IRL Course Info

Learn more about IRL course offerings.

Interested in applying for the Class of 2021? Applications accepted on a rolling basis until April 1st!

The IRL curriculum focuses on four major tenets of learning - three interdisciplinary classroom segments and the opportunity to apply new knowledge on the water through an internship.  

The four tenets include:  

  • Coaching Methods addresses leadership, communication, and the pedagogy of teaching.  This area focuses on the teaching / learning interface necessary to be an extraordinary coach.
  • Sports Science is a comprehensive review of the science and application of the physiological and neurological components of performance specifically focused on athletic development of rowers.
  • Rowing Administration provides a detailed education about off-the-water responsibilities critical to be a successful leader - on the water and off.
  • Coaching Practicum - A structured internship, which includes mentoring and on-water coaching experiences to implement classroom strategies in real time.

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Check out a One Page Program Summary to learn more and find out about our current IRL fellows, alumni, instructors, and courses by following the links below.  If you want a deeper sense of the educational underpinnings behind the IRL? Check out pages 36-49 of the Winter 2015 Edition of the United States Olympic Committee's Olympic Coach Magazine for a more in depth look at investing in coach leadership training.

IRL Course Catalogue Matrix

CM500 – Education and Instruction: Coach as Teacher
Four clock hours

Teaching, and the pedagogical theory that informs it, has tended to lie outside the traditional domain of coaching. This course challenges that premise and re- conceptualizes coaching based on the notion that at the heart of good coaching lies the teaching and learning interface, and the myriad ways through which coaches influence athletes to develop and improve. Through an analysis of essential educational pedagogy, the class will bridge the gap between the theoretical and the applied by providing fellows with the tools necessary to become teachers of sport.

CM505 – Leadership in Coaching
Three clock hours

Development of leadership skills is foundational in becoming a successful coach. This course explores the leadership role that coaches play within their team, organization, sport, and beyond. Dynamic leadership models, including collaborative and other contemporary models, will be studied as fellows build their own individual model of leadership that they will employ and develop throughout their coaching career. Further, this course delves into how leadership is put into practice for coaches in the bevy of roles they must fill in an organization including communication with fellow staff, setting expectations, and allocation of resources. Using the individual model of leadership they develop, fellows will delve into the organizational, practical, and philosophical challenges that rowing coaches face in their decision making as leaders.

In this course, fellows will be introduced to leadership theories, study the philosophies and attributes of great coaches as well as the coaches next door. We will think critically about how to create team cultures. Class time will involve presentations, reflective self-analysis, rigorous discussions, and frequent collaboration. We will routinely address team/coaching challenges to further our understanding of different leadership approaches and to emotionally engage with the dilemmas leaders face. We will examine healthy practices and disciplines that support and sustain effective leadership. The overarching goal of the course is to offer fellows greater knowledge on the topic of leadership, and increased knowledge of oneself as a leader, and the opportunity to use the connection between the two to advance as a leader.

CM509 – Coaching Philosophy and Ethics
Two clock hours

Throughout this course, fellows will develop an understanding of the role sport plays in democratic culture and cultivate a set of values and ethics as it relates to their own personal coaching. Topics will pull from a variety of primary sources, such as leading texts, case studies and personal experiences, as the course examines modern beliefs about competitive sport, its relationship to academics, and the role of the coach.

CM510 – Coaching Novice Athletes and Coxswains
Two clock hours

The instruction and development of novice rowers and coxswains forms the basis of this course, which “bridges the gap” between theory and on the water coaching applications. Fellows will examine approaches to the introduction to, as well as acquisition and refinement of, basic skills. They will apply research based instructional techniques related to developmentally appropriate verbal instruction and motor learning strategies, including a purposeful approach to coxswain skill development. Additionally, fellows will examine retention models and consider how the initial experience for rowers and coxswains determines their likelihood of continuing to pursue the sport.

CM515/516 – Coaching Advanced Athletes and Technology I & II
Four clock hours

This course, taught in two parts over the course of the winter and spring quarters, builds on the basic instructional methods introduced in CM510 to teach fellows how coaches make fast crews. Melding expertise from across the rowing landscape with guideposts in the form of guest instructors throughout, this course leads fellows through an in-depth study of sophisticated techniques designed to maximize individual potential. The primary objectives of the competitive athlete—team/squad selection, the improvement of sport specific fitness, acquisition and refinement of advanced/complex skills, acquisition of advanced tactics/strategies, and meeting performance standards—provide the framework for the course content. In the course, there will be a blend of classroom based analysis and discussion as well as on the water real time analysis of rowers in action out on the river in addition to guest instructors sharing their specific expertise. Additionally, this course also completes a comprehensive survey of technological resources available to coaches, including a study of the newest cutting edge analytical and instructional tools giving the most up-to-date coaches a distinct competitive advantage on the water. 

