Entries in Technique (7)

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.


Saturday
Aug272011

Marry Mahon 1994 ARA Conference: Video


Harry Mahon

Harry Mahon was one of the true enlightened coaches of the modern age of rowing. His career spanned over 20 years of international coaching. True greats of the rowing world such as Xeno Muller, Rob Waddell, the Great Britain Men's Eight (Olympic Gold in 2000), and Greg Searle were amongst some of the Olympic rowers who were lucky enough to be guided by Harry Mahon.  

For more information, read Harry Mahon: The Age of Enlightenment. Please support The Harry Mahon Cancer Research Trust.

Harry Mahon ARA Conference

 

For the rest of the videos, see:

Harry Mahon's Rowing Technique Volume 1

Harry Mahon's Rowing Technique Volume 2

Tuesday
Aug092011

Applying British Rowing Technique - Robin Williams

By: Robin Williams 
From: Thames Regional Rowing Council: 7th March 2006
Article Link: Applying British Rowing Technique - British Rowing 


High Performance Rowing's Editors Note

Robin Williams (High Performance Coach for the Women & Lightweights in the build up to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games). Robin Williams worked alongside the late Harry Mahon coaching Cambridge University. Robin later took over as chief coach and had numerous successes from 1995 onwards.

Robin Williams, former CUBC and UK Rowing coach explained his successful approach. He suggested that the most important thing is a person or persons establishing a culture of success from the top down.

 Principles make a difference. it’s necessary to be realistic and be optimistic; let's set a goal and work out the first step. 'High Performance' is about doing something the best way. The process of desiring success starts with Recreation leading to Appetite and then Ambition, ending finally with Determination, with an important role for Self-belief and Will Power.

 Rowing is about working as a group and bonding. It takes time to establish the right culture. Coaches are a team too. Everyone has a job to do! Where do you start? You, start with a dream, this leads to self-belief. It’s necessary to focus on processes, rather than outcomes. Assess risks and, where necessary, change processes. Measure success, review and then improve. It helps to start from the basics. Dreams can come true but the dream is the last inch. It's a series of steps. Ambition is the fuel. Appetite starts it off. Most important thing is to create a good purposeful atmosphere; a space with desire.

 Great Britain’s recent lightweight successes can be attributed to the program Robin Williams set up.

Robin Williams and Great Britain Rowing Technique

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Monday
Aug082011

Applying Biomechanics to Improve Rowing Performance

By: Peter Schwanitz (GER)
From: FISA Coaching Development Programme Course - Level III
Site Link: Remo2016
Article Link: Applying Biomechanics to Improve Rowing Performance

Translated from German by Lena Baden and Fred Kilgallin 


1. Improvement of Rowing Performance 

Every rowing race has a winner. This winner - the individual or the crew - has rowed the racing distance in the fastest time with the highest average boat speed. The final performances by rowers in the finals of the top international competitions (World Championships and Olympic Games) are the result of important and complex efforts by the rowers and the coaches.

The results make it possible to evaluate, among other things, the effectiveness of the training, the creatively efficient effort of the athlete during training and competition, and the development of modern materials for the production of boats, oars and other equipment. In order to draw conclusions about future success in competitive rowing, it is important to have a general idea of the trends in racing times in the finals of previous top international competitions. If this is regarded as a benchmark for the development of performance requirements in rowing, it is important to emphasise that performance is influenced by two factors: The human factors (personal abilities, fitness, rowing technique, etc.) and the non-human factors (boat equipment, weather, regatta course, etc.).

Three questions about the development of performance will be addressed in this section. The answers to these questions are based on the following:
• the winning times of all boat classes for men in the World Championships and the Olympic Games; and
• the results of test races performed in measuring boats by FES-Berlin in co-operation with Humboldt University in Berlin. 

Question 1: How has race performance (boat speed, racing times) developed?

Figure 1 shows the development of the boat speed of winners of the Olympic finals in all men's boat classes (average) from 1948 to 1988. 

If you analyse the average boat speed of all winners of the men's Olympic finals (except the 4x) from 1948 (London) to 1988 (Seoul), it is clear that from one Olympic Games to the next, the average boat speed over the racing distance has increased by 1.3 percent.

It is interesting that the development in the average first-place time corresponds to the relative development in the single sculls. From this one can cautiously draw conclusions about the development of the individual performance.

Figure 1: Development of the boat speed of winners of the Olympic finals in all boat classes (average) from 1948 to 1988. 

If this period of time is divided, then (see dotted lines in Figure 1) from 1948 (London) to 1968 (Mexico) the first-place time in an Olympic cycle improved by an average of 0.4 percent; while from 1968 to 1988 (Seoul) the first-place time in an Olympic cycle improved on average 1.9 percent. Winning times in the period since 1968 have improved at a rate greater than the previous period.

