made a mistake’.”

It is difficult to imagine Grobler losing his temper. But if an athlete threatens the trust that has been painstakingly built up between the two of them, then self-criticism and constructive feedback fly out of the window: “If I see they are cutting corners again and again, then I get very upset . . . I always say the last stroke counts. The last stroke last year made us Olympic champions. They all have to learn that in training.”

That last stroke in Athens won an Olympic gold for the coxless four crew of Pinsent, Cracknell, Coode and Steve Williams by the margin of 45 centimetres — or 0.08 seconds. This victory was particularly sweet for Grobler, because it came in the wake of a highly controversial and widely criticised shift in selection policy in the weeks before the race.

Pinsent and Cracknell were originally down to compete in the coxless pairs. But Grobler decided that the best chance for a British gold would require them to switch to the coxless fours, displacing a devastated Rick Dunn andToby Garnett.

The ruthlessness of the decision inevitably created considerable tension in the squad. Grobler was again prepared to sacrifice a cosy atmosphere in the pursuit of excellence. “I don’t do things just to make trouble or show how powerful I am,” he said. “But nor do I run away from the job.”

The German is happy and settled in Henley, describing himself as “more British than the Brits”. Filled with energy by the prospect of the rebuilding process that lies ahead, he hopes shortly to get the nod to continue in his current role until the London games in 2012. Doesn’t he want to start to wind down, to relax a bit? “I relax in the morning when everyone comes in on time.”

Jurgen Grobler's leadership lessons:
Love your job. Enjoy helping others achieve their goals
To be a good manager, you have to love managing. This passion will ensure your dedication to the job. It will also be infectious, increasing the commitment of others and inspiring them to attain their own goals.

Mutual trust and openness are key — guard them jealously.
No manager can operate effectively without trust. The team must believe that the manager treats them with honesty and integrity and hides nothing. For his part, the manager must know that each team member shares his goals.

Question yourself before you question your team
You are responsible for the underperformance of any member of your team. Always analyse your own performance as a manager before criticising others

Don’t run away from tough decisions
It is easy to sit in your ivory tower and avoid confronting awkward issues. Some decisions might antagonise certain individuals. That doesn't mean you shouldn’t make them. It’s your job. You’re a manager.

No two people are the same — deal with them differently
If you deal with everybody in an identical way, you will not get the best out of your team. It is your responsibility to find out what makes each individual tick and then manage them accordingly.

No criticism means no progress
For your people to improve, they have to know where they are going wrong. Criticising others might not be pleasant, but having a nice, cosy life should not be your goal.

Managing others is not a one-way process. Always listen
Listen to what your team is telling you. If you don’t, you won’t understand them. And if you don’t understand them, you can’t manage them.

Shun all favouritism. Performance is all.
There is no room for cronyism in any team or organisation that strives for excellence. Who is best able to carry out a specific task or fulfil a particular role? That is the only relevant question in selection and recruitment.

The Cardiovascular System and Exercise

Physiology – The Cardiovascular System and Exercise
The cardiovascular system serves five important functions (1) during exercise:
1) Delivers oxygen to working muscles
2) Oxygenates blood by returning it to the lungs
3) Transports heat (a by-product of activity) from the core to the skin
4) Delivers nutrients and fuel to active tissues
5) Transports hormones

Exercise places an increased demand on the cardiovascular system. Oxygen demand by the muscles increases sharply. Metabolic processes speed up and more waste is created. More nutrients are used and body temperature rises. To perform as efficiently as possible the cardiovascular system must regulate these changes and meet the body’s increasing demands (2).

Below we will examine the acute or immediate response to exercise and also the long-term adaptations that take place in the cardiovascular system with repeated exercise. The most important aspects of the cardiovascular system to examine include:
· Heart rate
· Stroke volume
· Cardiac output
· Blood flow
· Blood pressure
· Blood

Immediate Response of the Cardiovascular System to Exercise
Heart RateResting heart rate averages 60 to 80 beats/min in healthy adults. In sedentary, middle aged individuals it may be as high as 100 beats/min. In elite endurance athletes heart rates as low as 28 to 40 beats/min have been recorded (2).

Before exercise even begins heart rate increases in anticipation. This is known as the anticipatory response. It is mediated through the releases of a neurotransmitters called epinephrine and norepinephrine also known as adrenaline and noradrenaline (1).

After the initial anticipatory response, heart rate increases in direct proportion to exercise intensity until a maximum heart rate is reached. Maximum heart rate is estimated with the formula 220-age. But this is only an estimation, and not particularly accurate. The only direct method for determining maximum heart rate is to exercise at increasing intensities until a plateau in heart rate is found despite the increasing work rate.

Although heart rate increases rapidly with the onset of activity, providing exercise intensity remains constant, heart rate will level off. This is known as steady-state heart rate where the demands of the active tissues can be adequately met by the cardiovascular system. However, there is an exception to this…

During prolonged steady-state exercise, particularly in a hot climate, a steady-state heart rate will gradually increase. This phenomenon is known as cardiac drift and is thought to occur due to increasing body temperature (3).

Stroke Volume
Stroke volume is the amount of blood ejected per beat from left ventricle and measured in ml/beat.

Stroke volume increases proportionally with exercise intensity. In untrained individuals stroke volume at rest it averages 50-70ml/beat increasing up to 110-130ml/beat beat during intense, physical activity. In elite athletes resting stroke volume averages 90-110ml/beat increasing to as much as 150-220ml/beat (2).

Stroke volume may increase only up to 40-60% of maximal capacity after which it plateaus. Beyond this relative exercise intensity, stroke volume remains unchanged right up until the point of exhaustion (4,5). But this is not conclusive and other studies suggest stroke volume continues to rise until the pint of exhaustion (6,7).

Interestingly, swimmers see a smaller increase in stroke volume compared to runners or cyclists for example. It is believed that the supine position prevents blood from pooling in the lower extremities enhancing venous return (2).

Why does stroke volume increase with the onset of exercise? One explanation is that the left ventricle fills more completely, stretching it further, with the elastic recoil producing a more forceful contraction. This is known as the Frank-Starling mechanism. Other contributing factors include increased contractility of the ventricles and reduced peripheral resistance due to greater vasodilation of the blood vessels (1).

Cardiac Output
Cardiac output is the amount of blood pumped by the heart in 1 minute measured in L/min. It is a product of stroke volume and heart rate (SV x HR). If either heart rate or stroke volume increase, or both, cardiac output increases also.

Cardiac output increases proportionally with exercise intensity - which is predictable from understanding the response of heart rate and stroke volume to activity. At rest the cardiac output is about 5L/min. During intense exercise this can increase to 20-40L/min (1).

Blood Flow
The vascular system can redistribute blood to those tissues with the greatest immediate demand and away from areas that have less demand for oxygen.

At rest 15-20% of circulating blood supplies skeletal muscle. During vigorous exercise this increases to 80-85% of cardiac output. Blood is shunted away from major organs such as the kidneys, liver, stomach and intestines. It is then redirected to the skin to promote heat loss (2).

Athletes are often advised not to eat several hours before training or competition. This is advice worth adhering to, as food in the stomach will lead to competition for blood flow between the digestive system and muscles. It has been shown that gastrointestinal blood flow during exercise shortly after a meal is greater compared to exercising on an empty stomach (8).

Blood Pressure
At rest, a typical systolic blood pressure in a healthy individual ranges from 110-140mmHg and 60-90mmHg for diastolic blood pressure.

During exercise systolic pressure, the pressure during contraction of the heart (known as systole) can increase to over 200mmHg and levels as high as 250mmHg have been reported in highly trained, healthy athletes (2).

Diastolic pressure on the other hand remains relatively unchanged regardless of exercise intensity. In fact an increase of more than 15 mm Hg as exercise intensity increases can indicate coronary heart disease and is used as marker for cessing an exercise tolerance test.

Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure can rise to high, albeit brief, levels during resistance exercise. Values of 480/350mmHg (9) have been reported to coincide with a Valsalva manoeuvre - i.e. trying to exhale against a closed mouth, nose and glottis.

