Carlos Dinares TIP # 496: ROWING is FEELING

May 21, 2013

“The beauty of rowing is when you are out there on the water and nothing from the land can touch you, you are free.
Rowing well and fast is done with an efficient movement that you can execute when you understand the water, the boat, the oars and the movements that you do to connect them all together. For that you need to take a lot of strokes doing the right movement”.

“Rowing is feeling and feel is hard to explain on a cognitive way. You need to feel what the boat is doing and how everything is reacting to understand rowing”.


April 23, 2013

In my personal opinion rushing the slide to the catch is an advantage to get the faster rowing and the most efficient rowing.


1- You use the action- reaction of the arrival and take off from the footstretcher. You recruit more muscles fibers. If you try to get the most high vertical jump you will go down before you go up. The same for rowing the faster you arrive to the stretcher the higher you can jump.

2- Use the trampoline effect describe by kleshnev in Rowing Biomechanics Newsletter February 2006. The “Trampoline effect” theory can have a number of consequences. Here are some of them:
1. Fast approach to the stretcher before the catch is beneficial.
2.Good timing is really important. Each rower has to feel the moment when he/she: a) kicks “the trampoline” and bends it; b) applies the handle force to support “the trampoline” from the other side; c) picks up the recoil force and uses the legs to accelerate the body CM.

3- It is easier to match crews because there is a clear pattern to get the crew to the catch, rush the slide.

4- It helps to get a direct blade into the water because there is no time for hesitation or doubts. Because everything is happening fast the blade can only go direct to the water with no thinking but action.

5- You can get extra length at the catch by using that inertia to the catch and placing the blade and picking up the boat before you get the stern to go down. This requires really good skill and timing.

6- You can square earlier because going fast to the catch will make balance easier and give less time to lose control of the boat with a square blade just before the catch.

7- Have a more clear pattern of hands level during recovery. You send your hands down to the knees to from there square early and without hesitation rushing the slide attack the water and catch the boat on time.

8- Be more elastic and dynamic.

What are the disadvantages of rushing the slide or when you cannot rush the slide?

You cannot rush the slide when you are learning to row or don’t have good timing at the catch.
The ability you have to place the blade on the water at the catch and pick up the boat is directly proportional to the possibility you have on rushing the slide. The more proficient the more you can rush. So if you are coaching novices or low skill rowers you cannot rush the slide and take advantage of the 8 points I listed because you cannot place and pick up the boat before you crash the stern.

Here you have some videos of good crews at low rate that rush the slide before the catch:

Carlos Dinares TIP # 494: ROWING CHAT with Robin Williams Olympic Gold medal coach

April 21, 2013

RowingChat with Robin Williams – A leading world coach, Robin coached the British Women’s Pair racing team (Heather Stanning and Helen Glover) to Gold at the 2012 Olympic Games; he was the architect of the GB lightweight mens sweep crews who have dominated the event for the past 8 years and before then won 10 Boat Races for Cambridge University.

Join us on the 24th of March LIVE to hear Robin Williams.


April 01, 2013

Do you feel you have too much to do and your rowers are not improving or you don’t have time to coach them as much as you would like to? Do you think something needs to change?

There are few reasons I’m going to list that make Rowing a very complex sport. Rowing has lots of interesting facts that we take for granted that slow down the learning process and make it difficult for many to practice at all or some extra.

Why is DIFFICULT to be GOOD at ROWING? What makes it difficult and complex?

1- You can only get better at rowing, rowing on the water, many cannot do extra they are part of a program.

2- You cannot get good training on very extreme weather conditions: really cold, big wind, big rain, very humid-hot… So you cannot get good practice everytime you want, you depend on the weather.

3- It takes lots of time to get the boat on the water, out, clean it, where you are not getting faster. This time is time you don’t get extra repetitions of training or fitness development.

4- The equipment is very expensive and you need a place to store the boats, space to do land workout and motorboats. So you cannot do it when you want to or without supervision.

5- The movement is a totally new movement and you have never done it until you seat on a boat. So the more you seat on a boat and the more good strokes you take the more chances you have to be a good rower.

