IRL Course Info

Learn more about IRL course offerings.

Leaders are Always Learning

The varied perspectives in the classroom discussion are a valuable element of the education at the IRL, with fellows with diverse experiences and backgrounds in the class, guided by our top-notch instructors. The yearlong fellowship program is divided into four academic quarters. Classes from each of four academic areas are interspersed in each quarter. Each fellow must complete all courses to earn certification in the program.

  • Coaching Methods – Leadership, communication, and the pedagogy of teaching, focusing on the interface necessary to be an extraordinary coach.
  • Sports Science – 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 - A detailed education about off-the-water responsibilities critical to be a successful leader.
  • Coaching Practicum - A structured internship, which includes mentoring and on-water coaching experience, to implement classroom knowledge in real time. The practicum connects and reinforces all aspects of class work with hands-on coaching. Mentor coaches and IRL staff provide fellows with feedback through guided observations on the water and 1:1 discussion. This structure ensures fellows develop their coaching knowledge and coaching practice concurrently.

The Coaching Methods and Sport Science domains each make up 33% of the overall classroom hours in the program, with the Rowing Administration domain encompassing 14% of the total hours. Running through the entirety of the program is the Coaching Practicum component, which represents 20% of the overall course credits.

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CM500 – Education and Instruction: Coach as Teacher
4 credit hours
Teaching, and the pedagogical theory that informs it, has traditionally tended to lie outside of 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 of ways through which coaches influence athletes to develop and improve. This course will flesh out this complex coach/athlete relationship through an exploration of educational theory and research as well as case study examinations of the coaching style of master teacher/coaches bringing theory into practice.
CM505 – Leadership in Coaching
3 credit hours
Development of leadership skills is foundational in becoming a successful coach. This course explores the leadership role that coaches play within their team, with their staff, 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.
Fellows are introduced to leadership theories, 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 involves presentations, reflective self-analysis, rigorous discussions, and frequent collaboration. We routinely address team/coaching challenges to further our understanding of different leadership approaches and to emotionally engage with the dilemmas leaders face and 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
2 credit hours
Great coaches change the way an athlete performs. Often, they don’t even have to speak and a group of athletes practice and compete with more intensity and purpose. These coaches do not impact those they care for by accident. Coaches who know how to lead improve athletes’ skills, mindsets, characters, and results because they have a clear philosophy they can express in words and embody in their behaviors. The goal of this course is simple: to define the core of what makes each fellow impactful as a coach and invite you to exhibit your unique insight, energy, and knowledge in every aspect of your coaching.
CM510 – Coaching Novice Athletes and Coxswains
2 credit 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 examine research-based approaches to the introduction to, and acquisition and refinement of, basic skills and apply them to rowing and coxing. Fellows look at differences between novice and experienced learners, and how needed coaching skills may differ. Fellows then examine retention models and how the initial experience for athletes determines their likelihood of continuing to pursue the sport.
CM515/516 – Coaching Advanced Athletes and Technology I & II
4 credit hours
Building on the instructional methods introduced in CM510, this course leads students 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 is 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. Additionally, this course surveys cutting edge analytical and instructional, technological resources available, and how to utilize these tools to enhance performance on the water.
This course focuses on understanding the strengths and weaknesses of techniques used at the elite level of rowing. The methodology relies on video analysis of race pace footage from the 2008 and 2012 and 2016 Olympics, class discussion, review of professional literature, biomechanics and other original source material. 
CM520 – Training Program Design and Athlete Assessment
2 credit hours
Through this course, fellows examine the importance of different factors in creating an annual training plan including including aerobic, anaerobic and strength training as well as periodization and overtraining. Fellows examine training plans used at all levels of the sport from youth to international elites. Each fellow then develops their own scientifically informed training plan adapted to athlete age, goals and skill level. This course also provides guidance in the establishment of appropriate criteria in team selection, effective communication behaviors between coaches and athletes, and the art of assembling a crew.
CM540 A and B – Rigging and Fleet Maintenance
1-2 credit 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 is divided into two parts. Part A: Appropriate rigging for crews and safe trailering is a required course taught in the classroom and in hands-on application. Part B: Boat and oar repair and small motor maintenance and restoration is an optional paid internship offered to all IRL fellows in the CRI shop.
CM550/552 – Coaching and Critical Thinking I & II
3 credit hours
This course prepares fellows for a professional career sustained through a systematic approach to coaching interventions and a reflective writing practice. This two-part course guides fellows to form their personal coaching development path, and the skills and experiences they need to acquire to achieve them. Fellows then examine various research methodologies and paradigms, and develop a relevant Action Research Project to execute in the second part of the course. Fellows put their project into practice in their coaching practicum, then systematically track progress, document outcomes, and present to the class and wider community. 
Sports Science SS500/510 – Exercise Physiology I & II Exercise
8 credit hours
Physiology is broken into two quarters with the goal of understanding how the unseen mechanisms of the body play into training an athlete. Fellows learn the basic physiology of the main organ systems, and the responses and adaptation of these systems to exercise. Topics include energy metabolism, cardiovascular and respiratory effects, muscle and neural control, endocrinology, renal physiology, principles of training, body composition, thermoregulation and ergogenic aids. Throughout the course, hands-on application through experiments is used to demonstrate teachings as well as discuss and apply re-life training examples. Fellows complete the course able to make more intricate and scientific training applications. The course also introduces the application of scientific literature as a tool to aid in developing training regimens. 
SS515 – Biomechanics
2 credit hours
This comprehensive course explores the concepts of biomechanics and their application to rowing and sculling and the human body. 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
2 credit hours
