World Rowing spoke to Simpson and Flood about what makes this one stand out from other rowing books.

World Rowing: Does the world need another rowing book?
Simpson: “There are really two types of rowing books; how-to-row books and biographies. We have a bit of both: biography from each coach’s perspective and the how-to components in the final section. The aim was to let coaches discuss what they do in a way that the reader can draw comparisons and links from programme to programme and coach to coach through each chapter.”

Flood: “We were trying to do something different. We were looking for reflective approaches to coaching. We wanted to get inside of coaches minds.”

WR: The main takeaways?
Flood: “What struck me about these coaches was that many of them are often seen as almost god-like in their methods. But I found for the majority of them this wasn’t the reality. They are really interesting people and interested in other people’s ideas. A great element for me was they are in a continuous learning process. Many club coaches have fixed ideas based on their experience and there is a lack of response to different situations and rowers, but many of the best coaches say ‘we haven’t got a fixed formula, we are learning from situations and from rowers.’”

Simpson: “Living in a part of the world where great rowing and coaching is all around, it can be easy to take for granted. For a lot of rowers in the world, they are not in places where there are these experts, and that is where books like this are so important.”

WR: What is the real secret to successful rowing?
Simpson: “One of the main things that comes out is there really are no secrets. The vast majority of what we do (in elite rowing) is public anyway in one shape or form. If anyone wants to know what is going on, they can go and sit on the bank at Karapiro (New Zealand) or any other national training centre.”

Flood: “A lot of damage in club rowing happens when you have coaches who either don’t know what they are doing, or think they are doing things just like a national team. Demystifying what the top rowers do is important.”

Simpson: “I think the secret is there are no secrets. Once people realise that, they can start to do sensible things rather than chasing fads.”

Looking ahead

For Flood and Simpson, there really isn’t much they would change except in two notable areas. “We were disappointed not to be able to include more women,” acknowledges Flood.

“We invited female contributors and put in the effort, but time ran out,” says Simpson. With more and more women in coaching, their aim will be for greater representation in a future edition.

Simpson has also been struck by the popularity of the book beyond native English speakers. “We tried to get an international flavour, but include coaches that can speak English,” he says. Despite that, “sales have been big particularly in Japan and China. In the spirit of international rowing, we’ll have to look at translating the book and also at including coaches from non-English regions where there is also great rowing.”