The result is that boat velocity, as a mean value for Olympic winners of all boat classes, has increased on average by 1.9 percent in an Olympic cycle. The relationships in velocity between boat classes (mean values) of the winners have stabilised (see Table 1). 

Table 1: Speed relationships for men (winners in all World Championships and Olympic Games 1958-1989) as a percentage of the men's eight.

Question 2: How are the racing performances in the Olympic cycles of 1992 and 1996 likely to develop?

Future increases in speed over 2,000 meters have been calculated based on improvements in performances. It should be noted that weather is included as an "average condition." Therefore, the expected improvements imply "average" weather conditions (i.e., calm, small waves, etc.). For example, for the three boat classes, 1x, 2- and 8+, the improvement in the racing times and the boat speed in the cycles of 1992 and 1996 are clear in Table 2.

Table 2: Mathematical adjustment of the improvement in boat speed from the World Championships and Olympic Games, 1974 to 1988, (winning performance) and concluding in 1992 and 1996. 

Question 3: How are the key technical parameters likely to change in the cycles of 1992 and 1996?

Assuming a constant stroke rate in the three selected boat classes, the Olympic winner in 1992 and 1996 will have to:
• reduce the total number of strokes in a race;
• increase the propulsion per stroke in comparison to the winners of 1988 and 1992 (see Tables 3 and 4).

Table 3: Increase in propulsion (cm) per stroke and reduction in the number of strokes (SZ) as a function of reduced racing times and constant stroke rate (1988, 1992, 1996). 

Table 4: Increase in the stroke rate as a function of reduced racing times and constant propulsion per stroke. 

Now it is interesting to see the consequences of the probable quantitative improvement of important rowing technique parameters and their relative percentage changes (see Table 5). These data were obtained from measurements of the former East German National Team.

Table 5: Empirical, mathematically based consequences of the improvement in boat speeds from 1974 to 1988 for the quantitative shaping of biomechanical parameters in a representative rowing cycle (X), (parameter as [power-] function of the boat speed).

PIHZ = power in the full rowing stroke, PIHEF = power in the effective drive portion, FIHEF = force on the inboard or inside lever, and VIHEF = velocity of the inboard or inside lever. P = mechanical performance, F = force, V = velocity, IH = inboard, and EF = effective drive ("work in the water").

In the three boat classes the highest percentage rates of increase in the realised average performance (P) on the inboard (PIH) are shown for:
• a rowing cycle (PIHZ);
• the effective drive (PIHEF) in the rowing cycle.

The product of the factors "force on the inboard or inside lever" (FIHEF) and "velocity of the inboard or inside lever" (VIHEF) with the mechanical performance of the inboard show a minor rate of increase within an Olympic cycle.

In general it should be noted that the increase in boat speed puts demands on the athlete to exert more power on the inboard and to attain a higher velocity on the inboard. 

2. Applying Interdisciplinary Contributions to Improve Performance

The definition of biomechanics can be described as the effects of mechanical laws on and in the living organism and the mechanically measurable reactions of the organism to these effects.

Thus, biomechanics has its basis in both the physical and biological sciences. Therefore, one should not depend solely on mechanical findings to determine how to achieve competitive goals (victory, best possible result, "faster," etc.).

This knowledge must be translated for use in an interdisciplinary synthesis and an application oriented training plan. The following four questions and their answers attempt to substantiate this claim.

Question 1: What are the possibilities and limitations of the contributions of biomechanics to the sport of rowing?

The essential focus of biomechanics in rowing has and always will be rowing technique.
Most objectives of biomechanical research are to explain the propulsion-causing powers and accelerations of the rowing stroke during competition, both in theory and in practice. This research also tries to explain the effects of the development of equipment.

Theoretically explained biomechanical knowledge and the empirical findings that create successful rowers are the bases for forming a technical concept. The application of this concept has contributed to the improvement of rowing performance.

The biomechanics of athletic movements in the endurance sport of rowing can improve performance, especially if it considers biomechanical/energetic and biological/energetic interactions. The task in this connection is:
• to investigate the movement sequences during competition and training in order to explain those mechanical causes that influence the biological/conditional effects;
• to develop rowing technique as a biomechanical solution process that can be applied to the effective biological/energetic development in training as well as result in higher speed during races.
It is important to develop and identify rowing technique from a biomechanical perspective, which makes it possible for the athlete:
• to achieve the fastest racing times and the highest average boat speed over the rowing distance on the basis of his or her individually available energy potentials at the lowest possible external resistance;
• to achieve the fastest time over a given distance on the basis of his or her individually available biological energy potential and taking into account the biological/conditional objectives for the particular training areas at given resistance conditions (boat type, gearing, area of blade, etc.). 

