Entries in Mike Spracklen (3)

Saturday
Nov192011

Mike Spracklen: Australian Rowing Coaching Conference 1995: Video

About Spracklen

Mike Spracklen (born 15 September 1937 in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, England) is an international rowing coach who has led teams from Great Britain, USA, Canada to success at the Olympic games and Rowing World Championships, including the early Olympic successes of Steven Redgrave. In 2002 he was named the International Rowing Federation coach of the year.[1]

  


Career

Spracklen's first major success was in coaching the Great Britain double scull to silver in the Montreal Olympic Games 1976. In 1984 he coached the coxed four to victory at the Los Angeles Olympics It was the first gold since 1948. From that crew he took Steve Redgrave and Andy Holmes to a further Olympic gold in the coxless pair (and bronze in the coxed pair) in Seoul in 1988, before moving to Canada as head coach in 1989 and becoming a full time professional coach.
 
The Canadian men's eight took gold at the 1992 Olympics under his tutelage, and Spracklen moved on to coach the USA squad.[3] He inaugurated the rowing venue at the new Chula Vista Olympic Training Center. After a disappointing finishing position of fifth in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic eights, he returned to Great Britain as the Women's national coach.
 
In 1998 the British women achieved their first Gold at a World Championship, in the double sculls. After the 2000 Olympics, where the British women took silver in the quad,the first Olympic medal for British women, Spracklen's contract was not renewed, with the BBC reporting discontent in the squad over his methods.[4]
 
Since 2000 Spracklen has been coaching the Canadian men's squad, winning the Gold medal for eights at the 2002, 2003 and 2007 World Championships[5] and at the 2008 Olympics.

Australian Rowing Coaching Conference 1995: Part 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australian Rowing Coaching Conference 1995: Part 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

1. "Mike Spracklen Named Coach of the Year at FISA's Awards Ceremony". Row2k. 2002-11-17. Retrieved 2008-09-22.
2. "Adrian Spracklen". Mercyhurst College Athletics web site. Retrieved 2008-09-22.
3. "USA Men's results 1980–2000". RowingHistory.net. Retrieved 2008-09-22.
4. Phelps, Richard (2000-10-25). "Spracklen's 'crumbling pyramid'". BBC. Retrieved 2008-09-22.
5. "National Team Coaches". Rowing Canada. Retrieved 2008-09-22.


Friday
Aug122011

Coaches Boat View: Think about your rowing drills

By: Dr. Volker Nolte, Carolyn Trono, Mike Spracklen and Al Morrow.
From: Coach Boat View: Segments from Rowing Canada Aviron Magazine


 

THINK ABOUT YOUR DRILLS
By Carolyn Trono, Coach and Athlete Development Consultant

Drills play an important role in helping sport participants learn motor skills. Whether the participant is a beginner or an elite athlete, coaches and instructors are notorious for inventing creative drills to help athletes perfect a motor skill.

Normally, coaches and instructors have a good reason for asking rowers to do a drill. Sometimes a drill can help the rower isolate and work on a certain movement pattern. Sometimes, a drill is used to teach skills to a novice rower. And sometimes, the drill is used to help an athlete correct incorrect movement patterns.

Here are a few considerations about drilling that coaches and instructors should be aware of prior to giving athletes drills to do.

1 UNDERSTAND WHY YOU ARE ASKING PARTICIPANTS TO DO A DRILL

You should be able to communicate this to the participants. This is important so that the rower can focus their attention on the correct part of the stroke and the movement pattern that is being refined.

2 RECOGNIZE THE DIFFERENT STAGES OF LEARNING AND THESE STAGES REQUIRE DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENTS FOR LEARNING

When someone is learning a new skill or changing a motor pattern, they are considered to be in the “early” stage (cognitive stage). At this stage, the participant is concentrating so hard on mastering the skill that any type of distractions (wind, noise, rough water) can interfere with this process. If the boat is rocking and unstable, the rower will have difficulty focusing on the skill that is being taught. Another important consideration at this stage is that the dominant sensory modality is visual. The participant needs to be able to get a visual sense of what is required for the skill. Therefore, demonstrations are helpful and the participant should be encouraged to watch his/her oar when doing drills. As a participant gets more experience, he/she will appreciate more auditory and kinesthetic cues.

3 ADAPT THE DRILLS TO THE SKILL/EXPERIENCE LEVEL OF PARTICIPANTS

The Canadian National Rowing Team may do a drill that is suitable for them and helps these athletes to refine skills. However, this doesn’t mean that all athletes at all levels should do it. For inexperienced rowers, it is important to minimize the variables that the rower has to contend with when doing a drill. Here is an example. The pause drill is used very frequently.

I have seen National team rowers do this drill with a double pause every second stroke. For an inexperienced crew, I would suggest having half of the crew, not row and concentrate on holding the boat balanced.

The rest of the group would row and do the drill, with one pause every stroke. In this way, the rowers do not have to worry about balance. They only have to pause once and don’t have to worry about counting every second stroke.

4 TRY TO IDENTIFY THE PREFERRED SENSORY MODALITY OF THE PARTICIPANTS

Researchers suggest that everyone has a preferred sensory modality - auditory, visual or kinesthetic. By using a variety of modalities in the coaching repertoire, the coach is likely to provide cues for all three modalities. For example, a visual learner learns best by seeing demonstrations, looking at videos and watching his/her oar. A kinesthetic learner learns best by doing. Sometimes this means that the coach must adjust positions to help the rower get the “feeling” of the correct movement pattern.

An auditory learner does quite well with verbal cues and feedback. Sometimes listening for the correct sound helps such as the “plop” sound when the blade drops into the water properly.

By now it should be clear that drills are important in the process of learning and perfecting technique. In this part of the Coach Boat View experts will present their favoured drills. First, our role model athletes share their ideas.

Kathleen Heddle writes:

“When I think back to doing drills, the interesting thing is that the actual drills I practiced stayed much the same throughout my career. Those drills we did the day before an Olympic final were the same basic drills I learnt my first year rowing. My favorite drills were all very simple and basic, but even when we were as close as we ever came to rowing perfect, they were challenging.

SET DRILL

This drill was very helpful in the small boats. Starting from a standstill at the finish, the hand speed pushing the handle down and then forward, swinging forward with the body, breaking the knees, squaring the blade, and into the water, all these elements must be exactly coordinated between partners. Because the boat is sitting still, even a small difference between partners will make the boat go off balance. Marnie and I would often sit in a corner of the lake for 20 minutes doing this drill.

PHOTO 1: Start and finish position of the ‘set drill’. 

PHOTO 2: Middle position of the ‘set drill’. 

VARIED SLIDE DRILL

Going up and down the range from hands only to 1/4 slide etc. to full slide was important in ingraining between partners the timing coming into and out of the finish. Focus on having the same motion and timing at the finish whether rowing full slide or just partial slide. I think this drill also helps ingrain a good strong pull through at the finish.

PHOTO 3: ‘Hands only’ rowing.

  

  

RUSSIAN CATCH DRILL

Taking short little 1/4 slide taps at the catch, focusing on moving the blade with the legs only, for a count of 10, then going to full slide for 10 strokes. For the full strokes, focus on maintaining that feeling that came from the short strokes of grabbing the water quickly and firmly with the legs.

This drill perhaps over-emphasizes the power at the catch end of the stroke, but it was an important drill for me personally.

