Triton’s Rowing Handbook


To create a culture of unity and trust within the team by teaching our student-athletes the value of teamwork, the importance of determination when pushing for your goals and the rewards that come from working hard for what you want.

Recommended Reading

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle

Operations & Financials

Traverse City Tritons Rowing is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization managed by our board of directors. We operate in partnership with but independently from the school districts in the greater Grand Traverse area and are dedicated to the promotion and support of the sport of rowing for our middle school and high school student-athletes. Financial support for our program comes from athlete participation fees, fundraising and donations. We do not receive financial support from the schools. The tax-exempt Federal ID Number for Traverse City Tritons Rowing is 82-2311476.


Team Snap: You will receive an invitation via email after registering. Team Snap is used for all team communication and scheduling. It is recommended you install the app on your smart phone.

Facebook or Instagram: @TCTritonsRowing. Used for the promotion of our program. Anything posted here is publicly visible.

Regatta Central: Should be used for race day information such as location, event times and results.

Registration Checklist

  1. Check you schedule to confirm you will be able to attend all practices and regattas.
  2. Complete team registration.
    • Middle school and high school athletes must register for the program.
    • Registration and payment is handled through the LEAP website regardless of the school you attend.
    • Payment plans are offered through the LEAP office. For more information call 231.933.6570.
  3. Read the Code of Conduct and electronically sign the Agreement sent to you via email.
  4. Check your email for the invitation to Team Snap and sign up for an account (free), if you don’t already have one.
  5. Complete your USRowing Membership once per calendar year.
    • Having an annual US Rowing membership is required to be covered by our program’s insurance policy AND to participate in many of the regattas we attend throughout the year.
    • Returning rowers with a previous US Rowing membership will simply need to renew it and sign the waiver once per calendar year.
    • New rowers without a US Rowing membership can easily sign up on their website.
      • A basic membership is all that’s required, but we recommend looking at their Championship Membership. It comes with additional personal liability insurance to cover you on the water at traveling regattas, offers discounts at many rowing related retailers and provides a monthly subscription to US Rowing Magazine.
    • Once you have signed up for USRowing you will need to add Traverse City Tritons Rowing as an affiliation. Our club code can be found in the manager’s message on Team Snap.
  6. Order the team uni from Regatta Sport.
    • The online store is available for a limited time only. All athletes must have a team uniform to race.
    • Click the iTeams link at the top right and then Home on the left.
    • New users on their website will need to click Register. Returning users can sign in .
    • Once your account has been created, click iTeams and then Home again.
    • In the dropdown box select Traverse City Crew and enter the password Tritons19
  7. Order the team race hat and travel polo from our online store.
    • These items are available at a discount as the Regatta Kit and are also included in the Starter Kit and Pro Kit.
    • Athletes should wear the travel polo to school on the Friday before a regatta, while traveling and at team dinner that evening.
    • Race hats must be worn with the uni for all races.

Equipment Policy

  • Rowing equipment is very expensive and must be handled with care to avoid damage.
  • Any damage to the equipment must be reported to the head coach immediately.
  • Boats & oars are very long – be cautious of your surroundings when moving them. Follow all directions regarding the handling of equipment.
  • All athletes must learn how to properly handle and maintain all equipment both on and off the water including loading and unloading the trailer, rigging and de-rigging boats, adjusting rigger height, span and load, taking a boat off or putting a boat on the racks and launching or recovering boats from the dock.
  • All athletes must participate in routine cleaning and maintenance of equipment.

Attendance Policy

Every practice has a value to the individual athletes and to the team. If you attend practice and complete the workout then you will get stronger and faster. If you do not attend practice for any reason you lose physical and cardio performance – making your boat and the team slower. We do not allow skips or misses – only makeups. All makeups must be scheduled with a coach present and need to be completed prior to the end of practice on the day we load the trailer or the athlete will not be permitted to compete. There are no exceptions to this rule. When school is missed regardless of the reason homework and tests must still be completed. Practice is no different.

