Could you explain lunging a bit more? Such as what it looks like on an erg, and how I would be able to tell that say, four seat, is lunging? I know that rushing the top quarter of the slide and skying blades is a sign of lunging, but how do I know for sure that they’re lunging and not just rushing/not controlling their hands?
This video should start at the right spot but if not, fast forward to 2:30
I rely a lot on what I know about the tendencies of the people in my boat and what I’m hearing the coach say to inform the calls I’m making when it comes to technical stuff like this. When I’m on the water I’m not usually trying to diagnose a problem with 100% certainty, rather I’m addressing what I’m seeing and then either discussing it with the rower/coach during water breaks or after practice, or I make a note to watch them on the erg to narrow down what it is they’re specifically doing wrong so that in the future I do know that they’re doing X instead of Y.
If I think they’re lunging based on what I’m seeing then I’ll make a few calls that address posture, getting the bodies set earlier in the recovery, maintaining level hands into the front end, etc. and see if that fixes it. If not I’ll make a quick call to that rower in particular and then when we stop or paddle I’ll elaborate a bit more and say “Graham, it looks like you’re lunging a bit right before you put the blade in. Keep the hands steady and make sure you’re getting the body set early and then hold that angle the rest of the way up, don’t try to go for more reach right before the catch. Right now it’s making you miss a little bit of water because you’re skying the blade and then getting it in on the recovery instead of just being direct to the water as the wheels change direction.”
This gives them a couple things to think about, not just in regards to their technique but also in how it’s affecting their rowing. (I think rowers tend to process corrections better/faster if they know exactly how their rowing is affected vs. being expected to just blindly do something different without really understanding why.) As they work on it throughout practice I’ll watch them and point out when I see them make a change or when I see that their stroke looks better. Sometimes I’ll be watching other stuff and I’ll just notice later on that they’re not doing X with their stroke anymore so I’ll say hey, that looks better, what’d you change and they’ll say that they focused more on their posture and pivoting from the hips rather than their low back or they tried to get their upper body set sooner so they wouldn’t have to get all their length at the last second.
Another thing that sometimes happens with our guys is they’ll come off the water and get right in the tanks so they can see for themselves what they’re doing. This also lets the coxswains see them from the side which can then obviously give them a bit more insight into what’s actually happening, which in turn will let them make more specific calls the next time we go out.
So tl;dr, you might not always know 100% for sure that XYZ is happening but there’s almost always a lot of “clues” you can use to help you pinpoint what’s going on. Obviously if your coach says “Stephen, you’re lunging…” you know he’s lunging but if you don’t have that immediate outside confirmation then you’ll have to rely on your ability to relate what you’re seeing with the bladework to what that means about the rower’s body position, mechanics, etc. in order to make the right set of calls. From there, it’s all about communication with the coach and/or rower to narrow it down further.