Is there any simple exercise that can be employed to create better stability in a mens 4 coxed crew that have limited time with each other as a crew?
I have asked them to adjust their hand heights, but this hasn’t worked. There appears to be different motivation levels in the boat – would this affect the balance?
Rowing balance drills and exercises
Try a series of drills in your warm up every outing that help balance and teach consistent movement.
1. Row with oars on the surface of the water on the recovery. Then progress to a 1 centimetre tap down at the finish. Is the boat still balanced? If yes then do 2 cms, 3 etc.
Any time you lose balance go back a step to 2cms or 1cm tap down. Get the balance back then 10 strokes later advance to the next stage.
Try this all 4 rowing at half pressure then as you warm up do it firm pressure at low rate.
2. Challenge the crew to get the balance back (using accurate hand heights on the recovery) within 5 strokes of a wobble. Then try to reduce this to 4 strokes unbalanced before it recovers. 3, 2 and one stroke to balance.
The first drill teaches correct hand heights. The second raises awareness and skill at regaining the correct hand heights.
3. Lastly try rowing firm pressure at low rate with wide grip. Inside hand on the fat part of the shaft below the handle. This checks if the outside hand is doing the height control of the oar, especially tap down at the finish and also keeping the handle at a consistent level during the recovery.
Try combining 3 with 1 or 2 above to keep challenging the crew.
You may also find Jim Flood’s book “Balance” helpful – it’s a free download – share it with the crew and get them to discuss among themselves the causes of their boat imbalance. This can help them get buy in to solving the problem rather than relying on the coach (you) to supply all the answers.