6- We don’t have an objective way to rank our rowers. Everything is very subjective and hard to quantify. So it’s hard for the coach and the rowers to understand a clear path to select the team boats. Like soccer or basketball…

7- Because the sport is so expensive, we cannot have enough professional coaches to coach the big numbers of rowers. At the end the coaches are managers, lifeguards and organizers. They have no time to really coach their Team much.

8- The rowing machine people row on and test is stationary and doesn’t simulate the dynamic movement of the water. So the results and practice you get from it doesn’t have a direct effect on how fast your crews will be. That is complex….

9- The rules on the water for safety, rowing comands and new words on how to describe the rowing stroke by the coach, the parts of the boat and how to handle the equipment are lots of new information. The new rowers are easily overwhelmed by how much complexity of this new sport.

10- The better the water to row on the more chances to learn faster and better. You normally cannot choose where to row, you normally row where you live or want to go to college. This makes complex to understand that this will have an influence in your training or rowing program and there is not much you can do about it.

So if I’m in charge of a rowing program and I know that I need to deal with all of that complexity what I’m going to try to do is to focus on how I can make it more simple for everyone. So SIMPLICITY and CLARITY will help me to:

1- Have a faster TEAM
2- Make rowers fast earlier.
3- Have more time to COACH ROWING.

Ok so these are few advices I have for you to make the whole experience more simple for your rowers and for you and as a consequence of that to achieve better results:

1- Write few pages about what they need to know that you can develop from information you can find on the internet and give it to every new novice rower. Talk about safety rules, rowing clothes, the rowing stroke, rowing parts names, how to handle equipment and to get in and out the boathouse and directions and rowing vocabulary used normally by the coach. YOU MUST TEST your rowers on that information. The earlier they learn that the fastest you will develop them.

2- Don’t tell them everything at once. Develop a curriculum so every session has a goal. Have them practice lots of repetitions of good strokes and evolve the movement from simple to more complex as they learn. Make things simple like have them repeat over and over again the correct movement. Spend time explaining what you want them to do. Be sure they understand ask them questions. Show them video of good rowing so they know what do you want them to do.

3- Don’t use the rowing machine as the only way to rank people. You are going to give false expectations to the bigger ones and stronger, and take motivation away from the ones that are still growing up or are not as big. Don’t rank people by the score when they are new to rowing. The score on the stationary machine doesn’t factor in body weight, maturity and doesn’t reproduce the rowing stroke on the water. The stationary rowing machine is a fitness tool and as a fitness tool doesn’t tell you how fast a rower is on the water. Be sure they understand that.

4- Do a test every few weeks to all the rowers so you can check somehow that your system is working and the rowers are improving. Get feedback from them and try to adjust your system depending on the results.

5- You have the rowers for few hours a week. They need to handle equipment, get fit, deal with the weather, learn the rowing stroke and be able to row with others. Balance, blade work…. So my advice is that you teach them the basics right so they can improve with practice overtime. You need to be sure they use every minute of practice to get better and not just to do something.

6- Don’t tell them too much at once. Don’t coach them non stop and giving feedback on the whole rowing stroke. Focus on one part, let them process what you say and let them practice that. Don’t make it too complex for them to do something. Let them take baby steps first.

7- Have everything well organized at the boathouse. Make every rower, parents and other coaches to take responsabilities. Delegate so you can coach more and manage less…

8- Don’t think that the training program is the key or this drill or the other one. There is no secret to good and fast rowing. Just do simple things well, keep them focus and excited and do plenty of good repetitions slowing thing down. If what you are doing is working and it helps them to get better, do it over and over again.

9- Be sure you teach the simple things well. How to hold the oar? Where to put my footstretcher? How to seat up? How to turn the boat? How to feather and square? How to row? VERY SIMPLE….

10- Don’t let the results of the races tell you if you are a good or bad coach, is not that simple. Your goal as a coach is that your rowers get better and improve, develop the fundamental skills and fitness that help them be successful at the college and National Team level. If you coach novice rowers before college, you will be a good coach if your rowers get recruited because the coaches at the college level know that they have develop good skills, good fitness and good rowing experience that will help them to keep getting faster and succeed as they get more practice.

