Balliol is always hungry for victory, and we train year-round to keep in top form for every race.

Novice Training

Most of our novice rowers and coxes join the Club in the late summer through October, when new freshers arrive in Oxford. They learn about the Boat Club at Freshers’ Fair events at Balliol, or from friends who already row. After attending one of our “taster sessions” in the indoor rowing tank or out on the river, new members are ready to dive into training! They take a required swim test and embark on a mission to build a rowing foundation in order to perform well in Christ Church Regatta and set a foundation for their senior rowing careers.

The novice training regime is under the direction of the Men’s and Women’s captains, and generally lasts five or six weeks — from early October to late November. Over this period of rapid progression, novices learn to row in a combination of erg training where they learn the basics of the stroke and build their strength, tank sessions where they fine-tune the stroke and learn to feather and square, and river outings where they put everything together into motion on the water.

After all of this work, the novices are ready to attack Christ Church Regatta with a passion. By the time the winter holidays come around, they join right in with the year-round senior training.

Read more about novice training here.

Senior Training

The senior rowers — including “former novices” after Christ Church Regatta — train year-round under the direction of the Men’s and Women’s Captains and coaches. During the academic terms, the crews are focusing on the major bumps races, Torpids and Summer Eights. In the holidays and Michaelmas terms, seniors form ad-hoc crews to enter external regattas, keep in shape, and be ready to pounce when bumps season returns. In addition to water outings and erg sessions, senior crews incorporate cross-training in the form of weight sessions, “body-weight” circuits, and runs at their coaches’ discretion.

Balliol has crews available for any level of fitness or commitment. Our top men’s and women’s crews have six or seven intense training sessions per week, while our “lowest” boats may only row once per week when the weather is nice. The only way to find out whether there is a crew for you is to come by the river and try it out!

Read more about senior training here.

Cox Training

The cox (short for coxswain) is the brain of the boat, just as the rowers are the muscle. The cox is also the heart, inspiring that extra bit of determination and grit at the toughest curve in the race. Coxing takes equal parts insight, finesse, and mental toughness. Just as a rower is willing to push their burning legs even harder on a power 10, the cox puts aside his or her own mental and emotional fatigue to exude confidence and command respect from the crew.

Balliol is lucky to have some extremely skilled coxes, but we are always looking for more! We take great pride in training complete novices up into experts who can navigate the Isis by smell alone. Whether you are a rower wondering what the river looks like “from the other side” or completely new to the sport and think coxing might be for you, look here to learn more.

Mixed Circuits

Developed as a way to keep fit, integrate the Men’s and Women’s Boat Clubs, and give something back to the greater Balliol community, Mixed Circuits are a bi-weekly training session. Free and open to all members of college, the sessions are great for rowers keeping fit in the off-season, as a supplement to regular training, or for non-rowers who want to get a bit of exercise while seeing the enthusiasm of the Boat Club firsthand.

You can find all the details here.