K. Heddle, Sept. 6, 2001

PHOTO 4: The release in the ‘Russian Catch:Drill’ with blades on the square.

Kathleen and Derek where asked independently to describe their favoured drills and it is interesting that both mention the Russian Catch Drill. This is a clear indication how important this drill is and therefore, we would like to present both views on this drill. Derek Porter sent us his favoured drills: RUSSIAN CATCH DRILL

This is a great drill for learning the correct blade motions at the top of the slide. It reinforces the correct timing for blade entry and the proper application of power to initiate the stroke.

Just working at the top six inches of the slide with blades on the square, drop the blades in at the catch position and drive the legs for 6 inches (at the most) of the slide while keeping the arms straight. Then extract the blades quickly by dropping the hands and arms as you would with a regular finish except with straight arms. Repeat this cycle for 10 strokes then do a full stroke then back up to the top of the slide for another set of 10 Russian catches.

When you return to full stroke rowing you should feel much more ‘connected’ at the top end of the slide. As soon as you feel it slipping, go back again and do a few more sets of the drill.

THREE-SIXTIES

One arm sculling or one sided sweeping. Starting from a stationary position take the catch with one scull working on a solid application of power and consistent pressure on the blade. Try to establish the air pocket behind the blade and maintain it through the stroke. Too quickly and the blade will rip through the water, too slowly the pocket will not form properly behind the blade making for difficult extraction of the blade at the finish. Repeat the stroke cycle until you have done a complete circle (make sure you are clear of other boats!) then repeat with the other side striving to achieve the same feel and power.

Most scullers will find this easier or stronger on one side than the other. Therefore, work on the weak side more to bring it into balance with the other. Key points are accurate blade entry, blade depth, and application of power. I like to do this drill at half and quarter slide and really snap the legs down trying to turn the boat as much as possible with each stroke. Use the non-involved side to steady the boat. Take time between strokes to make sure you have a stable platform before taking the next stroke and watch the blade to insure the depth and air pocket is desirable.”

D. Porter, Sept. 5, 2001

Photo 5: Three-sixties in a sculling boat.

Photo 6: Three-sixties in a sweep boat.

 

SQUARE BLADE PADDLING
By Mike Spracklen, Men’s National Team Coach

Rowing with a square blade is a good exercise for improving the quality of the stroke. It is also a good exercise for improving balance. Athletes are inclined to carry their blades too close to the water in the recovery. The affect is poor balance and loss of length, which occurs at the beginning, and the finish of their strokes. Carrying the blades forward at the correct height, which square blade-rowing dictates, can help to improve rowing technique generally.

PHOTO 7: Stroke beginning with ‘square blades’.

STROKE BEGINNINGS

To achieve a good beginning the blade should be carried forward in the recovery at a height, which allows it to be brought down to the water ready squared for the next stroke. A blade carried forward close to the water has to be raised to make room for it to be squared. Dropping the hands and raising the blade affects balance, the athletes timing and the way in which the blade enters the water. Rather than a smooth semi circular entry it becomes a “chop” which misses too much of the first part of the stroke.

Rowing with the blade square keeps it at a height, which allows it to be placed into the water quickly at the beginning of the stroke. A blade, which is quickly covered, can grip the water efficiently with little loss of leg drive and forward reach.

STROKE FINISHES

The finish, described as the last part of the stroke and the extraction of the blade from the water, determines the speed at which the boat travels. Maximum thrust is achieved by accelerating the blade to the finish and extracting it cleanly from the water.

Square blade paddling is a useful exercise for teaching the athlete to keep the hands drawing to the finish at a height, which keeps the blade, covered and allows room for the hands to recover the blade smoothly at the release. A lively draw with the outside hand completes the acceleration and the inside hand completes the clean release.

Drawing hands low to the finish is a common fault which paddling with square blades will help to correct. The reasons for correction are:

1. Drawing the hands low allows the blade to rise out of the water before the hands reach full length at the finish. An uncovered blade does not move the boat and some length and power, is lost.

2. When hands draw low at the finish there is no room for them to circle down and away to clear the blade. The hands then rise as they move away and the blade fouls the water.

3. Drawing the hands low will pull the rigger down, leaving no room for the hands to move away and the blades scrape along the surface of the water. If riggers on one side are low to the water, the other side will be high making it difficult for those athletes to keep their blades covered. This is pronounced in small boats, the four and pair.

BALANCE

A boat can run level when the athletes are relaxed and moving their hands at the same speed and height as they slide forward. When blades are carried forward too close to the water the natural movement of the boat as it travels through water is restricted. This restriction will affect some athletes who will lean away from their riggers to make more room for themselves.

PHOTO 8: Perfect balance with ‘square blades’.

It becomes a competition as athletes each side of the boat lean against each other for more freedom. No one wins, the boat merely rolls from side and the athletes complain that the boat is lying down on their side. It takes only one blade to be too close to cause this balance problem.

A boat will only run level if hands are carried forward at the same speed and height above the water. That height should be sufficient for the blades to be brought down square close to the surface.

Insufficient height means that the blades have to rise to be squared. Paddling with square blades is a good exercise for learning balance. The amount of room is limited and the hands have to move forward at a low, but constant height, which contributes, to good balance. The higher the hands draw at the finish the more room they have to circle down and away to extract the blade cleanly. This action also helps balance. As their skill levels rise, the athletes learn to make small adjustments to balance.

COACHING

Square blade paddling is a good exercise but it requires a good level of skill. Without specific coaching, athletes may acquire new faults or allow old faults to go unchecked. In the initial stages the athletes should be coached to control both hand movements and relaxation. Rowing with square blades will induce tension for athletes unaccustomed to doing the exercise. Athletes must be encouraged to practice frequently in order to raise the level of skill, which will increase the value the exercise can give.

Rowing just a few strokes with square blades occasionally will have little positive effect.

SCULLING

Paddling with square blades is beneficial to scullers as much as it is to sweep athletes. The main difference being the way in which the boat is balanced. The scullers hands must cross level in the recovery with the left hand leading the right hand. With blades square there is little room for the hands as they pass over the thighs and is further reduced when one hand passes over the top of the other. In a crew sculling boat it is particularly important that in the recovery all hands cross level with the left hand leading away from the body.

PHOTO 9: Hands crossing the knees in ‘square blade’ sculling.

MY FAVORITE DRILLS
By Al Morrow, Women’s National Team Coach

It is very important to understand why one does drills. I believe the reasons include:

  • They add variety to workouts- they can aid correct skill acquisition.
  • Weaknesses can be highlighted. For example, if someone has trouble doing a drill it shows them their weakness in this area of their technique.
  • Drills aid ones ability to learn good concentration.
  • They can be lots of fun.
  • They can become a part of the whole area of challenge and competitions.

I also have two pet peeves about drills: First, people do drills and then don’t carry the lessons learned over to their regular rowing! So they just do the drills for the sake of the drills and don’t reap the benefits of the drills.

And secondly, people do drills and do them poorly! For example, one should always try to perfect everything you do in rowing rather than not doing it well.

Three of my favourite drills are as follows:

1/2 SLIDE ROWING

This is done by rowing only to 1/2 slide on the recovery. When this drill is done well it really emphasizes how fast ones leg drive can be. This is possible as it is like a 1/2 squat and the leg can really extend much faster than at full slide. One of the best ways to do this drill is to alternate i.e. one stroke on the 1/2 slide and one stroke on the full slide or two on the drill and one on regular length rowing. When this is done the carry over effect to really fast leg drive can really be felt.

