What Makes You A Recruitable Rower?

When it comes to recruiting rowers, different coaches look for different qualities. However, though they may each be weighted differently, most rowing coaches look for height, weight, and 2k erg times. But the intangibles matter as well. So, if you’re looking to be recruited as a rower, consider all the factors below to see how you stack up.

2K Erg Times

For women, coaches look for 2k erg times ranging from 7:15 to 7:55. While the assumption is that rowers who can knock down a 2k in 7:15 to 7:30 will rake up all the scholarships at the top Division I schools, there’s enough diversity in women’s college rowing that it’s not always the case. Many other intangibles may factor in so if your 2k erg times are in the 7:40s or above, keep working and don’t assume you can’t land at a DI school.

For men, the desired times are lower and, given the scarcity of available scholarships, the competition is fierce. Most coaches look for times in the 6:20s to the 6:40s. However, for the top-end schools, you’ll likely need to pull a 6:15 to a better time.

Physical Dimensions

In rowing, height and commensurate arm length equal stroke leverage. That’s why most coaches look for male rowers between 5’11” and 6’3” or above and between 180 and 195 pounds. For women, the desired height and weight is still an advantage, but your athletic abilities will likely carry as much influence as coaches.

The Intangibles

If you’re on the fringe of what coaches want physically, having some or all of the intangible qualities coaches look for could make all the difference. Those include:

• Athletic Ability And Background

For college coaches, recruiting is often like trying to gaze into a crystal ball to determine how an athlete might develop physically over the next four years. Therefore, it’s advantageous to have as much raw athletic ability and experience as possible. Even if you don’t fall into the preferred rowing performance and size ranges, college coaches may still be attracted to your potential as a rower.

• Attitude

Perhaps more than in any other sport, team chemistry matters in rowing. That means your attitude, your outlook, and your willingness to work hard, keep improving, and fit in with the team are intangible qualities many coaches look for beyond the hard numbers. A positive attitude also means you can handle criticism and are willing to listen and learn. Remember that there are far more rowers than rowing scholarships, so having a “team first” attitude rather than a “me first” agenda can give you a leg up in the recruiting competition.

• Academics

Lacking big rosters and recruiting budgets, college rowing coaches can’t afford to make mistakes in recruiting. That’s why it’s important that your high school GPA and college entrance exam scores demonstrate you can handle the load in college. In addition, a better academic record could make you eligible for more academic scholarships. And that will open up more opportunities for a coach to assemble an aid package of athletic, academic scholarships, and grants to help cover your college costs.


If it comes down to intangible qualities between recruits, college rowing coaches also look for athletes who want to be part of their program and want to attend their school. That’s why it pays to research schools and figure out where you might fit best. Then, when coaches contact you, you can make your case for why you’d be a good fit for their program and demonstrate your interest and desire in attending that school. Be curious. Ask thoughtful questions whose answers aren’t easily found elsewhere. When coaches ask you questions, they’ll notice when your answers show you’ve done your homework on their school and their program. The interest you show in a school could be the last box checked that gets you a scholarship offer.

The key to landing a scholarship in any sport is to be “recruitable.” And, given the scarcity of scholarships in rowing, recruitability is even more important. And, while the size and erg times play a big role in scoring a scholarship, don’t forget to max out the intangibles to make yourself a more recruitable rower.

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