Carlos Dinares Tip #366: SQUARING early enough in ROWING

Carlos I have an issue with not squaring early enough can you suggest a drill or technique to assist me? What do you advise novice rowers with squaring early? I have improved but I am still not quite squaring early enough – apparently I am only so close but not quite!

Let’s start by understanding few things of your rowing so everything I’m telling you makes sense and you can remember it.
1) In order to have a good catch the blade needs to be totally square.
2) If we square early enough we can just focus to place the blade on the water at the right time before we change direction.
3) The blade only moves the boat during the drive and when is square on the water. A blade that gets out of the water non on the square doesn’t push the boat as much.
4) To square early you need balance so you can approach the catch confident and on control.
5) To have good balance you need to complete the drive with a good connected blade, take the blade out of the water on the square if possible and time this well with a good change of direction of your body mass. Timing is key on the change of direction at the release for balance.
6) With good balance then you can send your hands down to your ankles and start your early squaring from there as you grow to the catch like a cat jumping to get a mouse.
7) I like to be totally on the square when you still have some recovery time left.
a) Key the handling of the oar handle on your hand and the skill to do that right.
9) Key to know how to use right your fingers, palm and thumb.
10) It takes a lot of time to develop the right skills to square early, patience and a good development are key to succeed!


Ok this is the process I want you to do.
- I want you to start rowing on a 2x with your partner balancing the boat and I want you to row really slow always on the square and first learn to have the blade always on the square pushing the boat and time well the both changes of direction with the catch and release. I want you to do that with a long pause at the release so you can take control. I want you to do that with a good hand level on the recovery so you learn to have the blade where you want so you have space to square early later and also have inertia to go up as you approach to the catch as you went down before.
_ Now I want your partner to keep balancing the boat and I want you to get a coach to teach you to hold the grip properly in each one of your hands and do the squaring and feathering properly with the use of your fingers and thumb. This is really important in the learning process!
- I want you to do all the same with your partner non rowing but now doing the feather and early squaring. I want you to add a pause at the moment you fully square before the catch to be sure your hands have still space to go up and you still have few inches to get to the catch. Do that few times.

After you do that I want you to do it again and again. It takes many good repetitions to learn that circuit and movement. What it is really important is that you realize that the first step to square early or even to even try to achieve that is to learn to balance the boat and have good control of the boat on the recovery so you can do whatever you want on the recovery. So first things first.
a) Learn to do the blade work properly.
b) Learn to do the change of direction with good timing at the catch and release.
c) Learn to hold your grip properly.
d) Learn to square and feather properly with the right use of your fingers.
e) Learn to carry your hands at the right level during the drive and the recovery.
f) Learn to move with the boat.

If you do all that and are patient and get good coaching you eventually will get there.
I use the Rowperfect3 to learn the right timing at catch and release, the right hand level and a good coordinated drive. That makes so much easier the process on the water to learn to balance the boat.
There are not many master rowers that can balance the boat properly and square early at low rates and consistently.
It is possible if you want to get there with good coaching and plenty of good work!

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