Makeups are not a punishment for missing practice! They are a way to honor your commitment to the team and demonstrate your willingness to continue improving. By making up what was missed we can ensure all rowers are improving together and create a fair environment for everyone.

Dots System

Training and competing with the team are a privilege and an opportunity. We expect our athletes to honor the commitment they made when they joined the team but also understand life happens.

Each athlete will have their name on a whiteboard at the park and attendance will be tracked at each practice. When an athlete misses practice a dot goes next to their name and that practice must be made up. Regardless of makeups, an athlete with three dots will not be permitted to compete at the next regatta. Dots reset at the start of each season.

Failure to Follow Team Policies & Code of Conduct

Late for Practice: If an athlete arrives after running, stretching and workouts have begun but before the team goes out on the water or gets on the ergs, that athlete must apologize to the team for their tardiness, makeup the start of practice they missed and run an extra lap around the park at the end of practice.

Missed/Skipped Practice: Missing practice causes the athlete to lose both physical and cardio conditioning compared to the rest of the team. While physical conditioning can be made up, the technical drills and feedback they miss cannot. Each missed practice results in a dot next to the athletes name and a practice that must be made up.

Disobeying a Coach At Practice: If an athlete disobeys a coach at practice they will be removed from the boat for that day, which will count as a missed practice, and must apologize to the team for their behavior before being allowed back on the water.

Disobeying a Coach At A Regatta: The first time an athlete disobeys a coach at a regatta they will be pulled from their race. The second time they disobey a coach they will be pulled from all racing that day regardless of the number of events. If an athlete disobeys a coach at the end of a regatta (de-rigging and loading the trailer) they will be pulled from their first event at the next regatta.

Displaying Unsportsmanlike Conduct: If an athlete displays unsportsmanlike conduct at a regatta they will not be allowed to compete in remaining events that day and must apologize to the team for their behavior before being allowed back on the water.

Alcohol, vaping, smoking and/or drugs: Beyond being illegal at your age, alcohol, vaping, smoking and drugs adversely affect athletic performance. Violating this Code of Conduct policy demonstrates a lack of respect for the team and will result in the athlete not being permitted to compete at the next regatta and receiving two dots.

If it has been reasonably determined that an athlete knew of a teammate breaking this policy but did not report it to a coach, that athlete will receive a dot.

What to Bring to Practice

  • Water bottle with your name on it.
  • Athletic clothing you can easily move in – matching weather conditions. Compression shirts and shorts/pants are highly recommended. Loose fitting clothing will get stuck in the slide making rowing impossible.
  • Rowing jacket or windbreaker. A waterproof or water-resistant shell work better than large bulky jackets.
  • Socks, socks, socks and more socks.
  • Open-toed pool type sandals for wearing on the dock – crocs or other slip on shoes work well.
  • Athletic shoes for running or use on the ergs. You won’t want to erg in sandals!
  • A towel and change of clothes in case it rains or you want to swim at the end of practice.
  • Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. You will be on the water for almost two hours every day.
  • Your own medication – if you use an inhaler, label it and take it with you in the boat.

Practice Expectations

  • Arrive at practice at least 15 minutes early and be prepared to row or train on land. Arrival at the scheduled start of practice is LATE.
  • Show up for all practices.
  • Be attentive to coaches before practice to hear seating assignments and training plans.
  • Display positive attitudes and a willingness to work with and encourage others at all times. Abusive, derogatory or defamatory language toward another athlete, coach, parent or another crew will not be tolerated.
  • Follow the instructions of ANY coach immediately.
  • Realize that team goals come before the needs or desires of any individual.
  • Seek feedback.

Practice Cancellation & Inclement Weather Policy

Coaches should use common sense in the face of inclement weather. High winds, large or heavy amounts of debris, extreme temperatures, lightning storms, and fog are all reasons for not practicing on the water. Crews should not launch if such conditions exist or are seriously threatening. It is highly advised that coaches and scullers listen closely to local weather channels routinely. We do row in the rain so dress accordingly!

