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Becoming a Coach

CRF Safety Manual

Safety Certification Application

Are you interested in expanding your involvement in rowing by passing your knowledge on to developing rowers?  Have you considered what it would be like to guide a crew of scholastic, collegiate or adult rowers to a better understanding of the sport of rowing? Do think you have the time, tenacity, patience and knowledge that it takes to become a great rowing coach?

The Cleveland Rowing Foundation has established a Coach Trainee Program designed to ensure that coaches develop the skills, experience and judgement necessary to safely instruct crews on and off the water.


The program consists of the following REQUIRED and OPTIONAL steps:


Step 1: Take the Written Test

Candidates must pass a written CQL test based on the CRF Safety Manual (SaM). You should study the SaM independently and may also choose to participate in an optional study session led by a coach in an interactive group setting (schedule here).

Once you are ready to take the test, contact CRF Safety Chair Nate Shoemaker ( to set up a session or to RSVP for a pre-scheduled test session (schedule here).


Step 2: Take the On-the-Water Practical

After passing your written CQL test you are eligible to take your on-the-water practical, which allows you to demonstrate, in practical situations, your understanding of the SaM.

The Practical must be taken with a Senior-CQL from the program you intend to coach for and will be proctored over no less than two sessions. The Practical Checklist lists the facets of coaching and safety that you will be expected to demonstrate.


Step 3: Provide the Required Documentation

You must submit a Safety Certification Application to CRF Safety Chair Betsy Batts ( The form must be filled out completely, including all required signatures.

Your application must also include documentation for the following certifications:

  • CPR Certification – All coaches must hold a valid CPR certification. You can obtain this by taking an in-person or online course from the American Red Cross, or by attending a course organized by CRF (typically held in the Spring – (insert PDF) ).

  • ODNR Certification – Any coaches who were born after January 1, 1982 must hold a Boating Safety certification from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), which is obtained by taking the ODNR online Boating Safety class.  You can register here for a safe boating course.


Step 4: Receive Sign-Off Confirmation

After the on-the-water practical has been completed and signed off on and all of your required documentation has been submitted, the CRF Safety Chair will notify you to let you know that either 1) your application to become a CQL-Trainee has been approved; or 2) there are deficiencies in your application that need to be addressed.



The following optional learning opportunities are designed to supplement your understanding of the SaM and position you to become a successful coach:



CRF suggests that CQL-Trainee candidates ride-along with current coaches to gain comfort in a coach’s launch on the water. Multiple ride-alongs with different coaches are recommended. Organize your own ride-alongs with coaches from the program you intend to coach for or other program’s coaches or contact the CRF Coaching Chair for suggestions.


Coach Trainee Days

CRF periodically offers Trainee Days that combine in-class and on-the-water training sessions led by certified coaches. Contact the CRF Coaching Chair if interested.


Other important things to consider about becoming a coach:

Before you decide to pursue coaching, consider your motivation for becoming a coach.

  • Why do you want to become a rowing coach?

  • What type of rower are you best suited to coaching? Scholastic? Collegiate? Adult?

  • Do you understand the goals and culture of the program you wish to coach for?

  • How strong is your technical knowledge? What is your plan for growing as a coach?

  • How are your communication skills? Are you a good motivator? Listener?

  • Do you have the time and flexibility in your schedule to commit to leading a crew?

Other resources to support you in your career as a coach:

US Rowing – Coaching Education Program and Resources

US Rowing – Rules of Rowing



Please direct any questions about the Coach Trainee Program to CRF Coaching Chair Kate Hansman at

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