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Technique debate – should you pull yourself up the slide?

Rowing and Regatta (British Rowing’s house magazine), issue #70 of May 2013. Page 57, in an article by … read more

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Rowing and Regatta (British Rowing’s house magazine), issue #70 of May 2013. Page 57, in an article by Robin Williams. “The hull speed should carry you up the rest of the slide”. Thanks to Henry Law for spotting this.robin williams slide

Oh No It Doesn’t

Here’s the correct rowing physics

Clearly there is drag on the boat, which continues to decelerate due to fluid friction if there is no other force to keep it moving forwards.

As clearly, there is no fluid drag on the rower, so they must (Newton’s first Law tells us) continue moving towards the finish line without deceleration.

So how does the rower get from back-stops to front-stops, except by pulling with their feet on the stretcher? Otherwise the would certainly remain indefinitely at back-stops. Carl Douglas quoted from RSR

Now what coaches say is sometimes done to communicate a concept and not to be taken literally.

Harry Mahon was a top coach and he told me that he often asks a crew to do one thing knowing that what they actually do is different – but IS the effect he’s seeking.

His example was to tell them to row with no body swing. What would happen was for 3-4 strokes they’d be bolt upright and then they’d start swinging their bodies with the movement of the boat and achieve the perfect range of forward and backward swing that he wanted.

Voodoo? Possibly.

I use the same technique a lot. But afterwards I tell the crew that what they did was right but it was a trick I play on them to get the correct outcome.

What do you think?  Should rowing coaches understand physics?  Could this be a small error by Robin Williams?

Read the related article below – Why shouldn’t rowers pull themselves up the slide?
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About Rebecca Caroe
Rebecca is the host of RowingChat podcast and is a masters athlete and coach. Passionate about helping others enjoy the sport as much as she does. View all posts from Rebecca Caroe

3 thoughts on “Technique debate – should you pull yourself up the slide?

  1. I think coaches should understand the physics of rowing, after all it explains how the boat and athlete move in relation to each other. Drew Ginnm who knows a thing or two about rowing, has done a piece on YouTube about how quickly you should move up the slide. I seem to remember he spoke about pulling yourself up the slide, but he also went on to talk about what speed you should arrive at front stops. Its connected to this subject and I seem to remember he held a slightly different view to some of his coaches!

  2. How does the Row perfect head come towards you, how does the Concept 2 on sliders move under you on the recovery, how does the boat accelerate to a higher speed on the recovery. Is there magic about or do coaches not understand the Newtonian Laws.
    Feet out!! have you seen them hang on like hell with their heels. Please coaches understand that any force pulling on the straps pulls the boat forward

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