Top 20 Terms Coxswains Should Know: Hanging the Blade

Previously: Rush(ing) || Body angle || Pick drill || Suspension || Skying the blade || Quarter feather || Pin || Run || Lunge || Washing Out || Missing water || Footboard || Check || Ratio || Over compression || Release || Cut the cake

What part of the stroke/stroke cycle does it refer to

The catch.

What does it mean/refer to

The majority of the time when we talk about hang we’re talking about suspension but in this case “hang” means to pause at the catch and let your blade hang in the air before dropping it in the water instead of placing it immediately as the wheels come to a stop.

Related: Top 20 terms coxswains should know: Suspension

Relevant calls

This is where you’ll make/hear a lot of “direct to the water” calls. You can/should also remind the rowers that they should be unweighting the hands (not lifting – unweighting) the hands in the top quarter of the recovery so that the moment when the blade enters the water and their slides stop coming forward is the same point in time. One shouldn’t happen before the other. When I’ve coached younger crews, explaining the catch as a motion rather than a position has helped them understand this better and eliminate the pause at the front end (which most of the time they don’t realize they’re doing).

Calls for slide control (coupled with “direct to the water”-esque calls) can also help here because you’ll sometimes see rowers rushing their slides and then hanging out at the catch waiting for everyone else to get there, which usually leads to them having choppy catches or being late.

Related: Top 20 terms coxswains should know: Rush(ing)

What to look for

This is slightly less obvious from the coxswain’s seat than it is from the launch but what you’ll see is a very obvious (but quick) pause in the blade’s movement at the front end. It’s not something I’m always on the lookout for but if I notice a rower is missing water at the catch then I’ll watch to see if I can see them winding up (aka dropping the hands at the catch causing their blade to sky) and then stopping before putting the blade in.

Related: Top 20 terms coxswains should know: Skying the blade

Effect(s) on the boat

Hanging the blade at the catch turns the stroke into a stop and go movement instead of one fluid motion which prevents the crew from establishing a consistent and easy-to-lock-onto rhythm. It also messes with the catch timing (duh – you’re always going to be late), your ability to have a long, complete stroke (since you’ll be missing water at the start of the drive as a result of not getting your blade in before the slide changes direction), and the shell’s ability to achieve its maximum run (because you’re missing water → not generating as much power → not getting as much send at the finish).

Related: Top 20 terms coxswains should know: Missing water

Related posts/questions

Like several of the other terms, this isn’t one I’ve talked about on the blog before this so below are two videos that demonstrate the difference between hanging the blade (the first one) and going straight to the water (the second one).

Very start and stop-y and you can see the missed water as they start their drive.

Much more smooth and fluid.

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