Coxing Rowing Technique

Top 20 Terms Coxswains Should Know: Missing Water

Previously: Rush(ing) || Body angle || Pick drill || Suspension || Skying the blade || Quarter feather || Pin || Run || Lunge || Washing Out

What part of the stroke/stroke cycle does it refer to

The catch.

What does it mean/refer to

Missing water (also known as “rowing it in”) is what happens when your blade isn’t in the water at the end of the recovery/top of the catch. What happens instead is you start with the blade in the air and place it in the water as you start the leg drive. Moving backwards on the slides without your blade in the water causes you to have a shorter and less powerful stroke as a result of missing out on the power generated by your legs in the first few inches of the drive.

Relevant calls

“Get the blade wet before you start the leg drive…”

“Direct to the water…”

“Bodies set early, hands up at the catch…”

“Back it in…”, “Get that V-splash…” I use both of these a lot, particularly when we’re rowing in good water and there’s no excuses for sloppy handle heights or indirect catches.

“Hook, send…” is another call I make a lot because it gives a visual reference for what the catch should look like (think of a fish hook) – smooth and continuous. Usually the second half of the call will reference whatever else we’ve been working on during practice – for example, last week when I was coxing our eight in Florida I said “hook, send” and “hook, squeeze” a lot since we’d been working on both maximizing the run of the boat and completing the strokes during our drill sessions.

What to look for

Front splash at the catch is the most obvious sign from the coxswain’s seat that someone is missing water at the catch. Ideally at the catch you should see some V-splash, which means there’s water moving in both directions (with just slightly more moving towards the bow than the stern) but at the very least you should be seeing some backsplash. Seeing neither is an indication that the rower isn’t getting their blade in before they start the drive.

Another thing to watch for is blade height throughout the recovery. If you see someone start skying their blade as they come into the front end then they’re almost certainly going to miss water at the start of the stroke.

Related: Top 20 terms coxswains should know: Skying the blade

Effect(s) on the boat

Like just about everything else, the biggest effect on the boat will be in the form of balance. If someone (or one side) is rowing it in at the catch then the boat won’t be able to immediately stabilize, resulting in it falling over to whichever side is missing water.

Related posts/questions

Hi there! I have the unfortunate issue of missing water/not getting my oar completely buried before my drive. My knees go down faster than the rest of my boat, and it’s hard on the timing especially when I’m stroking. Why is this happening? I know how it should feel like on my legs if I get the full drive (it’s more pressure, it’s like how strokes feel on an erg), but my hands don’t seem to get it. What are some things I can do? Thank you in advance.

Hey! I cox a HS women’s bow loader 4+ and after looking over some footage from our past regattas, my coach noticed that many rowers are “missing water” and not getting the oars enough behind them enough at the catch to produce a maximum length and power stroke every time. She asked me to try to make calls and to focus on things that will help get the length behind them, and also to have them think about rotating out towards their rigger at the catch. Would you be able to clear what she means up for me, and possibly demonstrate the way something like this would be called? Thanks!

Can you explain the term “rowing it in”?

To see all the posts in this series, check out the “top 20 terms” tag.

Image via // @kiwi_eight

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