Weekly Practices


Using your on-water practice time efficiently and effectively is key to having fun and continuous improvement. It is recommended that you have a plan in mind and that the rowers know what to expect. Ensure that the plan includes technique, conditioning, and speed drills and practice safety at all times.


Safety and steering are your priority as a coxswain. Include safety into your plan by knowing and following the traffic patterns – down the pond on the south side and back up the pond on the north side. Be aware of other boats on the pond and practice caution when steering and turning the buoys.


Rowers will look to the coxswain for help with their technique. Focus on one or two issues per practice. You can also use pair rowing to isolate issues and work on them in pairs. Use plenty of drills early in the season to work on individual and team technique.

Do not under estimate the importance of technique. Spend plenty of on-water time on it. Good technique and a balanced boat are critical to applying power effectively and allowing the boat to run between strokes.


There are many ways to incorporate drills into a practice session. Here are a few tips:

  1. Ensure that everyone understands the drill, it’s purpose, and how you will run it before you get on the water. Don’t use your water time to explain the drill.
  2. Do the drills at the beginning of practice or as part of the warm up. For example, use various pause drills during the warm up.
  3. You may do drills for a couple of weeks at the beginning of the season and for specific practice purposes later in the season.
  4. Incorporate drills into a steady state session.
  5. Don’t be afraid to do drills later in the season. It is never too late to improve technique!
  6. It is critical that you and the rowers focus on the drill, the technique, and the goal of the practice. Rowers must remove all distractions and focus on every stroke.
  7. Give the rowers time to apply what they learned in the drill to their regular rowing stroke.


It’s easy to communicate with rowers when you and rowers are prepared for the practice session. Giving clear and concise instructions when you’re on the water maximizes the time you’re able to spend rowing and minimizes the amount of wasted time. A couple of tips:

  1. Always have a plan for the practice session and ensure that rowers are aware of the plan in advance.
  2. Keep communication focused on rowing calls, technique, and technical issues.
  3. Ensure that all rowers can hear you. It may be possible to stand up when the boat is stopped or when the boat is moving slowly.
  4. Communicate with #6 when you are turning to ensure that there are no boats behind you.
  5. It’s not necessary to stop when you want to transition between sets of drills, pairs, steady state etc. Simply call to transition “in two” or “after two”. Then you can say “on this one” as the rowers finish the last stroke in one set and are ready to take the first stroke in the next set. For example, “transition to pause at bodies forward after two. One, two, on this one. Pause at bodies forward.”

Weekly practice schedule

You can use the same weekly schedule week over week with the intensity and stroke rate increasing each week as technique and conditioning improve. The first few weeks on the water may be all steady state, pair rowing, and drills to allow the rowers to work on their individual strokes and timing. Weeks before races may include more speed work, starts, and turns.

Below are two sample weekly schedules that can be used as a base – one for early in the season and another for later in the season. Change the stroke rate, duration, and number or intervals based on the competitive level of the team and their technical ability and endurance.

Sample early season schedule (use this for 1-4 weeks or more)

Workout Description Stroke Rate
Mon Steady state and pairs rowing. Drills -pick drill and pause drills 18-22 ( lower for pairs & drills)
Tues Steady state, pairs rowing, and pause drills 18-22 ( lower for pairs)
Wed Steady state rowing. Drills – focus on the finish 18-22 ( lower for pairs & drills)
Thurs Steady state, pairs rowing, and finish drills 18-22 ( lower for pairs)
Fri Steady state and pair rowing and drills to focus on the catch 18-22 ( lower for pairs & drills)
Sat Long slow rowing (25 minutes on the water, a really long piece on the erg, or a combination) 18-22

Sample late season schedule

Workout Description Stroke Rate
Mon Steady state – full pressure, perfect technique, and good concentration at a low stroke rate 20-22
Tues 6 minute staircase (3-2-1) X 2 or 3 22-24-26
Wed Long intervals. E.g. 4-5 minute pieces X 3. A good opportunity to practice starts and turns and race intensity/pace 24-28
Thurs Short intervals. E.g. 1 minute full pressure with 1 minute rest between. A good opportunity to practice race intensity/pace 24-30
Fri Steady state – full pressure, perfect technique, and good concentration at a low stroke rate 20-22
Sat Long slow rowing (25 minutes on the water, a really long piece on the erg, or a combination) 22-24