Carlos Dinares TIP # 492: Developing the RIGHT upper BODY for SCULLING

March 22, 2013

I would like you to look at these pictures from elite rowers that spend thousand of hours developing their body on the water and look at these 10 things:

1- Wrist position.
2- elbow position.
3- head position
4- Neck position
5- forearms muscles engagement.
6- Arm, shoulder lats engagement.
7- connection from feet to handle.
8- Body weight suspension.
9- posture.
10- abs and lower back engagement

So my point here is to make you understand that in order to look like that you need to:

1- Row a lot so you develop specific muscles to the rowing stroke.
2- Do exercices on land that imitate the movement of the rowing stroke.
3- Work with your body weight or less and with the frequency of stroke rates.
4- Don’t work on muscles that don’t move the boat or muscle speeds that don’t move a boat.
5- Do lots of low rate, power x stroke with bungee on water and with big drag or on the good Dynamic rowing machine, Rowperfect3s

6- Keep always a good ratio of body weight, power because at the end of the day you need to push yourself down the course…

So in conclusion to be able what these rowers do you need to develop strength and muscles directly useful to make a boat go fast and to do that you can only develop those specific positions, muscles and forms by reproducing the correct rowing stroke. So my advice is:
- Try to develop as much as you can your rowing fitness doing the correct rowing stroke on the water or on the land with Rowperfect3s.

Carlos Dinares TIP # 491: ROWING CHAT with Carlos Dinares

March 20, 2013

In this 57 minutes interview I explain how you can use the Rowperfect3S machine to get an advantage in your rowing. I talk how I got introduced to the machine and how I learned. I mention who are the more influential people in my development as a coach an user of the dynamic rowing machine. I will give you also tips on how to use the Rowperfect3S in your advantage as a novice rower, college rower, elite rower or master rower.

I hope you enjoy it!

Carlos Dinares TIP # 490: ROWING FEET OUT on WATER and LAND

March 19, 2013

“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.

Carlos Dinares TIP # 489: ROWING POSTURE is key to EFFICIENT ROWING!

March 14, 2013

When we row we want to go fast. To go faster we need to find ways to save energy so we can be more economic on our movements and use that extra energy we saved to increase speed. So when we say that we are being efficient on our rowing it means that we are using our body properly during the rowing stroke, so the muscles are working as little as possible to get the maximum speed we can.

When rowing is done efficiently it will look like a push and not a pull of the boat. We will hang as much as we can from the biggest bones of our skeleton so we can save energy. We need some muscular activity to support our skeleton and the posture but the more we can do it with the proper muscles and posture the more efficient our rowing will be and the less energy we will need to use to move the boat.

The way to become more efficient and develop better posture is to work on the right rowing coordination, work on doing the right sequence of movements of the rowing stroke.
There is a fine line between rowing efficiency and fitness and power. You can become faster by being more efficient but you need to understand that rowing is a power sport and you only need to race 2000 meters.

So you will need to evaluate how much you need to work on everything to be the fastest you can be. To row fast you need coordinated power to the rowing stroke, also to row fast you need to be efficient to push the boat away and not just hammer the boat without really making the boat go.

So there is a fine line to be determined by the coach on how much weight lifting, rowing coordination and use of the skeleton, hang can be done to achieve the ideal rowing stroke for each one of us.
Another important aspect is the proper nature of the rower. If the athlete is really strong and has a huge muscle mass by nature, he will be able to just work on coordination and row as much as he can so he can shape all his body to the rowing stroke to become the most efficient he can.

If the rower is very efficient and move perfectly with the boat but has not enough power to accelerate the boat or to hang his skeleton, then this he needs to focus on developing this power.
Even if you develop fast speed on your athletes by prioritizing on fitness, power and talent and not invest enough time on the right development of their body to help them develop well, don’t forget that having few sessions a week where the movement gets slowed down and the feedback increased can really help their development, it’s like a savings account, the money will comeback to you!

So seat tall, like thinking that you want to touch something an inch higher above your head without tensing your neck or head but engaging your lower back to help you position with a better form on the boat so you can start rowing a better stroke.
Take a look at these pictures and the video and understand how this amazing rower has the right posture, how he hangs with the activation of the right muscles and how simple and natural it looks.

So when you try to develop posture check that you are relax and not tense, that you are breathing naturally and you can move your body parts naturally and there is no extra tensions on the not key muscles. If your neck, face, arms and grip are tense trying to get the posture and form then it won’t work because you won’t be able to develop the proper rowing motion and feel for the boat.

