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A picture paints a thousand words

A friend of mine sent this picture the other day. It comes from the advertising brochure of an … read more

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A friend of mine sent this picture the other day.

It comes from the advertising brochure of an ergometer manufacturer. I wonder what they wanted us to notice first:

The muscular and fit-looking young man as a promise of what we too might become if we used this machine?

The innovation that has made it possible to row sweep-oar on an ergometer, a great idea that takes us closer to realising good technique in our land training, possibly closer to the feeling we’d have in the boat, on the water?

Or that the young man isn’t actually rowing very well?

Ok, ok . . .  I’m a rowing coach; I can’t help look for these things but see how straight and rigid his inside arm is, see how that’s forced the inside shoulder up adding tension and making it difficult for his  lats to engage once he starts the drive .  And if you saw this man on the water what’s the betting that rigidity in his inside arm will be sending his blade skywards, that there would be extra body movement to compensate for that lack of relaxation and engagement at the catch and that it would feel rough and unbalanced?  Compare his position with these pictures capturing a different notion of the rowing stroke:

Good rowing=good machine?

So now I start to think that, if the manufacturer didn’t understand that this wasn’t the best way to row then, maybe he also hasn’t appreciated how a boat feels when making his ergometer .And this could mean that despite the sweep-oared innovation it’s really no better than any other gym machine. I bet that’s not the direction he wanted my thinking to go and yet all he had to do was make sure that the photo he chose to adorn his brochure reflected good rowing.  It’s a posed shot after all and could have been made perfect.  And sadly, he’s not the only one; there are plenty of other examples of poor technique and especially posture to be found on the walls of rowing clubs and gyms around the world.

So which pictures are you using to paint your words for you?

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