VARIABLE GRIP ROWING

There are a lot of variable grip drills. Some can be really fun like gripping with the hands overlapped or underneath the oar handle. However, my favorites are wide grip (good in sculling and sweep), inside hand only and outside hand on the square only.

Wide grip really reminds people of the importance of the pivot in sweep and allows one to have the option to try to look at the blade at the entry. Wide grip in sculling allows people to really develop water feeling at the entry i.e. to learn the skill of carving the blades into the water at the entry and also teaches people the importance of relaxation and length at the entry.

Inside hand only rowing in sweep allows one to develop water feeling, length and relaxation.

 

Outside hand only rowing in sweep allows on to really practice the role of the outside hand in sweep, which is essentially the height control that is needed to have a clean release and entry.

PHOTO 13: Rowing with ‘outside hand only’. 

SHORT STROKES

There are a lot of variable slide length drills. Nevertheless my favorite sequence is to row for 10 strokes on the drill at low rate and 10 stokes at high rate and then 10 strokes at low rate. Then move on to the next length of stroke and repeat the low-high-low sequence.

I often encourage the rower to do this sequence at arms only, arms and back, ¼ slide, 1/2 slide, 3/4 slide, full slide, 3/4 slide, 1/2 slide, 1/4 slide, arms and back and arms only. This drill is a great timing and concentration drill. It is often used to allow a new combination to come together quickly like 2-’s or 2x’s before seat racing. It really forces them to get the timing and balance at the release together. Doing the whole sequence can take almost 2000m. Therefore, it is a great way to make the row go by quickly having a fun challenge.


Sunday
Jul172011

Mike Spracklen's Notes, October 1987

By: Mike Spracklen, October 1987
From: Spracklen's Notes
PDF site link: Spracklen's Notes

TRAINING FOR TECHNIQUE

This training System has been designed to provide a variety of methods that are compatible with the process of learning good rowing technique. The methods are not dissimilar to those used by coaches throughout the rowing world, but they have been adapted to encourage the improvement of technique in such a way that technical progress is an important part of the System.

The System originated from the concept that technique should play a bigger part in the preparation of oarsmen for racing. One benefit to be gained from the principle of this System of training is that the drudgeries of winter training become purposeful. The oarsmen become distracted from the hard work

they are doing without realizing it!

Mike Spracklen.
October 1987

TECHNIQUE

An efficient technique is essential for the greatest utilization of athletic endeavor. The sport of rowing is a highly skilled activity and even small deficiencies can detract from a rower’s performance.

There is more than one way to move a boat fast through the water and gold medals have been won using a variety of different techniques. There is one common factor present in all fast crews, which is that the rowers in those boats apply their power together. As in the old adage, 'a load shared is a load halved'.

In order to achieve efficiency of effort, the oarsperson must be taught to row with identical movements. This is referred to as 'style'. It is for the benefit of all rowing that rowers be taught a uniform style. It is to the benefit of our international squads if a common style is adopted by all.

Technique has played a minor role in Britain during the past decade. In an environment where success is easier to achieve from physical training than by the slower methods of teaching technique, successes at higher levels have been elusive. Improvements in technique would help to improve the performances of our International crews in the world.

FACTORS AFFECTING THE PROCESS OF LEARNING A NEW ROWING STYLE

When trying to adapt to a different technique, whether it is a completely new movement or a change, a rower has more difficulty in controlling his actions in certain identifiable circumstances and the learning process slows down. These problem areas are identified as follows:

  1. at high rates of striking
  2. at maximum intensity of work
  3. in a state of physical tiredness
  4. when large increases and sudden changes are demanded
  5. when too many changes are to be made at one time

This system avoids the extremes of these adverse conditions. Increases are made in easy stages and only when a rower has shown that he/she is able to cope with the change are further increases demanded of him/her. Training periods of long duration at low rates form the foundation of the System. At low rates the oarsperson is able to control their movements and make corrections as they go when deterioration occurs. The gradual onset of fatigue when training over long distances permits control to be attained. When explosive work is introduced the rower will have built a sound foundation to cope with high demands without loss of form.

The more hours spent on the water practicing a particular movement the sooner that movement will become natural to the rower. This 'grooving in' process is accelerated when the rowers are able to hold good form through long periods of tiredness, but care must be taken to ensure that quality is not lost and that bad faults are not being ingrained. The ultimate test for an rower's technical ability is whether or not he/she can hold good quality when he is under extreme pressure from physical exertion, like the last 250 meters of that one important race!

An outline of the techniques practiced by the men’s' heavyweight squad are illustrated in this pamphlet. To explain the training methods which will help to achieve good technique is the purpose of this publication.

TRAINING

Whilst importance is placed on the improvement of technique in this System, the training methods have been devised to provide the best preparation for oarsmen at all levels of competition. Training for the improvement of endurance levels is a high priority. Long outings with variations of low rates are essential for the development of strength coordination and aerobic endurance as well as for 'grooving in' new techniques. This System provides guidelines for achieving a sound physical and physiological foundation for 2000-meter racing.

TRAINING LOADS

Training loads have been prepared so that one method can be compared with another even though the work content may be different. The loads have been derived from a mixture of simple mathematics and the experience of crew training up to the highest levels of competition.

  • The methods are based on a normal training load representing 80% of a rower’s maximum effort. The suffix 'N after the method code signifies Normal Training Load.
  • Maximum loads are suffixed with 'H’ signifying High Loads. High loads are equal to 100% effort and are calculated by increasing a normal load by 25%.
  • Reduced loads are suffixed with the letter 'L' signifying low loads and these are generally 25% below the normal load.

The work methods have been prepared on a time basis rather than on distances. This allows a rower to work at his own pace regardless of the type of boat in which he is training e.g. pair, four or single. The intensity of work is programmed to suit the ability of the oarsmen individually or the squad as a whole.

When no suffix is shown against a Method Code, only one set is required. A numeral before the code will indicate the number of sets to be completed.

An example of a training load for an International oarsman who is training twice a day for six days a week would be, five sessions at 'N', normal load, one or two at 'H', high load, 3 or 4 at 'L, low load with one or two light outings.

REST PERIODS

The recovery periods between sets should be sufficient to allow the pulse rate of an oarsperson, after work, to drop below 120 beats per minute. These rest periods are shown as 5 minutes light paddling, but should be reduced as the rower’s physical condition improves with training. 

INTENSITY OF WORK

All strokes, unless otherwise stated, are rowed as hard as can be maintained for the session. An important part of the system is that pressure is maintained as the rates rise so that an oarsperson is able to apply maximum output to 200 strokes when he needs to!

AEROBIC/ANAEROBIC CONTENT

All work methods below the rate of 30 are continuous for the improvement of aerobic capacity. Where the stretch of water does not permit continuous work, turns should be made quickly and the work set back by 30 seconds. Work above rate 32 contains a high anaerobic content. This type of work is done intermittently with controlled rests between each set piece. 

WARMING UP AND WINDING DOWN

Stretching exercises should be made routine, before and after each session. Thirty minutes of warming up paddling should be done before scheduled work commences. A more specific warm up should be adopted before intensive training so that the body is in a fully prepared condition.

