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In the International rowing community, I doubt if there are any more respected coaches than Mike Spracklen, formerly the national team coach for the US men’s sweep team, Canada’s sweep team, UK womens team. In his years, he has taken each country to levels of success often not seen for long periods, including World Championship and Olympic gold medals. He is technically astute. His teams achieve peak performances at the most important times. And, as a former Olympian in Norway told me, “he is a really nice guy.“
Mike has made the main elements of his approach to rowing technique an open book, providing it through both publications and presentations. As rowers, it is critical that each of us develop a clear picture of the rowing style that we are attempting to achieve on the water. Until that picture is burned in, our technical training will always flounder.
I am definitely not a technical wizard in rowing. But like you guys, I try. My own picture of the ideal rowing stroke was one hazy mess until a coach and friend named Matt Diefenbach came along. In all respects I found his model to be the same as the Spracklen ideal presented here. So, this basic technique has become my personal bias, and the one I will try to perfect on the water for the next decade or so. I think you will find that the philosophy of most elite coaches shares much in common with what is presented below.