By Ryan Sparks · August, 2012
Our staff has worked a lot of rowing camps. We believe we’ve accomplished something special in Connecticut with our coxswain education program there, and have put years into thinking about concrete coxswain education. This camp was a solution for many families who found themselves on the waiting list for our Connecticut program, but at this point we can say that we believe what we’re doing here is a truly special thing. The kids are able to accomplish more in a morning session here than in a month of practices at home. We hate to admit it, but believe a few days here is probably also the equivalent of a week at our CT camp given our sole focus on the coxswains. The system we’ve designed from the ground up and have been developing for years seems to be a natural fit for this environment. Our biggest concern was that the knowledge dump would be too much and lead to early burn-out, but this has not been the case — mostly thanks to our staff and their attention to the students’ mental pulse after the last three years.
Today we started the morning finishing a final rotation of our work yesterday on steering then moved into an in depth discussion on calling races. This then interlaced with coxswain/coxswain, coxswain/athlete, and coxswain/coach relationships before lunch. This morning was overcast and breezy with flat, calm water — excellent conditions. After lunch and one on ones, we returned to the boathouse to go out with faster crews who were arguably (some more than others) of higher skill to begin to work through boat feel. See the video below as the rowers ‘simulate’ slide rushing (amongst other issues!) for the coxswains’ benefit.
Finally, we took the campers to the rowing tanks and ergs in the $10M Devon boathouse. The facilities here are second to none, and are meant for elite athletes training for the Olympics. You can imagine the slight stir we caused in that environment as we cycled the coxswains through the tanks, using the opportunity to give them first-hand experience of how proper and improper command structure and communication feels to the athletes in the midst of rowing. (During the ‘improper’ section, a few of the elite coaches poked their heads in asking “What is all this yelling and counting?” — though when they saw Marcus, they smiled and left.)
The kids are starting to get it. They’re able to detach their egos from their coxing and be more objective executors of their actions (i.e, no screaming and counting). We’re excited to see what the next two days holds.
Below you can find links to learn more about Sparks Rowing camps.
Learn about our coxswain’s only camp here. Get a better feel for the experience by reading some excerpts from the rowing cox blog. Our next round of summer camp information can be found here, hosted at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Follow this link for information on our New Zealand rowing camp and here for their NZ camp blog (with some great videos). We also have some great information on our winter rowing camp and you can get another perspective through our blog on the advanced winter rowing camp here.