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Fundamentals
Keeping Rowing Simple
March 26, 2014
Robert Garbutt

Athletics is the last frontier left to develop the youth of America into strong Men and Women. Participation in athletics teaches values, team work, a strong work ethic, dedication, persistence and all the values associated with being a successful citizen.


Over the past forty or more years, I have coached and watched rowing at all levels. I have seen the good, the bad and the just plain ugly. By sharing the following thoughts, I hope to make the rowing technique as simple as I can make it.

The primary goal is always to make the boat go fast and not disrupt the power that is created in the boat by poor technique. By using body parts to act as anchor points, I have tried to break down the stroke as simply as possible. Fortunately, one of my former rowers, Susan Van Duyne-Hunter is an artist and was able to sketch the various positions of the body throughout the stroke.

Many people think that rowers pull the blade through the water to propel the boat when, in fact, you are pushing the boat using the oars as levers to propel it toward the finish line. While equipment can make a crew faster, in reality, the rowers in the boat will determine who wins the race. As a coach, keeping it simple so that each rower understands the elements in the stroke, you will develop fast rowers.

METHOD OF ROWING - "FAST HANDS, SLOW SLIDE"

  1. Stroke starts and ends with hands away. (Hands never stop..."In and away")
  2. Hands release at finish of stroke
    -Keep hands on the imaginary table (see example above)
    -Do not let hands pull shoulders out of bow or let the slide come up at this point. (Hardest part of rowing is to relax at the finish)
  3. Release boat and let it glide. (Have confidence - you have created speed)
  4. Shoulders swing or are pried over at finish of drive
    -Angle is based on size of crew and what the coach prefers. (20 degrees past perpendicular is what I preferred)

STARTING THE STROKE

  1. Hands to knees and pivot out of bow.
    (Pivot at this point establishes the catch angle)
  2. Slide should NOT come up at this point.
  3. Blade should be on feather, hands are on the imaginary table.
  4. Legs remain flat at this point
  5. Balance in the boat will be achieved by keeping hands level. (On the table)

BEGINNING OF CATCH

  1. Hands away, pivot, start the slide.
    (Hands are always on the imaginary table)
  2. At this point, you have established the reach (or catch) angle.
  3. As hands approach ankles, start to square blade
    (Hands still on table)
  4. Square blade by rolling wrist over, keeping wrist parallel to side or "Gunnels" of the boat.

BODY PREPARATION FOR THE DRIVE

  1. Compression starts when the chest is to your thighs (Or arm pit to knee)
  2. As handle approaches toes, blade is squared.
  3. Shoulders and arms are relaxed
    -NEVER ALLOW SEAT TO HIT FRONT OF SLIDE STOPS
  4. Your catch angle was established when you went hands to pivot.
  5. At this point you are ready to drop blade into water
  6. Shins should be almost vertical.
  7. Outside shoulder should reach between your knees
  8. Try to have good compression without tension on shoulder and arms

DEVELOP POWER IN THE STROKE - "DROP ZONE EXPLOSION

  1. Blade should be on the square, hands are on the table, chest to thigh compression.
  2. Drop blade to water ~ hands and shoulders are still relaxed
    (Hands float upward, 0ff the table and towards the rower in front of you.)
  3. Let blade drop to the water, for the catch.
    (timing is very important at this point. You are like a gun fighter, ready to draw down and pull the trigger)
  4. Keep your body angle strong with an arch in the back to prevent back problems. Round shoulders will create problems.
  5. Arms should be straight and the blades should be fully covered in the water. Shoulders, hands and arms should be level to keep the boat balanced. Emphasis should be on the horizontal drive through the water.
  6. To create speed, the rower should spring back quickly from the catch and transmit the full power of their body weight through the oar into the hull.
    (Arms remain straight)

CONTROLLING THE DRIVE

  1. Blade is covered in water, legs and back are creating the power
  2. Arms are still straight at this point
  3. Hands balance the boat - keep them "on the table"
  4. Shoulders are ahead at this point
  5. As blade nears mid-ship, start to work the finish
  6. Legs and back start to finish. Draw the finish off to maintain the power while swinging or prying the back over.
  7. Arms begin to break as you draw the finish

WORKING THE FINISH

  1. Legs and back finish when legs are straight. Try to keep that power by drawing the finish off with arms and back. Bring arms to body.
  2. To Keep extracting the blade simple, your hands should come back on the table, turn the blade off with your inside hand. (hand closest to the rigger) Tap down with inside hand to belly button,push away with outside hand.
    (Coach's command should be. "Turn, down and away!)
  3. At this point, repeat the cycle... Catch to finish - hands away...


"NO EXCUSES, HAVE FUN, MAKE THEM FAST BECAUSE YOU ARE COACHING"


Comments

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narelle
04/01/2014  4:29:04 PM
Richard, give me a call, 828-524-0261. Interesting idea to push handle away with the outside hand so give the feathering wrist a bit of rest, but the finish angle AND the BACK ANGLE I totally disagree with. Narelle (Undine, Yale, & Vesper).



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