Question 2: What research could form the basis for the establishment of a rowing technique for training and competition?

In practice you can find different force/time-curves on the oarlock [F=f(t)] with an approximately equal impulse area. These can be classified as shown in Figure 2.

"A" emphasises the middle of the drive: Synchronous force of leg, upper body and arm musculature is dominant. "B" emphasises the end of the drive: Synchronous force of upper body and arms musculature is dominant. "C" emphasises the beginning of the drive: Synchronous force of leg and upper body musculature is dominant. "D" strongly emphasises the beginning of the drive with no emphasis on the remainder of the drive.

Figure 2: Schematic representation of different force/time-curves in rowing.

 

 

Figure 3: Schematic representation of typical curves as a function of distance with constant work (acc. Müller, 1962).

 

 

The strongly schematicised force/time-curves appear in rowers of all classes, including World and Olympic champions!

But which of these curves will now be useful? Trying to get the answer from the science of biomechanics alone wouldn't be enough. The following accounts should give some help in making decisions.

"The work is all the more inefficient the more tension there is in the muscles at the end of the effort, because the work is wasted isometrically, without producing any performance." (Landois-Rosemann 1962, p. 504)

"The force/distance-curves with a short steep rise to the peak of maximum force and a subsequent flatter fall off to the end of the work distance appears to be the most favourable. The effectiveness of the energy turnover for equal work is, in comparison to other curves, the highest, since the necessary energy turnover is the lowest." (Landois-Rosemann, 1962)

This information disqualifies an orientation toward hard pressure at the finish of the rowing stroke, and it highlights an emphasis on the beginning of the stroke.

"Equal work, realised through extreme tension of the different muscle groups, results in various local loads. The higher loads manifest themselves in the smaller muscle groups (i.e., the arms), and the lower loads in the larger muscle groups (i.e., the legs)." (Hollmann/Hettinger, 1976)
From this statement it makes sense to employ a synchronous whole-body effort of muscle potentials, taking into account the different force potentials of the leg, back and arm muscles. Emphasis on the finish of the stroke should be de-emphasised because of the high local load on the arm muscles.

"There are two alternative ways to increase performance (in the mechanical sense, as a product of force and movement velocity): you can increase either the force or the movement velocity. The physiological processes react more strongly to changes of movement velocity than to changes in force." (Landois-Rosemann, 1962; Roth/Schwanitz/Körner, 1989)

Thus, it makes more sense to improve the time of the movements during the drive where the body parts work synchronously. The necessary high velocity on the inboard can be carried out through the slower movements of the legs, upper body and arms while they work individually.

"A high force development in the beginning of the stroke seems to be the most effective with regard to the most favourable body position for a proportional development of the force potentials. The position of the body in the beginning of the drive can be compared to the position of a weightlifter at the beginning of the lifting process." (Gjessing, 1979)

In light of the previous statement, one should emphasise the beginning of the drive portion of the stroke. Empirical research carried out by this author has produced the following results:
• The average boat speed per stroke rose with the rower's increased force exertion on the inboard at the beginning of the drive.
• The increase in boat speed did not parallel the increase of average force past the 90-degree position of the oar relative to the splashboard.
• The recorded increase of inboard velocity in the area of the drive is therefore mostly a function of higher boat speed initiated by the higher inboard force at the beginning of the drive. (Schwanitz, 1975)

Therefore, one can justify an emphasis on the beginning of the drive as well as an orientation toward increasing the force in the middle of the drive and in the finish in order to make use of reserves. (Schwanitz 1976) In the discussion about the effectiveness of the rowing stroke, Nolte (1985) raised the aspect of the hydrodynamic lift, which supports the orientation toward the beginning of the drive.

3. Summary

From a biomechanical, biological and training method point of view, there are reasons for an efficient rowing technique that take into account the aspect of load as well as the propulsive effect during training and competition. The emphasis of the force on the inboard, in order to produce a powerful first part of the drive, characterises this rowing technique and should be encouraged.

In addition to the emphasis on the first part of the drive, the force on the inboard should be produced in the tangential direction to the inboard, especially before the 90-degree position. A common expression for this force application would be "row around the oarlock."

The intention of all training methods is to increase the individual performances in the drive phase. This also covers the common forms of diagnosis used in biomechanics, rowing technique and sports medicine. These usually show the effects of training under defined test conditions.

The increased force exertion and movement velocity as components of the mechanical performance are the correlated partners of the biological and mechanical criteria, with the drive given first priority. Here one should pay attention to the fact that the co-ordination requirements of the recovery phase are particularly high. In training it is important to carry out a conscious conditioning of the muscles used during the recovery at race intensity to counter conditionally caused co-ordination problems and to ensure the propulsive effect in the drive by paying special attention to the reversal movement into the entry.

