Making Changes

The theme of the first week of practice has been making changes.  We’ve been rowing fairly short sessions (about 8k yesterday, out to 9k today, getting in about 55 minutes moving so far) and putting a lot of emphasis on the technical side of the stroke.  Today, with the change theme strongly in mind, I also asked a bunch of folks to switch sides, hoping to encourage a little bit of breakdown and conscious rebuilding of the stroke.

The first two weeks of any rowing season are a prime time to encourage gross motor changes and to set the theme for the technical model we want to row through the year.  The body is more receptive to change after a layoff and we’re not  physically ready to push the training volume or intensity up.  So we do shorter rows instead, keep our focus level high, and work to create the common technical mold that will hopefully take us through the fall, into spring.

Unlike some coaches, though, I don’t believe in drill and drill alone, repeated monotonously through a whole practice.  I try to encourage a small change (for example, today we were working a lot on how the outside hand holds the oar), at lower speed (in this case by fours), and then building up to a regular stroke to ask the athletes to carry the changes into their regular rowing (in our case some leapfrog between our eight & four).  When the change is lost, we slow down again and re-focus.  Keeps the heart rate up, keeps the rows interesting, and keeps us in touch with all speeds and effort levels.

Also got the novice out for their first-ever row yesterday; day two today!  Awesome showing by that group and they’re going to bring a lot to both squads very quickly.

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