When we decide to learn to row we put ourselves on the hands of a rowing coach and he is responsible of our development to become a good rower over time. If we are consistent on our training and do the work, rest and take care of ourselves, eventually with a good system we should row well.
The 2 key things any rowing coach develops on a rower are:
- Rowing Technique and skill.
- Rowing Fitness.
They normally progress together as we keep the process going.
To have an early good result is easy by spending more time developing fitness over skill and technique. The problem of that is that we might develop the wrong wiring, skill on our body that can eventually be a problem for future performances.
I believe that all the rowers should develop skill and rowing body coordination on the first part of their development. Developing fitness doing the wrong movement when the skill is not there is wiring the wrong pattern of coordination on the rowers body that will be really difficult to change later.
Learning to row well is built on 3 simple facts:
1) Rowing well is a combination of precise well timed electric signals traveling trough a chain of neurons, a circuit of nerve fibers. These electrical signals need to be fired doing the correct movement.
2) Myelin is the insulation that wraps these fibers and increases signal strength, speed and accuracy. If we do the wrong movement, we fire the wrong fibers and we wrap with myelin the wrong paths of coordination.
3) The more we fire the good circuit to row well (the correct rowing stroke) the more myelin optimizes that circuit, and the stronger, faster, and more fluent our rowing technique becomes. But also the opposite is true, the more we fire the wrong circuit rowing for example the wrong technique on the stationary ergometer, the more myelin optimizes that circuit to eventually end up rowing the boats like the ergs.
“Skill is myelin insulation that wraps neural circuits and that grows according to certain signals”
1) Myelin is build to respond to action of urgent repetition. It is very important to fire the right fibers to wrap myelin around the correct nerves that fire the correct rowing technique.
2) The circuits that fires get insulated with Myelin. This Myelin stays and grows with more repetition. Hours of rowing machine doing the wrong movement develop fitness but build the wrong paths that will be repeated on the water.
3) Myelin wraps but doesn’t unwrap. You cannot un-insulate what you have insulated that is why habits are hard to break. The only way to change bad rowing is by building good rowing with repetition, by myelinating new circuits. This means that if we have develop our paths rowing the incorrect movement, it will take us at least a 100.000 good strokes to build enough myelin on the new movement to be repeated under stress during the rowing race.
4) The earlier we start the better and the more myelin is available to learn new skills. Starting at age 50 we start losing ability to myelinate as much. Myelin doesn’t care who you are, it cares what you do and grows over repetition.
Here is a good video of a rowing crew repeating over and over a good rowing movement on perfect conditions. They are wrapping more myelin to make the skill better and stronger. The more Myelin the better. Also on this video you can see how they are rowing at low rate. This is helping them to achieve several things like:
- Going slow allows them to attend more closely to errors, creating a higher degree of precision with each firing and when it comes to growing myelin precision is everything.
- Also going slow helps the rowers develop a working perception of the skill blueprint of the shape and rhythm of the good rowing skill circuit.
Thanks to “The Talent Code” by Daniel Coyle.