Ringers. A delicate topic full of opinions and emotion. There are at least as many points of view on this issue as there are dragon boat teams. A “ringer” is defined as a highly proficient person brought in to supplement a team or group. Some teams use them, other teams are staunchly opposed. Whether your team uses so-called “ringers” or not, it is important to understand the rationale for using them. In a talk given by Canadian National Team coach Albert McDonald at Jim Farintosh’s Bow Wave camp in April, Albert explained how teams
If your team has recently become competitive, you are likely still working to grow and expand. On a relatively small team the pool of paddlers is not very deep and therefore can make it difficult to properly fill a race boat. Smaller teams are often faced with a dilemma. Should they use the top 20-22 paddlers available from the team, no matter what their ability? Or should they set the bar to ensure that paddlers on the race boat will have a certain amount of paddling proficiency? Which is best for your team?
Now that your team has made the decision to become more competitive, it is important to begin some type of testing in order to track the progress of paddlers and to determine the stronger paddlers who are able to compete at this new level. The former method of allowing all paddlers to participate on the race boat regardless of experience or ability will no longer work. You cannot place inexperienced or lower-level paddlers on a competitive race boat and expect to compete with the big dogs. So, how do you determine who is ready?
The decision to transition a team from a recreational, social one to a more competitive team is often a difficult one which might be met with some resistance. Paddlers who are accustomed to showing up to an occasional practice and yet still racing with the team will perhaps struggle with the idea of being asked participate in fitness testing and to commit to a more rigorous training schedule. However, paddlers who are eager to take it up a notch will be happily challenged by the new rigors. So, how does a team go about
As a coach, hands down one of the most difficult things is selecting the race boat. On competitive teams, coaches spend countless hours reviewing data from fitness tests and time trials, as well as video, in order to determine what they consider to be the strongest boat. The coach’s goal is to win while creating a cohesive team that will function as one unit. If you aren’t selected for the race boat, it can be extremely disappointing and frustrating. As a coach, I have been the brunt of such frustrations. I