During resting conditions the oxygen content of blood varies from about 20ml of oxygen per 100ml of arterial blood to 14ml of oxygen per 100ml of venous blood (2). The difference in oxygen content of arterial and venous blood is known as a-vO2 difference.

As exercise intensity increase the a-vO2 difference increase also and at maximal exertion the difference between arterial and venous blood oxygen concentration can be three times that at a resting level.

Blood plasma volume decreases with the onset of exercise. The increase in blood pressure and changes in intramuscular osmotic pressures force water from the vascular compartment to the interstitial space. During prolonged exercise, plasma volume can decrease by 10-20% and by 15-20% in 1-minute bouts of exhaustive exercise (10). Resistance training with 40% and 70% one repetition maximum can cause a 7.7% and 13.9% reduction in blood plasma respectively (11).

A reduction in plasma increase the concentration of hemoglobin or hematocrit. Although no extra red blood cells have been produced, the greater concentration of hemoglobin per unit of blood significantly increases the blood’s oxygen carrying capacity. This is one of the main adaptations during immediate acclimatization to altitude.

Blood pH can change from a slightly alkaline 7.4 at rest to as low as 6.5 during all-out sprinting activity. This is primarily due to an increased reliance on anaerobic energy systems and the accumulation oh hydrogen ions (1).

Adaptations in the Cardiovascular System
Following training the cardiovascular system and its components go through various adaptations. Here are the most important:

Heart Size
The heart’s mass and volume increase and cardiac muscle undergoes hypertrophy.
It is the left ventricle that adapts to the greatest extent. As well as the chamber size increasing as a result of endurance training (12), more recent studies show that the myocardial wall thickness also increases (13).

Heart Rate
Resting heart rate can decrease significantly following training in a previously sedentary individual. During a 10-week exercise program, an individual with an initial resting heart rate of 80beats/min can reasonably expect to see a reduction of about 10beats/min in their resting heart rate (2). As mentioned earlier, highly conditioned athletes such as Lance Armstrong can have resting heart rates in the low 30’s.

During submaximal exercise, heart rate is lower at any given intensity compared to pre-training. This difference is more marked at higher relative exercise intensities. For example, at low work rates there may only be a marginal difference in heart rate pre and post training. As intensity reaches maximal levels, the difference can be as much as 30beats/min following training (2).

Maximum heart rate tends to remain unchanged by training and seems to be genetically limited. However, there are some reports that maximum heart rate is reduced in elite athletes compared to untrained individuals of the same age.

Following an exercise bout, heart rate remains elevated before slowly recovering to a resting level. After a period of training, the time it takes for heart rate to recover to its resting value is shortened (2). This can be a useful tool for tracking the effects of a training program. However, it is not so useful to compare to other people as various individual factors other than cardiorespiratory fitness play a role in how quickly heart rate returns to a resting level.
Stroke VolumeStroke volume increases at rest, during submaximal exercise and maximal exercise following training. Stroke volume at rest averages 50-70 ml/beat in untrained individuals, 70-90ml/beat in trained individuals and 90-110ml/beat in world-class endurance athletes (1).

This all-round increase in stroke volume in attributable to greater end-diastolic filling. This greater filling of the left ventricle is due to a) an increase in blood plasma and so blood volume (see below) and b) reduced heart rate which increases the diastolic filling time (2).
According to the Frank-Starling mechanism, this increased filling on the left ventricle increases its elastic recoil thus producing a more forceful contraction. So not only is the heart filled with more blood to eject, it expels a greater percentage of the end-diastolic volume (referred to as the ejection fraction) compared to before training.

Cardiac Output
If heart rate decreases at rest and during submaximal exercise and stroke volume increases, what is the net effect on cardiac output?

In actual fact, cardiac output remains relatively unchanged or decreases only slightly following endurance training. During maximal exercise on the other hand, cardiac output increases significantly. This is a result of an increase in maximal stoke volume as maximal heart rate remains unchanged with training. In untrained individuals, maximal cardiac output may be 14-20L/min compared to 25-35L/min in trained subjects. In large, elite athletes, maximal cardiac output can be as high as 40L.min (2).

Blood Flow
Skeletal muscle receives a greater blood supply following training. This is due to:
· Increased number of capillaries
· Greater opening of existing capillaries
· More effective blood redistribution
· Increased blood volume

Blood Pressure
Blood pressure can decrease (both systolic and diastolic pressure) at rest and during submaximal exercise by as much as 10mmHg in people with hypertension. However, at a maximal exercise intensity systolic blood pressure is decreased compared to pre-training (15,16).

It is interesting to note that although resistance exercises can raise systolic and diastolic blood pressure significantly during the activity, it too can lead to a long-term reduction in blood pressure (17).

Blood Volume
Endurance training increase blood volume. While plasma volume accounts for the majority of the increase, a greater production of red blood cells can also a contributory factor. Recall that hematocrit is the concentration of hemoglobin per unit of blood. An increase in red blood cells should increase hematocrit but this is not the case. Because blood plasma increases to a greater extent than red blood cells, hematocrit actually reduces following training (2).

1) McArdle WD, Katch FI and Katch VL. (2000) Essentials of Exercise Physiology: 2nd Edition Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
2) Wilmore JH and Costill DL. (2005) Physiology of Sport and Exercise: 3rd Edition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics
3) Rowell LB. (1993)Human Cardiovascular Control. New York: Oxford University Press
4) Crawford MH, Petru MA, Rabinowitz C. Effect of isotonic exercise training on left ventricular volume during upright exercise. Circulation. 1985 Dec;72(6):1237-43
5) Higginbotham MB, Morris KG, Williams RS, McHale PA, Coleman RE, Cobb FR. Regulation of stroke volume during submaximal and maximal upright exercise in normal man. Circ Res. 1986 Feb;58(2):281-91
6) Hermansen L, Ekblom B, Saltin B. Cardiac output during submaximal and maximal treadmill and bicycle exercise. J Appl Physiol. 1970 Jul;29(1):82-6
7) Scruggs KD, Martin NB, Broeder CE, Hofman Z, Thomas EL, Wambsgans KC, Wilmore JH. Stroke volume during submaximal exercise in endurance-trained normotensive subjects and in untrained hypertensive subjects with beta blockade (propranolol and pindolol). Am J Cardiol. 1991 Feb 15;67(5):416-21
8) Waaler BA, Eriksen M, Janbu T. The effect of a meal on cardiac output in man at rest and during moderate exercise. Acta Physiol Scand. 1990 Oct;140(2):167-73
9) MacDougall JD, Tuxen D, Sale DG, Moroz JR, Sutton JR. Arterial blood pressure response to heavy resistance exercise. J Appl Physiol. 1985 Mar;58(3):785-90
10) Sejersted OM, Vollestad NK, Medbo JI. Muscle fluid and electrolyte balance during and following exercise. Acta Physiol Scand Suppl. 1986;556:119-27
11) Collins MA, Cureton KJ, Hill DW, Ray CA. Relation of plasma volume change to intensity of weight lifting.Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1989 Apr;21(2):178-85
12) The athlete's heart and cardiovascular disease: impact of different sports and training on cardiac structure and function. Cardiology Clinics. 1997 15:397-412
13) Fagard RH. Athlete's heart: a meta-analysis of the echocardiographic experience. Int J Sports Med. 1996 Nov;17 Suppl 3:S140-4
14) Fagard RH and Tipton CM (1994). Physical activity, fitness and hypertension. In Bouchard C, Shephard RJ and Stephens T (Eds.), Physical Activity, Fitness And Health (pp.633-655). Champaign, IL:Human Kinetics
15) Coyle EF, Hemmert MK, Coggan AR. Effects of detraining on cardiovascular responses to exercise: role of blood volume. J Appl Physiol. 1986 Jan;60(1):95-9
16) Clausen JP. Effects of physical training on cardiovascular adjustments to exercise in man. Physiological Reviews. 1977 57:779-816
17) Hagberg JM, Ehsani AA, Goldring D, Hernandez A, Sinacore DR, Holloszy JO. Effect of weight training on blood pressure and hemodynamics in hypertensive adolescents. J Pediatr.. 1984 Jan;104(1):147-51

Fair Treatment

Managing Athletes – Fair Treatment
From Coaches Report - Spring 1996, Volume 2 Number 4
Just as the Centre for Sport and Law is in a state of transition [see "Speaking Personally, page 12] so is this column. In the last five issues, we have focused on issues relating to negligence and liability of coaches. In this issue, we make a switch to the other side of risk management.