Fifteen minutes of paddling after exercise to wind down is important. Gentle muscular contraction helps the body to clear waste products, which have accumulated in the blood stream during heavy exercise.

RATE CHANGES

Rates of striking (stroke rate) are changed by only two strokes per minute at any one time. These gradual changes help the rower to retain technical control during and after the change has been made.

Increases in rates are carried out by generally quickening movements (lively recovery and faster catches etc.) and reductions, by sliding slower forward between strokes.

Rhythm is affected by the speed of the boat. Two or three slightly shorter and quicker strokes will increase boat speed and help the rower to achieve a higher rate whilst maintaining a good rhythm.

It is not easy for a crew to make a rate change and to hold the rate consistently for any length of time. Rates should be checked frequently and adjusted when necessary. It should not be expected that a crew will achieve the rates on every occasion, often the crew will have difficulty in making the change successfully without loss of quality. It is the determination to improve which is of greater value than the actual rate which is scheduled.

HOW THE SYSTEM OPERATES

A particular point of technique is selected in a rower or crew. This may be emphasis on part of the stroke or a correction to an existing movement. Examples would be:

  1. Individual fault corrections
  2. Greater acceleration of the blade through the stroke and stronger finishes
  3. A longer reach forward

A target rate is selected and a period of time for improvement allocated in the training program. At the beginning of a winter period the target rate would be 26 or 28 and the time period about 14 days depending on the difficulty of the change

The first outing would be a long piece of work at a low rate. The coach would ensure that the correct interpretation and application of the change during this outing, was accomplished.

Various methods involving rate changes below the target rate are introduced to add flexibility and variety to the program. The rowers have to concentrate on control of movements as rates change up and down. Gradually confidence grows and the change is 'grooved in' at the lower rates.

The rates slowly increase throughout the period. Care is taken by the coach to ensure that when deterioration occurs the rate is reduced until good form is reestablished.

At the end of the period the target rate is consolidated with a long row.

If the desired success has not been achieved, the coach decides from which point the schedule should be repeated or whether a new approach should be adopted. If the crew has been successful the coach will select another point of technique for improvement and a similar process is completed. Even at the highest levels there is always room for improvement. No rower is perfect.

The coach uses his/her skills to decide which point of technique are important. He/she will usually work on the weakest link in the chain throughout the training period, gradually improving one fault after another until his crew has achieved good technique at race rate at the end of the winter.

The rate of improvement will of course depend on the ability of the rowers, their motivation, and degree of difficulty of the change and of course the skill of the coach. Perfection is never achieved and the coach decides which points of technique are worth pursuing and those that are not.

 

METHODS

The meanings of some words used are as follows:

PROGRAM

The complete training program in its entirety

PERIOD 

A specified period of time within the program

SESSION

One complete training session from stretching exercises to winding down.

METHOD  

The type of work and its content

SET OR SET PIECE

A piece of continuous work normally part of a Method.

QUALITY

Refers to technique

CONTINUOUS

Work done without change of pressure.

INTERMITTENT

Work done with light paddling between each set piece

Note:  

“minute” is symbolized by ‘ … therefore the following: “change rates at 3' 2' 1' 2' 3' 4' - 11' total” -reads as “change rates at 3 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minutes, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 4 minutes – 11 minutes total.”

DESCRIPTION OF “METHODS”

PYRAMID

Change rates at 3' 2' 1' 2' 3' 4' - 11' total.

Rates increase then decrease by 2 at each change.  

CASTLE

 

Change rates up and down by 2 alternately every 2 minutes.  

PYRAMID  CASTLE  

Change rates by 2 at end of each minute as follows: 22,24,26,24,26,28,26,26,26,28,26,24,26,24,22. -15' total.   

STAIRCASE

Increase rate by 2 at each stage.  

LADDER

Row 20 strokes at each rate with 10 light strokes between each change. Rates increase by 2 strokes per minute.

 

E.g.       24 to 34, 26 to 36 etc

 

 

CONSOLIDATION

Continuous work for the time and rate given.  

SPEED WORK

 

 

5 (5 x 20 strokes. 10 light between) rate 36. Rate 36 - 500 strokes

Rate 36 - 400 strokes Rate 40 - 300 strokes

 

 

WORKOUTS

This section implements all of the preceding sections. For the most part each workout is outlined in terms of training effect, training load, and technical aim; these will be bolded for ease of understanding.

PYRAMID

 

Change rates at 3' 2' 1' 2' 3' 4' - 11' total.   

Rates increase then decrease by 2 at each change.

 

 

 

 

Minutes

 

Total

 

 

3’

2’

1’

2'

3’ 

11’

PYR 24 

5 sets at rates

20

22

24 

22 

20 

55’ 

PYR 26

5 sets at rates 

22

24 

26 

24 

22 

55’

PYR 28

4 sets at rates

24

26

28

26

24

44’

PYR 30

3 sets at rates

26

28 

30 

28 

26 

33’

PYR 32

3 sets at rates

28

30 

32 

30 

28 

33’

PYR 34

2 sets at rates

30

32 

34 

32 

30 

33’ 

When the above Pyramids are rowed continuously -each set piece with a five-minute period of light paddling between sets - training effect is improvement of aerobic capacity.  

When these Pyramids are rowed intermittently -one minute light paddling between each rate change and a five minute rest period of light paddling between sets -training effect is improvement of aerobic capacity and acclimatization of lactate in the body

All the above work is Normal training load, but can be increased or reduced by 25%. Alterations should be made to times, making sure that the Pyramid principle is retained, but normally a different type of work would be done if it is necessary to amend the load for the best training effect.

Technical aim is to establish good technique at the lowest rate and to hold this quality as the rate increases. This method is a useful part of the system because longer pieces are rowed at the lower rates and the quality at the higher rates has to be held for a shorter space of time. It is equally important to hold quality when rates drop during the second half of a Pyramid.

When no suffix is shown, one only set is required.
A Half Pyramid refers to first half.

CASTLE

 

 

 

 

Minutes

Method 

Rates

Changes

Total

CAS 24 N

22 & 24

2’

66’

CAS 26 N

24 & 26

2’

44’

CAS 28 N

26 & 28

2’

36’

CAS 30 N

28 & 30

2’

26’

 

This work is continuous. If turns are necessary, they should be made within 30 seconds with work resuming as quickly as possible. Training effect is improvement of aerobic capacity. 

 

 

 

Minutes

 

Method

Rates

Changes

Total 

Execution 

CAS 32 N

30

+ 32

2'

24'

3 x  8'

CAS 34 N

32

+ 34

18'

3 x 6'

CAS 36 N

34

+ 36

1¼’

15'

3 x  5'

CAS 38 N

36

+ 38

1'

12'

3 x  4'

 

This work is intermittent with five minutes of light paddling between sets. Training effect is development of anaerobic capacity.   

Training loads            'N' = Normal training load of approximately 80%

 

'H' = High training load of 100%, an increase of 25%

‘L’  = Low training load of 60% a decrease of 25%

Technical aim is to establish good quality at the higher rate making sure that the quality improves when more time is available at the lower rate.

Where the stretch of water does not permit more than eight minutes of continuous work the changes are reduced to 1½ minutes. Below five minutes the changes are reduced to intervals of one minute. The total time for the method remains.

PYRAMID CASTLE

 

1.    PYR/CAS  28  L

The rates change every one-minute as follows:

22,24,26,24,26, 28,26,28,26,28, 26,24,26,24,22.

