Book Review: Sculling In A Nutshell by Gordon Hamilton

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I’m going to start this post by saying that, in my opinion, “Sculling In A Nutshell” by Gordon Hamilton (affliate link) is by far one of best books on sculling/rowing that I have ever read. There are so many positives and I can’t recommend the book to other rowers and coaches enough. What is also impressive is that Hamilton manages to distil all of this knowledge into a very accessible 100 pages. So for a minimal investment of time, you get a great deal of value.

I’ve listened to Coach Hamilton talk on the RowPerfect podcast (Coach Hamilton’s interview is #23) and read this book many times. The book is broken down into many short chapters that relate to all parts of the stroke and other areas of rowing. Coach Hamilton has the rare ability to describe his ideas on rowing technique clearly and concisely and provides many analogies to help drive technical points home.

I think one reason that enjoyed the book so much is because I spent most of my high school career and collegiate career sweep rowing. As a result, the majority of my experiences were with coaches who focussed on sweep rowing. “Sculling in a Nutshell” did a great job of filling in many of the gaps in my knowledge of sculling. The book also provides an excellent framework/manual that you can use to better your sculling or impart the knowledge within to other coaches or rowers.

Another reason that I enjoyed the book was the fact that Hamilton explains concepts from a scientific point of view. His explanation of Bernoulli’s Principle and lift at the blade entry part of the stroke is an excellent example of this idea. You can tell that the author has spent a great deal of time thinking about the physics of the stroke, mechanics, balance and how to preserve the momentum of the boat on the recovery. I found I was able to explain to my athletes in a great deal more detail why I was asking them to try something new, provide justification, and explain how it all works to maximize boat speed.

Other chapters in the book relate to areas such as safety, injury prevention, training, competitive racing, steering, and rigging. There is something for everyone to learn and explore. The book is accessible for those that are just starting the sport for the first time as well as the seasoned veteran. If you want to get faster or even just balance your shell better this is the place to get sage advice from Coach Hamilton on just how to do that. Additionally, the book has many ideas for technical drills to help with specific parts of the stroke. There are explanations on how to perform each drill and how the drill is going to help with your stroke development.

In addition to the hardcopy version of the book, there is also has a Kindle version (affliate link) . I have both in my possession. At heart, I am old school and like to enjoy the feel of a book in my hands and turn the pages. With that said, the Kindle version (affliate link) of the book contains some animations that are very helpful when you are trying to explain the various technical concepts to others. You do need an internet connection to access these animations, so that is also a consideration.

In conclusion, Coach Hamilton’s love and passion for the sport and his many years of experience reflect well in the pages of this book. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of the book (affliate link) to kickstart your rowing journey and learn more about the art of rowing. Highly Recommended.

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