As described in our first column [Coaches Report Volume 1, Number 3], organizers of sport programs (including coaches) have two obligations: one, to ensure a safe environment and two, to ensure fair treatment. Failure to satisfy the first obligation can have legal consequences, as those who are physically harmed seek compensation for injuries. Failure to satisfy the second obligation can also have legal consequences, as those affected by decisions pursue legal action to have decisions overturned or rescinded.

This column looks at the second obligation. Very often, coaches are involved in making decisions that affect athletes, and an understanding of the legal meaning of "fair treatment" is an essential part of the coach's personal risk management skills.

Procedural fairness (also known as natural justice or due process) is a legal term with legal meaning. What this term means for coaches and sport organizations can be traced to the 1952 "landmark" case, Lee v. Showmen's Guild of Great Britain. The case did not involve sport, but it nonetheless has great significance for sport organizations, coaches and athletes.

Lee was a man who sold pots and pans in a public market. The Showmen's Guild was a merchants' organization of which Lee was a member. Lee had a dispute with a fellow merchant in the market and the Guild punished him by suspending his membership. Lee fought his suspension in court and won, and the judge's decision established two critical principles for sport: one, the jurisdiction of a domestic tribunal is founded on a contract, and two, a domestic tribunal is subject to the rules of natural justice.

In plain language, these principles have the following meaning. First, a domestic tribunal (that is, a sport organization) derives its authority form the contractual relationship it has with its members. The terms of this contract are set out in the bylaws and governing documents of the organization. The organization can do no more, and no less, than what this contract specifies. And it can only change the contract by following special procedures which are laid out in advance. Secondly, the decision-maker has a duty to be fair. This duty is defined by certain rules of fairness, which stipulate that the decision-maker must have authority to act, must act without bias, and must give the person affected the opportunity to be heard.

There are numerous examples of sport situations where these simple rules were not followed, often with grave consequences for the organization which found itself on the losing end of an expensive lawsuit:

Many coaches have disciplined athletes by suspending or revoking membership, even though the organization had no power to discipline in such a manner because it wasn't written into the contract.

Many organizations instruct coaches to select athletes for teams without the benefit of any criteria or guidelines, with the result that the coaches is making arbitrary, subjective decisions which cannot be supported when challenged.

Often, decisions are made by those who have a vested interest in the outcome, because of a personal relationship or other association. Also, it's not uncommon to see appeals of decisions sent back to original decision-makers rather than to an independent and unbiased decision-making body.

For the coach who is expected to make decisions about athlete eligibility, selection, and disciplines, here are a few pointers:
-Insist that selection criteria are approved in advance and are as objective and concise as possible. If criteria are subjective, develop your own guidelines to evaluation athletes.
-If your organization doesn't have a policy on discipline, encourage it to adopt one. Ensure that athletes and coaches have input into the policy.
-Recommend that all selection decisions be made by a panel, not just by one person such as yourself.
-Make a habit of putting all your decisions in writing, with reasons, even when aren't required to supply a written decision. The act of writing reasons always results in a better decision.
-Look at creative ways to discipline for minor infractions, including verbal and written apologies or reprimands, assigning extra duties, or removing perks and privileges. Reserve the most serious sanction for the most serious offence.
-If called upon to make a decision in a situation where you feel you cannot be completely impartial, excuse yourself and ask that an unbiased decision-maker be appointed.
-Encourage your organization to adopt a clear, fair policy on appeals.
-If all these risk management measures fail and an appeal procedure does not resolve the situation, the coach can use his or her position of influence to persuade the parties to consider arbitration as an alternative to going to court. The Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program for Amateur Sport is now underway. If the parties agree to refer their dispute to ADR, the Centre will set them up with a panel of skilled, independent arbitrators who will resolve the issue in less time, at less cost and with less overall harm than is possible in court.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Interview with Tim McLaren

Coaches – Interview with Tim McLaren
Monday, June 18th, 2007
Tim McLaren interviewed by Rowperfect
Tim is the Head Coach and director of California Rowing Club – a new club established 2 years ago and located next door to California University Berkeley Rowing Club’s shed. Rowperfect caught up with him in the final days of the Boat Race preparation. Tim has been a longtime hero for us achieving Olympic and World medal winning crews year after year.

When did you first start coaching?
I started with school kids when I was 19, coaching rugby league. I played for 18 years as an amateur and as professional against the UK in 87. When I was 25 I switched to fine boat rowing but I had done surf boats from age 16 to 25. I grew up on surf life-saving in summer and rugby in winter.

What is your coaching record?
I have not had many wins….[I think Tim is being modest here!]
Olympics – 1992; 2x, 1996 bronze in Lwt 2x and 4x; 2000 4- bronze; 2004 8 bronze.
Worlds – I have had some crews that won worlds.

Who taught you how to coach?
Nobody teaches you how to coach. When you start at 19 you do the best you can with the commonsense you have at your disposal. You approach it largely led by your personality. I will let others comment on my personality. Most coaches have a good work ethic and that’s probably what you need. Put the hours in and be diligent – the same stuff you tell the athletes. A bit of a carry-over from your own competition days.

Who has influenced your coaching method?
Everyone has a method. The people that coached me in surf rowing and rugby league and then John Williamson and Paul Rowe. He was a national sculler. Rusty Robinson, he was fantastic. He was outstanding and you remember the people more for their personality and how they handle situations. Reinhold Baatchi. All these characters you absorb stuff off them. Coaching with other coaches on the national team too. It is good to coach in a group. That is an art that Cambridge has mastered over the years the “cooperation in a good environment”. Donald Leggett, Robin Williams and Harry Mahon.

How would you describe your ‘perfect’ rowing / sculling stroke?
I am not into words. Every rowing book around the world is the same but we all row differently. Me explaining it to me you will be your own interpretation of my words but that may not be my interpretation. There are many ways to do it – but whether you are a pusher or a puller do it to high level and you have a chance of being competitive

What is your main focus at different times of the season?
I think that comes with the programme and how it shifts to technical sessions and as the need demand. Look at your crew. What’s in front of you? Deal with that – it’s just like football. You can be in the competitive part of the season and if the crew is average you may need to do technical sessions too. There is no foolproof method on paper. There is the normal theoretical framework which every coach has to work within. And there is always room for personal and collective improvement.

Do you have any advice for young coaches?
Try and get out with older coaches now and again. A trip in a boat and discussion; ask questions while you have the crew in front of you. Read a bit of history and get a good understanding of the sport. I think to be organised in a practical sense is important.

Plan your sessions… I sense a lot of volunteers are under time pressure and this gets cut. If you can organise the hour into sections with drills at various pressures, rates with slide work and body work. You improve concentration and their ability to carry that onto racing. Have a plan with your session. Warm up, drills, ratings, pressures, and times. Bring all those things to the session. Not just work on row 40 minutes steady state. You need to be doing rating, starts and teaching skills. Young people need to be organised to fit all those things in over a period of time. You need structure of sessions in order to get it all in. Young people want variety. In schools; coaches are organised off the water with equipment and crews and maintenance. But on the water they need the same degree of vigilance.

What is the thing you are most proud of in your coaching career?
I am not sure. I think wherever I go I try and create a culture around the club whether surf, football or rowing and bring that element of teamwork to the culture of where you coach. A social element with hard work which brings people together and makes a stronger unit and makes you a better competitor. I try to set a high standard and get people to rethink possibilities. Raise their level of thinking and to manage themselves really well. That is people’s biggest challenge. You aim to try and keep them developing not only in a rowing sense but in life.