Continuous work for 15 minutes x two sets   =total work 30 minutes.

The rate of striking (stroke rate) increases by two strokes at the end of each minute. At the end of the third minute the rate returns to the rate of the previous minute and starts the same process again until the maximum rate of 28 is reached. The method then follows a pattern of the same format returning to the original rate of 22.

'N' Normal training load is three sets x 15 min - total 45 minutes. 'H' High training load is four sets x 15 min - total 60 minutes.

2.   PYR/CAS  30  N

The rates change every one minute as follows:

24, 26, 28, 26, 28, 30, 28, 30, 28, 30, 28, 26, 28, 26, 24

Continuous work for 15 minutes x two sets = total work 30 minutes. The format is exactly as for PYR/CAS 28 above.

'H' High training load is three sets x 15 minutes - total 45 minutes. 'L' Low training load is one set of 15 minutes.

Technical aim. This method is a valuable part of the System. If the oarsmen are unable to hold quality when rates increase the reduction of rate gives sufficient time for the quality to be re-established.

If the stretch of water allows thirty minutes of continuous work the changes should be increased to two minutes. When no suffix is shown, one only set is required.

STAIRCASE

Method

Sets

Rates 

Changes 

Set 

Total 

Light 

SIC 26 N

x 20:22:24:26: 

4'

16'

45' 

3’

S/C 28 N

3

x 20:22:24:26:28:

3’

15'

45'

3’

S/C 30 N

3

x 20:22:24:26:28:30:

2’

12'

36'

2’

S/C 32 N

3

x

22:24:26:28:30:32:

1½’

9'

27'

1½’

S/C 34 N

4

x

24:26:28:30:32:34:

1'

6' 

24'

1’

 

 

 

 

 

Strokes 

 

S/C 36 N 

8

x 26:28:30:32:34:36: 

10

60

480 

2’

S/C 38 N

7

x 28:30:32:34:36:38:

10

60

420

2'

S/C 40 N

6

x 30:32:34:36:38:40:

10

60

360

2'

S/C 42 N

x 32:34:36:38:40:42:

10 

60

300

2' 

All work is rowed continuously for each set with light paddling between sets.  

The training effect of staircases below rate 32 are basically for improvement of aerobic endurance and above 32 the work is anaerobic.

Training load. When no suffix is shown on the schedule this indicates that only one set piece is required. If more than one Staircase is required, the Method Code will be preceded by the number e.g. 2 x 5/C 40. Staircases are seldom used for an entire workload; they are used to supplement others to make a useful session of complex work.

Technical aim is to establish quality at the lowest rates and to hold good form throughout the session. Technically this is one of the toughest exercises in the scheme.

LADDER

Row 20 strokes at each rate with 10 light strokes between each change. Rates increase by 2 strokes per minute.

Method

Rates

Strokes

Set

Total 

Light 

LAD 26 N

20: 22: 24: 26

80

24

1920

1’

LAD 28 N

20:22:24:26:28

100

16

1600

1’

LAD  30 N

20: 22: 24: 26: 28: 30

120

12

1440

1’

LAD  32 N

22: 24: 26: 28: 30: 32

120

9

1080

2’

LAD  34 N

24: 26: 28: 30: 32: 34

120

8

96O

2’

LAD  36 N

26: 28: 30: 32: 34: 36

120

7

840

2’

LAD  38 N

28: 30: 32: 34: 36:38

120

6

720

3’

LAD  40 N

30: 32: 34: 36: 38: 40

120

5

600

3

LAD 42 N

32: 34: 36: 38: 40: 42

120

4

480

3 

 

Row 20 strokes at each of the above rates with 10 light strokes between. Light paddling for five minutes between each set.

Pulse rates should drop between 100 and 120 per minute during light paddle after each set before the next set is started. The recovery times are a guide and should be adapted to meet the required rest period for each crew.

 

The rate should be built up before the tenth stroke and the target rate held for the last ten strokes.

When no suffix is shown, one only set is required. When more than one set is required the Method code will be proceeded by the quantity.

The sets shown indicate the total work required for a Normal training load. It is not suggested that a LAD 26 N be done in its entirety for one session. LADDER work is a useful training method; it adds variety to a session and flexibility to the training loads.

Example: LADDER PROGRAM

LAD/PROG 40 N

22:24:26:28:30:32
24:26:28:30:32:34
26:28:30:32:34:36
28:30:32:34:36:38
30:32:34:36:38:40
600 strokes.

Row for twenty strokes at each of the above rates with 10 light strokes between.

CONSOLIDATION

Method

Rate

Minutes 

CON 20N

20

120'

CON 22 N

22

80'

CON 24 N

24

60'

CON 26 N

26

40'

CON 28 N

28

30'

CON 30 N

30

24'

 

Training effect of the above work is improvement of aerobic endurance. 

CON 32 

N

32

20'

4 x 5” with 5’ light between.

CON 34

N

34

15'

5 x 3’ with 3’ light between.

CON 36

N

36

12'

6 x 2’ with 2’ light between.

CON 38

N

38

9'

6 x 1½’ with 1½’ light between.

CON 40

40

8' 

8 x 1’ with 1’ light between.

Training effect of this work is improvement of anaerobic endurance.  

All above work is at Normal training load of approximately 80%. Times should be increased or decreased by 25% for amendments.

Technical aim is to Consolidate equality at a specific rate. Good quality must be established early in the session and held throughout the period of tiredness, which gradually develops until it reaches its peak of exhaustion at the end of the work

 

SPEED WORK

Method

Rates 

 

 

SPE 36 N

36

5 (5 x 20 strokes 10 light) 

500 strokes

SPE 38 N

38

4 (5 x 20 strokes 10 light)

400 strokes

SPE 40 N

40 

3 (5 x 20 strokes 10 light)

300 strokes

Build the rate up over 10 strokes and hold the target rate for the remaining ten strokes.  

For 'H' high training load the rest period between strokes is reduced to 5 strokes light.

For 'L' low training load the rest period between strokes is increased to 20 strokes light.

Example: SPEED PROGRAM  

SPEED/PROG N above race rate.

5 x

20 

strokes 

10

light 

5' rest

5 x

20

strokes

5

light

5' rest

5 x

20 

strokes

5

light

5' rest

5 x

20

strokes

10

light

5' rest

5 x

20

strokes

15

light

5' rest

5 x

20 

strokes

20 

light

600 strokes. 

   

SPECIFIC WORK

Other types of work can be included in the system.

Examples would be:

I.

Timed rows:

6 x

500m

 

 

4 x

1OOOm

 

 

 

3 x

15OOm

 

 

 

2 x

2OOOm

All above work is at Normal training load of approximately 80%. Times should be increased or decreased by 25% for amendments. 

Technical aim is to Consolidate equality at a specific rate. Good quality must be established early in the session and held throughout the period of tiredness, which gradually develops until it reaches its peak of exhaustion at the end of the work.