Question 3: What should the coach and athlete know about rowing in different boat classes?

An analysis of training methods with the boat measurement technology of FES Berlin in 1978 gave results which, later, strengthened the considerations of the rowing federation of the former GDR with regards to decisions about loads. Rowing in different boat types will, under the same training conditions (distance, stroke rate), put different demands on the athlete and result in different loads. A comparative examination of inboard velocities in similar training load ranges gives the following results:
• Recovery: The profile of the inboard velocity and the time bases approximately match in the various boat classes.
• Drive: As the boat classes get bigger the acceleration on the inboard in the beginning of the stroke increases, and the drive time decreases considerably. (Refer to Table 6)

Table 6: Load relevant to aspects of changes in the mechanical work in rowing.

Then, in the direction of the ARROW:
• the amount of inboard power during the drive-phase decreases
• the inboard velocity during the drive-phase increases
• the time of the recovery increases

Question 4: How does the individual rower deal with the requirements of the specific boat classes?

The research in the biomechanically explained movements of the different boat classes made it possible to qualify the diagnostics of the measurement boats in such a way that the individual load requirements and effects during training could be clarified, along with the development of rowing technique. This led to an experiment in 1987 carried out by Körner (training methodology), Roth (performance physiology) and Schwanitz (biomechanics).

The object of the experiment was the rower's mastery of the boat type specific requirements. Four athletes each carried out the following tests in 1x, 2+ and 4+ measuring boats:
• a five-step test (one step: three min.);
• one unit of basic endurance training (90 min.; stroke rate = 20 to 22).

Inevitably, there were the same general requirements (stroke rate, boat velocity) for every step for the four rowers in 4+. However, every rower showed very different realisations of the demands of every load level from the biomechanical point of view. The analysis of the biomechanical parameters shows great dispersion among the rowers at the same load input (between 4 and 25 percent). It was striking that:
• the highest individual deviation in the load steps appeared at lower intensity;
• at all load levels the inboard velocity showed the smallest individual deviation, which is mechanically explainable.

The overall impression of a team is often formed by that which one can see, such as movements of the body parts relative to each other and to the boat as well as movements of the oars and the boat. In general, one can conclude that:
• The different load demands of each boat class and of each step in the test show very individual results in rowing technique and physiological load;

• In every load of the step test the performance on the inboard as the product of the inboard force and velocity shows particularly large differences for every rower in all boat classes;
• Performance, force, velocity, lactate and other biological parameters determined as a function of the load in the different boat classes by the same rowers confirm the necessity and the possibility of emphasising the individual control of performance development by means of biomechanical/rowing technique parameters and characteristics. (See an example of this analysis in Figure 4.)

Figure 4: Lactate as a function of the power of rowers of a 4+ in a measuring boat.

The results of this experiment were used to prepare the athletes of the rowing federation of the former GDR for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. Early in 1988 the women's sweep rowing team was diagnosed according to this method and given training recommendations. Later in June selection tests were carried out to form the crews in the different boat types.

A basic-endurance load test of more than 90 minutes at the stroke rate 20 to 22 showed:
• large differences among rowers in performance, force and velocity on the inboard;
• different amounts of force and velocity among the rowers;
• different lactate concentrations that prevented at least one rower from reaching the biological/conditional training goal.

As the training progressed all four athletes tended to:
• decrease the inboard velocity during the drive;
• increase the inboard velocity during the recovery;
• reduce the force on the inboard;
• reduce the performance on the inboard during the drive.

The following facts can be applied to the examined boat classes:
• Depending on the length of time and intensity of the training session on the water, a relatively early tendency of decreased rowing technique was observed;
• The biggest deviations in the technical parameters from rower to rower happened under low intensity training.

These facts strongly support Roth's demands in 1987 for a transition from a methodology/biological training concept to a methodology/biomechanical training concept to improve the performance of the active rowers.

4. Conclusion

The previous improvements in the times and the average boat speed in the finals in top international competition are milestones in the development of rowing performances. They are the results of human factors, developed by training and experience, and influenced by non-human factors. In terms of Olympic cycles, the relative increases in the average boat speed of 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent are also likely in the future.

The biomechanics of athletic movements based on physical and biological sciences can improve rowing performance, especially in biomechanical/energetic and biological/energetic contexts.

The following two essential tasks should be emphasised:
• the improvement of rowing technique to help the biological/energetic development during training, which leads to a higher boat speed and faster times in competition;
• the examination of movement patterns during competition and training to explain the mechanical causes in biological/conditional effects.

From a biomechanical and biological point, there are reasons for adopting an efficient rowing technique, the most important characteristic of which is the emphasis on the first part of the drive.

