What do college coaches look for in women’s rowing recruits?
When it comes to rowing recruits, most coaches look at the following in order of importance (give or take a slot):
- 2k erg times
- Physical attributes
- High school or club experience
2k erg times are a good gauge of athletic potential and speed on the water, which is why they’re the top thing that college coaches look at.
Strong grades and test scores are very important for college coaches. A large portion of women’s rowing teams are found at colleges that have strict admission standards, with many of these being prominent colleges near the East Coast. Even though college coaches can have some influence on the admission department, at many schools a coach can’t do anything for a recruit if they don’t meet the college’s academic standards.
In regard to physical attributes, college coaches are always on the lookout for tall recruits. Height allows rowers to have more length and leverage in their stroke and tall rowers are seen as having more upside. Weight is important for generating power, but rowers that are on the heavier side may slow a boat down, so it’s still important to have a good weight-to-power ratio. Rowers with good erg scores shouldn’t be too concerned about height disqualifying them.
Coaches love to see good technique, but this one is difficult to gauge from a recruiting video, especially one shot in larger boats. Coaches like to evaluate rowers up close, preferably in smaller boats like fours, pairs or singles. For recruits that attend a college rowing camp or end up racing at big regattas such as the USRowing Youth National Championships where they may get seen firsthand, this could be more of a selling point. But for the most part, recruits will depend on other categories to show their abilities.
Athletes who rowed for an established high school or club team will likely work in conjunction with their high school or club coach to communicate a recommendation to college coaches. These athletes generally have a leg up in the rowing recruiting process, but usually only if they come from a strong program that the college coach is familiar with. College coaches can expect a certain level of skill from rowers that rowed for a strong club or high school team, but this actually does not describe the majority of incoming college rowers. Most college novice rowers will either have some experience from a lesser-known local club or have no experience and will compete for a roster spot as a walk-on.
Women's rowing recruiting 2k times
|2k Erg Time||Height|
|Tier 1||low 7:20s and under||5'10"+|
|Tier 2||mid 7:20s to 7:30s||5'9"+|
|Tier 3||7:30s to 7:50||5'8"+|
|Tier 4||under 7:55||5'7"+|
Here is how NCSA breaks down the above tiers:
- Tier 1: Top Division 1 teams
- Tier 2: Top Division 3 teams
- Tier 3: Division 2 teams, middle Division 3 teams and lower Division 1 teams
- Tier 4: Lower Division 3 teams and top club teams
As mentioned previously, 2k erg times are the most important for college coaches and academics are next. Coaches look for rowers who are fast on the water and will also take care of business in the classroom. They do not want to deal with headaches about athletes’ grades and eligibility. However, experience, physical attributes and character are also considered, and many college coaches consider character to be the most important quality of their recruits. For women’s college rowing recruits, finding the right college fit athletically, academically, financially and socially is the key.
As rowing continues to grow and become more competitive, 2k recruiting times have kept improving over the last decade and will continue to do so. Also, recruits should understand that 2k recruiting standards are not the standards for rowers already on a college team. Recruits that do secure a college roster spot are expected to acclimate to the college training schedule and workload, which will then produce faster times. Finally, international recruits usually need to meet higher 2k standards than domestic recruits.
Height and weight standards can vary quite a bit and more so than in men’s rowing. Height allows rowers to have more length and leverage in their stroke and tall rowers are seen as having more upside by college coaches. Weight is important for generating power, but rowers need to have a good power-to-weight ratio to maintain speed on the water. 2k erg times and height are more important than weight. While coaches may target specific height numbers for their recruits, the things they will most closely look at are rowing times and academics. Rowers should use the height targets listed in this section as ballpark numbers.
How tall do you have to be to get on a women’s rowing team?
College rowers are generally tall, strong, move well for their size and have impressive stamina. For elite rowing programs, open weight rowers regularly approach 6’ or taller. The average of an open weight crew can go down incrementally in height, as you go down each tier of competition.
A fast 2k erg score and great technique are more important to a college coach than a rower being 5’11” with a slow 2k erg score and subpar technique. Height signifies potential and longer limbs allow for a more effective rowing stroke, but it does not always translate into ability. Recruits that are a few inches shorter, but have ability, should get a chance to show the coach what they can do.