Why shouldn’t rowers pull themselves up the slide?

Tony got in touch to ask a coaching question I’m trying to develop an explanation for not pulling yourself up the slide; explanation both for athletes and for other coaches who believe one should “pull” up with the toes.

This answer is in two parts: The first from Grant Craies which is a suggestion of how to coach the athletes to learn the technique.
The second (from Rebecca Caroe) is how to discuss/explain it with your fellow coaches.

Coaching sequence to teach

Try working on catch timing and a strong drive in the water. If you can achieve a higher boat speed with a good catch and drive then any need to pull up on the footstretcher should reduce / disappear.

Add to this by keeping hands moving continuously around the back turn and rock over softening your knees, that will start the seat rolling. You’ll find you need to control your movement forwards rather than pulling yourself up the slide with the toes.

This works best when you have enough speed on the boat to make it obvious to the athlete to create the sensation of the foot stretcher coming back to you rather than you moving to meet the foot stretcher.

This sensation creates a clearer understanding of the boat coming to meet you if you concentrate on the foot stretcher and, once the blade is planted in the water, a solid platform to drive off.

The aim of a well-timed recovery is to move with the speed of the boat so as to not create any negative forces which will restrict the speed of the hull. On the recovery you are also looking to create as much time as possible within the rate so that the boat can travel as far as possible for each stroke taken (distance moved per stroke).

If you stop the momentum of the rowing stroke by stopping your hands at the finish then you’ll need more effort to get up to frontstops.

And now from my personal experience

Ask your fellow coaches, How do you row with feet out if you need to pull up on your toes to get up the slide? If you needed your toes, you’d be permanently stuck at backstops and unable to move! See this blog post

I think the best way to explain it is by demonstration.
Row with a speed coach in a small boat (1x/2-) and show that if you (exaggerate) the toe-pulling movement the boat runs slower than if you relax and don’t pull yourself up.
You should also get less vertical ‘bounce’ on the stern of the boat -which you can prove with a video camera.

One of my personal favourite explanations is that it’s to ‘give the leg muscles a rest’. If you can let them totally relax, they are better prepared to work hard on the next power phase. You can go harder, and further because you get more rest between strokes.

It’s quite easy to demonstrate on a Rowperfect too because you can hear clearly on the bar rollers when you pull yourself up to the front too fast. It’s clear to see (using a mirror) that the athlete works up the toes to move himself towards the fly wheel rather than sitting still and letting the fly wheel come back to him. This may also cause the seat to move about more. You can also use the computer display to show the ratio (drive time : recovery time) and educate the athlete say at rate 20 the ratio should be 3:1 or greater than 2.5:1 (depends on the athlete strength) Then they can check for themselves while training if they are lapsing back to toe-pulling.

This is the type of ‘coaching the coach’ advice that Rowperfect’s experts can offer to any coaching team.  If you’d like to organize a group call, we can work with your team to help you. The cost for this is GBP50

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2 thoughts on “Why shouldn’t rowers pull themselves up the slide?

  1. Tom Carter says:

    Or rather than “dont pull yourself up the slide” should it rather be “ensure you approach the catch in a controlled manner ready to place the blade the moment you reach the catch”?

    In the link below you can see there is a boat speed advantage of pulling the boat towards you on the recovery, however where a huge loss of speed is possible is if you approch the catch too fast and then “hang” or you push on the footplate too early thereby slowing the boat, so the ideal recovery is one where you pull the boat towards you but are able to control it and place the blades as quickly as possible

    http://www.rowinginmotion.com/improve-your-stroke-maintain-boat-speed-in-recovery/

  2. graham cawood says:

    Fact is you do have to pull yourself up the slide, especially to accelerate into the recovery.
    You can use your foot in two ways for helping you move up the slide.
    1. If your heels are down you could pull your knees forward by lifting the toes against the toestrap.
    2. By lifting and bending your knees you pull on your ankles ,moving the seat forward. The foot is held either by toe or heel straps, or preferably both.
    I recommend type 2. To minimise the work needed to raise the knees do not pause at the release. I would also recommend finishing the leg drive at THE SAME TIME as the arms, and immediately letting the knees rebound. See Rob Waddell sculling on Youtube for this.
    Look at the thighs of anyone finishing the leg drive early then holding the knees down.
    Have fun.

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