Wind: Coaches and rowers should keep in mind that often times it is easy to launch from the dock, but much harder to recover in windy conditions. Singles, doubles and pairs should not be launched if waves extend over the dock. Fours, quads and eights should not be launched in whitecap conditions. While wind speeds generally decrease later in the evening, a go or no-go decision is ultimately at the coach’s discretion.

Lightning Storms: Crews should return immediately to the dock or proceed immediately to shore if the dock is too far away. There does not have to be rain or thunder to have lightning.

Fog: Fog limits visibility and mutes sounds. If caught in fog, it is recommended that crews proceed with extreme caution and appropriately slower speeds in the direction of the dock. If the fog is too extreme, it may be better to sit still. Be sure to make some noise so others on the water can be alerted to your presence.

In the event there is a cancellation it will be communicated with as much advanced notice as possible. Ultimately, it is the rower’s responsibility on questionable days to check Team Snap or ask a coach before leaving for practice.

Regatta Expectations

  • Rowers/coxswains will be required to arrive at the race location at a specific time set by the coach. It is important to be punctual. The team will not row if members are not there on time.
  • Rowers/coxswains are expected to exhibit the highest standard of sportsmanship and support for the team at competitions.
  • Rowers are responsible for their own equipment. It is neither your coach’s nor your parent’s job to make sure you boat is rigged, cleaned, de-rigged, or loaded back on the trailer.
  • All rowers must race in their team uniform.
  • Rowers/Coxswains will be dismissed by the coaches only AFTER THE EQUIPMENT is taken care of. Please do not ask to leave early unless there is an emergency.

Parent Expectations

  • Ensure your child has transportation to and from all practices and team events. Carpooling is highly recommended.
  • Follow the Code of Conduct and set a good example for our team.
  • Assist in carpooling to and from our regattas.
  • Set up and removal of team tents at regattas. There will be a parent meeting the night before each race to review.
  • Actively communicate with each other and coaches.
  • Respond to all team communication in a timely manner.
  • Be supportive and encouraging of the team at all times.
  • Parents are not allowed to gather around the trailer or boats at regattas.
  • Parents are not allowed contact with the athletes 1 hour before the boat launches or 30 minutes after it recovers. That is team time.
  • Alcohol is not permitted at any regatta.
  • All pets should be left at home.


Sleep: We can’t stress enough the importance of sleep. Sleep helps the body to re-energize, muscles to heal and helps keep the mind sharp. This is critical for competitive athletes especially two nights before performances. Parents can help by suggesting a bedtime for your athlete that gets them at least 8 hours of sleep each night. Experts recommend 8 to 10 hours each night for teenagers.

Water: We also can’t stress hydration enough. Hydration aids in digestion and the transport of nutrients, provides cushion for muscles and connective tissue, controls body temperature and support immune function (white blood cells are largely water). If your athlete isn’t hydrated for training and competitions, they are likely to get tired and could also experience muscle cramps, headaches, dizziness, or worse symptoms.

“If your urine is gold your medal won’t be!” Pay attention to urine color, volume and frequency. According to the US Olympic Rowing Team Nutritionist, the sweet spot for hydration is needing to urinate about every 2 hours with moderate volume and a slight pale yellow color. Over-hydration (clear urine every hour or less) should be avoided.

Nutrition: Good nutrition is crucial for performance. If athletes don’t nourish their bodies, they won’t function well. We recommend reading our Nutrition for Athletes guide and consulting your physician to help determine a proper nutrition plan.

Healthy Mind/Healthy Body: One of the pillars of Tritons Rowing is hard work. At the same time we’re only able to engage in hard work when our bodies are prepared for it. A lack of preparation can lead to both physical and mental strain which often leads to poor performance. Lack of care during recovery periods will affect your athlete’s overall endurance over time.

The body and the mind operate in tandem. Failure to take care of the body can result in poor mental performance. Similarly, an unhealthy or negative mental state can adversely affect physical performance. We care about your athlete’s physical and mental state. We push athletes to work hard and we also push them to take good care of themselves. Both are crucial life skills.

