Mindfulness with Oars

A short course with Leonard de Mol van Otterloo


Leonard de Mol van Otterloo brings Mindfulness to bear on rowing

Leonard  de Mol van Otterloo is  a leading Amsterdam-based Mind-training coach who has been bringing his own concept of Mindfulness to bear on sports training, particularly for rowers.

During the  summer, Leonard visited Bergerac twice, and we had some interesting discussions about how his particular approach to Mindfulness could be combined with my own yoga and sculling teaching methods to provide rowers with a new, and potentially transformative, training experience.

We decided to try out the concept in 2019 by setting up a  4-day course which would be led by Leonard with support from me on yoga routines and sculling training.

Conventional training for rowers tends to focus mainly on fitness, strength and technique. Rightly so, because that is what competitive rowers mainly need.  But there’s more to it than that, because situations can often arise where psychology is just as important as physiology.

Rather than pursuing physical aims, we will focus on mental states: our awareness of position, technique, space and surroundings, connections, breathing and – most important of all – of the mechanical stresses on the body. Aiming less at better splits, and more at preventing injury, being more comfortable in the stroke, improving posture, and looking at other variables which are often overlooked in mainstream training.

A key objective will be to achieve an enhanced awareness of the body as a whole: breathing and heartbeat, and the dynamic flow of energy between body, boat and water. We will spend time in the studio as well as on the river, working on the yoga mat and on the ergo, examining each part of the rowing stroke, and thinking about what each one is doing to your boat, and to you.

What this course is not: unlike some of the training we’ve been doing in Bergerac, this is not full-on high-intensity preparation for Olympics trials, World Championships, university or national teams. We will not, in other words, be looking for that decisive last tenth-of-a-second.

Instead, we will seek to enhance the whole rowing experience by building up awareness of movement, breathing and flow, and an aesthetic appreciation of the process as a whole. This is about connecting with yourself, your sport, your space – and finding much more than just speed.

A maximum of 8 places will be available, and the cost will be £950 per person to include all training, equipment use, meals and 3 nights accommodation. Dates are not yet settled, but if you register an interest we will keep you posted.

To find out more or to confirm your interest in joining this course, please use the enquiry form .  Alternatively you can contact Leonard directly at

Nieuwendammerdijk 219
1025 LK Amsterdam
Tel +31 6 30 31 4623

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