Month: November 2014

Erg Playlists

Music to erg to, pt. 66

Happy Friday everyone! I hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving (or just a great Thursday if you didn’t partake in the gluttonous festivities). Regardless of whether you’re getting some steady state in to help work off yesterday’s big meal or you’re getting up obnoxiously early to do some Black Friday shopping, this playlist should definitely help get you moving. Have a great weekend!

College Q&A Recruiting

Question of the Day

I am a senior in high school and have only been rowing for about 8 months. I was wondering if I should fill out the recruiting questionnaires if I plan on walking on to a rowing team next year.

I wouldn’t. You haven’t been rowing for that long and unless your erg times are holy-shit-unbelievable then there’s not much to be gained from it. If you’re planning on walking on then just wait until you get to campus and find out when the walk-on meeting is or email the coach some time during the spring/summer and say that you’re an incoming freshman, you’ve rowed for a year, and are interested in walking on, can they give you some details about the program, etc.

Coxing Ergs Q&A Teammates & Coaches

Question of the Day

What is your opinion on weight-adjusted erg scores? I’m about 105lbs and 5’1″ so due to obvious height disadvantages, my erg scores are a bit higher than other lightweights on my team. There is an older girl on my team who is older and a “worse” erg score but she has the seat in the ltwt 8+. Would you suggest switching to coxing? I asked my coach about it at the end of the fall season since our team is going to be short on coxswains at the end of the year but she was trying to avoid the topic. Any suggestions?

I’ve never really done much stuff with weight-adjusted scores before this year so I’m largely unfamiliar with the “science” but from the limited knowledge/understanding that I do have, I think they can be useful but really only for determining who gets a shot to be in a boat, not who actually gets in the boat. I think most people agree that on-the-water performance is the more important variable though. I’ve also heard that the heavier/lighter you are the less accurate it is so if that’s true it’s probably not doing you many favors since you’re only 105.

Weight-adjusted scores aside, I’d probably at least suggest looking into coxing. You’re pretty small and it’s no secret that it’s tougher to be a successful rower the smaller you are. I really don’t ever understand why coaches make this so awkward and try to avoid the subject when it gets brought up but if it’s something you’re interested in and you know you’re going to need coxswains anyways, I’d probably bring it up again at some point (although not repeatedly…) and just be very point-blank about it. The more beating-around-the-bush you do the more opportunity you’re giving your coaches to avoid the conversation (I’ve been on both sides of that so … trust me on this).

Q&A Rowing Technique

Question of the Day

Hi! I’ve been rowing for four years and recently I’ve been getting some sort of tendonitis in my forearms: the forearm swells up a little and it feels very stiff and it is very painful to row with. This usually happens when I’m in a single or a double, but it has happened before in an eight and a quad. It has never happened to me so often, last year I got this twice throughout the season, but it went away the same day. I’ve talked to my coach and he said I might be gripping too much with my fingers, I’ve changed my grip since then and it was fine for a few weeks, however over the course of this week, it has come back and I’m not sure what I am doing wrong. I know it’s caused when I row long distances and when my forearms tense at the catch, but I don’t think that there is any other way to row (without tensing the forearms at the catch), when I relax my arms I end up pulling more with my fingers. As far as I’m aware, no one else in my crew has this although some say that they have had it before, but very rarely. I was just wondering if you had any tips for correcting my stroke if it is what is causing this? Thank you.

I definitely agree with your coach, I think you’ve got a bit of a death grip thing going on. If you made adjustments though and the pain came back then I’d probably recommend checking in with your doctor just to make sure there’s nothing else going on. At the very least they’ll likely be able to give you a stronger anti-inflammatory than your standard over-the-counter Ibuprofen that might help with the pain.