The Mind: Mental health includes both emotional well being and resilience to stress. Mentally healthy individuals are able to cope with daily stresses and fully participate in family, work, sport, leisure and community activities. Parents can help by watching for common mental health concerns among teen athletes including: eating disorders, anxiety, depression, burnout and large mood swings or addictions.

The Body:Help your athlete learn the difference between muscle soreness and the sharp pain that results from an injury. Muscle soreness and minor injuries usually resolve within a few days. If pain doesn’t resolve within a week with rest and ice, consult a professional with expertise in sports injuries. Pain in a joint or at a tendon may be more serious than muscle soreness. Rowers should not “row through” the pain when it is in a joint or tendon.

Injuries can be common in young rowers whose bodies are growing rapidly. Bones are lengthening rapidly, and muscle growth can lag behind. Be sure your rower has adequate calories to maintain, heal, and build muscle mass. High calorie nutritional drinks (Muscle Milk, Ensure, etc) are an easy way to supplement the calories found in 3-4 nutritious meals a day.

Rowers should work out and strengthen their bodies in a balanced manner to help offset the one-sided nature of rowing. Warming up is an important part of getting ready to row and stretching after helps keep muscles loose.

Injury Care: Treat injuries promptly, to minimize their disruption to your child’s life. Untreated injuries can become chronic, with pain developing in adjacent structures and in other areas of the body. Rowers, working with a professional, can develop a set of exercises that will help to prevent future injuries.

Chiropractic Care

Physical Therapy

Sports Massage

  • Do you recommend someone? Let us know.

Fitness & Heart Rate Tracking

The importance of tracking fitness goals and heart rate during workouts could not be over emphasized. Rowing is a sport that requires participants to build endurance and lung capacity through aerobic training as well as develop the ability to sprint to the finish through anaerobic training. Using the “80/20 Rule”, customized workout plans and carefully created spreadsheets, we are able to provide each rower with the specific training they need to improve.

To aid in progress and improvement, we recommend the Garmin vivoactive HR GPS Smart Watch or the Garmin vivoactive 3 GPS Smart Watch. Both offer heart rate monitoring, GPS based workout tracking & mapping, display metrics specific to rowing on the water and automatically sync with Garmin Connect through a smart phone to provide coaches with additional information about your training.

No wrist worn heart rate monitor will be perfectly accurate while rowing due to rotation of the wrist and tensing of the muscles during the stroke. An accurate reading can be achieved after completing a piece or by pairing a compatible chest worn heart rate monitor such as the Garmin Heart Rate Monitor or Garmin Premium Heart Rate Monitor. Both are compatible with the above watches AND with the Concept2 indoor rowing machines we use.

Purchasing a Garmin Smart Watch or Garmin Heart Rate Monitor is not required but is highly recommended for those serious about improving and becoming faster.


The following procedures and policies are established so that team members, parents, and club members are aware of the safe practices and policies. All persons involved with the team are expected to follow these practices and rules.


  • No boat may leave the dock without a coach’s launch on the water.
  • No boat may approach the dock without a coach on the dock to catch them.
  • Launching crews should move quickly and vacate the dock within two minutes of placing the boat on the water or returning to the dock.

Oar Recovery

Oars should not be placed or left on the dock prior to launch or recovery – with the exception of singles. All oars must be returned to the oar racks prior to rowers being dismissed for the day.

Traffic Rules

Rowers will obey a right-hand traffic pattern. Coxswains should use an imaginary line bisecting their assigned side of the lake. Boats should stay to the right of that line to avoid risk of collision.

Be sure to take in to account seasonal conditions, such as weeds or shallow spots, that may change where boats can safely operate.

Rowing Before Sunrise or After Sunset

When rowing before sunrise or after sunset, when visibility is poor and light levels are low, law requires lighting for all boats. Each individual shell and launch is required to have its own USCG approved bow and stern lights.

