Rose Crawford |

Coaching juniors

For many coaches, engaging and inspiring today’s teenagers can be especially challenging, largely thanks to the rise of social media and the pressure of exams. But coaching junior rowing can also be hugely rewarding. Rose Crawford from JRN spoke to Rachel Saunders and Alex Fawcett, Head Coaches at Putney High School and City of Bristol RC, about why they like coaching juniors, their top tips for engaging this age group and how they face up to the challenge of retaining their recruits.

The why

Rachel started rowing as a junior, following in the footsteps of her parents and her older sister. She began coaching Cambridge colleges while at university, and developed her skills further in Australia before moving back to the UK and Putney High School. Her favourite thing about coaching juniors is that, ”every day is different” and she finds motivation in how inquisitive young people are.

Alex, pictured at the top of this page, took a more unusual route into rowing as an adult, by signing up to row across the Atlantic in 2018, before learning flat-water rowing and joining the men’s squad at City of Bristol RC. He got into coaching by teaching his daughter and her squad how to row. Alex’s favourite thing about coaching juniors is their enthusiasm and positivity and he also finds being a part of their journey very rewarding.

The how

Rachel’s biggest bit of advice for engaging and inspiring teenagers is to keep it on their level. “For most juniors, beating a rival club or school at one of the major races is the most important thing to them,” she acknowledged. “Recognising that they are not all going to become Olympians is crucial and actually making sure they are enjoying it, having fun and staying involved in the sport is all that matters.”


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