Outdoor training sessions for rowing are not all necessarily in the rowing boat! Cross training should form part of any rowing training programme, I suggest that you consider cycling or swimming as good additions to your programme however others are just as effective for building cardio fitness.
Sessions in the boat should be run be an experienced coach, or carried out with instruction from the coach before hand. The below information should serve to help you understand what your coach is trying to explain to you in the boat and also give you some understanding of the important parts of the stoke and how they should be executed.
The “catch” is the forward most part of the rowing stroke – where your body is furthest forward with arms outstretched and straight – this is the point at which your blade meets the water after this the power phase can begin. It is important to remember that the catch is made of up of two parts – the placement and the connection. I prefer these two descriptive words in place of the word “catch” because I believe that using these words helps to show that the catch should not be sharp and hard, but careful and technical. The below video helps to illustrate this point:
Whilst the drive phase of the stroke is the part during which you actually move the boat forward it is also the part where the most potential is wasted by novices and beginners. It is possible to move a boat more quickly with less power if you are efficient; catching well and recovering smoothly. This is why a ladies senior crew will most often out pace a men’s novice or even Junior crew! We must remember to always make the most of whatever power we have not waste it.
The drive is executed by using our muscles in the right order largest to smallest, by applying power smoothly, and by maximising the distance the blade travels through the water. The drive should be a continual acceleration therefore your blade should increase in speed from start to finish. It should make sense that your blade speed must increase from start of the drive to finish so that its speed stays ahead of the boat speed and continues to accelerate the boat.
This video shows the correct order of the drive phase and good posture and movement.
The recovery phase of the rowing stroke is multi-purpose, it is as the name suggests, where you recover from the strenuous drive phase, it gets you to the front of the stroke and it allows the boat time to run in the water.
The boat is at its fastest just after the the blade leaves the water, and at its slowest as the blade returns to the water – therefore we must ensure that we take as little speed from the boat as possible during our journey up the slide. To do this we must decelerate all the way down the slide until we stop at the front – when we stop we should already be almost stationary already.
This video explains this point further:
These videos show you the basic parts of the rowing stroke and coached in the UK. Rowing is an incredibly technical sport and almost no-one does it perfectly. In order to improve, it is essential that you to listen to your coach and understand what they are trying to explain to you. Improvement requires you to make changes to what you are doing – as a coaches we want nothing more than for the rowers we are coaching to improve, as a rower this should also be your goal. Please ask questions of your coach and don’t allow something to pass by without your understanding.