Q&A Rowing Technique

Question of the Day

Can you explain the term “rowing it in”?

Sure! When you hear someone say you’re rowing it in, what they mean is that you’re starting your leg drive before you’ve locked the blade on to the water. Starting the leg drive before your blade’s in means that you’ll miss water at the catch, have a shorter stroke, and generate less power on the drive (since your blade isn’t in the water for as long as it should be). Something to remember is that getting to the front of the slide isn’t what signifies that it’s time to change direction, rather it’s the blade catching the water. Lock the blade then go with the legs.

Another thing that can contribute to missing water is diving at the catch. This tends to happen when you fail to set the body angle early enough. By the time you reach half-slide you should have all the body prep you’re going to get otherwise what ends up happening is you get to 3/4 slide and end up throwing your upper body forward to get more reach (or rather, the amount of reach you would have gotten had you set your body angle at the right time). This effects several things within the boat, including where your blade is when you go to start the drive. Throwing the body tends to push the hands down towards your feet, which in turn lifts the blade up. If your blade is higher than it needs to be above the water (i.e. six inches or more…) then you’re going to have difficulty staying on time with everyone else and going straight to the water. If you’re not going straight to the water then you’re missing water.

If you’re a coxswain this can be tough to see from where we’re sitting but the easiest way to tell if someone is missing water is to look  at the angle of the oar shafts. A good catch angle from our perspective is about 45 degrees, give or take. Anything less than that and they’re likely doing one of the two things I described up above. Sometimes I’ll poke my head out of the boat if we’re not doing pieces to see if I can spot the problem but if I can’t I’ll make a couple calls to that individual about going straight to the water, getting it right in at the catch, etc. and then talk to them/the coach about it more whenever we stop.

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