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Why can’t people row correctly?

At one of our recent coaches meetings, we reviewed some footage Callie had of a member doing some pretty wild rowing.

He was basically doing his best impression of Cam Newton’s rowing – check it out here, but don’t click through if you’re weak of stomach.

We see this kind of terrible technique regularly from our members – and it can be very difficult to fix. Callie mentioned that she’s “fixed” this member’s rowing multiple times, but that he almost always reverts back to the same nasty technique.

So, what’s going on here? A few options:
The member has no idea where his body is in space and it’s very difficult for him to feel the difference between rowing correctly or incorrectly

This seems like the most likely option based upon our discussion.

Members often understand where they’re “supposed” to be, but they find that their poor technique helps them move faster/feel better/etc.

This is common on the erg. Doing this correctly can be very uncomfortable and counter intuitive, so people often take the “easy way out” and revert to whatever bizarre technique they started with so that they can move faster in the short term.

The member doesn’t think of rowing as something “technical” so – even though he probably understands that there is technique to it, he isn’t focused on it at all. It’s more like being on an elliptical machine for him.

This is also common. People don’t recognize that technique actually matters in rowing. Who cares about technique on the elliptical or the stationary bike – just hop on and go!

Members often think that “moving back and forth faster” results in more power on the erg.

This is surprisingly common. It makes sense since things like the assault bike track rpms. A good chunk of members literally think that they get more power on the erg by moving back and forth quickly. This can completely screw up their strategy and their technique with rowing.

So, how do we find out what’s going on here? We ask!

“Hey, I’ve noticed that you row wrong pretty much every time we do rowing. We’ve worked on your technique, and I know you have the capability to do it correctly when you’re focused on it. What’s going on here?”

They will probably tell you.

Then, based upon that, you can hopefully get buy-in towards implementing a change. It may come at a short-term cost in terms of his ability to actually create power on the erg in a conditioning environment, but that hopefully also results in much better training results over the course of 6 months of actually doing things correctly.


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