Question of the Day

The Kiwi pair does this really incredible thing where they take their oars out of the water SO FREAKING CLEANLY and I am having such a hard time trying to do it, I can never tell if I’m throwing water around when I feather my blade and IDK if you know what I’m getting at but yeah help?

I watched a couple videos of them rowing, including the two I posted below, just to see what their strokes looked like and to see if I could point something out that they were doing differently but I couldn’t find anything. I think they’re just reallyΒ good rowers who have excellent technique and years of experience on their side.

One of the best ways to tell if you’re throwing water around is to listen for it (it’s really noticeable compared to the normal sound of the water) or have someone in the launch tell you. It’s easiest to see it from the side but your coxswain might be able to tell too so have them watch as well. If you can get your coach or someone riding along during practice to record you rowing for a minute or two, you can look at that and review your technique. In order to have a good stroke you’ve got to start with a clean recovery, which means that your posture has to be up tall and solid through the core so that the handle and oar is supported all the way through the water. If you sink into your hips or start slumping over towards the end of the drive there’s no way you can maintain pressure on the oar, which will cause you to have a sloppy release. You’ve also got to be cognizant of where your hands are and what they’re doing.

Posture is critical here as well because it order to finish the stroke and draw in high, you’ve got to be sitting up tall and laying back. If you’re laying back too far, that will prevent you from tapping down properly, so laying back no farther than the 11 o’clock position is important. Tapping down is probably the most important part of the ‘finish and release” part of the stroke (hopefully for obvious reasons). You can’t start the recovery or feather the blade until it’s out of the water so it’s important to make sure you’re drawing in high enough and laying back far enough that you’re providing yourself with plenty of room to get the blade out of the water.

One of the things that drives me crazy is when you tell someone to tap down (repeatedly, ad nauseum) and they don’t change anything but continuously say “I am!”. We wouldn’t be telling you to tap down if you were already doing it so humor us and do something different. Your hands should literally be moving from rib-level down towards your quads. It’s something you’ve got to consciously think about doing until you’ve got it engrained in your muscle memory (which won’t happen quickly).

One drill that can help you work on finishing cleaning and feathering without throwing water around is the delayed feather drill. You can see video of it below. It teaches you to get the blade all the way out of the water before feathering so that you avoid feathering under the water, washing out, etc.

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