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Jonathan Conder has coached Jesus College Boat Club since 2017.

JCBC Head Coach achieves highest coaching qualification

Head Coach and Boathouse Manager, Jonathan Conder, has completed British Rowing’s Level Four ‘Advanced Coach’ coaching qualification.

The award, undertaken with the support of Jesus College, took two years to complete and included a Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Sports Coaching. Currently less than 20 coaches in the UK have achieved this highest level of rowing coaching qualification.

Jonathan joined Jesus College four years ago, having previously worked for the Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group in Cambridge. Before coaching Jesus College Boat Club, he coached Cambridge University Women's Boat Club.

For his Postgraduate Diploma research, Jonathan examined the efficacy of traditional coaching compared with athlete self-coaching. He also worked with athletes from Cambridge University Boat Club and Jesus College to analyse the distribution of forces between the footplate and oar handle during the rowing stroke.

Jonathan said: “Having been a rowing coach and a coach educator for many years, I naturally wanted to achieve the highest level of coaching qualification. I had a number of thoughts and ideas that I wanted to explore in detail. Undertaking the L4/PgDip and then the Masters has provided me with a framework for that exploration. I have also been fortunate in that doing this has given me something useful to do during lockdown and furlough! Jesus College Boat Club, with its long history and association with legendary coach Steve Fairbain, should (I think) be thinking deeply and imaginatively about its rowing.

As for what I’ve learned, I think the most important thing has been that you can teach an old dog new tricks! A good coach should be open to new thinking and methods, and prepared to accept the limitations of what they know. As Steve Fairbairn said ‘...the important thing in reading about rowing is not to swallow everything as though it were the gospel truth.’”

Jonathan is now working on his Masters (MSc) in Professional Practice in Sports Coaching, which he aims to complete in the summer of 2021. His research will investigate whether an ecological dynamics/constraints-led approach affords a viable pedagogical approach to coaching rowing athletes.

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