How about national coaching styles?
When you work in a system you are dragged along by the philosophy of that system, often people try to replicate them from one country to another. They sometimes fail to factor in the culture of the people. Many countries moved to a centralised model and there are some more successful versions than others. UK is lucky because here is a healthy underpinning of strong clubs. Outside the national programme there is a lot happening in rowing. Lots of volunteers and people with a passion for rowing without the national programme being the prime focus. That is the result of the historical importance of rowing in UK particularly.

School rowing is very successful in many countries but it is that step after school when you have to catch them, coach and develop them and that often gets very shaky. I am looking at that in US now. I am looking at the best way to approach that and collect kids with ability who are interested in rowing at a higher level. There is a lot of development there.

How should coaches continue their learning?
Your perspective shifts a little when you get older. Coaches develop as well and they need to. It is not only your coaching knowledge but your management of yourself and your athletes. Coaches that are reading this will understand.

Athletes improve as they get older but coaches should do as well. Sometimes you can. Go back to who you learnt from and their influences. You learn a lot off the athletes too. Try different things and they are the litmus test of your method of feedback. It is good to have a group of athletes that can give you feedback. Learn through trial and error and athlete feedback. Trust your own intuition. Particularly if you have rowed yourself you have seen a lot of good athletes and you can learn from them and should try things and sometimes it is successful and develop those and carry on working on others. It is a patience game.

I do a bit with development athletes like Cambridge and sometimes the people are inexperienced. You can get good feedback off novices about what it feels like. Anyone can give it; some are better than others, more articulate.

Are there any common themes that all coaches can work on?
I once watched Thor Nilsen in a meeting of national coaches who were trying to describe the perfect stroke without a picture or a model. Everyone has a different interpretation of the same words. This is evidenced by the different styles in different countries. Look at the crews to see the outcomes. This struck me early on. Communication and interpretation are big things for thinking in coaching but in the end everything is limited by what you see. There could be more training teaching people to see a little better. One day I’ll do that.

Your athletic ability coordination and your understanding. Every athlete brings faults to the game. You are limited by how well it was explained when you first started, your understanding and how well you can transfer that understanding into action.

Rowing teaches you a lot about yourself.

Teaching Rowing To Children

Teaching Rowing – Teaching Rowing To Children
By Ariane Kissel and Werner Raabe
1. Aims of children's rowing
The main goal of teaching rowing to children should be to make the sport attractive to the widest possible range of children - as a positive emotional experience, both alone and together with other children. The training should enable children to approach rowing playfully as a sport as well as an experience and, most importantly, to find pleasure in an athletic activity.

This approach does not preclude a good, broad development of rowing technique or the general development of athletic skills. Only a comprehensive athletic training – in contrast to early, exclusive specialization - together with an education directed towards independence can prepare the children to later decide whether they want to continue rowing on the competitive of high performance level, as a leisure activity or in the form of pleasure rowing.

2. Requirements
The following will summarize the most important material requirements for children's rowing.

2.1. Area
A lake sheltered from wind, with shallow water - to make reboarding the boat easier - and without current offers ideal conditions for learning. Of course, it is equally possible to learn rowing on waters with high traffic and strong current, but a different approach is necessary under such circumstances. Thus, the approach depends on the area as well as on the situation.

2.2. Boats
Generally, children can row in all boats, which can be adjusted to children's measurements.1 According to the aims stated above - acquainting children with the varieties of movements that rowing offers - it is best to provide a wide variety of boat categories. It would be ideal if the club or organization could offer enough children's boats in the different categories. The skiff as a "cybernetic teaching machine" (Schröder) still remains the most important boat.

2.3. Opportunities for sports and games on land
In addition to rowing, it is helpful to offer other opportunities for games and athletic activities on land. Ball games like soccer, basketball, volleyball or handball are possible almost everywhere. In bad weather or in the cold season, an indoor gym is useful for games or children's gymnastics, aerobics, or circuit training. The rowing or bicycle ergometer or rowing in tanks is other options. But in the interest of a comprehensive training of flexibility, games should get preference over the often-monotonous ergometer training or rowing in tanks. Equipment and rooms for weight workouts are not required.

2.4. Motorboat
The use of motorboats makes sense not only in top-level sports, but offers many advantages in the children's area as well. The motorboat helps keep to direct contact with the team and to work with the rowers from a fixed point. In addition, the use of a motorboat allows the supervision of a larger number of children. Since it can be very helpful when assisting capsized rowers a motorboat is also a safety factor, especially in cold water and unfavorable weather conditions. However, it is not absolutely obligatory for the supervision of children. Depending on the circumstances, assistance can also come
- from another rowing boat (the supervisor rows next to the children, steering them, or rows with them),
- from the landing stage,
- from a bicycle.

Generally, supervision is more difficult, less effective, and requires more organization without a motorboat.

2.5. Megaphone
For clear instructions, especially from the motorboat, a megaphone is indispensable.

2.6. Stopwatch and stroke timer
Stopwatch and stroke timer are absolutely necessary aids for training children as well as adults. The purchase of relatively expensive mechanical watches is not necessary. Much cheaper digital watches, which often combine both functions, are completely sufficient for children.

2.9. Life jackets / neoprene suits
The use of life jackets is advisable in the following situations:
- in dangerous areas (rivers with strong current, heavy traffic, in locks, etc.)
- in cold water and/or cold temperatures
- for longer trips, especially on waters and lakes which are liable to experience wind and/or high waves
- for anxious or handicapped children

In this context, we have achieved good results with neoprene suits. In contrast to life jackets, they provide true protection against cold water. Thinner suits allow freedom of movement, they have good buoyancy, and are sometimes even less expensive than life jackets made especially for rowing.

2.10. Written agreement by the parents / health certificate
For the legal protection of both club and instructor, parents should sign a written statement that they agree with their child's participation in the sport. If possible, a health certificate should show that the child is able to participate. It is absolutely necessary for children who want to participate in competition.

2.11. Swim certificate
Children who want to row must be able to swim. This should be proven by a certificate or similar proof. If no such proof exists, the instructor should test the child's ability himor herself. An exception can be made for handicapped children, but they must be equipped with life jackets or similar aids.

2.12. Sportswear
Appropriate sportswear is necessary. It should be selected according to the weather and should allow sufficient mobility. Adequate sun protection is necessary in sunny weather.

3. Children learn to row
After this summary of the prerequisites for the instruction of children, the special features of a beginner training with children will be described in the following, beginning with the question of the right age.

3.1. When to begin?
Rowing can be learned at any age and under almost any conditions. According to different development psychologists, the best learning age is between 9 and 12 years. Children at this stage show a strong desire for physical exercise; new physical tasks are usually learned quickly and skillfully ("instant learning"). Our own experience confirms this. In recent years we have reduced the beginning age from 12 to 9 and 10 years of age. In this context, it is especially important to offer exercise forms (f.e. games) and equipment (f.e. boat and rowing equipment) adequate to the children's developmental stage and size.

3.2. How to begin?
The literature offers several methods of beginner instruction. All of them have advantages and disadvantages, and none of these methods is exclusively the best. Which method is chosen depends very much on the situation - water conditions, boat material, age and talent of the children, number of children, additional rowing equipment etc. On a shallow lake with little current, very talented children are could start in the skiff right away. On a river with strong current and with anxious children, this would of course be completely wrong.

Despite this dependence on the situation, the following will present some typical learning steps. They are suggestions based on personal experience, and not necessarily the only possible way.
3.2.1. Teaching a sense for the right movements
In our opinion, it is important to begin with giving the children a practical understanding of the correct rowing motions. A clear understanding of the motions coupled with knowledge of their function tremendously helps the rowing beginner. This understanding can be transmitted with the help of film or video, but children learn better when the instructor demonstrates the movement him- or herself. If the demonstration takes place on a rowing ergometer, in the rowing tank, or in a gig at the landing stage, the children have a chance to participate right away.

