top of page
  • Writer's pictureCoach Knickerbocker

Adam's Brilliant Simplicity

I spent some time in Portland yesterday, speaking to a group of rowers from Station L Rowing Club.

At the end of my presentation I facilitated a panel of rowers from the club discussing a little bit about their history, how they came to find rowing, how they pursue their goals and what sacrifices they have made to achieve those landmarks.

One of the panel members was a novice rower named Adam.

When I asked the question of goals or landmarks his response was "I just keep showing up."

So simple and yet so brilliant. As my father would've said, "Out of the mouths of babes."

No, Adam is not an experienced competitive ex-collegiate rower with decades under his belt of being in boats, but his approach to the sport is wise beyond his years (as a rower) and something all rowers should consider.

The Just-Keep-Showing-Up approach is well worth the time to examine so here goes.

What is the one thing that's going to keep your forward momentum consistent in terms of becoming a better rower?

Showing up.

Every single time you have the opportunity to get into the boat and row, you are learning something.


This is the first Law of Rowing (similar to the first law of Thermodynamics).

1. One must be in the boat to learn how to row, or to learn how to row better.

As far as this is concerned, showing up means exposing yourself to consistent learning. Pretty obvious right?

You would think so, but how many rowers do you know that don't go out in chop, or some wind, or rain, or cold, and then wonder why they don't do well at regattas where the weather is not so forgiving. Well, they blame it on the weather of course.

Meanwhile there are rowers at the same regatta, in the same weather, that are competing and winning.

Or, how many rowers do you know who will figure out some way of avoiding rowing in boats with individuals that they deem...shall we say, "rough" or too "novicey"?

Also a missed opportunity to "show up" for others and be a part of their growth as a rower. Something I consider a privilege. Of course you're not going to do this every day, but when called upon to fill a seat in a more novice boat, or mentor a boat from the stroke seat, show up for those rowers.

Showing up also means you are present for those moments of greatness. If you have the opportunity to, let's say, be on the water 4 days a week, but instead you are only there two days a week consistently, you have essentially reduced your chance of experiencing that "click" moment by 50%.

What's a click moment?

It's that moment when something about the technique, or timing, or boat feel clicks for you. Less time on the water means fewer opportunities to imbed the technique and fitness we are trying to imbed.

What about the team building piece?

By showing up less often or let's say, walking out of a practice when you realize it's going to be an erg day instead of an on the water day, you walk out on your team, you miss the opportunity to grow as a team, and you miss the opportunity to grow as an athlete.

Which, to put it bluntly, speaks volumes about that rower's character.

Again, just showing up, means showing up for not only the easy beautiful warm sunny comfortable days on the water. It means showing up for ALL the days of practice. Be those erg days, water days, boathouse work days, fundraising days, etc.

It's all an opportunity or an opportunity lost, you choose.

Finally, there is showing up physically AND mentally. You can be there in body but not be there in mind and vice versa. Being prepared mentally, and being prepared physically, vis a vis fitness, are both necessary for a successful practice. So when you do actually "show up"...SHOW UP!

One without the other is tantamount to not showing up at all.

Thank you Adam. Thank you for simply stating what could be argued as the most important aspect of becoming a better rower...just keep showing up.

Row hard, Row well, Compete, Have fun!

Coach Knickerbocker

868 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page