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In this video, I discuss and demonstrate how seat racing works in rowing. Also, I provide some brief advice for athletes on how to win seat races using a mindset for making the entire boat go fast.
The video provides an example of a basic set up, however ideally, seat races should be run in a time trial set up with boats staggered in the “head” style procession because of the psychological variables in play during seat racing.
With that said, every seat racing situation that I have either coached or rowed in was in a side by side format. These seat races include – high school, junior national team selection, and college. In my experience, I have obtained reasonably valid data from the seat racing that I have run in this format.
Seat racing can be used to not only assess individual athletes relative to each other, but you can also experiment with lineups to see what clicks and what does not. Just because an athlete wins a seat race, they might not compliment other rowers for a lineup you are considering.
In conclusion, I would suggest using additional metrics for choosing race lineups. For example, these could be attendance, attitude, analysis of performance over a long time, etc. It is essential to create a culture that allows for continual long-term evaluation of athletes so that they know that it is not make or break because of one seat race result. If the athletes are concerned that the next stroke could lose them their seat, an environment of anxiety and tension is fostered. It’s crucial to cultivate competitiveness within a team for performance but not at the expense of overall harmony.
Seat racing is a controversial topic, but I believe it is a helpful tool for a rowing coach to assess on the water performance at the right time. If you have any comments, I’d love to hear them.