In order to perfect the technique and fitness as a synthesis for further improvement in rowing performance, one should find and pay special attention to the specific aspects of each boat class and the individual use of these characteristics.

The conscious use of the boat characteristics depends on one's knowledge of rowing in big boats versus small boats. For example, when going from a small boat to a big boat, one experiences:
• reduced drive times;
• increased inboard velocity;
• increased emphasis on the first part of the drive;
• reduced drive phase proportion in comparison to the whole stroke cycle (changed rhythm relations);
• increased inboard velocity in the performance of the drive.

Knowing about the individual characteristics of a certain boat class, one will be able to prescribe the correct workload, and gear the athlete in training toward a successful performance.

Diagnostic methods to check certain abilities specific to rowing should allow a variation of the loads that will enable the athlete to reach the limits of his or her current individual ability. It is therefore possible to make low risk assessments of the training effectiveness, and to give recommendations more likely to succeed in the further development of performance.

A diagnosis of the rowing technique should be done along with keeping track of the rowing performance. For this reason it is recommended that you make a system of diagnoses (video analysis, dynamic-graphical measurements, individually or together):
• full stroke cycle and drive portion evaluations;
• competitive evaluations in test and regatta environments;
• workload evaluations.

Abbreviations

Variables:
P = Performance
F = Force
V = Velocity
T = Time
S = Distance
Indices:
B = Boat
EF = Effective Drive
IH = Inboard part of the oar
FL = Recovery
Z = Rowing Cycle

Example:

PIHZ = average performance (P) on the inboard (IH) of one rowing cycle (Z) in the rowing stroke.
Reference parameters:
SF = Stroke Rate
GA = Basic Endurance
WSA = Specific Endurance necessary for Competition
S = Sprint
WK = Competition

References

1. Andrich, B., R. Buchmann, P. Schwanitz: Ansätze für die Erarbeitung biomechanischer Zweckmässigkeitskriterien sportlicher Bewegungshandlungen in Ausdauersportarten fur Wettkampf und Training. In: Theorie und Praxis der Korperkultur 38 (1989) 6, p. 420-422.
2. Gjessing, E.: Muskeltätigkeit und Bewegungs verlauf beim Rudern -eine Kraftanalyse. In: FISA Coaches Conference, 1976, p. 15-35.
3. Hollmann, W., T. Hettinger: Sportsmedizin - Arbeits - und Trainings-grundlage. Stuttgart, 1980.
4. Müller entnomment Landois-Rosemann: Lehrbuch der Physiologie des Menschen. Vol. 11, München - Berlin, 1962, p. 504
5. Nolte, V.: Die Effektivität des Ruderschlages. Berlin, 1985.
6. Roth, R., P. Schwanitz, T. Körner: Untersuchungen zum Freiwasser-Mehrstufentest in den Messbooten Vierer, Zweier, Einer in fünf Geschwindigkeitsstufen. DRSV-intern, Berlin, 1989.
7. Schwanitz, P.: Ruderspezifische Systembetrachtung und Analyse der Veränderungen Rudertechnischer Parameter in drei Geschwindigkeitsstufen. Dissertation, Humboldt-Universität in Berlin, 1976.


 

Thursday
Aug042011

Understanding Rowing Technique - The Timing of the Catch

By: Dr Valery Kleshnev and Tim Baker
From: Rowing & Regatta Magazine.

The timing of the catch is a critical part of the rowing stroke which makes a significant difference to boat speed. The majority of rowers and coaches appreciate this and spend a lot of time working on it, yet what exactly rowers should be aiming for still seems somewhat shrouded in mystery.

To illustrate my point, I spoke to some coaches. “What is back-splash and is it a good thing?” I asked. “When should you place the catch?” There was little agreement about whether back-splash was towards the stern or the bow and certainly no agreement about whether it was a good thing or not. In fact the only common response was that “It’s a question that seems to create an awful lot of confusion.”

The timing of the catch is not a black art, but hopefully it is something that can be explained and understood. The aim of this article is to explain the basics and then discuss a subtlety that I believe may be the root of some of the confusion.

THE BASICS

If we could put the blade in instantly, when would we do it?

When we put the blade into the water, if it’s moving more slowly than the water, we will get a splash towards the bow and a slowing force on the blade. If it’s moving at the same speed as the water then there will be no force on the blade and little or no splash. If it’s moving faster than the water then there will be a splash towards the stern and a force on the blade that will accelerate the boat and rower.

