“So to balance your boat you need to be able to change direction at the end of the stroke without losing pressure on your feet against the footstretcher while you take the blade out of the water and change direction of your body mass from going to the bow to now going to the stern. If you know how to do that well we can start talking about rowing on the square!!”
In this video you can see this rower rowing feet out on the single and on the dynamic rowing machine. The rowing stroke has 2 parts, the drive when the blade is on the water pushing the boat and the recovery when the blade is out of the water and the rower is going back to the catch to start again a new drive. So it is a cycle of drives and recoveries non stop. So in order to row you need to link a drive and a recovery every stroke and to move a boat you need to link strokes one to the other.
Every time the drive is finished and the recovery starts (the finish of the stroke) we have to change direction of our body mass. The same every time the recovery is finished and the drive starts (the catch). So in order to keep the boat moving efficiently without big changes of speed we need to learn to develop our rowing body and rowing coordination to do this correctly.
A good change of direction at the catch will have good timing and this will mean that the blade gets in the water and changes direction or loads before the body mass lands on the footstretcher. If you look carefully at the video you can see how the blade carves the water and as the body is landing on the footstretcher-boat, the rower is finding pressure on the blade-handle to help him to change direction without stoping the boat and crashing the stern and losing speed.
A good change of direction at the finish will have good timing and this will mean that the blade is still loaded when the rower starts decelerating his body mass that is going to the bow to eventually change direction and go to the stern, how? the rower starts pulling against the handle his body mass, pushing on the feet and this starts the process. You can see that done well when the head starts leading the flow to the stern. To experience that seat on a rowing machine at the end of the stroke with your arms extended and feet in and have someone hold firmly the handle and lift yourself against the handle by braking your arms while you keep pressure on the feet with your legs extended. This is what you need to exaggerate when you row feet out.
So when you change direction with constant pressure of your feet against the footplate you achieve:
1- More efficient rowing because your body weight doesn’t upset the bow making it go down and slow the speed.
2- Less negative forces against the boat by using the straps of the footplate to pull yourself up and change direction.
3- Much better balance because landing your body weight on the footplate as soon as the recovery starts gives you as a reaction free balance because the boat is compressing under you and you are floating to the catch and this action reaction gives free balance.
4- Good timing at the end of the stroke to get the blade out on the square and with load until the last moment. Clean finishes.
5- Good posture and good hip rotation. Without good posture and good hip rotation you cannot shift your weight to the footplate.
6- Good rhythm of the boat and good floating motion.
7- Good acceleration. Without good acceleration you cannot keep pressure on your blade until the last moment.
8- Easy to row on the square as a consequence of all the things done well because the blade can get out of the water on the square and then we have free balance to move to the catch again.
9- Continuous speed on the boat with very little speed variations.
10- Much better control of the boat in rough water.