Fingers flat on the recovery
What is the exercise for?
Teaching a loose grip on the handle and feeling the weight of the oar(s) in the hand on the recovery.
How the rower does it
After taking the oar(s) out of the water at the finish and feathering the athlete uncurls their fingers from around the oar handle so the oar is balanced under their palm. For scullers, the thumb is also removed from the end of the handle.
With only the palm of their hand in contact with the oar and fingers extended straight not touching the handle, the athlete rolls up the slide on the recovery until they get to the point when they want to square the blade for the next stroke.
At this point they curl their fingers back around the handle and simultaneously roll the handle to square the blade – followed by a normal catch and power phase.
Pointers for the coach to check
This drill teaches three things and the coach should ensure that first the drill is being executed correctly before moving onto the more technically advanced parts
- Are fingers straight and thumb not touching the handle during the drill
- Is the oar handle resting in the rower’s hand palm in the correct place (not under the fingers)
- Has the rower ‘tapped down’ the handle to clear the oar spoon at the finish of the stroke and maintained the same height of the handle during the exercise? The oar spoon should not be touching the water on the recovery
- When squaring, is it completed in a single, smooth movement starting with the fingers curling back around the oar handle?
- Is the squaring action started early enough so it’s fully complete before the athlete reaches front stops / catch position?
- Is the crew all executing the square at the same time?
- Can the athlete adapt the depth of handle press-down to give a greater / lesser clearance of the water surface during the recovery?
- Do the athletes consistently press down the handle to the same place?
- Can the athlete recognise the feeling of the weight of the oar handle in her palm? Does she understand how to use this feeling to control the oar during the recovery?
Extensions of the drill Related exercises
There are lots of ways to vary and extend the challenge to your crews with this exercise so that they always find a newly ‘difficult’ technique to practice. Even skilled athletes need new challenges so try out different ways of raising their game. Here are some we’ve tried
- Alternate stroke open palm and normal hand grip
- Sweep rowing – open palm only for inside hand (practice the turning action)
- Sweep rowing – open palm only for outside hand (practice the pressing down action)
- Pausing at half slide with open palms on the handle
- Pausing at quarter slide with open palms on the handle and adding a double press-down on the handles
- Early square after open palm – start to turn the handle as oars pass over the feet
- Alternate square blade normal rowing with open palm feathered rowing
- Open palm at firm pressure
- Open palm at higher rates
- Use the words “Roll and Slide” to the crew as you coach them on the timing of the square during the recovery. Get the word association of a sliding seat and rolling the fingers back around the handle to make the squaring action to help them activate the correct movement.