CM520 – Training Program Design and Athlete Assessment
Two clock hours

Through this course, fellows will examine the importance of different factors in creating an annual training plan. Specific topics include aerobic, anaerobic and strength training as well as periodization and overtraining. Each fellow will develop his or her own scientifically informed training plan designed and adapted to athlete age and skill level. This course also provides guidance in the establishment of appropriate criteria for the selection of team members, effective communication behaviors between coaches and athletes, and the art of assembling a crew.

CM540 – Rigging and Fleet Maintenance
Two clock hours

Effective preparation for on the water success depends on keeping your equipment in the best shape possible and knowing how to make repairs when necessary. This course will focus on four critical elements: appropriate rigging for crews, boat and oar repair, equipment trailering, and small motor maintenance and restoration. With a mix of classroom sessions and practical application workshops in rigging and repairing boats/motors as well as safe trailer preparation, operation, and maintenance in a hands-on setting, fellows gain the practical skills essential for keeping their crews and equipment in top form.

Coaching Methodology and Critical Thinking

The Coaching Methodology and Critical Thinking component of the IRL prepares fellows for a professional career sustained through a systematic approach to implementing coaching interventions and reflective practice. This two-part course is designed with the dual objectives of (a) assisting fellows in the development of a coaching methodology that will guide them through a specific documented coaching intervention put into practice in their coaching practicum as well as (b) helping fellows understand how regular reflective practice offers a valid insight into the interpretation of their daily coaching and how it can be used to set the course for their long-term development as a coach.

CM550 – Coaching Methodology and Critical Thinking I
One and a half clock hours

The first quarter of Coaching Methodology and Critical Thinking introduces fellows to the process of documenting their coaching methodology to track the effectiveness of coaching interventions with athletes and teams. By developing a systematic and documented approach, fellows will create a reflective practice system that suits them in tracking the impact of their coaching.

CM552 – Coaching Methodology and Critical Thinking II
One and a half clock hours

The second quarter of the course is about fellows putting their coaching methodology into practice in a real world scenario via their coaching practicum. Collaborative problem solving sessions will be had throughout the quarter considering questions and challenges from fellows’ coaching practicums as well as scenarios presented by the instructor. Fellows will share the findings of their documented coaching intervention in a final presentation for the wider rowing community.

Coaching Practicum

The Coaching Practicum component of the IRL (CP500, 502, 504, and 506) is critical in taking the knowledge and experience gained in the classroom and translating it to direct communication with athletes to enhance their performance. The definition of coaching should reflect the broad academic content of the IRL program. In addition to on the water athlete instruction, this includes experiential learning opportunities in the management of the team, overall organization of the program, study and implementation of technique and strategy, event management, fundraising, and more.

Each fellow will have the opportunity to experience the many necessary roles of the rowing coach — teacher, physiologist, personal trainer, psychologist, fundraiser, and administrator — that compose the aggregate leader the IRL seeks to develop. Through the connection with the IRL program, fellows are matched with local teams that match their eventual desired career path, whether that is to work with collegiate, elite, junior or masters athletes.

CP500 – Practicum I
Two clock hours

The first quarter practicum is a complete immersion in the coaching of novice rowers. By learning to build the stroke from the ground up, fellows learn the necessary skills in methodology and communication to effectively articulate their vision of the rowing stroke to the athletes they are coaching.

CP502 – Practicum II
Four clock hours

The second quarter practicum places fellows in coaching positions that match their eventual coaching career goals. Fellows will employ both coaching and athlete recruitment skills in working within their coaching assignments to enhance the goals of their programs.

CP504 – Practicum III
Two clock hours

The third quarter practicum is focused on practice in off-season training activities indoors including for many the opportunity to attend a training camp on the water.

CP506 – Practicum IV
Four clock hours

The fourth quarter practicum is the final installment in the experiential learning component of the IRL with a focus on instruction and performance of competitive athletes in the spring racing season.

RA500 – Event Management
Two clock hours

The successful administration of competitions, whether it is the relative simplicity of a dual race or a multi-faceted championship regatta, is critical to providing an effective arena for athletic performance. Additionally special events, such as fundraisers and community outreach events, are essential tools in the growth and development of the sport of rowing. The focus of this course will be understanding and developing the narrative aspects that go along with the execution of a successful event. Two critical components of this course to bridge the theoretical/practical divide will be the involvement of fellows in the operations and planning process for the Head of the Charles Regatta as well as a cumulative application of knowledge by running all aspects of an indoor ergometer race for members of Community Rowing, Inc.

RA505 – Marketing and Branding
Two clock hours

This course examines the role that marketing and branding play in two contexts: the development of a successful rowing club/team and the cultivation of each fellow’s individual brand. Marketing topics include using a strategy-based perspective to establish an appropriate target market, brand positioning, utilization of social media and word-of-mouth, and developing relationships with key community partners. On the individual level, fellows will consider how the concepts of marketing and branding apply to their individual career paths.

