Questions on rowing technique


Q: How often are you talking to your athletes about the acceleration of the hands towards the body and about”strong finish by hands“?
Many coaches repeat only this like a tape.
They focus on a very strong finish to hear some kind of click when you flat the blades.
What you think?

A: This would be like telling people how to activate the needed muscles to breathe. Breathing is something natural – you know that you need air, and therefore your body does the right thing to achieve its goal. The speed of the hands towards the finish is the result of aiming for full force connection between the foot stretchers and the blade in the water in combination with the longest possible motion of the body. All under the premises to achieve a steady plateau of force throughout the drive (almost) until the end of the drive phase.

Q: So when should you open up? Were Italians opening up at around 50% through the leg drive would you say?
(Will / Youtube)

A: A certain percentage has turned out to be a bad general advice.
If I know what I want to achieve, I will do it effeciently in a natural way.

General idea:
Long body motion throughout the drive which stops where you lose full force connection on the foot stretchers.

The “when” depends on the following factors and cannot be specified with percentages:

# body proportions
# relation of leg strength to trunk strength

Principle 1: Not at the catch
Principle 2: Open up the upper body at the point where you
a.)do not slow down the legs anymore (opening up too early would do so)
b.)do not create a substantial blade depth change caused by your shoulder upward movement
c.) are able to keep up the force on your foot stretchers with opening up the upper body.

Q: So, do you think it is necessary for the shins to be vertical at catch?
(Ozren / youtube)

A: I see it as a rough limit of how far to go. It depends on the overall body proportions, though. Generally, I do not worry too much about such issues as I ask athletes not to slide forward to the catch but to pull the boat towards themselves. This way, their bodies behave differently and more effectively in a natural way. If athletes pull the boat towards themselves all the way to the catch, there is no need to limit the shin position by advice. This will happen naturally.

Q: Thanks for your answer. I am not very flexible – this is my main limitation, and my upper body is proportionally stronger than my legs. I feel like shortening the slide work helps me get in a stronger position at the catch, and helps me place and apply force. I received feedback from coaches and athletes how I need to get my shins in a more vertical position, but I feel like my catch would lose its sharpness then and my body position would be in a weaker position for applying force. Anyhow, I really like your videos and the way you explain things. Puts things in a simple, logical perspective.

A: I get a clue what you mean, however, without seeing you row, I cannot give you a serious answer. There is more to the catch than simply getting the shins in a vertical position.

Q: (Ozren posted a video of his rowing)

A: Okay Ozren, I get your point. If I were your coach, I would not focus on your shins at all. Your main challenge is to bring the pelvis / hip forward at the recovery before (!) you bend your legs. Currently, you are sliding forward in the boat, instead of pulling it underneath yourself. This way, you miss out on the second acceleration phase.

Q: What’s your opinion on the different concept2 blade types? (fat2, big blade, smoothie,…) what do you consider the best?

A: My current point of view is that there appears to be little real difference in most blade shapes, not in blade sizes, however. Sometimes this is more of a phsychological than a technical question. The point is that some blade shapes are designed to help reduce the slip or to help you keep the blade locked in the water. In the end, it is what you do with the blade – it is your body prepraration – which has the greatest influence on the behaviour of the blade. Additionally, I do not want to move my blade through the water at all anyway – this is why I personally do not worry a lot about blade shapes. If you have larger blades, however, you may change the total oar length or inboard length – which gives you a lot of options to play with in order to adapt the boat set-up to the antromprometics of your athlete. (upper body size vs leg length / shoulder width / arm length / etc…) In the end, I care much more about the oar specific weight relation between handle and blade. As there are plenty of variables to consider, it mostly comes down to which oar or blade helps the athlete moves the boat the most efficient way.

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