I was delighted to read your post today on low rate rowing. I’m a huge fan of it. I thought you might be interested in a twist I use to get the most of low rate rowing with the juniors I coach…
Often rowers won’t believe it’s possible to row at <16 spm and they resist. To deal with this I make it a competition between my boats to see who can get the lowest rating. This makes it fun and competitive. I call out rates as I get them so they are continually challenged to go lower and lower. They must row at 95-100% pressure and can never come to a stop. Usually within 10 minutes all boats are between 10-12 spm. Then I stop them, announce the winner and tell them we will have a new competition: the new winner won't be the boat that hits the lowest rate, instead the boat that hits the highest rate is the loser. When they take it up they often get below 5 spm for 10+ minutes at a time!
You may say to yourself that this is a bit exaggerated, but I find this exercise has 3 main benefits.
spending so much time on the recovery, rowers who do not relax fully soon become tired and sore. They quickly realize that to row comfortably they must relax their muscles completely.
by rowing at super low ratings rowers gain confidence in their ability to control their movements. This means when they row at 12-16 spm they aren't totally focused on slowing themselves down and can focus on their technique instead! (After developing rhythm at 4.5-6 spm, rowers will often ask me if they can keep rowing at no higher than 12-14 spm for a while. It's enjoyable for them!)
it gives a reality check for the crews who can row well at 14-16 spm.
I would love to hear what you think as I think very highly of you as a coach and read your posts on carlosdinares.com almost every day.
Thank you very much for giving us your experience! It is so good that coaches get to do things on their own and get results and share them! Rowing is so complex that there is no way you can really copy or solve all the problems without understanding really how to make a boat go fast and teach a rower to row properly. I’m a believer that rowing coaches need to share and explain what works for them and we need ones from others learn to do it better. I appreciate coaches that are open and give away what works for them to help others to do better. At the end our job as coaches is to give the best teaching and experience to the rowers we coach.
Ok let’s give you my opinion about your experience.
The first thing is to tell you that you are a coach and you have a group of rowers you need to coach and what works for you and give you positive results is what you need to do. I like so much that you have your own system and believe about it and get productive results from it. It is so powerful to do what you believe on and what works for you.
It is clear that with juniors getting ways of making the crews compete against each other makes the focus on the rowing and the training much better.
This is my opinion:
1) Be sure your crews don’t destroy too much the rowing movement to get the most send x stroke at very low stroke rates (extra stroke length with extra body swing and catch overreaching)
2) Use some pauses on the recovery to make them move together sometimes.
3) Be sure they move the body together on the recovery, break their knees together and prepare their body swing together. Not just get to the catch together.
4) What they are finding out by rowing at this low rates and racing is that by relaxing on the recovery they get more rest and have more energy for the next drive. Also they can connect better to a slow boat and feel more the load at very slow rates where the speed is also very low. That also makes it easier for them to match on the drive with their team mates because there is more time on each drive because the boat is slow.
5) I don’t think it is exaggerated for what you are looking for. Big contrast gives the chance to feel really the difference. I think with Juniors what you want to do is to teach them about rowing, how to move and how to understand how to move with the boat. I think what you are doing is giving them a big contrast to regular rowing and teaching them how things can be done differently by having more time.
6) For sure rowing at low rates gives them the chance to change and practice new movements. It gives them the chance to take control of themselves because they have more time. It is the way to learn and the way to start changes. Rowing at low rates is the way to learn how to move.
7) Now that you have done that I will add some variables to that. You can start adding to the very low rates racing some racing at 18, 20, 22 and 24.
8) Another variable you can do is a race of 20 strokes to see who gets the most distance and a race of 1 minte who gets the more distance all out open rate. Just the opposite.
9) Another way to do this is helping them sometimes rowing by 6′s and with pauses. Don’t race but force them to be perfect and move perfectly together when part of the crew is not rowing.
10) I think you are a very good coach with good ideas and I want you to keep developing new ways to have your crews learning the best they can about how to move on the boat and how to move a rowing shell.
Thank you and keep it going!