Figure 1 illustrates what happens in more detail as the blade approaches the catch. If you were to put the blade in at cases 1 or 2, then you would get a large force slowing the boat down (and may injure yourself at high speeds and rates). If you put the blade in at case 3, then you would still get a small force slowing the boat down. At case 4 the blade speed is matched to the water speed and there will be no be force if the blade is put in the water now (and little or no splash). By case 5 the blade speed is now high enough for the water flow to switch to the other side of the blade. If you put the blade in now you will be able to produce a force in the correct direction and accelerate the boat and rower.

So from these pictures we can see that case 4 is the first point at which we can put the blade in without slowing the boat down.

What happens if the blade is placed late?

A blade that is covered significantly after it has reached water speed will increase the catch slip. That is, it will reduce the effective stroke length. Put another way, the same effective stroke could have been achieved with a shorter overall stroke length and hence less wasted energy on relative movement between the boat and the rower.

What happens if the blade is placed early?

Placing the blade early will lead to a negative force on the handle. This should be avoided and could cause injury if done at high boat speeds or rating (more on this later).
These two opposing factors – wasted effective stroke length versus check on the boat – are what makes the catch so critical in maximising boat speed.

In reality, we can’t put the blade in instantly so what happens in practice?
It takes time from when you first start to raise the hands to when the blade first touches the water. I’m probably stating the obvious here but this is because the blade has to travel a certain vertical distance before it reaches the water and also because when you first try to move the blade vertically you can’t instantly impart it with velocity. The blade has inertia so the force you apply builds up the vertical speed progressively. Typically it takes around 0.25 seconds from when you start to raise the hands to when the blade first touches the water.

It also takes time from when the blade first touches the water to when it is fully covered.
Typically this takes around 0.1 seconds. Any time taken from when you start to raise the hands to when the blade first touches can be compensated for by simply starting to raise the hands earlier. However, it is important to minimise the time taken to cover the blade as this has a direct effect on effective stroke length.

Is it enough to let the blade fall under gravity?

If you raise the hands quickly enough that you allow the blade to fall under gravity, the acceleration is around 240 deg/s/s and this typically leads to a time to cover of 0.09 seconds. Club rowers are often slower than this. That is, they are still applying some downward force onto the blade as they allow the handle to rise, typically leading to a time to cover of around 0.13 seconds. Top-level rowers are achieving accelerations greater than gravity. Typically 300-400 deg/s/s at high ratings which lead to times to cover as low as 0.06 seconds. This reduced time to cover the blade is significant and can only be achieved by applying an upward force on the handle with the thumb.

So how do we time the catch?

It usually takes longer to make the vertical movement (0.25 seconds) than to accelerate the blade to boat speed (0.15 seconds) so you need to start raising the hands on the way forward in order to put the blade in at case 4 (typically 0.1 seconds before the horizontal direction change).

How do we know when we’ve got it right?

There will be very little splash initially because the blade entry is timed to coincide with the blade speed matching the water speed. This is followed by a larger splash towards the stern as the blade starts to go faster than the water and the blade force builds.

FINESSE

We are now going to talk about some subtleties, so don’t let anything said here confuse you about the basics which still apply. Ideally you would want the blade fully covered at case 4, but this is not possible. To do this would mean that the first touch of the blade occurred when the blade was going too slowly and there would be a significant check on the boat. If, instead, you time it such that the blade has reached water speed before any of it touches the water, you have missed the first few degrees of the stroke. What the top rowers do (from observation and measured data), is a compromise between these two.

Typically the blade entry is timed so that the blade matches the water speed when it’s around 50 per cent covered. That is, if the blade takes 8/100ths of a second to cover, then the first touch is about 4/100ths second early. Figure 2 shows this on a blade path shape where the magenta circle shows the point at which the blade matches water speed. This timing allows the rower to ‘sneak’ a few extra degrees of effective stroke.

Why do we get away with this?

  • It is only a very small speed mismatch.
  • It only occurs for a very small time (3-4/100ths of a second).
  • The rower doesn’t resist the blade handle.

When the blade first touches, there is a mismatch in speed but only a few centimetres of the blade are in the water so the handle force is very small. As the blade becomes more covered, the speed mismatch reduces until when the blade is 50 per cent covered the speeds are matched. The force is related to the speed difference and the area of blade in the water is always small. If the rower was to resist the negative force on the handle via the footplate then it would decelerate the combined system of boat and rower. (The same as if you hold the boat up.)

Instead what happens is the rower allows the handle to accelerate them towards the bow of the boat so the combined system of boat and rower is not slowed. In fact it happens so quickly that you don’t really notice it.

What does this look like?

You may see a very small splash towards the bow from the lower half of the blade, followed by the usual larger splash towards the stern (see main photograph).

What are the key points?