RA510 – Team Management
Two clock hours

In this seminar-based course, the intra- and inter- personal aspects involved in the successful operation of a rowing club/team are explored. The major focus of the course is the implementation of administrative theory into practice by identifying differences in various real-life examples of successful team management styles. Through this process, fellows will learn principles successful coaches have used to:

  • Effectively set program, individual and personal goals
  • Systematically develop resilience
  • Use stressors to benefit rather than inhibit athlete development
  • Manage their coaching staff
  • Identify their own strengths and weaknesses as managers of people/groups

RA515 – Non-Profit Program Management
One clock hour

Understanding the principles behind sound financial management and planning is a key skill for all sport leaders. Through this course, fellows will develop an understanding of the numerous elements that play a role in the financial administration and operation of a rowing organization. Specific attention will be given to understanding best practices in budgeting and finance to ensure both short and long term organizational health and stability. Through real world case studies, fellows will examine the typical business functions of different rowing organizations (e.g., school, club, colleges/universities) associated with athletic programming (e.g., purchasing, accounting, travel reimbursement) to develop familiarity with the components of successful financial planning. Additionally during the course, the key factors influencing fundraising through charitable giving and grants will be addressed.

RA520 – Sport and Community Development
One clock hour

Fellows will get a broad understanding of key concepts of community development theory and practice, as well as the emerging field of Sport for Development and how it relates to their sphere as a rowing leader. Through readings, class discussion, and review of best practices and model programs from the field, by the end of the course fellows will be able to articulate the merits of sport as a viable mode of community development.

RA525 – Recruiting
One clock hour

Efficacy in recruiting is an essential skill that all coaches must possess whether it be talking with prospective fellow-athletes for a collegiate program or building a community program and drawing in new members. Developing an understanding of the blend of art and science behind the recruiting process, fellows will learn both the philosophical and practical skills behind effective recruiting. Fellows will then apply these skills in a scenario-based approach formulating individualized recruiting plans in evaluating candidates and their fit within the parameters of their program. In addition to learning the skills necessary to become a successful recruiter, fellows will also study NCAA compliance rules and become certified by the NCAA for recruiting of student-athletes as part of this course.

SS500/510 – Exercise Physiology I & II
Eight clock hours

This course, taught in two parts over the course of the summer and fall quarters, takes an in-depth approach to understanding the human body’s adaptation to acute and chronic exercise. Fellows will begin with a foundational overview of exercise science concepts before exploring a wide range of topics, including the cardiovascular system and response to physiological stress, the ATP-PC, glycolytic, and oxidative energy systems, physiological variables (e.g. age, gender), exercise testing, the psychophysiological factors of health and fitness, overtraining, etc. The course is structured to prepare fellows to take the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s (NSCA) Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) Exam.

SS515 – Biomechanics
Two clock hours

This comprehensive course emphasizes the concepts of biomechanics and their application to rowing and sculling. These concepts are numerous and complex, involving basic mechanics, the mechanics of human tissue, kinematics, kinetics, and fluid mechanics. A detailed study of these biomechanical concepts and structural kinesiology is designed to give fellows the ability to apply biomechanical information to rowing specific movement patterns.

SS520 – Sports Nutrition
Two clock hours

The purpose of this course is to provide fellows with a basic understanding of the relationship between nutrition, health, and athletic performance. This course will apply modern nutritional science research to sports training and competition with a focus on what coaches and athletes need to know about nutrition for optimal performance, specifically in the rowing context.

SS525 – Strength Training
Two clock hours

Each fellow will receive instruction in the principles for development of pre-season, in-season, and off-season strength and conditioning programs. Classroom activities in theory of strength acquisition will be taken to the weight room for application where fellows will learn (and do themselves!) the proper movement patterns as well progressions for teaching their athletes proper strength training technique.

SS529 – Applied Sports Medicine and Injury Prevention
Two clock hours

In this course, the role coaches play in appropriate application of sports medicine and injury prevention is addressed. Emergency procedures, acute injuries, overuse and overtraining, NCAA and scholastic rules, problem athletes, injuries common in rowing, and the psychology of injury are key topics discussed. As part of the course, fellows will also take coursework to receive CPR/First Aid certification.

SS535 – Sports Psychology
Three clock hours

Understanding the complex psychological processes involved in maximizing athletic performance forms the core of this course. Through the critical examination of both research and practical experience, fellows will identify the knowledge and skills necessary to guide practice in the field of sport psychology and the administration of sport psychology interventions with their athletes and teams.

SS540 – Skill Refinement and Athlete Adaptation
Two clock hours

This course addresses the principles related to how various aspects of physiology contribute to how the athlete acquires, improves, and maintains skills and performance. By converting the fundamental physical education theories and current research into practical instructional procedures, fellows learn how to create a practice environment tuned to provide athletes the best opportunity to improve their skills from both a mental and physical perspective. During the course, particular attention is paid to genetics, gender, age, training status, injury, and nutrition and how these factors impact skilled motor performance and adaptation to training stimuli.