contributed by John FX Flynn
We've all seen this during a long winter on the erg: folks who get in the bad habit of dropping their hands on the drive so low that the chain scrapes the bottom of the rectangular chain guide up at the catch. We've probably all seen the hack that helps fix this one, too, because it has been around almost as long as the erg itself, and we especially like this one because it features our favorite hack tool: tape.
A horizontal piece of tape across the chain guide, just under where you want the handle height to be, does wonders for athletes who have gotten used to dropping those handles. The tape reminds the rower to keep the handle up and keep the chain parallel to the floor, which means the hands--and shoulders--are much better prepared to get connected right at the catch. For taller rowers, the tape might be as much as halfway up the chain guide, so this hack usefully addresses a bit of technique that the erg itself, with all that extra space to carry the chain low, provides little feedback on.
Tape not tough enough? Check out how one coach went heavy metal with this hack
The bad habit of letting the hands drop comes from an innocuous enough place, of course: folks want to make the erg feel like a boat, so they drop their hands around the finish end--just like they would, and properly so, on the water. The problem, though, is your typical gunwale-free, not-down-to-port erg has no way to remind the rower not to keep dropping their hands, so down they go, right along the shins and, in some cases, as close as they can get to the body of the erg itself. The result can be some pretty inefficient posturing up at the catch and, in the worst cases, a catch that is all shoulder-swing and very little connection or power, all because the poorly prepared rower is trying to get the handle back to a good drive height.
We have it on good authority that this hack started as an off-season use for that old stand-by, electrical tape, and we know you have plenty of that lying around the boathouse. We actually like athletic tape for it, though, because a fresh piece of the white tape will, over the course of the workout get blackened--or even ripped--in direct proportion to how well the athlete is doing at keeping those hands up. Heck, you can even have a "clean tape winner" after the session, which might be as good a way to pick a bow seat as any. This trick even works when you are tape-less, if you happen to work at a place with a good supply of paper cups on hand: just jam a dixie cup into the chain guide and you have an instant height setter that, as a bonus, won't rip or fall off.
How useful is this hack? Well, you do see it all over, and we know of erg rooms stocked with tape so that every rower can doctor his/her erg for daily. We've even spotted a (heavy) metal version of this one--at least one program out there has aluminum straps bolted to its ergs so that the handles are always up (and, if they are not, you can hear the offender from across the room). Well hacked!
Have a great training hack that's making your erg warriors better rowers this winter?Share your tips--and hacks--in the comments below.
Have a great rowing hack to suggest for future inclusion here? Send it to us!