Alan Oldham |

‘As a coach, you have to get into your athletes’ shoes’

Could a more compassionate approach to coaching lead to sustainable success in the long term? Steve O’Connor tells Alan Oldham why developing rowers as people is key

Kindness isn’t the first word that comes to mind when many think of sport. Especially in a technical, physically demanding sport like rowing where results are measured in milliseconds, coaching’s ‘soft skills’ are at best overshadowed by and, at worst, cast in opposition to the ‘hard’ demands of performance.

Yet critics of this popular attitude claim there is nothing mutually exclusive about coaching with kindness and coaching to win. While few would refute that a gentler approach can keep more people in rowing, could it also lead to more sustainable success for those who do aspire to the high performance?

Steve O’Connor thinks so. British Rowing Plus spoke with the founder and CEO of Fulham Reach Boat Club about why he believes that coaching with kindness is in the best interests of all.

Fulham’s reach

Founded in 2014, Fulham Reach Boat Club has lived up to its simple, powerful vision to provide ‘rowing for all’.  Central to this is a focus on developing people instead of producing athletes.


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