Question of the Day

Today our novice boat was SO rushed! No matter what the stroke, they’d hit it for like 3 secs before flying 3 or more SR than was supposed to be. Stroke told me that she and 7 seat were trying to control it but middle 4 on back kept rushing. I tried to say “lengthen, ratio shift, control, etc.” while still saying their SRs. Nothing I said changed it, if anything SR went higher. I gave up by the end of it, since they weren’t listening. Coach didn’t help, just said follow stroke. Help?

Ugh, I’ve been in this situation before. I will try and correct it 99.9% of the time but then my impatience kicks in and I just say “screw it” and let them figure it out on their own. Sometimes that’s all you can do. I’ve also had that coach that is totally useless and says things like “follow the stroke”. You’re the coach, can’t you come up with something a little more helpful that that?

If you know that the middle four were the ones that were initiating the rush, don’t be afraid to directly call them out.  When I’ve had this happen in the past, I’ve directly called out the people that I know are causing the rush and I’ve asked them a) do they know what seat they’re in, b) do they know who the stroke is, c) do they know how to control their slides, and d) is anything that either the coach or I said unclear? Normally the answers go something like yes, yes, yes, and no, to which I reply “then what are you doing??” They don’t normally have an answer for that but by that point they either realize that they are the problem or that when I was telling people to slow down the slides I wasn’t just talking to test my brain’s ability to formulate sentences.

Related: In the boat, when you’re calling a rower out to make a change, is it better to call them by their seat or name? A rower told me that by using a name it puts them on the spot – but isn’t that the point to make a change?

After I’ve had that conversation with them, we usually take a break from whatever we’re doing for so everyone can refocus. Once we get started again I remind them that the slides need to be controlled, they need to follow the person in front of them, and they need to not assume that they’re not the one causing the problem. Incorporating in calls that focus on getting everyone’s body motions matched up right out of the finish usually helps too (i.e. matching the hands away, timing the swing of the shoulders, starting the slides together, etc.) but at some point you do have to just stop talking and let them row in silence for a bit so they can focus on implementing the changes.

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