Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, we all get nervous. Learning how to deal with these nerves to overcome challenges is what makes rowing so rewarding. This week, we’re going to share our 9 tips for nervous rowers so you can calm your nerves. By relaxing your mind and body, you will have a much better experience on the machine. We here at Dark Horse genuinely want to help you transform your rowing from cautious to confident.
1. Practice, practice, practice
We believe the ideal scenario is to practice movement as much as you can both on and off the machine. By learning to replicate the rowing movements, in a more familiar environment, you will be one step ahead before you even get on the machine. That could mean practicing opening and closing your hips as you bend and reach for something from the floor or grabbing a kettlebell and practicing your squat mechanics, every little helps regardless of if you are on the machine or now.
2. Choose your motivation
Choosing to start a new sport can be tricky, there’s a lot of others out there that have spent a lot more hours doing it than you and their motivation for it might be different to yours. Regardless of this it’s important to find the “why” early on and remember that as you go through your rowing journey. For nervous rowers, we suggest focussing on embedding correct mechanics before you go too far into your journey where as those a little more competitive remember you don’t need to be defined by your erg times, there is no Olympics for indoor rowing.
3. Start your session right
Whether you’re learning to keep heels down in the catch, trying not to open your hips early or over extend at the release position, we all have areas to work on. Trying to tackle the hardest part first thing in the session is never a good idea. So make sure you start the day right, and give yourself this little confidence boosts to ensure you start as you mean to go on. We know from experience, your body will be thanking you later for those warm-up drills.
4. Concentrate on the rowing sensations
A lot of your nerves can come from overthinking and underestimating your ability. Aim to focus on the 4 main points of the stroke to keep you calm and focused.
This will help you to enjoy the feeling of the stroke on the erg. Sometimes we all have a little blip but avoid focusing on it and you’ll stay at ease on the machine.
5. Set a time limit on how much you row each day
This top tip for nervous rower is vital for keeping you fresh on the machine. We recommend setting a time limit on how much you row each day so you don’t become overwhelmed. Rowing for sustained periods can be tiring, so ensure you take a break and mix things up. We all know you won’t row your best when you’re exhausted.
A workout doesn’t have to be all about rowing after all. You can mix in some body weight work, some kettlebells, heck even another C2 machine if you really want!! – the list is endless.
6. Set small achievable goals each day
By setting yourself small achievable goals, you will accomplish so much more. Each day, set small achievable goals and you will feel mini senses of accomplishment throughout your week. Remember to breathe and smile. We believe it’s about giving yourself little wins along the way, that helps build your confidence and remind yourself that you are doing well. Practice really does make perfect, when it comes to rowing. The more time on the erg, the bigger the gains you will make.
Another idea you can try is to visualise what you’re going to do. By pausing and allowing yourself time to focus on the task ahead. Relax your shoulders, control your breathing and make a plan on how you are going to complete the session in the most efficient way.
7. Learn at your own pace
We believe it’s vital for everyone to learn at their own pace, whether that’s in a private one-to-one lesson, a group lesson or just with friends. If you’re a nervous rower, our aim in 1-1 sessions is to make you feel as comfortable as possible on the machine. Sometimes a private lesson is more beneficial for building confidence as you get more personal feedback in a one-to-one environment. You don’t need to worry about trying to keep up with others as the focus is just on you.
8. Row with others of your own ability
One of our favourite tips for nervous rowers is to find a group who you are comfortable with and join a session either in person or digitally. Nothing knocks your confidence more than feeling like everyone around you is much better and your metrics don’t resemble others. Rowing should be fun, so don’t take things too seriously. Don’t feel pressured by others to row the same sessions as your more advanced friends or partake in competitions unless you really want to.
9. Get comfortable being uncomfortable
If you are apprehensive about learning to row then know this is 100% part of the journey. If you are part of a community then don’t be afraid to ask questions, as this will benefit you greatly and in finding a community that you trust, you will build your confidence. That sense of uncomfortableness will soon pass as your confidence grows.
By incorporating a couple of these pieces of advice for nervous rowers, we guarantee you’ll have a more enjoyable time as you progress on your rowing journey. After all, rowing should be fun, and we want you to finish your workouts feeling positive, motivated & keen to learn more, next time.
Yours in fitness, education and getting over your nerves.