Lights must be visible when viewed from the bow or stern. A bright light, red on port side, green on starboard side, is mandatory. A bright white light in the stern visible from all directions is also required.

In addition, coxswains should carry a whistle or other noisemaker for audible warnings. Whistles should be used to alert others of imminent danger or collision only.

Cold Weather Rowing

Rowing when the combined water and air temperature is below 100 degrees should be done with great consideration. Hypothermia can come on quickly and is incapacitating. It can take mere minutes before full size adults are incapable of helping themselves once hypothermia has set in. Keep in mind cold air temperatures and any moisture on the body (from being splashed, rain, sleet, and snow) can lead to hypothermia.

Until the combined water and air temperature is above 100 degrees, all boats launching must have a minimum of 4 oars on the water. Care and judgement should be taken by the coaches before launching a double in cold weather.

Singles and pairs may not be launched until the combined water and air temperature is above 100 degrees AND the rowers have completed a flip test.

Safety Launches

As previously stated, no boat may launch from the dock without a safety launch and coach on the water. The only true safety device, other than common sense, is a safety launch and coach. A coach sitting in the coxswain’s seat does not count as safety. In the event of an emergency, a well-prepared safety launch can assist and transport the rowers to safety.

Each safety launch should have the following items at a minimum:

  • Life jacket for each person in the launch
  • First Aid Kit
  • Emergency space blankets for each rower on the water
  • Signaling device (flares or horn)
  • A paddle
  • 50’ throw line
  • A megaphone (if possible)

Coaches should be aware of the wake their launch creates and should try to minimize wake when passing other crews. At no time should a launches wake be allowed to swamp or endanger a shell, canoe or kayak. If a launch needs to pass or maneuver around a crew, the coach should clearly communicate his/her intentions.

There should be a minimum of one coaches’ launch for every three experienced eights in a given practice. Novice crews will often require more individualized attention. Coaches will determine who is assigned to which boats prior to launching but should be aware of and watching all crews.

Capsize Procedures & Person Overboard

NOTE: It is the responsibility of any coach boat to provide assistance to any capsized boats even if from another sport, or a pleasure boat. Coaches are reminded to stop at a safe distance and offer assistance. Approach with caution and in a controlled manner. Be aware of your prop!

All crew members should be fully aware of what actions to take when a crew swamps, flips, or capsizes. In any of these events, the crew should remain with the shell. The shell will float (an important reason to close bow and stern ports before going on the water). Furthermore, the oars will act as floatation devices. If for some reason, the shell sinks below the surface, the shell should be rolled so the bottom is facing the sky, as this traps air underneath the shell and increases buoyancy. At no time should any crew member leave the boat to swim to shore. A short swim can be far longer than it appears due to currents, wind, water temperature, or personal fatigue.

Stay calm. The first thing that should be done in a team boat is for the coxswain or bow person to get a head count to make sure all rowers are accounted for. The crew, while holding onto the shell, should attempt to get the attention of other crews or coaches on the water, waving and making as much noise as is necessary to attract attention. If no crews or launches are on the water nearby, attracting the attention of people on shore is the next step.

If the water and air temperatures are low, then the crew members should move along the shell and huddle together in pairs near the middle of the shell. Effort should be made to keep as much of the body out of the water as possible. This can include draping oneself over the top of the hull. A minimum of movement is key to retaining body heat. Constantly check on crewmates and keep up one on one communication.

Person Overboard

A violent crab by an oarsman can throw them out of the boat. In this situation, it is up to the ejected rower to stay below the surface of the water till the shell has passed which prevents the rower from getting hit in the head by a fast-moving rigger(s).

The crew should stop rowing and hold water immediately so they can lend assistance. The crew should get the attention of the coaches’ launch while the rower treads water. In the event that a launch is not nearby, the crew can back up to the rower in question so the rower can use the shell as a floatation device.

It is also feasible to pass an oar to the ejected rower, using the oar as a flotation device. Once removed from the water, the rower should be evaluated to determine if they are fit to continue or whether they need medical attention.