SUMMARY OF WORKOUTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Methods

 

 

 

 

Loads

 

 

 

 

 

PYR

26

N

76

mins

4 sets

x 19

mins

 

 

 

 

28

N

57

mins

3 sets

x 19

mins

 

 

 

 

30

N

38

mins

2 sets

x 19

mins

 

 

 

 

32

N

30

mins

2 sets

x 15

mins

 

 

 

 

34

N

22

mins

2 sets

x 11

mins

 

 

 

 

36

N

19

mins

1 set

x 19

mins

 

 

 

 

38

N

15

mins

1 set

x 15

mins

 

 

 

CAS

24

N

66

mins

2 mm.

changes

 

 

 

 

26

N

44

mins

2 mm.

changes

 

 

 

 

28

N

36

mins

2 mm.

changes

 

 

 

 

30

N

26

mins

2 mm.

changes

 

 

 

 

32

N

24

mins

3 sets

x 8 mins

 

 

 

 

34

N

18

mins

3 sets

x 6 mins

 

 

 

 

36

N

15

mins

3 sets

x 5 mins

 

 

 

 

38

N

12

mins

3 sets

x 4 mins

 

 

 

PYR/CAS

28

L

30

mins

2 sets

x 15 mins

 

 

 

 

30

N

30

mins

2 sets

x 15 mins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Changes.

 

S/C

26

N

48

mins

3 sets

x 16

mins

4

mins

 

 

28

N

45

mins

3 sets

x 15

mins

3

mins

 

 

30

N

36

mins

3 sets

x 12

mins

2

mins

 

 

32

N

27

mins

3 sets

x 9

mins

mins

 

 

34

N

24

mins

4 sets

x 6

mins

1

mins

 

 

36

N

480

str

8 sets

x 60

str

10

str

 

 

38

N

420

str

7 sets

x 60

str

10

str

 

 

40

N

360

str

6 sets

x 60

str

10

str

 

 

42

N

300

str

5 sets

x 60

str

10

str

 

LAD

26

N 1920

str

24

sets

x 80

str.

4

x 20:10

light.

 

28

N 1600

str

16

sets

x1OO

str.

5

x 20:10

light.

 

30

N 1440

str

12

sets

x120

str.

6

x 20:10

light.

 

32

N 1080

str

9

sets

x120

str.

6

x 20:10

light.

 

34

N

960

str

8

sets

x120

str.

6

x 20:10

light.

 

36

N

840

str

7

sets

x120

str.

6

x 20:10

light.

 

38

N

720

str

6

sets

x120

str.

6

x 20:10

light.

 

40

N

600

str

5

sets

x12O

str.

6

x 20:10

light.

 

42

N

480

str

4

sets

x120

str.

6

x 20:10

light.

CON

20

N

120

mins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22

N

80

mins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

24

N

60

mins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

26

N

40

mins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

28

N

30

mins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30

N

24

mins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

32

N

20

mins

4 sets

x 5

mins

 

 

 

 

34

N

15

mins

5 sets

x 3

mins

 

 

 

 

36

N

12

mins

6 sets

x 2

mins

 

 

 

 

38

N

9

mins

6 sets

x 1½ mins

 

 

 

 

40

N

8

mins

8 sets

x 1

mins

 

 

 

SPE

36

N

500

str

 

5 sets

x   100 str (5 x 20:10 light)

 

 

36

N

400

str

 

5 sets

x   100 str

 

 

 

 

40

N

300

str

 

5 sets

x 100 str

 

 

 

 

SAMPLE PROGRAM

PERIOD 2:                           14 to 29 November.

TRAINING AIM:

Development of aerobic capacity with some strength improvement.

TECHNICAL AIM:

To make full use of body weight at the finish, make sure that the body swings back while the blade is driving through the stroke, and do not let the body curl forward at the finish.

DAY

1

a.m.

 

CON 22  L

 

 

p.m.

 

CAS 24  N

 

2

a.m.

6

LAD 26

 

 

p.m.

 

PYR 26 N

 

3

a.m.

 

CON 24 L

 

 

p.m.

 

CAS 26 H

 

4

a.m.

4

LAD 28

 

 

p .m.

 

PYR 28 N

 

5

a.m.

 

S/C 26 L

 

 

p.m.

 

PYR 30 N

 

6

a.m.

 

S/C 30 L

 

 

p.m.

 

LAD 30 N

 

7

a.m.

 

Rest

 

 

p.m.

 

Rest

 

8

a.m.

 

CON 26 L

 

 

p.m.

 

PYR/CAS 28 L

 

9

a.m.

 

PYR 30 N

 

 

p.m.

 

CAS 28 N

 

10

a.m.

6

LAD 28

 

 

p.m.

 

PYR 30 H

 

11

a.m.

 

S/C 28

 

 

p.m.

 

PYR/CAS 28 L

 

12

a.m.

 

CAS 26 N

 

 

p.m.

 

PYR 30 L

 

13

a.m.

 

CON 28 N

 

 

p.m.

2

S/C 30

 

14

a.m.

 

Rest

 

 

p.m.

 

Rest

TARGET RATE:  28

 

 

 

TIME KEEPING AND RATINGS CONTROL

 

 

 

A means of measuring the stroke rate and the timed pieces is essential. A stroke meter is the ideal instrument, but a normal stopwatch can be used successfully. Counting the number of strokes rowed for each minute or part of a minute can identify ratings. The easiest way is to count the strokes completed in 15 seconds, 30 seconds and then the full minute, for greater accuracy. For example:

8 strokes in 15 seconds = rate 32 (8 strokes x 4) 16 strokes in 30 seconds = rate 32 (16 strokes x 2)

When counting the strokes it is easier to count the number of ‘catches’ rowed. A stroke begins and finishes at the same place and nine catches are equal to eight strokes. Seventeen catches are equal to sixteen strokes, and thirty three catches are equal to thirty two strokes per minute.

ROWING  TECHNIQUE

STING AND FLOAT

Good rowing technique is a combination of POWER (muscular coordination) and BLADE control. A boat will only travel as fast as the blades drive it! 

In a 2000 meter race an Oarsperson rows between 200 and 250 strokes in his bid for a medal. This is a small number compared with the many thousands rowed in a training period. Concentration of effort per stroke is obvious and it is one of the hardest things to achieve in the sport.

A stroke can be divided into two phases:

1. The Power phase.

2. The Recovery phase.

This System sets out to train rowers to apply full power to each stroke and to take a good rest between strokes, which will enable them to apply a high load for a long time.

The phrase 'Sting and Float' identifies the Power as the 'sting' and the recovery as the 'float'.

Good technique is based on the coordinated strength of the oarsperson, which provides the power, and control of the blade to transmit that power into efficient propulsion of the boat.

The correct path for a blade, the sequence of movements, which coordinate muscular strength into power and the recovery phase, which helps the body to maintain full power for 200 strokes, is illustrated on the following pages.

BLADEWORK

The most efficient path for the blade is described as follows:

The blade should:

  • Enter the water quickly in the most acute angle to achieve full use of the reach forward.
  • Move quickly into the horizontal plane once it is covered.
  • Accelerate from entry, through the middle of the stroke to the finish where it reaches maximum thrust.
  • Remain at the same even depth throughout the stroke, well covered but with the shaft clear of the water.
  • Leave the water quickly and cleanly at the end of the stroke and turn onto the feather only when it is clear of the surface.
  • Travel forwards well clear of the water after extraction, at an even height until it comes down to the surface squared and ready for the next stroke.

It is important to avoid the following common TECHNICAL ERRORS for the reasons given:

1. BLADE MISSING THE FIRST PART OF THE STROKE.

The angle and speed of entry is critical. Length of stroke is lost and valuable leg drive is used inefficiently until the blade is covered.

