An Interview with RowLeeds Volunteer Coach, Jonny

"...people are excited to see you and to take part"

Jonny is currently a volunteer coach on our RowLeeds Indoor Programme. As we recruit for next year's coaches, we asked Jonny to give us a little insight into what he gets from the Programme, and what he gives. There's inspiration, there's aspiration, and there's perspiration.

Why did you volunteer for the RowLeeds Indoor Rowing Programme?

Experiencing rowing for myself through the University of Leeds Boat Club (UoLBC) has been a completely new and exciting experience for me. The idea of being able to share this experience with others through volunteering for the RowLeeds Indoor Rowing Programme was very appealing as I believe it provides young people with a great opportunity.

What got you into rowing?

I joined UoLBC when I first came to university to try something new, meet new people, and learn new skills.

What skills do you think rowing has given you that make you a better coach?

Through rowing I’ve undergone some intense training which has required me to be strong minded and determined. These are skills are useful when applied to coaching because it helps you to push athletes to help them reach their goals and see some good results. Also, from rowing, I understand how sometimes at first things can be a little frustrating and that you must be persistent in order to improve. When coaching, showing persistence can encourage people to keep going, and not give up when things get tough.

What do you find to be the most rewarding moments?

Seeing that people are excited to see you and to take part in the sessions is very rewarding. It tells you that the sessions you’ve designed and delivered have been enjoyable, which is absolutely key for them when learning and developing new skills. Knowing that you’re bringing this level of value to a group of young people is a fantastic feeling made possible by the RowLeeds Indoor Rowing Programme.

What are the biggest challenges you face as a coach?

Planning a fun, compact and efficient session consistently can sometimes be difficult as a coach. However, this can be overcome by allowing and dedicating enough time to think about ideas which would allow students to constantly grow and develop their skills, whilst making sure that goals are attainable and can be achieved whilst enjoying the sport.

Prior to volunteering for the RowLeeds Indoor Rowing Programme, I had only ever coached people my own age. Coaching year 7’s was at first quite difficult as it required me to adapt the way in which I explained how to carry out different exercises and ergo technique. It’s important to be clear and ensure the students understand instructions so that sessions can be carried out safely and effectively.

What are your aspirations for your school club?

It would be great to see the club grow even further by getting more people involved and keeping up the positive attitude associated with the club. It is important to keep sessions enjoyable, so that students stay engaged with the sport as they move closer to opportunities to row on water and go to university; where UoLBC awaits.

Looking on three years from now what do you hope your club members will have taken away from being involved in the programme?

From rowing for only a little under two years, I have already gained value skills that have transferred into every day life. After three years, students may also attain these skills, which would be very beneficial to them, especially at a young age because it would help them when developing and growing up through school. I would also hope that the students have found a sport that they love and continue to take part in throughout their years in education.

What do you think the three key attributes to a successful coach are?

  1. Enthusiasm

  2. Patience

  3. Communication skills

What skills do you think you have developed as a volunteer coach which will help you as you enter your placement year/ final year/ first graduate job?

I have further developed my skills in time-management, which will help me to balance my work load in final year. I have also learnt how to be more focused on the job in hand, as well as how to be more patient, through leading a group of people of a different demographic of ages.

If you could recommend one top tip for new coaches volunteering with RowUK, what would it be?

Have fun when coaching. It makes everything much easier and creates plenty of positive energy between yourself and the students.

What is your club motto/favourite mantra for your club?

Aim to deliver a session that leaves you feeling satisfied and rewarded.

You can apply for a volunteer coach position on the RowLeeds Indoor Rowing Programme via the Leeds Sport website here: Apply Now

Want to find out more about coaching with us next year? Drop us a line at

Read more about the RowLeeds Indoor Programme.

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