There is so much confusion on the rowing world about the way rowers need to catch the water and how coaches need to teach that. Different coaches have different ideas and approaches and rowers feel confuse and don’t really know many times what they should do or why. Also they don’t understand why coaches say totally opposite things. I don’t have a golden answer but I do have my own opinion and I can explain WHY I believe on the process i use.
At the end of the process we want to have a good rower. An early fast rower doesn’t assure a perfect developed rower at the end of the process. Early extra speed sometimes goes against proper development.
1) Do you try to do on training all the time what the best rowers do?Do you need to coach the rower by asking him to do what the top rowers do or there is a process to get there?
You do on training what is going to make you faster on race day. You follow a process on training that will make you the best you can be overtime. Trying to imitate the leg drive of the best rowers doesn’t assure anything because before you focus on that you need to have the blade on the water and well loaded. How many coaches ask for quick legs when the rower doesn’t even know how to catch?
2) What is a possible process to improve?
On my opinion first you need to learn to catch the water and load the blade and later you will worry about the speed of your legs- hips- drive. When a coach asks his rowers to speed the legs when the rowers have no skill, the coach is confusing the process and the development. He might be getting some quick early speed but he is developing wrong patterns of movement and also confusing the process.
The process you follow on training shouldn’t imitate the rowing of the best but have a purpose to develop the rowing to eventually row like the best. Let’s give an example: If I look at the video of 2 days ago of the Australian pair Olympic Champion in 2004 I can see that their catch is direct and perfect. If I coach a High School kid who has been rowing for few months can I ask him to do that? Not because he cannot do it. The reason is that his rowing coordination, timing and skill are not there yet. He is still developing and learning. What should I should ask him for?
I will ask him to place the blade on the water with control and precision on a direct way, ask him to be relax and load the blade by feeling pressure on the 2 key points: hands against handle and feet against footplate. The more connection the more pressure in this 2 parts working against each other.
I believe that the way to learn good rowing skills is by slowing down the process and being patient. Said that it is important to develop a process or training system where the rowers are helped through drills and a clear process where the coaches walk them through a system of development that develops rowing right. The rower will progress overtime and increase skill and develop his body and rowing correctly. The process can be checked by testing with video and performance the situation of the rower 2 to 4 times a year. If the development is right the rower will increase skill and speed overtime.