  • The splash towards the bow is not the thing to aim for. You are aiming to get the blade
    in as soon as is possible, which is done by practice and ‘feel’. This (very small) splash is
    a consequence, not the desired effect.
  • The blade should never touch the water on the way forward (case 1).
  • The blade should never touch the water when it has reached its furthest forward (case 2).
  • What we are talking about here is placing the blade after it has changed direction and started to move towards the stern. The blade is almost matched to the speed of the water before first touch and the mismatch only occurs for a few 1/100ths of a second.

I believe that some of this concept may have filtered down from top-level to club rowing and has been misunderstood such that people believe that a back-splash is a positive thing to be aiming for. Some coaches appear even to teach a large back-splash to encourage maximum forward placement which is not a sensible thing to do. You must match the blade speed to the speed of the boat at blade entry.

IN SUMMARY

  • Use a high vertical acceleration on the handle to minimise the time to cover the blade.
    Start raising the hands on the way forward since it takes longer to make the vertical movement than to accelerate the blade to water speed.
  • Time the blade entry to coincide with when the blade matches the water speed.
  • There should be little or no splash initially – do not aim for a large back-splash.

ABOUT THE WRITERS

Dr Valery Kleshnev is recognised as a world expert in rowing bio-mechanics and provides technical analysis to: Jürgen Grobler and the GB team.
Tim Baker studied engineering at Cambridge University and then worked for Rolls-Royce designing civil jet engines before setting up Precision Sport Rowing Electronics in 2003.

Monday
Jul182011

Popular (and not-so-popular) Rowing Drills

By: Josh Schuler and Rob Jagnow
Site Link: MIT Rowing 

Rowing Drills: The Basics 

 

Name of Drill

How to Do the Drill

Purpose/Focus of the Drill: What the Drill helps you to work-on

Forward Pick

This is the standard warm-up drill for most crews. Done by 4's or 6's. Isolate the different parts of the recovery and drive. Start with arms only (being sure to keep your back in the finish position) – just use your arms. After 20+ strokes, add your back (being sure to sit-up and extend forward). After 20+ strokes, go to ½ slide. After 20+ strokes, go to full slide. Repeat with other combinations of 4 or 6.

  • Isolates the different parts of the recovery and drive sequence and helps you feel how they're supposed to flow together
  • Body preparation

Reverse pick (sometimes called the Korzinowski drill)

Done by 4's or 6's. Isolate the different parts of the drive. With the boat checked-down, start with the legs -- a short stroke during which you just "pop" your legs down. Be sure you're hanging on your arms and keeping your body/back in the same position they're in at the catch -- just use your legs. After 20+ strokes, add your back -- still hanging on your arms. After 20+ strokes, add your arms and row normally. Repeat with other combinations of 4 or 6. Be sure you're sitting up tall during this drill.

  • Isolates the different parts of the drive sequence and helps you feel how they're supposed to flow together

Whistle Catches

Typically done in the tanks -- you row normally, ready to catch whenever the coach/cox whistles or calls out "catch"

  • Quick catches

High-rating catches

Similar to the normal catch drill, but you do it at a higher rating – quicker hands away, controlled slide up.

  • Coordination

Quarter or Half Slide Rowing

All 8 if possible. By 6's if necessary. Row only using ¼ or ½ of the slide at a high rating, full press.

  • Quick catches

Square-Wide-6

Done by 6's. Take a wide grip on the oar handle (inside hand on the black plastic) and during the recovery, run the blade handle at gunwale-level. At the same time, stretch your body/chest forward and up (you accomplish this by arching your back slightly and pointing your chest towards the cox). Your hands are pushing down while your body is pushing up, opposite directions. You should feel a stretch in your back and hamstrings. Be sure to keep your shoulders relaxed and catch only by unweighting your hands.

  • Proper body positioning throughout the recovery
  • Body flexibility

Feet-out

Done by all 8 if possible, by 6's if necessary. Remove your feet from your shoes and place them on top. Row normally, trying to maintain the correct amount of layback without falling backwards.

  • Balance and layback positioning



Bladework 

Name of Drill

How to Do the Drill

Purpose/Focus of the Drill: What the Drill helps you to work-on

Square-Finish

Row normally, but remove the blade square at the finish and keep it square until your arms are fully extended, then feather. Re-square the blade as you would normally -- between the knees and ankles. Repeat with other combinations of 4 or 6.

  • Prevents "feathering under" -- feathering while the blade is still finishing the stroke
  • Oar/Blade control

Square-Feather Alternating

Done by 6's. 30 Stroke pieces. 6 row normally for 20 strokes on the square. Add-in pair for last 10 strokes on the feather with all 8. Repeat with other combinations of 6.

  • Blade control

Italian Feather

Done by 4's or 6's. Row normally, but remove the blade square and feather the blade only slightly – 10% feather or 90% square, think about in whichever terms work for you. Re-square the blade as you would normally -- between the knees and ankles. Repeat with other combinations of 4 or 6.

