The World Wide Web

2017 was by far my least productive year in terms of online output, but I’ll explain why in the next two sections and how I’m going to make it up to you in 2018. I wrote just nine articles in 2017, the most popular of which were:

  1. Why I Hate the Bench Pull
  2. Why Strength Matters in Rowing
  3. How to Warm Up for Rowing
  4. Building a Home Gym for Rowing Training

We did another four episodes of the Strength Coach Roundtable:

  1. Performance Psych for Rowing, featuring Sara Hendershot-Lombardi
  2. Deadlifting for Rowers
  3. Squatting for Rowers
  4. Rib Stress Injuries, featuring Karen Calara

I wasn’t doing much writing or podcasting, which means I was doing a lot of…

Coaching

Although I planned to phase out during winter season, I ended up staying full-time with rowing coaching through 2017. This was definitely rough once both rowing and lacrosse were going during spring season (we played 20 games in 12 weeks for lacrosse…), but it was also extremely rewarding and I’m glad I did it for a lot of reasons. For one, I got to see my first four-year class of seniors through to graduation. I started coaching when these guys were just freshmen, so it was awesome to get to watch them grow and develop as young men, rowers, and leaders who all served their teammates and program in committee positions while juggling their senior years of academics and rowing. I also got to see a novice class through an entire year of development from their first strokes to racing at WIRAs. I gained a huge appreciation for the amount of tasks facing a rowing coach, which has helped me as a strength coach now see what kinds of resources need to exist to support a coaching staff and program.

Finally, I realized early in the year that I had really been missing out on the relational element of sport coaching, which led to my “My Greatest Mistake as a Coach” article reflecting on a podcast I did in 2016. Getting to know the people I coach as people first, then athletes second, and investing in them more emotionally made the whole experience more rewarding and, as a side-effect, more productive as well. It took me too long to realize that the relational side of coaching is mutually beneficial, not mutually exclusive, to the performance side of coaching, and I’m glad to be able to lay my mistake out in the open in hopes that someone else can figure it out faster than I did.

School

I took seven classes in 2017 at the University of Denver’s MA in Sport Coaching program.

Sports Nutrition: My main takeaway from this class is how little we still truly know about nutrition. There is so much individual variety and so much unreliability in nutritional research, both especially so when it comes to performance nutrition. Amidst all of the noise, a common sense and balanced approach to nutrition seems to win out. This (yes, from T-Nation) is still my recommended accessible article on base nutrition because it emphasizes a simple approach consisting of whole foods, balanced macronutrients, limitation of processed foods and caloric drinks, and sustainability for the eater. Supplements, nutrient timing, etc., are definitely a case where the most sensible approach is mastering the basics before adding in anything fancy. I produced a “performance nutrition on the road” guide for my team as a result of this class, which seems to have been helpful for guiding nutritional choices when traveling for regattas. 

Performance Psychology: My undergrad degree focus was in sport psychology, so this class was a review of many of the concepts we learned about, but with a great additional emphasis on application. We produced weekly videos demonstrating and applying concepts and I produced the “Mental Skills for Rowing” guide out of this class.

Practicum 1: The practicum classes are some of my favorite of the program. Everyone in the class is coaching 5+ hours a week and the curriculum is geared around collaborative brainstorming as we work through things during our sport seasons. Weekly readings and discussions broaden our coaching knowledge, force us to reframe discussions from new perspectives, and be more reflective and analytical about our coaching.

Kinesiology: Again, a review of undergrad concepts with a heavy focus on application. Weekly assignments in biomechanics, physiology, and strength training to hone our skills assessing human movement. I’ll be taking deeper versions of each of these courses in 2018, so it was nice to have a refresher before getting into that.

Research Methods: This is the big heavy research course in the program, so I was happy to take it during summer quarter by itself when I wasn’t doing a lot of coaching. We learned a ton about statistical analysis, how to read, understand, and evaluate research, and I got to read and learn from a ton of research about rowing for my final project on rowing strength training and periodization history. I wrote about my findings for the email list and the content will definitely find its way into future articles and books here.

Organization and Administration: To be honest, I didn’t expect to get a lot out of this class but the readings and course assignments were great and this was the main class where the whole coaching with core values concept started to become clear for me. It ended up having a huge impact on the way I coach and how I think about coaching, the most tangible product of which was my “The Rowing Stronger Mission” article.

Practicum 2: Practicum 2 is the third level of practicum, on a similar structure to Practicum 1 with different readings and discussions. I found the class very helpful again and the heavy focus on coaching philosophies paired nicely with Organization and Administration. I’ve become a big believer in the necessity of having a clear mission statement and coaching philosophy and being able to communicate that to co-coaches, athletes, parents, board members, etc., and am excited to be putting those skills into practice in my coaching.

Coming Next

I started 2018 with a bang, rolling out the new and much-improved website where you’re reading this article right now. I’m spending early 2018 working back through my old articles, improving formatting and making revisions to make sure my content reflects my current coaching practices, and noting anything I’ve learned along the way.

I am also taking an independent study quarter in winter 2018 to produce a second version of my book, “Rowing Stronger: Strength Training to Maximize Rowing Performance.” I’ve coached, learned, and written a lot since it was published in 2015 and it’s overdue for an upgrading and updating as well. Version 2 will also finally have a print copy! I’ll have another post out in a couple weeks with preview and table of contents.

All of the work on the website and book has really kick-started my writing process, and I have several articles in the queue right now for finalizing and more that are just draft ideas, so you can look forward to a lot of new content here in 2018. 

You can stay up-to-date with all of my projects, coaching, learning, and new content by joining my email list. I write 2-4 times a month with any updates to old articles, new content, and thoughts from my coaching and classes that don’t necessarily make their way into a whole blog article.

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