row2k Features
Erg Drills: Feet Out Rowing
April 8, 2020
John FX Flynn

Feet out erging is good for you

With all of us racking up those erg meters, row2k has you covered so no one strays too far away from the kind of good technique and skills that will be at a premium again once we all head back out on the water.

Here is a fool proof erg drill that is probably already familiar to all of us: rowing feet out. That's right, set yourself free from those foot straps, and start thinking about how you can stay connected throughout the stroke without the "crutch" of the straps.

Of course, there are all sorts of good reasons to have your feet secure during high rating pieces, but this is a great drill to experiment with on your warm-up and during steady state sessions.

The idea is to feel how your feet can maintain pressure on the footboard all the way to, and through the release. Folks that tend to "shoot the slide" and finish early with the legs may initially find this drill tricky, and so will those who row with a bit too much layback.

The footstraps can help you get away with both of those, and that is probably fine for most erging, but if you want to use this particular erg season to work on your boat moving skills, rowing feet out can reinforce better connection with the legs and more reasonable layback that does not carry you past the point of good contact with the erg—through the feet.

Now, no one wants to fall off the back of the erg, which could be where this is headed the first time you try it, so here is a primer on how to get comfortable with this drill if it is new to you. The first way to feel secure being "foot free" is just to do some pauses at body prep (or 'body over'): as you hold the pause with your arms and body in that forward position, you will feel your feet comfortably 'weighted' on the stretcher.

You don't have to take it this far
You don't have to take it this far

Try to hold that feeling as you come up the slide, take the stroke, and then swing back into the pause. Starting with a very upright stroke and less layback than normal will help keep your feet planted, but once you get the hang of it, you can add more layback as you go continuous.

Another way to teach yourself what to feel in this drill is to start by sitting at the finish with your feet out, and then row just arms only to feel how you can push through the feet around the turn of the release. Then you can add in the back swing and even the slide in increments (1/2 slide, 3/4 slide, full slide).

This is a great self-teaching drill: keep your feet - and yourself! - on the erg, and you are doing it right, and rowing better.

The other great thing about this drill is that you can do it anytime. We even know one old salt of a coach who makes his charges start every erg workout by warming-up feet out…after all: your feet are already unstrapped,, so why not get off on the right (i.e. well-connected) foot every time you sit down.

Lastly, this is a great example of an on-the-water drill that can easily be ported indoors to keep you rowing well on the erg - and we bet you could think of other drills you've done out on the water that you can adapt to "inform" your erg time.

Have a great "erg better" tip that you are using while you crank on the chain? Let us know in the comments below.

During these unprecendented times, row2k is working hard to keep rowing coming to you; please help us keeping it coming by supporting our work!


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