row2k Features
Technique Feature: Fluidity, Ratio, and Feel
November 2, 2021
Charlotte Hollings, Calm Waters Rowing

These days we're surrounded by technology. Most people can't go five minutes without looking at their phone. Rowing can provide a nice break, but even then, we often have a speed coach, smart watch, heart rate monitor or other device with us. I wonder if anyone is able to just listen to their body and their boat, to rely on feel to determine how the boat is moving and how hard the body is working.

I'm not saying technology doesn't have its uses but I would encourage everyone to spend a few rows without all the devices. Learn to determine what feels right rather than just seeing what the numbers are. We often get too reliant on the numbers, thinking we "should" row at a certain stroke rate instead of simply finding a rhythm that feels right.

We stress fluidity in the boat; having each motion merge seamlessly into the next. Instead of "arms-body-slide", which often leads to a robotic, mechanical motion, aim for a motion that matches the flow of the boat gliding across the water. We coach "body-slide-catch" with the body and arms moving together out of bow. We look for the knees to come up early so that the hamstrings can relax and the body angle can get fully set by half slide, then catching at the very end of the slide.

Staying light on the feet at the catch will help minimize check while also leading to a smooth transition from the catch to the drive. Aim for minimal negative effect on the boat. On the drive, we look to unroll the body, again merging the parts seamlessly, and staying horizontal throughout the drive.

Many YouTube videos show elite rowers on pristine waters with a beautiful background rowing very low stroke rates, often with a pause at the finish. But if you watch these same rowers in a race situation, there's no longer any pause - there's no time! While pause drills have their benefits, remember they're meant to be a drill, not a permanent part of the stroke.

Note too, that never in racing is there a 2 to 1 ratio of recovery time to drive time. Again, there simply isn't time. So don't practice rowing a 2 to 1 ratio and then wonder why you can't get the stroke rate up when you race. And just because your competition can row at X rate, doesn't mean that rate is best for you. You need to discover what works for you.

Learn to feel the boat, find a rhythm that will work most efficiently for you. Generally, you'll then discover a stroke rate that correlates to that rhythm or the heart rate that correlates to that level of exertion but the numbers can change depending on all sorts of variables whereas that innate feeling is what will stay with you. Learn to trust your body.

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


Comments

Log in to comment
ourhouse@nwi.net
11/08/2021  10:09:20 AM
Charlotte,I always look forward to your articles. You describe so nicely my understanding of rowing.


mmcguirk
11/07/2021  10:41:15 AM
"We coach "body-slide-catch" with the body and arms moving together out of bow. We look for the knees to come up early so that the hamstrings can relax and the body angle can get fully set by half slide, then catching at the very end of the slide."

"On the drive, we look to unroll the body, again merging the parts seamlessly, and staying horizontal throughout the drive."

Excellent article, thank you! P.S. Drew Ginn would agree with you!


candacefuchs
11/04/2021  5:49:46 PM
Agreeing with two of my favorite people in rowing: Charlotte and Dan. Looking at the numbers brings your eyes down from the horizon to some place around your ankles. Which brings your chin and shoulders with it. Impossible to sit up if your are obsessing on the numbers. Look at them over coffee after you row !


rigger
11/02/2021  2:54:08 PM
I've been waiting a long time to read a common sense description of fluid movement and rhythm in rowing. Well done! and when you have that flow and hve done the training the splits definitely come more easily.


boyne@fas.harvard.edu
11/02/2021  8:10:48 AM
Excellent article, Charlotte. Turn off the technology, young Jedis, and feel the force/flow!



Rowing Features
Rowing Headlines
Get our Newsletter!

Support row2k!
If you rely on row2k, please support row2k!

Get Social with row2k!
Like row2k on Facebook Follow row2k on Twitter Follow row2k on Instagram Follow row2k on Youtube Connect with row2k on LinkedIn

Get the row2k app!

row2k rowing store!

Get our Newsletter!
Enter your email address to receive our weekly newsletter.

Support row2k!


Advertiser Index
Advertise on row2k