I have this bad habit of shortening up my stroke and basically just not compressing enough. I never really notice when I start to do it, I feel as if I’m at full slide but my coach tells me that I’m getting short. How do I force myself to lengthen out when I hardly notice I’m doing it? I’ve also been told it might be flexibility, if so what on earth do I stretch to help that problem?
Row2k actually posted a hack yesterday that I think could help you out. They wrote this with the use of an erg in mind but I think you could definitely try doing this in the boat if you used a piece of tape or something on the tracks. Basically what you do is you take a bungee cord or a piece of tape and wrap it around the erg at the point where your body should be fully compressed when at the catch. Then when you row, you’ll know if you’re hitting that spot because the slide will either stop completely (if you’re using a bungee) or you’ll feel the slide hit a “speed bump” (if you use tape). Based on those feelings, you can train yourself to inherently recognize where your full compression should be.
Another trick you can do for when you’re in the boat is take a regular drinking straw and tape it to the side of the boat to mark where your catch should be. When you’re fully compressed and reaching out towards your rigger, you should be able to touch the straw with your finger tips. If you can’t, you’re not going far enough up the slide. If you’re hands go past it, you’re going too far (or didn’t tape it to the right spot).
Like you said, your flexibility could be an issue as well. Where it’s lacking is most likely in your low back down through your hamstrings, so those, in addition to your IT band (which runs along the side of your upper leg), would be the muscles you’d want to focus on. Guys typically have tighter hamstrings than girls, so if you’re a guy, that could be contributing to the problem (girls can have tight hamstrings too, but it’s more common in guys).