Carlos Dinares TIP # 505: Improve your ROWING Stroke Length to go faster

How many of you know that rowing a little longer can make your boat go faster but you don’t know really how to make that happen. We all know that rowing longer is better but we keep rowing short and not making that change, How do we approach the “ROW LONGER” so we can really make an impact on our stroke length?

Here are 10 tips to use to row longer:

1- The real efficient “ROW LONGER” is when the blade is in the water pushing the boat for a longer time and cover a bigger arc on the water. SO if your body is going longer at the stern and bow, and the blade doesn’t do the same then you are not really rowing longer. When your videoed look at the real blade work on the water and how long it is pushing the boat and the angles that this blade covers.

2- To “ROW LONGER” you need to have strength, flexibility and posture to cover those angles at catch and release. If you cannot have a good posture at the catch and strength to stay there to place the blade and loaded you won’t be able to increase your stroke length. The same at the release if you cannot keep your core engaged and keep connected to the footstretchers with your feet as you are drawing your arms, you won’t be able to keep the blade pushing the boat at the release angles to increase your stroke length. So in land training, to increase those angles of compression, strength and flexibility exercises are key to do.

3- The ideal rigging of the boat for your body. If you don’t have a properly rigged boat for you, it will be really hard to cover the angles needed to “ROW LONGER”. Lots of times we cannot row longer because we are so uncomfortable at both ends because of the rigging and our stroke length gets affected. For a short rower, a rower with short arms, or a rower with short legs this will be key. Rigging can help a lot to get more length of stroke. Ask your coach to help you get the oarlocks closer to each other, get the inboard shorter and get the shoes footstretcher more flat or vertical depending on what you need.


4- Row with a heavier drag and lower stroke rate. Doing that, you can make changes and feel yourself rowing longer. It is really hard to change but possible when is done with patience and good repetition. Consistency with the new movement and multiple repetitions are key to wire these new angles in your rowing and develop this strength and flexibility and new position to feel comfortable.

5- Think about the positioning of your body. Play with the knees position, keeping them closed or open, play with your posture, the speed of your seat on your recovery, the way you execute the drive, the sequence you use on the drive of leg, body, arms, more sequenced or more overlapped. It is important to understand that to have a good stroke you need to generate a powerful accelerated push and keep it long. If we look at the power curve application you want a long base that is the length of the stroke and a tall, thick curve that is the force. You want to be sure that you don’t lose force by rowing longer. You want to be strong on the angles you cover. A good way to see that is looking at your power curve while you row on land the Rowperfect3s that mimics the rowing stroke.

6- Direct feedback. It is very important to be able to know stroke after stroke if we are really rowing longer or not and if this length of stroke is good or not. Here are 4 ways you can get direct feedback:
a) Row in the boat and look at your blade and your hands where they reach at the catch.
b) Have the coach or somebody give you direct feedback of how your stroke looks like.
c) Use the Rowperfect3s and look at yourself in the mirrors.
d) Use the Rowperfect3s and look at the computer feedback, look at the power curve area, stroke length and joules per stroke and see how they all play together.
e) Have a piece of tape or a straw on the boat at the catch position giving you a measure of distance you want to get at the catch with your hands.

7- Look at yourself rowing in slow motion and after that look at a video of good rowing with good long strong strokes in youtube. Compare both videos and look carefully to these few things:
a) Angles of the blade at catch and release from you and the example, compare.
b) Positioning of bodies at catch. Compare.
c) Positioning of bodies at release. Compare.
d) Time of the blade pushing the boat. Compare.
e) Effect of the blade work on the speed of the boat. Look at acceleration of the boat during the stroke and compare.

8- Square your blade early. Try to minimize the amount of work you need to do at the catch. Be sure you have your blade square and ready to go in before you reach your catch angle. Do drills on the water to help you row longer. Do some pausing between strokes to have time to think stroke after stroke. Learn to square early with drills, practice your body over preparation early in the stroke and be sure your hands are down by the moment they reach the feet so they can go up from there to get the blade into the water. Don’t wait to the catch to get your body over because that will send your blade away from the water and make you miss the water. Be sure the body is ready early in the recovery and your hands are down.

9- Be sure you have a good balanced and stable boat so you can practice all this and really have control of yourself to have efficient stroke length. If you cannot balance the boat and row without dragging your blade on the recovery, it will be hard to row longer. First you need to learn to control your body and the boat. After that you need to be able to balance the boat and feel in control. When all that is done you will be able to make the adjustments I described and increase your stroke length in an efficient way on the water.

10- You might be able to row long in your 1x and in a team boat when you feel comfortable but cannot row long in other boats because the rowers in it don’t move together. The matching of the crew affects directly the ability to row longer because if the timing at the catch is off, the first thing to be jeopardized is the length of the stroke. In this case if you look at video afterwards and see yourself rowing short, the reason is not that you cannot row long or you don’t know how to row long but that the boat is off on timing and balance and this minimizes the chance of you and your teammates to row longer.

Be sure you row a lot thinking about all that and you will eventually row longer and faster. To keep reminding yourself to make the changes to row longer is key to rowing longer. Rowing longer is not about rowing longer when we do the drill or we have somebody telling us and looking at us, but when we are rowing one day not thinking about it and somebody takes video of us and we see that our stroke length and body angles have increased for good! THIS IS ROWING LONGER!!

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