2. BLADE TRAVELS TOO DEEP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STROKE.

The direction in which the blade travels through the stroke is important. It must relate to the direction of the boat. A blade moving in an angle, which takes it deep into the water at the midway point, is inefficient: the blade achieves less grip, some of the propulsive force is misdirected, and resistance to the oarsperson is caused by the shaft breaking through the water. These are the main areas of inefficiency, but other problems created by a deep blade are height of draw, balance, rhythm and inconsistency.

3. RAGGED EXTRACTION

The blade must be extracted cleanly at the finish of the stroke at the moment full power is released. A blade that drags out of the water impedes the smooth flow of a fast moving boat.

4. BLADES NOT CLEARING THE SURFACE DURING THE RECOVERY.

The blade must be carried forward well clear of the water to avoid contact with the surface, a wave or another puddle. If the blade is carried too close it is necessary to lift the blade higher when it is to be squared for the next stroke. This movement Just before blade entry inhibits the preparation for a good catch. It also leads to the blade missing the first part of the stroke as described before. A blade carried too close to the water restricts the free flow of the boat and the crew finds difficulty in keeping the boat on a level keel.

Correction of these errors is part of learning good technique. Understand what good blade work is, make sure the rowers are quite relaxed, and encourage them to look at their own blade work during technical sessions and inform them that practice makes perfect and mileage makes champions.

POWER

In the same way that oarsmen must apply their power together, the oarsmen must work their muscles in support of each other. The correct movements of the body to achieve this coordination of strength are described as follows:

  1. The hands guide the blade into the water.
  2. The legs provide the speed which gives the blade early grip on the water.
  3. The muscles of the back, shoulders and arms hold firm and provide strong connection between legs and blade.
  4. The legs provide the main source of the power and maintain firm pressure throughout the stroke. Soon after blade entry, the trunk begins to swing back and the shoulders send the seat forward, drawing the oar so that through the middle of the stroke all muscle groups are working together.
  5. The trunk continues to swing back till the time the arms are pulling so that pressure is maintained on the blade whilst the boat is increasing its speed.
  6. The oarsperson sits tall as his/her hands draw high into his/her chest at about the height of his second rib. He/she makes sure that his/her hands do not hit his/her body at the finish of the stroke.
  7. His/her hands move quickly and smoothly down and away from his/her body following the line of his thighs. The inside hand turns the blade onto the feather immediately after it is clear of the water.
  8. When the arms are relaxed and straight and hands clear the knees the trunk swings forward before the slide leaves backstops. The body angle is held all the way forward to the front stops in readiness for the next stroke.
  9. The seat leaves backstops slowly and unhurriedly, but without wasting any time. The sliding forwards is in sympathy with the motion of the boat and it is during this phase that the rower rests and prepares himself/herself for the next stroke.
  10. His/her legs begin to rise as the seat approaches front stops. He/she remains sitting tall in the boat and floats up over his/her knees ready for a long reach forward. He/she is quite relaxed, letting the speed of the boat running beneath him/her draw his/her seat forward to front stops.

The style is based on a powerful drive from the legs with other muscle groups working in support. Every available muscle is used to drive the blade. Immediately the blade is released from the water the rower relaxes. This allows his/her body to achieve some recovery. It is this recovery which enables the rower to apply full power to 250 strokes or the number of strokes it takes to row 2000 meters.

It is Important that the following common POWER ERRORS are avoided for the reasons given:

SITTING TOO LONG AT BACK STOPS POSITION.

The sooner the sliding seat leaves backstops the slower it needs to travel. At the rate of thirty, the time available for sliding forward with a good rhythm would be under 1+ seconds. Clearly, time spent sitting too long at backstops has to be made up to avoid the rate dropping, and the rower ends up sliding faster forward.

The momentum generated from the power of the stroke should be channeled into a smooth and lively recovery of the hands leading the body forward and the seat from back stops without wasting time.

SLIDING TOO FAST FORWARD

The speed of the sliding forward should not exceed the speed during the stroke. Sliding too fast forward does not allow the rower to rest fully. There are other disadvantages in that it does not permit smooth running of the boat, the rower loses feel for the boat and he/she is hurried into the forward position from which he/she is unable to time his/her next stroke. Falling or pitching over the knees at front stops stems from sliding too fast forward.

STRETCHING FOR MORE LENGTH FROM FRONT STOPS POSITION.

The length of stroke, determined by the angle of the body in the forward position, originates from the swing forward of the trunk from backstops. Attempting to reach for more length once the slide has left backstops often has the opposite affect. Diving forward for more length can cause the body to fall onto the thighs and actually prevent good length forward.

Stretching for more length, putting strain on the arms and back, at a time when the body should be set ready to spring onto the stroke, not only prevents a good beginning but it puts strain on the back which sometimes cannot hold firm. This leads to slide shooting which is a common fault!

Another common fault, which is linked to stretching for length, is the hands dropping which lifts the blade too high off the water. This inevitably means that the first part of the stroke is missed.

SHOOTING THE SLIDE.

When the legs drive at a faster pace than the hands move, it is evident that the back muscles have not held firm and some of the leg power is wasted. There is also the risk of injury to the back muscles. Stretching for more length forward is a common cause of slide shooting. It is important that the trunk holds firm as the legs drive the blade into the water.

OPENING THE TRUNK AT THE BEGINNING OF THE STROKE.

Young people and sometimes newcomers to the sport are often weak in the lower back and have difficulty in holding the trunk firm against the power of their legs. In these circumstances it is advisable to teach the technique of opening the body before driving the legs. This places the back in a stronger position and more able to hold firm. As development of the back muscles takes effect, gradual change in the technique should be introduced. It is very difficult to achieve a good catch in a fast moving boat without full use of the legs.

BODY CURLING FORWARDS AT THE FINISH OF THE STROKE.

This fault occurs when pressure is reduced on the blade during the last part of the stroke. With no support, the body curls forwards. This reduced blade pressure is caused by either of the following faults:

I. Using the arms at the beginning leaves the rower less arm strength with which to draw the finish. This also eliminates the powerful latissimus dorsi and reduces the effect of the deltoids (shoulders), gluteals and erector spinae muscles.

II. When the back does not hold firm against the leg drive, the legs reach backstops ahead of the stroke in the water. The arms are unable to cope with this amount of work left to do and pressure on the blade is reduced.

III. Opening the body at the beginning of the stroke which delays the leg drive and reduces the effect of the legs so that co-ordination of the muscle groups is less efficient. The weakness shows at the most vulnerable part of the stroke, i.e. the finish.

The oarsperson sits tall in the boat as he/she swings back at the finish, applying full body weight to the blade. This swing back supports the draw with the arms, and pressure is maintained on the blade of an accelerating boat. It is with this pressure that the body recovers itself for the next stroke.

UNCONTROLLED SLIDE FORWARD AND POOR PREPARATION OF THE BODY.

The hands extract the blade from the water in the lively flowing movement leading the body into an inclined forward position and the seat into motion, sliding to front stops. The rower relaxes during this recovery phase to help the body achieve some rest and to prepare for the next stroke. 

It is a common fault to move the seat off backstops with the arms still bent and the body not fully inclined forward. The effect of this is:

I. The hands are carried too high so that they can clear the knees as they rise. The blade is carried too close to the water, which also impedes the balance of the boat.

