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This is Part 1 of a series of articles on the skill and requirements to become or improve your sweeping skill and knowledge.
Like all things it isn't the only way but it is hopefully a good start in understanding the full package. In following articles different topics will be covered so in total we are going to look at the overview of the role through to general sweeping, crew safety, specific skills, strength, training and competition.
To be a great or good sweep you will need a well-developed set of skills including knowing how to be mother, philosopher, friend, mentor, salesman, tough guy and skilled sweep
On top of that you need to be responsible as the key decision maker for the rowers under your charge. You will ultimately be responsible for all decisions made within the boat including the safe keeping of the crew
You will need to be prepared to learn with your crew. Sweeps that think they know it all seldom do and quickly get shown up
Good decision making has no place for wild bravado. Confidence by all means is very important but the gung-ho approach has no place in the boat
Recruitment is key and you need to be actively involved in developing a plan to keep new rowers coming into the sport. Simply waiting for another club or crew to develop rowers and then poaching does nothing for the sport. Development of rowers must sit very high on every sweeps priority list
Understanding the politics within your club is another very important part of being successful. You must encourage all rowers to take a high profile in the clubs eyes to fundraising, working bees and patrols. Ignore any of these and see how quickly you and your crews will become the enemy
Attend as many coaching clinics as possible to both assist and learn. The day you think you know it all you are the looser
It is no fluke that crews are ever going faster. It is the result of some sweep/coaches better understanding the rowing stroke that have these crews lifting the bar
It isn't all about more training sessions. If you are coaching any part of the stroke incorrectly it won't matter how many sessions you do you still won't win.
Don't flog your crews on egos etc thinking that is what they need to go faster, understand the strengths and weaknesses of each individual crew and learn to coach accordingly
Don't practice bad methods whether it be a training program or stroke style
Do spend as much time as you can sitting on other surf craft like the surf ski to understand the run of the ocean. Until you yourself learn to feel the boat run you can never coach it to your crew
Make sure you do a good amount of your training work in the ocean. Flat water is where you teach technique but out at sea is where you learn your skills. You must train in the surf to learn the skill required. The day of competition in surf is not the place to be learning the fundamentals