A lot of people have asked us over time what special skills you need to be a para rowing coach. The answer is that for the most part, you just need to know how to be a good rowing coach!
While we don’t want to undervalue the expertise of para coaches Anne, Barbara, Alex and Liam, the fundamental point to take away is that many of the skills that make a para coach effective are the very same skills needed by any other rowing coach. For example, making an adjustment to the set up of a scull to accommodate a person with a lower limb prosthetic is very similar to the adjustments that might be made to accommodate a person with slightly different leg lengths (and if you check carefully, that may well include you!)
Similarly, a coach of any sport should adapt their approach to their athlete, as some people learn through experimentation, some through instruction and some through watching. In the same way, a coach of an athlete with a visual or other sensory or intellectual impairment simply needs to adapt their method of communication to assist the rower in overcoming the impact of that impairment.
“many of the skills that make a para coach effective are the very same skills needed by any other rowing coach.”
Many other skills which may be more specific to para rowing can be readily learned – for example prosthetics and other specialised equipment can often be adjusted in the same way as rowing equipment. In this area, often your most valuable resource is the athlete themselves who most often will be an expert in their own equipment, and if not, will be able to put you in touch with the person who is. There are also plenty of online resources, such as Rowing NSW’s website, Rowing Australia, World Rowing, RowPerfect, The Rowing Network and plenty of other places. Over the coming weeks and months, we will also add more resources on this site.
Ultimately (and probably more so than with most athletes), para rowers are aware of their abilities and skills, and are more than willing to help you to improve your skills as a coach, which will assist you in coaching rowers of all abilities.
The Balmain Para Rowing Program is dedicated to providing opportunities for athletes of all abilities. If you are a new coach in the para field (or would like to volunteer to help us with our own rowers) and you have any questions about your coaching or athletes in your care, please get in touch as we’d be delighted to have a chat!