Update to the Balance and wobble boards for rowing


Following our post yesterday about Balance Boards Good or Bad for Rowing, Jim Flood has written this reply.

Hi Stephen Yes to training with wobble boards but not the ones you show. My view is that these produce too large a range of movement -which might be good for core stability training – but I’m more interested in providing a kinetic learning experience that is related to rowing.

For this purpose the ‘wobble cushions’ in use at Marlow RC are ideal (will some one from Marlow please provide the details?).  They are about 40cm diameter, and about 5cm thick. Standing on them gives an approximation of the feel of a footstretcher in an unstable boat.

Jim – I got this cushion when I was at Marlow – it’s 36cm diameter.
I think it’s what you describe.

Standing on these doing squats with handwieights encourages the degree of tension in the lower back necessary to keep the main trunk still during the recovery phase – and of applying equal pressure on both feet in the drive phase.
So yes to core stability but not in isolation – it needs to be felt in the context of phases of the stroke.

Stephen Replies

Hi Jim,
That makes sense, the wobble cushion looks a better bet than the board for single sculling balance development. If you look at physiosupplies website and look at the video for the product as the athlete squats, her knee stabilising movements are very similar to those of elite single scullers balancing their boats on the last third of the recovery before the catch, see any 1 x World Rowing Championships videos. Admittedly the weight on the stretcher will not be nearly as high as full body weight on the cushion but the movement does seem to be similar. If the knee movements are similar does this mean that the neuromuscular recruitment patterns are correct and would therefore enhance balance in the boat – Robert?

I think the wobble board (as opposed to the cushion) can be used for improving ankle flexibility, stretching all the muscles and tendons at the back and sides of the calf and ankle stability and strength see video.

In rowing terms we are probably only interested in ankle flexibility and stretching the muscles at the back of the calf.

The wobble board on a hard surface is too unstable for squats but on a softer surface like grass or a thick exercise mat it becomes more stable and squats are easier but not quite the same or as good as on the cushion.

I’ll challenge you on the buried blade later!


Okay time for more controversy!

Jim adds British Rowing Technique requires a ‘well buried blade during the drive phase’.

I disagree.

With pressure throughout the stroke, a half-buried blade builds up a wall of water in front, and a cavity behind – which makes the extraction cleaner, easier and faster – and which also gives a better run on the boat which a messy extraction kills.

Try the exercise of rowing with half-buried blades – and experience the improvement! Let’s bury the myth of the well buried blade!!!



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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Kirsty Simpson

    The cushion in the photograph is called a Sitfit and is made by Sissel sold under their balance section for about £22. http://www.sisseluk.com/cat/uk/en/c-fitness_rehabilitation/s-balance.php I’ve had one for about ten years and they’re excellent, put them on the seat of your ergo or if you’re feeling really confident your single when you’re out sculling. Also don’t strap your feet in!

    1. Rebecca Caroe

      Thanks Kirsty – good bit of research! I have also got one.
      Tell us, did you actually use one in your single?

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