After a short demonstration, the children should get a chance to try out what they have just seen. In our experience, they usually master this very quickly. One practice unit on land is completely sufficient to get a sense of the necessary motions. Often, 20 or 30 minutes of introduction before the first practice unit on water and perhaps another before the second are enough.

Practicing the rowing movement on stationary equipment has several advantages:
- questions as to the motions can be answered immediately,
- mistakes can be corrected right away, before incorrect movements are learned,
- learning is interactive (the instructor can show what he or she means and does not have to use long verbal explanations),
- rowing ergometer and rowing tank provide an opportunity to "reduce," to go "from the easy to the difficult" - and the children can concentrate fully on the movement without having to balance a boat at the same time.

3.2.2. First practice unit on the water
Following the didactic principle "from the easy to the difficult" on the water as well, one should begin sweeping in the gig boat. In our experience, the majority of beginners has problems with the hand position in the scull boat (the thumbs touch each other) and find it difficult to feel the right position of the sculls and their correct depth in the water.

In the sweep boat, the children only have to concentrate on one side. They can learn the complete stroke including feathering and dropping the wrist. Rowing also often provides a faster sense of achievement because the children can cover short distances faster and with better technique. However, to avoid unbalanced stress, the children must switch from portside to starboard-side and back. Once the movements in the sweep boat have become fairly automatic, the children can concentrate on the correct hand position in the scull boat.

Of course, all important maneuvers - stopping, rowing backwards, wide turn, narrow turn, oars, sculls long - can be learned both in the sweep boat and in the scull gig.

3.2.3. First experiences in the children's skiff
When the gig is mastered to a certain degree - don't wait too long! - the children's single (skiff) is the next step. As always, a step-by-step approach can be advisable depending on the situation. Here, it is especially important to help the children overcome their fear of the unusual instability of the single. The following steps are possible:

Step 1: The instructor holds the boat while the child enters it. The child assumes the safety position - both sculls flat on the water, legs extended, sculls held over the knee. The instructor continues to hold the boat.

Step 2: Out of the safety position, several balance exercises can be performed. So-called "rocking exercises" are typical. For example, with blades flat on the water, the child is asked to lift the blades, first on one, then on the other side. If the portside blade is lifted, the boat tilts starboard, and vice versa. It is also possible for the child to push both inboard parts of the sculls into the boat and rock itself from one side to the other. In this exercise, the instructor can continue to hold the boat if the child still feels insecure.
Once the child has achieved a feeling of security, the exercise can be performed without the instructor's help.

Step 3: The next step is rowing ahead. Under constant extension of the sliding distance, both sculls are pulled toward the body, lifted, and recovered with the blade dragging on the surface of the water. In strong current, or to reassure insecure children, a safety line attached to the boat can secure the boats return to the landing stage. Usually, however, the children are able to master the following step immediately.

Step 4: Usually, this next step is rowing backwards. Similar to forward rowing, it is introduced under constant extension of the sliding distance. Once forward and backward rowing has been practiced a few times, other maneuvers are introduced, like wide turn, narrow turn, stopping, portside and starboard-side scull long, embarking, landing, etc.

Depending on talent of the children, these maneuvers can also be broken down into several steps.

Step 5: This should be a very important safety exercise for the skiff - reboarding the boat after capsizing in deep water. After an inadvertent bath, the children should be able to get back into position in the skiff without damaging the boat. This could be practiced extensively on a "bathing tour" in a plastic children's skiff, perhaps as a competition in which the time needed to get back in the boat is taken, and the winner crowned as "king of baths."

With the handling of the skiff, beginner instruction is generally finished. Usually, rowing in other boats does not present any difficulties after that.

3.3. Keep in mind!
There are some basic rules for beginner instruction:
- Becoming acquainted with the rowing equipment should be a regular part of the training. Use and function of different parts - sliding seat, footrest, outrigger, swivel etc. - should be explained.
- The children should be shown how to carry sculls, oars, and boats, and learn how to launch, take out, and later clean the boat.
- The children should help each other when carrying the boats.
- When explaining movements and tasks, the necessary technical terms and commandos should be used from the beginning.
- The instructor must continue to see that oars and sculls are positioned correctly and the footrest placed in the right position.
- The children should be introduced to the special features of the area - hydrology, dangerous spots, environmental protection, and traffic rules.

Within the German Rowing Federation, the introduction of a rowing skills certificate has been successful. When a certain level of achievement has been reached, boys and girls can pass an exam with their instructor or a representative of the club, which includes practical and theoretical questions. Depending on the level, there are rowing skills certificates in bronze, silver, and gold. If the diploma is not used to put them under pressure, it is usually a nice reward if the children have something to show for what they have learned.

4. Training with children
In connection with children's rowing, the word "training" assumes a different meaning than in competitive sports. In accordance with the aims described above, repeated, continual exercise should improve the children's motor/technical and psychological abilities (like motivation, well-being, willpower) as well as their fitness.

Children's training, in contrast to the training of youths and adults, does not aim at selection and/or early specialization. Aims are rather:
- long-term attachment to rowing as a sport,
- development of a wide variety of different forms of exercise (games, exercises on land, other sports),
- development of a broad basis for individual motivation and skills.

4.1. Training schedule
In our experience, the following frequency and length of practice units is sufficient:
Age 9-10 11-12 13-14
Number units/week 2 2-3 2-4
Rowing km/unit 5-7 7-10 10-12
Rowing km/year 400-600 600-800 700-1200
Hours/week 3 3-5 4-6

These numbers are of course only guidelines. Special circumstances, like excursions, rowing camps, before competitions, etc. can change the schedule for short periods of time.

A warning: however, against too much permanent stress at a young age. Especially with a view towards a possible career in competitive sports, exaggerated training frequency and length tends to be counterproductive. The best rowing age is between 22 and 27. A child that begins rowing at the age of 10 still has to train for at least 12 years before he or she reaches the right age for top-level achievement. Daily practice with a high number of kilometers at a young age may lead to quick successes in the beginning, but it prevents a steady improvement from year to year. Often, such rowing "careers" end before the junior level because the rowers are "burned out," because they have academic problems in school, or because they have lost contact with other young people outside of rowing.

4.2. Training content
We have already mentioned that children should receive the widest possible form of athletic stimulation in the form of games. In general, the younger the children, the higher the percentage of playing exercises on the water and the higher the number of different games and competitions. This does not mean that the children should paddle around aimlessly on the water - although that is, of course, also allowed every once in a while - or that they be artificially kept at beginner level. The children should rather be confronted with a variety of different challenges, which they should be able to tackle with increasingly better solutions. It is obvious that working with different boats and forms of rowing leads to a wider selection of exercises and games. Only a few ideas can be presented here as examples. They should motivate the instructor to develop his or her own, new ideas and to try them out with different groups of children.

Examples for practice exercises:
- Balance presents a permanent challenge. One exercise for advanced rowers in the skiff is "flying." Here, the children push the inboard parts of the oars into the boat and hold them there without letting blade touch the water. Exercises in the sweep boat could be rowing with only one hand (inside hand, outside hand), hands crossed, rowing without shoes or without fixing the feet.

- To understand the interplay of motion and perception, exercises with reduced perception are helpful. It has been shown to be effective to let children row with their eyes closed. In addition to a better feel for the boat, this exercise teaches getting the stroke and team coordination.

- Varying the force of the stroke also promotes a good feel for the boat. Example: alternating strokes with force and without force, or alternating strokes through the water with strokes in the air or catching water. Alternating emphasis of middle phase of stroke, finish of stroke, leg kick, upper body, etc.

- A feel for the boat as well as for ones own body is also promoted by performing motions at different speeds or sequences. Examples are rowing in slow motion; rowing with pauses, e.g. after hand deployment, or before catching water; isolating partial movements, e.g. by rowing with fixed seat, or rowing with quarter, half, three-quarter slide; varying stroke rate or variations in stroke rate and force, e.g. the so-called "mounting-five": one fast stroke with pressure, one slow without pressure, then 2 fast strokes, 2 slow, continuing to 5 and 5, and then counting down again.

