I had the opportunity to coach some novice rowers to today and wanted to share my thoughts about for beginners. I think that one of the most helpful things you can do to help novice rowers is to incorporate pause drills when they are learning the stroke for the first time.
The principal component necessary for a pause drill is to involve a moment (2 seconds or so) in the rowing stroke cycle when the athlete pauses. When you start this kind of exercise you want your athletes to pause once per stroke cycle. However, this can progress to a stroke cycle with two pauses. More about that in a minute.
Here are three reasons that make pause drills a critical part of your coaching toolkit.
When you involve a pause in the stroke, it allows time for the athlete to be adjusted in terms of body position or how they are holding the oar(s). This break creates the opportunity for them to understand the correct position at a certain point in the stroke. When novices are learning the stroke for the first time, their brains are trying to handle many different things such as body awareness, timing, rhythm, and processing input from the coach or coxswain. It’s a lot to take on, so providing a pause point can help them learn the correct motor patterns more effectively.
When teaching any movement pattern the sequence of motion is essential. Novice rowers tend to break the knees before their upper bodies are in the correct position with the shoulders in front of the hips. When an athlete achieves the body over position at the proper time in the stroke, many other things in the rowing stroke start to click into place.
Another benefit of this kind of drill is that it allows all the rowers in a crew to achieve the same position at the same time. The pause allows all of the crew members the chance to collect themselves and push the metaphorical “reset” button when timing suffers. (as it often does when novice rowers are learning for the first time)
Click on the images below to download body position cards.
1. No arms away Position (if you teach arms and body in the same movement)
In the video below, I demonstrate a pause drill as an example.
When you select the pause point of the stroke, you can address different aspects of technique.
When an athlete pauses at the release, you can assess and provide feedback on the following:
Regardless of whether you teach arms away and then body over or arms and the body moving out of the release at the same time, this pause helps rowers establish forward body angle early in the recovery. Once this position is set, the rower needs to move toward the catch position without the need to get any more body angle.
I think this is the most important position to get right in the stroke. The benefits are as follows:
When an athlete pauses at half slide, this can help in the following areas, and you can provide feedback accordingly.
After a few minutes of pausing every stroke, I increase the number of strokes gradually before a pause happens. For example, I will instruct the rowers to pause every two strokes. Then every three strokes, moving up to five continuous strokes and then pause. Integrating rowing drills into the whole cycle is essential.
As you can see, I am a big fan of pause drills and how they can help stroke development in beginning rowers. These drills are not just limited to a boat and can be used on a rowing ergometer as well. Also, pause drills can be helpful for rowers at any level of development.
I’m interested in your thoughts and feedback. If you have a point of view or you see something I have missed, please let me know in the comments below or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time!