The world around us keeps getting more complex. That complexity means things
can easily go wrong. And rowing practices are no different.
Yet disasters are often avoid, and there’s one very-simple-tool that has helped people such as:
- passenger pilots, improve their safety record
- surgeons, increase success rate while reducing patient healing time
- construction engineers, communicate effectively and avoid costly mistakes
What do those professionals use? A simple checklist. And it can help rowing coaches too.
Wasted rowing practices are wasted opportunities for success
It was 1988. It had been a crappy, long winter. Cold, snow, and a frozen river.
Just when we had reached our limit of every-possible-indoor-rowing-practice known to humankind, the weather warmed. The ice melted, and open water appeared.
And so water practices began.
As soon as that first boat hit the water things didn’t go well:
- One day there wasn’t launch gas
- The next day the line ups were all wrong
- Then the workouts were missing
- The rigging was off
- We needed batteries
Almost every practice was snake-bit. And it was all MY fault.
Improving my practice workflow
Those wasted practice opportunities. The annoyed rowers. The frustrated coaches. They were all my fault…and the reason why?
- I wasn’t ready.
- Stuff was forgotten.
- Boats weren’t ready.
That is, until one of the athletes on the team made a suggestion that changed my practice workflow.
He had his private pilot’s license. He saw what was going on. He politely suggested I use a tool he used before he even thought of starting his plane’s engine — a preflight checklist.
The power of a pre-practice checklist
His preflight checklist was a simple checklist, constructed over years. It included the steps and actions that needed to be taken by a pilot to ensure a safe flight.
Simple checklists can be quite powerful and can make life sooo much easier. For example, a simple checklist can
- ensure the minimum actions get done
- reduce distraction
- promote uniformity
- nudge discipline
- save time
Come on Dude…one simple little tool do that? Yep. Sure can.
But you know that already. You probably use a checklist in some part of your life (shopping list, to-do list, etc).
What I did, and advocate you to do (if you haven’t already done so) is to create an individualized pre-practice checklist, and use it to make your rowing practices more effective, and safer.
Here’s an example of my pre-practice checklist:
My pre-practice checklist should NOT BE your checklist
What I do before my practice may NOT be what you need to do before your practice — different people, different places, different conditions require different actions. So here’s what I suggest you do to personalize your checklist:
- Download my checklist, print it.
- Before, or at your next few practices:
- Look for mistake areas
- Listen for forgotten things
- Ask others what actions need to happen before practice, that aren’t happening
- Adapt the checklist
After you do that, then you’ll have to decide how to implement it.
- You can use it as a “do-then go,” list — using it to direct the actions that need to be taken (“Yo, Bob, go do_______ ”)
- Or you can use it as a “review-then go” list. Taking the actions, then checking things off the list.
However you use it, I think you’ll find a simple pre-practice checklist a great way to make sure what needs to get done, in fact, gets done.
More to help you nail it!
- Get Ready for Your Next Rowing Season Now – Mike Davenport
- USRowing’s Pre-practice safety checklist
- Checklist Manifesto – Atul Gawande