II. The body swinging forwards as the slide approaches front stops will fall onto the thighs and prevent a good forward reach.

III. The last minute reach forward prevents the rower from preparing well for the next stroke.

IV. The oarsperson is less able to relax and have sufficient rest. Tension will be likely in his hands and shoulders.

V. The stern of the boat will drop rapidly just before the catch as the oarsperson pitches forward from front stops.

VI. The body will be in a weaker position for the next stroke.

CORRECTION OF FAULTS

Understand what a fault is and accept that it exists.
Identify the cause of the fault.
Understand what good technique is and practice it.
Practice makes perfect.

SCULLING TECHNIQUE

Three factors determine the speed of the boat. They are:

1. Power - how fast the boat travels each stroke.
2. Length - how far the boat travels each stroke
3. Rate - how many strokes are rowed.

If a crew rowed at maximum capacity in all three of these components at the same time, it is doubtful that crew could row 10 strokes before technique withered and boat speed faded. The number of strokes required to complete 2000 meters is about 250 and clearly, an equilibrium of power, length and rate must be achieved. Rowing is basically a power endurance sport, but it requires a high level of skill. Choosing the "right" technique and then teaching it is a coaching skill and there are many differing opinions about which method is the best. Whatever the method, power, length and rate are the basic ingredients.

RATE

Rate is the easiest to achieve. Keeping it at its optimum in a race is not the main problem. Length and power are the first to deteriorate when the pressure of the race reaches its peak.

LENGTH

The most efficient part of the stroke is when the blade is passing at 90 degrees to the boat. Only when it is at this angle is its force propelling the boat wholly in the correct direction. In theory, an efficient length of stroke is from 45 degrees at the catch to 135 degrees at the finish. In practice, the body prevents the arms from reaching more than 125 degrees. To achieve 45 degrees at the catch, the reach must extend beyond this angle. A longer finish can be drawn in a sculling boat but it is inefficient to draw more than 130 degrees.

POWER

Maximal power is achieved by appropriate sequencing of the contributing muscles from strongest to weakest.

  • Legs first. The quadriceps and gluteals.
  • Then the Back. The lower back.
  • Then the Shoulders and Arms. The latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids and biceps.

THE STROKE

The boat goes only as fast as the blades drive it. The power transferred through the blade to the boat is only as much as the legs supply. A good technique is based on the work of the legs to create most of the total power.

THE CATCH

The faster the blade enters the water the more positive will be the grip, the longer will be the stroke and the faster the boat will travel. The important points are:

  1. Hands guide the blade into the water.
  2. Legs apply the power
  3. Trunk and arms link legs to blade

MIDDLE OF THE STROKE

All the muscles are working through their middle range and the blade is at its most efficient point in the stroke. Make full use of this advantage by beginning the draw with the arms before midway. The arms must start to draw well before the legs reach the backstops.

THE FINISH

Retain pressure on the blade through to the finish by pressing toes on the footboard, by using the leverage of the trunk, and by keeping the arms working with the body. Although legs reach backstops before the arms and trunk have finished working, the toes should continue pressing hard to give support with the back until the blade is extracted. The trunk should be moving towards the bow until the moment before the hands reach the body (if the arm draw starts too late, this timing will be delayed).

RHYTHM

The rowing stroke comprises fast movements and slow movements. The essence of good rhythm in the boat is the contrast between them. Done well, a good motion looks smooth, continuous, and unhurried but it can be difficult to see that contrast. The fast movements begin with the entry of the blade and continue through the stroke and the movement of the hands away from the body after blade extraction (the finish). The slower movements begin when the hands pass over the knees and continue until the next stroke. The inertia created by the power of the stroke carries the hands down and away from the body when the seat is at the backstops. The body relaxes immediately as the blade leaves the water so there is no interference with this natural free-flowing movement. The seat moves slowly forward in contrast to its speed during the stroke. The rower prepares by gathering, ready to spring from the stretcher onto the next stroke. The movement of the seat must be faster during the stroke than it is during the recovery. The sooner it leaves the backstops after the finish, the more time it has to reach the front stops and the slower it can travel. The hands and then the body move lively away from the finish to allow the seat to start on its way forward.

THE RECOVERY

Hands, Body, Slide...

1.Move the hands down and away over the knees
2.Pivot the body forward onto the feet
3.Move the seat away from the backstops.
4.Move forward, rest the body and let the boat run underneath you.

PREPARE FOR THE STROKE

To achieve optimum position for the application of power and good forward length - note the following points of posture:

  1. Head high encourages good posture for body and spine.
  2. Chest against thighs. Rotation should be centered around the hip joint, not the upper or lower back.
  3. Shins vertical - strong position for the quadriceps.
  4. Relaxed but alert - poised like a cat ready to spring

SCULLING

The oar handles should be held in the fingers, not the palms. The hands should generally be at the tips of the oars to maximize inboard leverage, with the thumbs pressed against the handle nub to generate sufficient outward pressure against the oarlock. As someone said, "The handles should be grasped like one is holding a small bird: firmly enough to hold on, but not so hard as to kill it." The grip of the fingers around the oar will automatically increase sufficiently when contact with the water is made The arms and hands should extend along a horizontal plane out well over the gunwales as the blade angle is increased in preparation for grasping the water. The entry of the blade into the water will be accomplished with a relaxation or slightly positive "flick" of the hands and arms while maintaining the blade angle (not opening the back) to achieve the catch.

RELAXATION

Contract only those muscles needed to perform a specific function. This is achieved by relaxation of the hands, arms and shoulders, the areas where tension will be most prevalent. The muscles of the upper body will be more effective if they begin the catch in a relaxed condition. Muscles will contract instantly when a load is forced upon them.

BLADEWORK

The importance of blade work must be appreciated. Only the blades move the boat, therefore an important part of the technique is the skill with which the blades are controlled.

Good blades have these characteristics:

  1. A long stroke in the water I Minimum loss of reach forward/Quickly grip the water I Covered throughout the stroke.
  2. Utilize power/Grip the water with minimum loss of leg drive/Work in a horizontal plane/Covered throughout the stroke.
  3. Do not interfere with the run of the boat/Clean extraction/Carried forward clear of the water/Balance the boat.

RHYTHM - WHERE TO POISE
 
It is always necessary to compose before any dynamic action (e.g. Lifting a weight, striking a note, hitting a ball, or rowing a stroke). The question is "where is the best place to "poise" prior to the action? There are different ideas in rowing on where the poise should be.

The current method is to poise during the last part of the movement towards the front stops. The inertia created by the draw at the finish is used to carry the hands away from the body, the trunk into the catch angle and the seat from backstops. The rower has time to relax, let the boat run under the seat, and to prepare for the next stroke. The poise just before blade entry is sufficient to achieve a very fast catch.

SCULLING STYLE

Sculling styles differ in where emphasis is p laced. Body positions and movements will be influenced by this emphasis. The method should be based on rhythm. The stroke is divided into two phases:

  1. The Stroke or power phase, and
  2. The Recovery or resting phase.

Scullers are trained to apply full power to each stroke and to rest during recovery, which will help them apply power to 250 strokes or the number required to complete the race.

The ability to apply power is an essential physical requirement. Physical capacity is acquired by training but the coordination of muscular contraction in the rowing stroke is the essence of good technique.

The System of Training Intensity Categories 

 

 

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