- Tasks under conditions which make mistakes impossible, e.g. if the rowers revolve the blade in the water, one could let them row with blade feathered.

- To correct movements, it can be useful to exaggerate, e.g. rowing with an extreme starting position if the length of strokes is too short, or rowing with extremely upright upper body if the rowers use their legs and hips before the catch.

- Of course, all exercises can be combined with each other, e.g. rowing with eyes closed and blades feathered at different stroke rates.
Examples for games:
- King of turns: who can do the fastest three 360¯ turns?
- Powerman/woman: who needs the least number of strokes over a fixed distance?
- Powerslider: who is the first to reach a fixed goal rowing backwards?
- Master of balance: who has the best balance; who can stand up in the children's skiff without holding on to the sculls?
- Boat-ball: a good-sized ball is played towards a goal with bow, stern, or oars.
- Rower handball/basketball: the children try to score goals or baskets by throwing the ball.
- Relays: depending on age, skill, and local situation, the distance in a relay should be between 200 and 500 meters.

As already mentioned, the rowing exercises should be complemented with or (especially in unfavorable weather conditions) replaced by athletic activities and games on land. Practically all forms of sports and games that promote motor abilities and skill and which help to increase fitness are possible. Moving in many different ways and forms helps children learn something about themselves and their own bodies as well as about the boat and the reactions of their partners in the boat. Developing fitness components such as strength and endurance is certainly a hoped-for by-product. However, the emphasis for children lies in the development of skill and technique.

4.2. Competition for children
Within the German Rowing Federation, certain forms of competition which on the one hand connect to the playful forms of rowing discussed above, and on the other hand prepare the ground for moving on to the junior level have been successful.

- Slalom: A course marked with buoys must be passed with the skiff as fast as possible. Although time plays a certain role in this competition, the playing element is still fore grounded.

- Combined competition: Here, children have to show versatility and teamwork.
Playing is still emphasized, e.g.
1. 3500m long-distance rowing in the four with coxswain
2. Basketball competition
3. 1000m. obstacle-race
4. Test of skill (e.g. attaching a disassembled swivel to the outrigger)

- Stroke rate rowing: Here, a certain distance (500m, 1000m, etc.) must be covered with the least possible number of strokes. A minimum stroke rate (e.g. 18 strokes/minute) must be reached. The absolute number of strokes multiplied by the time determines the result. In this form of competition, team spirit and a good technique are necessary. Time and performance of the rowing movement in its fastest form is not yet necessary.

- Combined middle (1000m) and long distance (3000m): For older children (13-14 years) with advanced rowing technique and a sound basic fitness, a combination of middle and long distance is offered. This form of competition prevents the tendency to power through which can often be observed in the short distance (500m), and which leads to uneconomic motions. The combination of middle and long distance also promotes the longer workouts with medium intensity which are favored by doctors.

Tips for the Speaker

Presentations – Tips for the Speaker
1. Tell 'em what you are gonna tell 'em, tell 'em, and tell 'em what you told 'em. (Repetition gets the message through.) Also known as preview, present and summarize.
2. Check out the room before you speak and make sure everything you need is there, and you know where everything is that you will need in your presentation.
3. Know the program schedule. Start and end on time. Allow time for more than one and less than 7 questions if you intend to answer questions.
4. Don't distract the audience from your message. Don't look at your watch in a way anyone can detect, or they will look at their's. Be conscious of time, but try to make sure your audience is not. Avoid nervous repeat movements.
5. Ask for a simple introduction. Avoid big buildups that may leave you disappointing the audience. The time for hype is when it will get the audience in the door. Once there, establish reasonable expectations of what they will gain from listening to you.
6. Always repeat every question for the benefit of the audience (who may not have heard it) and to make sure YOU heard it clearly.
7. When you say "in conclusion", conclude. Don't drag it on. Know how to stop speaking.
8. Have a central theme to your talk and emphasize it from several perspectives. People have limited memories. Make sure they leave with your main point clearly in mind. When the audience leaves the room, a friend will ask them, "what did Coach so and so say?". Make sure your audience can answer the question.
9. Make sure your subject is appropriate to the level of the audience. Check this out well in advance, and make adjustments at the last minute if the crowd turns out to be different. Be flexible!
10. Never explain that you are going to tell a joke. Either you are one of the people who can tell jokes, or you are not. If you are not, don't repeat your mistake and be dumb as well as boring.
11. Beware of jokes. Most of them will offend someone, at some level. You can exhibit a sense of humor without telling a joke. (If you have a sense of humor, that is.)
12. If you must read your speech, make sure you can deliver it well. Better, don't talk about something you have to read. Notes are fine, reading a speech is usually very boring.
13. Don't shout, don't wave it about. Almost all great speakers from history were quiet, brief and meaningful. A great idea delivered quietly will make more noise than a lousy idea that is shouted.
14. Make eye contact. Have a conversation with your audience.
15. Don't rush, take your time.
16. Deliver a message you believe in. Above all else, speak with conviction.
17. Don't begin anything by apologizing for speaking on this topic. "I don't know why they asked me to speak on this topic, so many others know it so much better...." Your audience may immediately agree with you, and/or wonder why you are then wasting your time. Likewise, don't begin by apologizing that you haven't had enough time to prepare. If you accept a speaking engagement, you prepare, and you deliver. People don't care how much time you took to prepare, they care if you deliver a meaningful message.
18. Know what you don't know. Don't use words you are not absolutely sure of the meaning of, or words you are unsure of the pronunciation of. Your personal credibility is at stake.
19. People have a hard time holding more than three major ideas in their heads. Three points work well. Five is overload, and they will forget all but the first and the last.
20. Connecting with the audience is key to success. If you can tie an audience member directly to your message, do so...tell a story, ask a person for their (brief) opinion, etc. Plus, people love to be recognized.
21. Tell your audience why what you have to say is important to them. Tell them this FIRST.
22. If you use Audio-visual aids, make sure they are good, well organized and ready to be presented. Fumbling for the "right slide" or overhead is an audience loser.
23. Talk about your topic. Don't go off on tangents, unless you are great at it...and the tangent has a big point.
24. Know your audience. Know your audience. Know your audience. (The three most important things in great speeches.)
25. Enthusiasm, as a quality of presentation, cannot be over-rated.

A Road Map to Success

Training Design – A Road Map to Success
By Dave Shrock, Modesto Junior College
Following these assertions, coaches should be guided by the knowledge of what the crucial tasks are that must be accomplished in the demands of the athlete’s event/position and of the sport. Tudor Bompa, an authority on periodization, states ‘a coach is only as efficient as his or her organization and planning’ (150). Bompa continues by stating that periodization is one of the most important concepts of training and planning, as structured phases of training lead to the highest level of preparation and performance. Training design, or periodization, provides guidance, direction and scope to training; yet needs to be simple, suggestive, and flexible so it can be modified to meet individual circumstances or changing environments.

Will Freeman, in his periodization book entitled Peak When it Counts (2001), suggests the three fundamental purposes of periodization: 1) to enable an individual or team to peak at the ideal moment, 2) to achieve optimal training effect from each phase of training, and 3) to make training an objective process. To create the objective process, coaches can measure and test athletes to assess progress towards goals, while at the same time, providing comparisons and objectivity so that the coach can make modifications to workouts, if necessary, and fine-tune progress towards the training objective.

Often when we hear the term periodization, we think of it as a recent phenomenon. On the contrary, periodization began back in the ancient Olympics with Philostratus’ training of the athletes. U.S. collegiate athletic teams in the early twentieth century utilized more evolved systematic training, while the Germans in the 1936 Olympics began refining periodization with four year training plans. The concepts were further refined by Eastern bloc state-funded regimes after the Second World War. In 1965, Leonid Matveyev published what has become the classic model for periodization in the West. (Bompa 1999).

Periodization for Individuals and Teams
The application of periodization varies between team and individual sports. Considerations of training are determined by the sport’s specific requirements, and the discipline demands of each athlete- such as power-speed positions versus endurance based (Olbrecht 2000). Ledger (1998), suggests utilizing the strategy on two levels. While the development of the individual is important to facilitate their positional and individual potential, team development can be addressed with periodization to produce an efficient and cohesive unit. Often, individual and team concerns can overlap and complement each other depending upon their time of season.