As far as tips for correcting your stroke, I really think loosening your grip is the biggest/best technical correction you can make right now. It’s a sequential thing too; if your upper body (i.e. upper back and shoulders) is relaxed, your arms will be relaxed, and that will lead to you having a more relaxed grip. If your upper body is tense, which it sounds like it probably is, then your forearms and grip are going to be tense as a result. When you’re at the catch, you want to maintain what I like to call a “common sense grip” – not too tight but tight enough that you have control of the handle – and make sure you’re unweighting the handle rather than lifting it in. If you’re lifting it in then that’s going to contribute to the tension you feel in your forearms. Tension’s not really the right word but if you’re going to feel “tension” anywhere it should be in your lat muscles as you lock on to the water.

From there it gets a bit harder for me to guess what you can do so definitely make sure you’re discussing this with your coach, having them watch you on the water, look for specific technical flaws, etc. and then go from there. Start with the grip thing though, for sure.

Video of the Week

Video of the Week: Scullers hack

This video is just Gevvie Stone doing a “racing shell 101” with her boat but the reason I’m posting it is because her hack of screwing a water bottle holder to the vent cap is kinda genius. Obviously you can’t do something like that in an eight or a shell you don’t own yourself but if you do happen to own your own boat, how great of an idea is that?

Coxing Q&A Racing

Question of the Day

Hi, this is a great resource, thanks for devoting so much time to it. I’m coxing a 5km head race in the UK in a couple of weeks. I’ve raced it before, and am feeling quite confident. One thing I’m unsure of is how best to call the end of a power twenty. Our race plan is to push for twenty at the end of each kilometre. I don’t want to call down pressure at the end of the push, to avoid a sharp drop off in boatspeed, but neither do I want not to call anything, and have my crew pushing for longer than the twenty I’ve asked for. Any help you could offer would be great – thanks!

My suggestion is to not aim to call a “power” 20 at the end of each kilometer, rather call it for something and don’t necessarily make everything 20 strokes. During HOCR this year, which is also about 5km, I only called one 20 and it was at the start of the last kilometer.

Related: Race skills: All about Power 10s

At this point it’s very rare that I actually call something for straight power but when I do I remind them to maintain this as soon as we finish the burst, usually in the form of “yea that’s it, now let’s maintain it, we’re sitting at 1:46 right now, stay on it with the legs and accelerate through the water…” and then I go right into calling a couple strokes for acceleration, giving them position updates, and coxing them like normal. It’s not like I’m calling the end of the burst and then completely falling off with my calls, tone, volume, etc. If you do that then yea, there will be a sharp drop off in speed but if you maintain your voice and immediately jump into like what I said up above then you’re more likely to, you know, actually maintain whatever you just did. If the crew is falling off with pressure immediately after then a) you’re not doing your job, b) their endurance is awful, and c) someone needs to clue them in on the concepts of pacing and flying-and-dying.

As far as having your crew pushing for longer than the twenty you asked for … the phrasing of that is bugging me. I really can’t put my finger on which exactly of the five reasons I’ve come up with for why it’s bugging me but there’s something about how you said that that’s just … off. I’m probably/definitely over-analyzing this but just keep in mind that they should be pushing themselves regardless of what you’re saying and you shouldn’t be calling them up or down. Whenever coxswains say stuff like that I imagine them coxing the race like they’re on a roller coaster, going up and down with the pressure and their voice and whatever else and it makes me wonder how they can possibly think that that’s effective.

If you continuously call for 20s to push (and I’m going with the standard definition of pushing in this context to mean “more pressure”) then you will be coxing a roller coaster race and it’s not effective because the crew will likely do what I said before, which is fly and die each time. If you give each burst a specific purpose, limit the number of 20s you use and instead incorporate in some 5s, 10s, etc., and remind them to maintain whatever feels good during those bursts then you’ll be able to have a much more efficient and evenly-paced race.

Coxing Novice Q&A

Question of the Day

Hi, I am a novice cox and was just wondering about what to do during the winter training. Thank you so much.

Check out any (or all) of these posts:

Winter training tips for coxswains…

Coxswains + winter training (Similar titles, different posts, I promise…)

How To Survive Winter Training, pt. 1b: Coxswains

“The Coxswain in Winter”

How do you as a coxswain help your rowers when they are erging in the winter?