Rowing Drills and Exercises
We are often contacted by customers looking for information for clubs and coaches to use when coaching and of course there are many websites on the internet to help with this.
One website, Rowing ACT, we have found to be useful and are happy to recommend it. However, we see many variations and different names for exercises and this can be a little confusing. The main thing is to understand how to perform the exercise correctly and what it is trying to achieve and fully explain this to the crews and scullers you are coaching to ensure the maximum benefit.
As an example, we have taken two exercises from this site and added additional information for better understanding.
Catch slap (Blade Slaps)
Description: In a normal stroke after arriving at the catch position lift hands up to put blades in but keep the blades feathered so that they “slap” the water then square and put them in the water.
Purpose: To assist in learning to raise the hands to drop blades into water; to assist timing of the catch in a crew boat; to stop the legs coming on before the catch, i.e. to separate the catch from the leg drive.
This exercise also promotes good balance coming into the catch position to enable the slap to be accurate and even pressure. The action of “raising” the hands comes from the shoulder. In the normal stroke, there is a precise moment that the seat stops and reverses and this exercise highlights that point and the blade slap happens at this point. Enough time is allowed for the blade face to fill with water before the blade is turned to row the stroke. The blade should never raise up before the slap but rather continue its line on the recovery just above the water before the blade slap occurs. An upward pressure is maintained with the blade flat on the water until the turning of the blade to row the stroke and the blade should never be raised off the water as the blade is turned to grip the water.
Good control of the handles with the fingers and thumbs is required and so promoting watermanship skills further. Regular use of this exercise, helps timing in crew boats, control and promotion of a long catch angle, not missing water at the catch. Mixing blade slaps and normal strokes helps build permanent changes to the stroke.
Square blade finish with delayed feather
Description: As per title. A delayed feather is when you extract the blade vertically, then feather the blade once it is clear of the water.
Purpose: To develop tap down and feathering skills; for separating the two actions.
This exercise again promotes good balance and even pressure release of the stroke. The feathering should not occur until the hands have recovered just past the knees. A major benefit of this exercise is good control of the handle using the fingers and thumbs to feather and square the oar, performed correctly it is not possible to feather the oar using the wrists when the action happens just past the knees on the recovery and so an excellent drill for beginners (working in quads in pairs) who if not corrected may feather the blade at the finish with a wrist action rather than the desired fingers and thumb control. Grip size can affect this desired action and this exercise may also highlight this.