During the off-season, or preparation phase, individual conditioning and strengthening plans can be utilized to raise the level of fitness and expertise of each player, while during the season, training as a unit should be utilized at every opportunity. An excellent example of combining individual and team related technical training involves the use of game related movements for conditioning. It has been suggested that undulating, non-linear periodization, which will be discussed shortly, best suits team periodization when planning for the year. Variation within microcycles does remain important for team sport players, and this variation of training loads and volume depends on the training age and experience of each player (Gamble 2006). Studies have determined that the variable summated periodization approach, progressing from extensive to intensive on a three week loading; and a one week restorative, or unloading approach is well adapted to team sports and many individual disciplines (Plisk & Stone 2003).

Creating an Effective Periodized Training Plan
Before embarking on setting up any training design or periodized program, the coach needs to determine both long term and intermediate goals or objectives for the individual and the team. Evaluation begins with general considerations such as the physical, physiological, psychological, and technical capabilities of your athletes and team along with specific demands and expectations of the sport, the level at which athletes and team compete, and the time available to train plus prepare for competitions.

Considerations should include which competitions are considered developmental, and which competitions, or group of competitions, need the athletes to be at optimal preparation. The evaluation of the athletes includes their training age, level of skill, as well as their occupation and financial support, awareness of nutrition, level of motivation, and support to achieve established goals or objectives. In the creation of an objective and measurable training plan, routine testing of athletes in controlled sessions or competitions is important so the development can be measured; including areas that need to be addressed in a holistic approach to training (Bompa 1999; Sellers 2007b; Stone et al 2007).

Once all parameters of the sport and season are identified, along with the attributes of the athlete and team, the coach needs to identify the focal or major competition. From this date, the coach can begin to work backwards, aligning the components outlined below to create a road map or an effective periodized plan.There are several components to the periodized plan. These periods refer to training with specific and distinct, yet linked goals. By establishing a periodized plan, training loads can be applied in a progressive, cumulative, systematic fashion, with the goal being optimal performance achieved at a specific time.

Four year or quadrennium period: Used in fundamental long range planning which fits well into the Olympic cycle and U.S. scholastic and collegiate systems
-Annual period: Culminates with the focal completion identified for that year.
Macrocycle: Term used for phases of preparation and competition leading up to a season or series of focal competitions. Often coaches implement a single, double, or tri-cycle model of periodization depending on the number of seasons, or focal competitions, the athlete or team has in any given annual plan or year.
-Mesocycle: Matveyev, in his classic periodization model, utilized natural monthly bio-cycles to construct ‘meso’ or monthly periods of four weeks. Within each mesocycle, intensity and volume are gradually increased in each microcycle creating a summated model until the last microcycle, which decreases load and volume for a restorative or stabilizing effect.
-Microcycle: The building blocks of a mesocycle are the microcycle, normally seven to ten day periods, where load and volume of work are interspersed with recovery.
-Training Session: Depending on the demands of the athlete or team, and their training age, the coach may incorporate one or several training sessions into a daily routine.
-Training Unit: The smallest of the periodization units, a unit describes the specific activity prescribed during the training session. It should be noted that sequencing units is important for each session’s effectiveness. Well orchestrated programs utilize continuous warm-ups, specific to sport demands, before progressing to motor skill demanding activities while the body is less fatigued, before initiating endurance activities, culminating with a cool down.

Overlapping this periodized approach is the concept of phases that emphasize thematic or training emphasis. The initial phase is called preparation (prep) or conditioning, phase which may last several mesocycles. Athletes in the prep phase address conditioning and fundamental sport skills so that they will be able to adapt to the increasing demands of competitive environments. The preparation phase is usually divided into the general and specific prep phases. In the general prep phase broad, multilateral training takes place and then moves into overall strength, flexibility, stamina, and coordination. Building on the general phase, athletes move into the specific preparation phase where the improvement of sport specific skills is emphasized. Training volume is often high during this prep phase to allow conditioning, while intensity is low.

Depending upon the length and complexity of the season, the majority of the competition season is called the competitive phase. The athlete has evolved from the prep phase with stable fitness and the ability to accomplish position and sport specific demands with minimal fatigue. As the competitive phase progresses towards the focal competition, training volume begins to decrease while intensity increased with event and sport specific training emphasized (Bompa 1999; Counsilman & Counsilman 1994; Grosso 2006; Sellers 2007a; Sellers 2007b; Stone et al 2007).

The crescendo of a competitive phase is the taper, or peak, when all components of the cumulative training plan converge to enable optimal performance for a period of time. Tapers are initiated one to three weeks prior to focal competitions and are determined by the training load and level of fatigue on the athlete to that point in the season. Studies on the tapers of swimmers, cyclists, and track athletes identify a performance increase of .05 to 6 percent enabled by increased blood cell volume and muscle glycogen content, giving the athlete greater stamina and energy (Karp 2007; Ledger 1998).

The final phase of periodization is called the transition phase which lasts one to four weeks beginning after the focal competition and allowing athletes to heal injuries and recover from previous training. While the inclination is to immediately stop training after a focal competition, athletes are better served to gradually reduce volume to facilitate recovery. The goal of the transition phase is to maintain some level of fitness while allowing the athlete’s body to recover, and the athlete to rejuvenate (Stone, et al 2007).

Training design and periodization have often been compared to cooking with many ingredients, compounded by innumerable factors beyond the coach and athlete’s control. The key is to begin with a simple systematic plan and to keep records so that the coach and athlete can review the progression afterwards and make informed assertions and refinements from the training plan. There are many sources available for the novice coach willing to increase their effectiveness by utilizing periodization or training design. Several are listed in the reference section below, and additional resources are available through NGBs or the USOC. Tudor Bompa declared that periodization is one of the most important concepts in training and performance. By structuring phases and periods which lead to the highest level of speed, strength and endurance in athletic competition, all athletes can succeed at their highest level (Bompa 1999). Negotiating the road to success is most effectively achieved by utilizing the road map of periodization.

Bompa, T. (1999). Periodization: Theory and methodology of training (fourth ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Counsilman, J., & Counsilman, B. (1994). The new science of swimming. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Freeman, W. (2001). Peak when it counts (fourth ed.). Mountain View, CA: Tafnews Press.
Gamble, P. (2006). Periodization for training of team sport athletes. Strength and conditioning journal, 28 (5), 56-66.
Grosso, M. (2007). Athletics training program Modern athlete & coach, 45 (1), 27-31.
Grosso, M. (2006). Training theory: A primer on periodization. Modern athlete & coach, 44 (3), 7-14.
Karp, J. (2007). Hey! Back off! Marathon & beyond, 11 (3), 20-27.
Ledger, P. (1998). A guide to planning coaching programmes. Leeds, U.K.: National Coaching Foundation.
Olbrecht, J. (2000). The science of winning. Overijse, Belgium: Olbrecht.
Plisk, S., & M. Stone (2003). Periodization strategies. Strength and conditioning journal, 25 (6), 19-37.
Sellers, C. (2007a). Sequencing your workouts. USOC Olympic coach, 19 (2).
Sellers, C. (7 August, 2007b). Training design for fencers. PowerPoint presentation at USA Fencing Coaching Camp, Colorado Springs, CO.
Stone, M., M.Stone & W. Sands (2007). Principles and practice of resistance training. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Holy Grail

Methodology – The Holy Grail
By Vern Gambetta
Why is it that each generation of young coaches has to go in search of the Holy Grail, that place or person who has the answer? Over the past several months I have run into too many coaches starting out in the field or early in their career who are seeking the answer. The problem as I see it they do not yet know what questions to ask. They have not made enough mistakes yet to sharpen their skills.

I do not know who said this, but truer words have never been spoken – It takes twenty years to be an overnight success. That certainly reaffirms what I have seen. The other quote that resonates for me is from is from Gertrude Stein – “The answer is there is no answer.”

