Thursday, May 18, 2006

More on Weight Loss

Several people have posted comments on my previous post, and a few themes have emerged. First, of course, is a general condemnation of losing a lot of weight immediately prior to a race. Not only is this dangerous but it also degrades performance. Second, is a recognition that coaches have a responsibility to the health of their rowers and should not allow such a practice. Some have suggested that moving weigh-in day will only encourage greater weight loss because now rowers have a day more to rehydrate and eat. One reader pointed out this specific problem at IRAs. Another reader noted the inconclusiveness of the "adequate hydration" presumption.

Needless to say, I agree that this kind of quick weight loss behavior is irresponsible and that coaches are the first line of defense against it. Real lightweight programs have responsible coaches who don't allow it. As for the IRAs, I think the in-season weigh-in requirement is intended to guard against quick weight loss just for that regatta. I think that new rule is a good one.

If we're going to have a lightweight category, we have to have a weight limit and whatever that limit is, there will be people right there. I don't think it's a problem for a natural 133 or even a 135 pounder to drop a few pounds to row lightweight. The problem comes in really knowing what is natural. If a girl arrives at school at 135 does that mean it's her natural weight or that she just forced off five pounds last summer? It's a judgment call and that's where you need experienced, responsible coaches. There will always be some weight loss and weight monitoring in the sport, it's inevitable. It's when it goes from weight loss to weight abuse that it becomes a problem. Oddly, USRowing doesn't help.

Although not exactly on point, over the winter a spate of articles and studies came out discussing women's sports and eating disorders and I posted on some of them. For what it's worth, those posts have some more thoughts on weight and rowing. The posts were "Should the Weight Limit be Raised?" and "Dropping Dangerously" and "Tis' the Season?" (some statistics here) and "Make...It...Stop...".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

it grosses me out how coxswains distort their weight too. that can't be healthy either.