Question of the Day

How should rowers approach an indoor erg competition? I participated in one last winter but it was my very first 2k so the name of the game was basically “just don’t die”. There’s a lot more pressure now because I’ve dropped about 50 seconds from my time since then and I’m in the varsity category this year. There’s just something extremely nerve wracking about the whole atmosphere and I’m having a hard time not being nervous.

I think that even though the stage is larger when compared to your standard 2k test at the boathouse, you should still approach it the same way. Don’t change your race plan or anything like that because that just complicates things. It’s like deciding to wear new sneakers the day of your marathon just because you’re doing something “bigger” than your usual training runs or 5ks or whatever – it’s only going to backfire spectacularly.

Related: I know I physically can perform the workouts on the erg, but I mentally psych myself out I guess you could say. Do you have any tips on mental toughness/blocking out that annoying voice that wants you to quit on the erg? Thanks!

You know how when you see horses racing or pulling carriages, they’ve got blinders on? That’s exactly what you have to do – put your blinders on so that your focus is on the monitor directly in front of you and forget about everything else. Assuming this is something you’ve been consistently training for, just remind yourself that you’re prepared, you’ve got a plan, and all you’ve gotta do is go out an execute.

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Question of the Day

Our coach wants us to be pulling miracle splits but that doesn’t happen most of the time! And even though we all work hard, we don’t impress her enough. What can we be doing better on the erg?

At this point, instead of focusing on what you can do better, I’d first try to talk with your coach, either individually or with the rest of your team. As always, approach the situation maturely and respectfully. Don’t be accusatory but make your feelings known. Explain how you feel as though you’re working hard and pulling good times but you don’t feel like she agrees since she is always unimpressed with your scores. Get some feedback from her on why she expects you to be pulling the splits that she doesIs she trying to motivate you to constantly do better or is she just randomly picking out numbers that she thinks you should be able to pull? The latter sometimes happen with new coaches who aren’t sure of their rowers abilities yet – I know I’ve been guilty of it until I’ve gotten to know my rowers and seen what’s realistic to expect of them.

If she’s trying to be motivational, which I can understand in a way if that’s her intent, I’d explain that it’s not really working. Ask for feedback on your individual technique and what you can do better so that you can work towards pulling the splits that she’s looking for. Take that into consideration and try to implement her suggestions the next time you hop on the erg.

If you and your team truly are working hard and performing well on the ergs, there’s really no reason why she shouldn’t be impressed with your efforts thus far. There’s nothing wrong with expecting more of your team and continually raising your expectations as improvements are made, but those expectations need to be realistic based on your age, skill level, fitness, etc.

Question of the Day

Clear something up for me about the relative importance of stroke vs. 7 in an eight? My coach today inferred that because I’d rowed stroke most of last season 7 should be easy because it doesn’t have the same responsibility, it’s just following. I always thought stern pair were equally important as 7 “strokes” bowside. Am I wrong?

I think I understand what your coach is saying, although I don’t think he phrased it right. I’ve always been taught that stroke and 7 are equally important despite the difference in responsibilities because your stroke sets the rhythm but 7 is the one who relays it to the rest of the boat. It’s not “just” following – if 7’s timing is off, the other six rowers will probably be off too. That’s why you usually want your most consistent rowers up front.

Related: Hey, as a coach you might be able to tell me, in a quad how do you decide who goes where? And the same for an eight? Where you’re placed in the boat, should this tell you anything about where you “sit” compared to the rest of the crew?

Assuming you can row both sides you’d probably do fine at 7 since your experience at setting and maintaining a rhythm in stroke seat would (theoretically) make it easier to translate the new stroke’s rhythm back to bow six.