This course provides fellows with a basic understanding of the relationship between nutrition, health, and athletic performance. Fellows discuss how coaches can influence their athletes’ nutrition choices with healthy snacks, training trip menus, and by examining ergogenic aids and supplements. This course applies nutritional science research to training and competition for rowers and what coaches and athletes need to know about using nutrition to achieve optimal performance. 
SS525 – Strength Training
2 credit hours
In this course, fellows learn the principles for the development of pre-season, in-season, and off-season strength and conditioning programs. The class will start with the theory behind proper movement and programming in the classroom, and will observe local college programs in the gym. Fellows then participate in a ten week strength and conditioning program designed for their personal improvement. Fellows develop and coach portions of the program amongst their peers putting into action their strength and conditioning knowledge. 
SS529 – Applied Sports Medicine and Injury Prevention
2 credit hours
This course addresses the role that coaches play in appropriate application of sports medicine and injury prevention. Pathology and treatment of acute and overuse injuries, overtraining, recovery, injury prevention and the psychology of injury are key topics discussed. 
SS535 – Sports Psychology
3 credit hours
Understanding the psychological processes involved in athletic performance forms the core of this course. Through the critical examination of research, theory, and experience, fellows gain knowledge for incorporating sport psychology in daily coaching practices and for creating optimal performance environments. 
SS540 – Skill Refinement and Athlete Adaptation
2 credit 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. 
Rowing Administration
RA500 – Event Management
2 credit 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 is 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 are the involvement of fellows in the operations and planning process for a regatta, as well as an application of knowledge by running all aspects of an indoor ergometer race for members of Community Rowing, Inc. 
RA505 – Sports Marketing and Branding
2 credit hours
This course examines marketing and branding in two contexts: the development of a successful rowing club/team, and the cultivation of each fellow’s individual brand. Topics include communication strategies, target markets, brand positioning, and maximizing social media, word-of-mouth, and partnerships. Fellows develop marketing plans to address a real-life challenge in rowing. On the individual level, fellows consider how the concepts of marketing and branding apply in their career path and how to communicate their individual brand. 
RA510 – Team Management
2 credit hours
In this course, the intra- and inter- personal aspects involved in the successful operation of a team are explored. The course identifies differences between various real-life examples of successful team management styles. Through this process, fellows learn principles that successful coaches have used to: effectively set program, individual and their own goals, systematically develop resilience, use stressors to benefit, rather than inhibit athlete development, manage assistant staff, and identify their own strengths and weaknesses as managers of people and groups. Evaluation is based on fellows’ ability to identify intersections between this course’s material and other coursework and their coaching practicum.  
RA515 – Financial Management
1 credit hour
Understanding the principles behind sound financial management and planning is a key skill for all sport leaders. Through this course, fellows develop an understanding of the numerous elements that play a role in the financial administration of a rowing organization. Specific attention is 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 examine the fund-raising and 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 are addressed. 
RA520 – Sport and Community Development
1 credit hour
Understanding the role of sport in society can be difficult without practical and theoretical context. This class introduces the key concepts of community development and youth development using an asset-based approach to understanding the potential for sport to impact communities. The melding of theoretical content with practical instruction to yield effective community organization strategies gives fellows a nuanced understanding of both why and how rowing can be used for community development. Fellows learn theory of change and logic model development as applied to specific sport-for-development programs. Through readings, class discussion, review of best practices and model programs from the field, fellows can articulate the merits of sport as a viable mode of community development by the end of the course. 
RA525 – Recruiting
1 credit 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 learn both the philosophical and practical skills behind effective recruiting. Fellows 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 also study NCAA compliance rules and take the exam that all NCAA coaches do to be certified for recruiting of student-athletes as part of this course. 
Coaching Practicum
The Coaching Practicum component of the IRL (CP500, 502, 504, and 506) is critical to apply the knowledge of the classroom directly to your athletes. Through the connection with the IRL program, fellows are matched with local teams relevant to their desired career path, whether that is with collegiate, elite, junior or masters athletes. In addition, fellows have a paid coaching requirement at CRI, which they can do as part of a practicum at CRI, or in addition to their practicum at another program.
In the practicum fellows have the opportunity to observe and experience the many necessary roles of rowing coach and leader — teacher, physiologist, personal trainer, psychologist, fundraiser, and administrator. Fellows learn coaching skills as well as insights into team management, leadership development, program organization, implementation of technique and strategy, event management, fundraising, and more.
As part of the Coaching Practicum, each fellow is given feedback by IRL staff on the implementation of their coaching knowledge on the water. Fellows are given a quantitative analysis of their observable coaching behaviors regarding time analysis, practice design/delivery, and coaching interventions as well as a qualitative analysis of their coaching performance. With multiple observation opportunities over the course of the year, this systematic feedback loop provides continued follow up and tracking of progress and direct assistance in improving the application of their coaching skills in real time.
CP500 – Practicum I
2 credit hours
The first quarter practicum is an immersion into coaching novice rowers at CRI during a paid 2-week program. 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 their athletes. 
CP502 – Practicum II
4 credit hours
The second quarter practicum places each in a coaching position that matches their eventual coaching career goals. Fellows employ both coaching and athlete recruitment skills working within their coaching assignment to enhance the goals of their program during the season. Fellows also complete a paid coaching assignment at CRI.
CP504 – Practicum III
2 credit hours
The third quarter practicum is focused on practice in winter season training activities indoors including for many the opportunity to attend a training camp on the water. 
CP506 – Practicum IV
4 credit 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. Fellows also complete a paid coaching assignment at CRI.