The fact of the matter is there is no Holy Grail or fountain of knowledge, nor is there no one answer. The challenge is to keep learning, keep asking questions. Formulate a philosophy and that should not change. Your philosophy is your guiding light, your core beliefs. These core beliefs should then guide your search for answers, it should provide a context to evaluate what is good and what is bad in what you are doing and adjust accordingly. It is my opinion that there is no entitlement in coaching, you have to prove yourself at each step of your career.

Frankly I feel sorry for some of the coaches I have seen thrust into positions they did not earn or are not ready for. They quickly become experts who do not know what they don’t know. Unfortunately there is too much of this today. Coaching and the ability to coach is special. It demands a focus and commitment second to none. There is no simple way to prepare for this except to acquire hands on experience. I think every coach should start out at the elementary school or middle school level that is the real world. The basics and the skills you learn in teaching and coaching at that level are invaluable. The other day at volleyball practice I flashed back to almost 40 years ago when I was working with one of the girls on throwing. A simple skill that is a precursor to much of what happens in striking a volleyball. Without my experience teaching Junior High School gym class I would never have learned that. The JV coach asked where I had learned that. I must have had a class somewhere but all I can remember is that early on I had a bunch of kids who could not throw so I had to teach them. There is no substitute for that kind of experience.

The last thought here is to remember that coaching is high touch not high tech, there is no substitute for being able to demonstrate the skills. Enjoy the journey, make up your mind to continually learn. Don't be satisfied with one answer, keep asking questions.

Routines, Rituals and Performing Under Pressure

Routines, Rituals and Performing Under Pressure
By Sean McCann, PhD, Performance Services USOC Sport Psychologist
From Olympic Coach Spring 2008 Vol 20 No 2
I have a pre-shot routine for every shot, but none is more important than when I have to hit a big drive in a pressure situation. Not only does my pre-shot routine allow me to focus on the task at hand, but it also keeps me in my natural rhythm. Every 300-yard bomb in my bag starts with a preshot routine that has a calming effect on me as much as anything. - Tiger Woods

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle

Pre-competitive routines have been studied by sport psychologists for a long time, and there is good evidence that routines increase consistency of an athlete’s thinking, feelings, and pre-sport behavior. Because of these effects, routines also produce more consistent sport behavior. This produces better results. Routines therefore, can make you a better athlete. There are a number of reasons why routines work, but you may find that many of your athletes resist routines. At the USOC, I have heard all sorts of reasons for this resistance, including:
“It slows me down”
“I don’t want to get locked into anything”
“I like being flexible in case things change”
“I used to do it, and it was helpful, but I just stopped. I’m not sure why.”

My personal opinion is that many athletes don’t develop effective routines simply because nobody ever taught them how important and helpful they are. Take Tiger Woods, for example:
My pre-shot routine, taught to me years ago by my father, didn’t come naturally or easily. Like most kids I was of the grip-it-and-rip-it mentality. I had to learn patience and how to find my natural rhythm. Pop finally convinced me a preshot routine was necessary for consistency, and I’ve used the same one ever since. - Tiger Woods

If even Tiger Woods resisted routines at the beginning, why would you expect your athletes to suddenly embrace them? As a coach, you need to develop a sales pitch that gets past initial resistance and makes a compelling argument for change. One tactic is simply to list all the things that routines do for you, by both ensuring good things happen and preventing bad things from

Routines- Helping an athlete do the right things
1) A routine increases the sense of familiar in a new environment. Routines are portable, transferable, and adaptable. Remind your athletes that an iPod and headphones can mentally transport you from a treadmill in a hotel basement to a familiar run in the woods when you last listened to this music. Similarly, a routine can make even the strangest sport environment seem normal, familiar, and most importantly, comfortable. This is a powerful effect when the environment of the competition is full of distractions.
I cannot overemphasize how helpful this has been to countless Olympic medal winners I have known when faced with the circus of the Games.

2) A routine helps an athlete stay active and focused on useful behaviors. One of the worst things an athlete can do in a high pressure environment is to stop and think about it. At the Olympics, when I see an athlete starting to freeze up, glaze over, and think too much (usually about the dreaded “what ifs”), I will try to get them talking, moving, and laughing. Much better than this emergency interaction by a sport psychologist, however, is a routine that keeps an athlete moving, on a schedule, and focused on the things that help.

3) A routine enhances feelings of control and confidence. Going through the same routine in practice and competition is a useful reminder that you have done this a thousand times. The old
expression of “practice like it is a competition, compete like it is a practice” describes an athlete with an effective, consistent routine. I have heard from countless athletes that simple routines enhance a sense of control and confidence. The Tiger Woods quote at the top of this column says it plainly. A routine helps an athlete feel in control, no matter what the stakes of success or failure.

4 Routines help make useful behavior automatic. Some psychologists believe that over 90% of our behaviors are automatic habits or unconscious, learned behavior patterns. This is why parents and first coaches in a sport play such a critical role in introducing positive behaviors. If you learn how to do something the right way at the beginning, you don’t have to fix mistakes later, because you always do it the correct way, without any conscious thought. John Wooden was famous for teaching his Freshman basketball players the correct way to put on socks and tie sneakers.

As a coach, if you invest the energy at the front end, you have the opportunity to create a positive routine for your athlete’s entire career. These routines will become automatic and help the athlete
avoid all kinds of challenges that many athletes struggle with.

5) Routines increase the opportunity for the brain to focus on the proper things. Our brains have limited capacity. The remarkable increase in the number of accidents for people on cell phones is an example of this. Routines that take care of all the little things an athlete has to do to get ready, free up brain space to focus on the things that really matter. If you want to have an excellent warmup, you must be fully focused on the warm-up, and not wondering about something left undone.

Routines- Helping an athlete avoid doing the wrong things
6) Routines help reduce thinking and decision making. When an athlete is stressed, anxious, and concerned about outcomes (a typical state for many athletes at their biggest competitions), thinking often transforms to worry. In addition, decisions about simple things become overemphasized, and athletes will often freeze up, wasting valuable time as they agonize over which pair of shoes to put in their backpack. Athletes weighted down with worry or unable to make a decision are wasting energy. At big events, energy is a precious commodity. An effective routine eliminates decisions (because, if you always do it the same way, you don’t have to decide), and keeps an athlete too busy to think too much.
7) Routines help prevent dumb mistakes. Under greatest pressure, athletes begin to leak energy, and become more vulnerable to a variety of distractions and challenges. When an athlete is
preparing intently for a key performance, the last thing they should be doing is making critical decisions. Unfortunately, I have seen Olympic medals lost by athletes who decide to try something new, or do something new, based on a decision made under pressure. An effective routine keeps an athlete busy, productive, and reduces the probability that the athlete will make a bad call, making a mistake that they cannot recover from.

The Coaches Role In Building Routines
Coach Shula had a very strict schedule in the last two days before the Super Bowl. He never let us go more than 2 hours without checking in for something. It helped us stay focused on the game. – Larry Czonka, member of 1972 “Perfect Season” Miami Dolphins

We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.- John Dryden

While most coaches will not follow John Wooden’s example by teaching their athletes how to dress properly for practice, all coaches can benefit from understanding the value of this effort.
By starting with the most basic aspects of a sport, and ensuring that athletes develop great routines, a coach begins to develop the foundation of great performances. While it can take a tremendous investment of effort by a coach to develop new routines, the cost of not making this investment can be high. As the Larry Czonka quote suggests, Don Shula knew the cost of losing focus at the Superbowl, and invested energy in creating a program that prevented that loss of focus.

On the other hand, an argument can be made that a coach will end up using a great deal more energy if they don’t help athletes develop great routines. As the John Dryden quote suggests, an
initial investment of energy in developing good habits will create a great return down the road. I see this all the time in sports, and I’ll never forget what a great coach once said to me. “Why are all these coaches screaming from the sideline? If they had done their job in practice they wouldn’t have to say anything during a game.” If a coach develops great routines, and the athletes develop great habits, then the habits make them great players.