Carlos Dinares Tip #270: 5 Reasons WHY Rowers and Coaches are ADDICTED to the “Erg Score”

Rowing is an old, old sport. People have been rowing for decades. The “Erg Score” is a pretty new thing in the rowing world. Obviously rowing is not erging or the “erg score” but right now is a very BIG THING in the Rowing Culture, WHY??
For many rowers and coaches erging and the “erg score” has become like a religion. I believe for many of them is all about the “erg score” and erging. Many have lost the real essence of rowing and the pleasure of doing it right and are now just obsessing about speed at whatever cost. Unhealthy training, bad rowing and lack of fun on practice are becoming more and more the reality of many Rowing programs.

Many of us have heard coaches saying things like:

” Give me a good erg score and I will make him a good rower”
” You cannot go fast if you don’t have a good erg score”
” Erg score= Water speed”
” Ranking of erg scores= My lineup on the boat”
” We are not rowing on the water until we don’t improve few seconds our erg scores”
” Who cares about rowing on the water. We won’t row until we get better erg scores”

I believe there are many reasons for that and I’m going to list 5 TOP REASONS WHY the “Erg Score” is like a religion among many coaches and rowers.

1- We love RANKING people and we love NUMBERS. Doing an erg test let us display erg scores and rank people. We might not have them weight adjusted, they might not even know how to row but we love NUMBERS and RANKING and we do it BECAUSE it makes us feel good!
2- We know that if you win a BIG RACE you need to be fit and if you are fit you MUST have a GOOD ERG SCORE. Rowers and coaches have confused: Good result on a big race = Good erg score by Good erg score = Good result on a big race. This is NOT OFTEN TRUE.
3- We Rowers and coaches like things SIMPLE and EASY by nature and and when training on the erg things are pretty straight forward. Not matching rowers, not rigging, not accidents, no technique, no skill, not rain…. it is pretty simple rowers only need to go up and down the slide to get a split. Everyone can get a split. Not everydody can row. On the erg coaching is not necessary to get a good split, actually rowing erg technique can help us get a better split doing things that we will never do on the water. The rule on the erg is to pull hard, get the split down doing whatever it takes and keep going as long and hard as you can. The split is in CHARGE!
4- You GET TIRED if you pull hard on the erg. Students that have to prepare for an exam feel good if they spend time at the library, rowers and coaches feel good if they feel exhausted at the END of practice. We know that going to the library can be good but also can be a waist of time if the time is not used for study. The same thing with the training, we can get tired and pull hard but this practice overall can make us slower on the water than doing something different an easier. We are sometimes wrong about what makes rowers go fast. Again we think that: Getting exhausted after practice= getting faster on the water when really many times getting exhausted after practice doing things wrong= getting slower on the water.
5- Because we don’t have time and resources to teach our rowers to row the Single individually, we get forced to row the erg to have them doing something individually. Many times we use the erg to test them and rank them individually. This is too bad because the ERG doesn’t simulate the water movements, it is stationary and it is not weight adjusted. Many times these rankings are not real with the reality of the real rankings of who are the rowers that can really move boats and win races.

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