One of the best technique improvement methods for rowing, sculling and coxing is video analysis.
It’s simple to get the video – it’s hard to get expert analysis that is actionable.
So Rowperfect’s put together a guide to help you out. Here you will get our top tips on how to take the film, how to interpret and a list of resources which you can read and upskill yourself.
The most important thing you need is the best possible camera angle. Rookie mistakes include taking video which is at an angle to the athlete. Always, always be 90 degrees square off to the athlete when you shoot video. Otherwise it’s darned hard to interpret and get the athlete to understand what you are trying to change.
Wear clothing that is light coloured and preferably with a stripe down the side from your armpit to your thigh. Yep, dig out that old tshirt because having a clear point of reference (the stripe) makes it very easy to see which part of your body moves at which point of the rowing stroke. Wearing black conceals everything and although you may like this, it won’t help you learn what the coach is trying to change.
Yes, coaches MUST video you too. Take a shot of the coxswain square off in case there’s anything postural which needs addressing. Then also video the stern of the boat through at least 5 stroke cycles – so you can see when it dips in the water and whether the travel is horizontal or more up-and-down. Then take a shot of the bows preferably including the bowman’s oar at the catch. So you can see when the oar enters the water relative to the vertical movement of the bowball at the catch. Are they simultaneous or sequential?
Coxswain audio recordings are also very helpful.
Framing your video and scenes
The RowingRecruiting website has this advice for athletes who have to submit video for university selection.
My recommendation is to have your coach, teammate, or even a parent shoot the video from the coach’s launch and frame these types of scenes:
- Profile shot at low rates, with a pair holding the set, stroke rate 16 – 22
- Profile shot at medium rates, with a pair holding the set, sr 24 – 28
- Profile shot at race pace, all oars rowing, sr 30 -36
- Three-quarter view at medium rates, with a pair holding the set
- Shot from straight down the stern, where you can see rowers splitting into their riggers. This is especially useful if you’re the stroke seat.
- Scenes from different types of boats, even sculling!
- Video of a 2K piece on the erg
There’s a lot going on here, but if you can frame each scene, with say between about 20 strokes per scene, that provides a wealth of knowledge about a rower’s technique, flexibility, and rowing style.
Video interpretation for rowing
The only way to get good feedback is FIRST to know what good rowing looks like. Watch top rowers on YouTube, slow down their video, pause it, look at the body postures at low rate, at high rate – compare the differences.
One key way to asses a whole crew is to look at the gap between each athlete’s head and the next athlete. Does the gap stay constant, or does it widen and narrow? If the latter, when in the stroke cycle does it happen and why?
I recommend following Nick Garratt on YouTube – he coaches at Mosman Rowing Club in Australia and regularly uploads video of his crews. There’s no interpretation, but you see good rowing. His most recent video is of Drew Ginn’s Hand Flow.
Video resources for rowing coaches
- Raf Wyatt wrote the ebook How to Video your Rowing Crew
- Ben Rodford wrote Video Analysis a guide for Rowers and Coaches – about equipment
- Combining your video with data analysis
- A curated list of YouTube Rowing videos to share with school rowing athletes.
- A single sculler video by Nick Garratt showcasing good video skills
- A critique of poor rowing video
- Buy video analysis from top rowing coaches around the world – Remote rowing coaching
- Get a rowing technique DVD to watch good rowing