  • Blade control

Cut-the-Cake

Every three strokes, let the boat flow under you during the recovery and go to arms away, then back to the finish, then arms away again as you complete the stroke as normal.

  • Coordination
  • Oar/Blade control

Outside arm only

By 4's or 6's on the square. Row normally, using only your outside arm. Place you inside arm either in your lap or behind your back, whichever is more comfortable. Be sure to keep your shoulders relaxed and catch only by unweighting your hand.

  • Blade height during the recovery and depth during the drive
  • Blade control at the catch and finish
  • To connect with the lat muscles
  • Hand-height



Acceleration 

Name of Drill

How to Do the Drill

Purpose/Focus of the Drill: What the Drill helps you to work-on

Pair Add-in

A given pair starts rowing full-slide, 1/2-3/4 Press. After 20+strokes, another pair adds-in until all 8 are rowing; repeat so that each pair starts the sequence. When 5&6 start, add-in 3&4, then Bow pair, then Stern pair; When 3&4 start, add-in Bow pair, then 5&6, then Stern pair; when Bow pair starts, add-in Stern pair (this helps Bow-Stern coordination), then 3&4, then 5&6.

  • To feel acceleration in the boat
  • To feel your and others' impact on boat speed
  • Coordination

4-Stroke Acceleration

Done by 6's. Check the boat down. From the finish position (blades squared and buried), you're going to take a total of 4 strokes in the sequence:
Coxswain should call out “row” for each stroke
Stroke 1: Just go the catch and drop the blade in. Take the blade out of the water and return to the finish for Stroke 2.
Stroke 2: Go to the catch, drop the blade in, and just let the oar move through the water – 1% press – and return to the finish for Stroke 3.
Stroke 3 (acceleration stroke): Go to the catch, drop the blade in at 40% press and accelerate through the stroke to a 70% press finish. Sit ready for Stroke 4.
Stroke 4: Normal stroke – 100% press throughout. Repeat sequence with other combinations of 6.

  • Acceleration

Acceleration drill

With all 8 rowing normally, add pressure as you progress through the stroke. 20+ strokes @ Paddle press catch to 1/2 Press finish; 20+ strokes @ 1/2 Press catch to 3/4 Press finish; 20+ strokes @ 3/4 Press catch to Full Press finish.

  • To feel acceleration in the boat
  • Proper finish heights
  • Drive sequence/power
  • To train yourself to feel the difference b/t your own power levels
  • Helps you build strength for the weakest part of the stroke, the arm pull-in

5+ & Glide

After checking the boat down, take anywhere from 5-20 hard strokes at a low rating (below 20spm), then let the boat run out under you at the hands-away position. You should be going for maximum run during the strokes and maximum distance and solid set during the glide.

  • To feel acceleration in the boat
  • To feel the impact that being "off" by a little can have on the set and send of the boat

Big Daddy Drill (iteration of the 5+ & Glide)

Same as 5+ & Glide, but at a VERY LOW rating (about 15spm or less) -- pry the boat.

  • To feel acceleration in the boat
  • To feel the impact that being "off" by a little can have on the set and send of the boat



Alternative

Name of Drill

How to Do the Drill

Purpose/Focus of the Drill: What the Drill helps you to work-on

Eyes closed rowing

Rowing normally, close your eyes and continue to row. Listen carefully.

  • To feel the boat and the other rowers

Nukes

Forward Option: Sitting at the finish, lift the blade out of the water and spin the handle quickly clockwise or counter-clockwise (rowers choice) up to the catch. Drop the blade in and take a normal stroke.
Reverse Option: Sitting at the finish, back the blade through the water normally. Lift the blade out at the catch and spin the handle quickly clockwise or counter-clockwise (rower's choice) up to the finish. Drop the blade in a take a normal back stroke

  • None really.

Screaming Eagles

Must be done all 8 if done at all. Not to be done in a brand-new boat, and best if done during the summer. Coaches typically will get pissed if they see you doing this -- therefore only the most talented and fun-loving crews should attempt it. You must be especially good at keeping the boat well-set during long glides. Remove your feet from the shoes and place them on top. When ready, take 5 very full press strokes and let it run. Immediately when you start to glide, everyone must quickly and smoothly shove their handle under their outside leg and pin the oar ischulerjoshua@hotmail.comn the squared position so it's off the water, and then place their outstretched arms over their heads, palms-out. All 8 must then beat their arms up and down (5-10 times) like wings TOGETHER and scream. If you're lucky and all do it perfectly at the same time, you're in for a treat. If you're unlucky, I hope you're not around any other crews.

 

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 

 

 

 RECUPERATION FROM PREVIOUS TRAINING