Spoiler alert, this is basically what we do all fall to determine who we’re gonna offer a spot to. Now you know our secrets.
I love eyes-closed rowing. It brings a different sense of calm and focus to the boat that you can’t really achieve when your eyes are open and there’s 20 different things all begging you to steal a quick glance at them. There were two years in particular where my crews did a lot of rowing like this … my freshman/novice year of high school and my freshman year of college. I think this was because we were either learning to row from scratch or adapting to a style that was different than what we’d all been rowing for the previous four years. Like they said in the video, it taught us – all of us – how to really feel the boat and not react to every little wobble.
On days when the set would be really off or we just weren’t having a good row, we would try to turn it around and salvage the latter half of practice by pushing pause on the workout and doing some eyes-closed steady state rowing for 3-5 minutes. This helped us re-concentrate our focus and reestablish that trust within the boat, which in turn led to an improved second half of the row. (Not always but most of the time, even if the gains were marginal.) If we knew we had a hard practice in store, we’d do our entire warmup with eyes closed to emphasize, again, trusting the guy in front and behind you, and to force us to make sure our technique was on point and we weren’t just muscling the blades through the water. It’s definitely a drill worth incorporating whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Now that the fall recruiting season is winding down I wanted to share this video that I came across a few months ago. If you’re not familiar with him, Geno Smith is the coach of UConn’s women’s basketball team (always one of the top programs in the country), as well as a former head coach of Team USA’s women’s basketball team. What he says in this video might be in the context of basketball but it’s applicable to any sport and something to keep in mind as you progress throughout your career and the recruiting process.
I’m starting to think we should start warning coxswains about the docks at CBC rather than the bridge piers at Eliot. Saw a lot of near misses yesterday, which was both hilarious and concerning. Hope everyone had a good weekend of racing and enjoyed that weather – we’re probably in for hurricanes and snow for the next five years to make up for it.
Ever wondered how the HOCR course gets put in place? This video provides a pretty fascinating look at how the buoys and installation process have evolved over the last 53 years.
“I’m in New England, that’s what they do here, I should row.”
That’s pretty much exactly how I got back into rowing and started coaching when I moved to Boston.
More fun “they were coxswains??” trivia – Stephen Hawking coxed at Oxford and Dhani Harrison (son of George) coxed at Brown and Leander.
Before you click out of the video after 10 seconds because you realize there’s no commentary … don’t. Not only will you miss a pretty sick finish, you’ll also miss (what I can only assume is) the best “fuuuuck, are they walking, nooo…” reaction from the Italian coxswain at 4:30ish (and lasting for at least the next 20 seconds).
Two most important takeaways from this (for everyone but novice coxswains in particular): don’t use adjustable wrenches on your top nuts (unless they’re literally the only option available) and follow the two-finger rule, especially when putting the riggers on the hull. To see why, check out this post and to see some of the basic wrenches you’ll need to rig your shells, check out this post.
If you know me then you know I am all about relating current events and pop culture to whatever point I’m trying to make about rowing or coxing at that moment, which is why I was pumped to read this article about Craig Amerkhanian and see that those two things are staples in his pre-practice speeches (and a part of his overall coaching strategy). “He combines the athletic with the big picture, fully realizing that the sport will not, and should not, define the lives of his rowers.”