Usually all coaches will tell you that you have to finish with your legs then use your back and then arms… but here you can clearly see how he starts using his arms before he finishes with his legs. Why is that so?
We all know that the rowing drive has the legs, body swing and the arms. We also know that the sequence of those during the rowing drive is legs, body and arms. The question here is:
How I sequence those 3?
When am I supposed to start my arms?
Can I start using my arms before my legs are done? If not Why is the Swedish 1x 4th at the Olympics doing it?
So if you look at the picture you can see a clear overlap of the use of legs and arms. Actually in that picture there is overlap of the 3 parts, legs, body and arms.
I’m pretty sure that this picture is a picture of the start of the race. When you start a race you use all 3 at the same time, It is the way to get the most powerful drive to get the boat at speed. So I believe that this much overlap you can see in this picture is because of that, shorter strokes and more overlap.
So what is the reality of the sequence and the timing of this sequence?
They depend on the body of the rower, the strength of these 3 body parts and the rowing style that he is rowing.
To understand that just think that you have a rower that has very strong legs and lower body but weak lats and arms. This rower will have trouble at full pressure to keep his arms extended at the catch and finish just with arms so you will see a use of arms earlier on the drive and an overlap at the finish of body and arms.
If you have a rower with strong arms, lats and body but weak legs you will also see an early use of those arms and body to help him to take the load during the first part of the drive.
So what we can understand by now is that the rowing drive is the action of the blade pushing the boat away from catch to release. This blade doesn’t look at you or even care who you are and how you do it. The only thing that this blade cares about is what makes your boat go fast and win races. So what you need is a long efficient drive with constant pressure on the blade producing good acceleration on the boat.
So this is my advice:
a) Detect with a good coach where your strengths and weaknesses are.
b) Develop a rowing style, drive sequencing that works for your own body.
c) Work on getting stronger where you are weak to eventually row the most efficient style.
d) Don’t obsess about what you are doing but about what your blade is doing, you might look correct on the books but your blade is not getting the work done.
e) Work on a good coordinated drive that works for you. Coordination is everything in rowing.
The ideal rowing drive for a balanced, strong, and coordinated advanced rower is:
1- Start with legs, overlap with body and finish with arms.
2- At the start on the short strokes you will look like the picture and it’s good!
3- Every person is different on height, weight, length of body parts and strength of those, so every person will look a little different.
4- What needs to be the same is the power application, power curve, so the work of the blade on the water. How you do it is not the key but what you deliver on the blade that is what moves your boat.
So think of the rowing drive as the action of a golf swing and understand that every golfer has a different swing also depending on all the things we talked about. Not everyone will look like Tiger Woods but the best will have the same club swing looking not the same on their bodies.
Rowing well is a process that never ends, so my advice is row good miles, get good coaching, and with that develop your rowing body and rowing skill overtime in the right direction.