You need the right posture to develop efficiency and this will help you link more naturally the different parts of your body and make your rowing stroke look athletic, relax and more natural.

Carlos Dinares TIP # 488: Sculling ROWING GRIP at the CATCH

March 10, 2013

I want to share with you that one of the biggest challenges for me as a coach when I start working with a new sculler is “The rowing GRIP”

To make it simple and clear, rowing has one single and simple goal that is to move the boat. When you row you want to move, and the faster you move the more fun you have and the more races you can win. Rowing is a feel sport and the more speed you have the more you can feel the boat gliding. So what gives you movement and speed?

Yes it doesn’t matter that you have an amazing C2 score, you run the mile the fastest, or you look amazing in a boat, what matters is speed and speed comes over CONNECTION to the water. So the ability to connect to the water and be able to lever the boat from blade to feet is what moves a boat. So what is connection? CONNECTION is when you place the blade in the water after the catch and feels like you anchor your blade and it doesn’t move through the water but instead feels like if your blade was stuck against a concrete post and you lever the boat pass the blade, so the blade doesn’t move trough the water but the boat passes by the anchored blade. This is not possible because you will always move the blade through some water but the closer you get to the feel of an anchored blade the better.
So BAD GOOD CONNECTION means that you don’t transmit the blade connection to the feet to move the boat. For each centimeter or inch you have your handle coming to you, you have the boat passing the blade through the pressure of your feet against the boat.

To start let’s talk about the hand and the wrist. I want you to look at this picture and your hand and understand that you need to connect to the oar and the oar to the water so your hand-wrist skill will be key to connect to the water. First take some time to look and play with your hand, thumb, knuckles and wrist. After that understand that all these parts need to play a key role to grip the oar and CONNECT to the water.

In this first picture you can see a good rower getting close to the catch and I want you to look at the position of the fingers, wrist and knuckles. Look where those are and where they are in reference with the handle. You can see he is exaggerating in this picture the approach to the catch by totally opening the fingers. He carries the oar with the pressure of his palm and not with the use of his wrist or fingers.

It is KEY to feel the water and to connect to the water to have a relaxed grip. I always say that we need to have a relaxed grip before the load on the blade to find again the new position of the handle against the hand or the new grip. So every recovery the hand relaxes and with the use of the thumb you release pressure of the handle against the fingers and hand so when the new load on the blade is achieved the handle re-grips again in the hand.

In this second picture you can see that the hands are going up and the rower is getting closer to finding the load in front of the blade and is starting to close the fingers. Look at the hand position, wrist, and knuckles and think about how your look before the catch.

In this 3rd picture we can see the grip with the load on the blade. Here we can see that now the blade is loaded and the body weight of the rower is suspended taking the body weight off of the seat. What we can see is that the wrist has changed and gone a little down and now there is full pressure of the handle against the fingers. If we don’t keep the hand close we lose the oar and then the boat stops because there is no connection from the blade to the feet- boat.

So why it is so important to have a good grip?
It is important because a good grip is the most efficient way to achieve the best rowing to row well and fast and minimize injuries.
The ROWING GRIP is one of the harder bad habits to change on a rower, why?
Because when a rower learns to connect to the water with the wrong grip, to re-learn the grip will make him lose control of the blade and water and as a consequence lose balance, control, and speed. He will feel lost and like a novice rower starting to learn to row again.

One of the things I have experienced is that it takes time to develop the right grip. You need to have the handle in your hands for a long time to get used to the handle, and develop the right comfort with it and develop the right muscles and sensors. So don’t worry if you are learning and cannot do it yet and focus on understanding what you need to eventually do and look like.

In this rowing video you can see the rowing grip at the catch in motion. Look carefully at the video and pause as needed and try to memorize that action and how it looks in your brain. The good news is that you don’t need video or a coach to tell you how you look because you can look at your own hands and self-coach yourself!

Carlos Dinares TIP # 487: ROWPERFECT3s- ROWING chat with Carlos Dinares


You are invited to the following event:

Event to be held at the following time and date:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 from 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM (GMT)

RowingChat with Carlos Dinares – a dynamic, modernising coach who’s not afraid to challenge the status quo in pursuit of fast boats. Carlos will talk about how he coaches athletes to build strength, muscular co-ordination and boat moving skills….
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I hope you can make it!