Capital Rowing Club



Fall 2011 Coaching Summaries

Aug/Sept COACH


Sunday August 28 Bob (or Liz)



Practice cancelled when Hurricane Irene struck DC



Sunday, Sept 4









From Bob: I want to pick up where we were two weeks ago, doing the builders and focusing on that connection. I would like to do builders for the warm up. And the idea behind the builders is that the boat is heavy, and the pair that starts should feel that heaviness on the oar. If they’re doing it right, their lats and abs and lower back flex, and in essence, connect the handle to the legs so when the legs start the drive, the handle and oar begin to move through the water. If you don’t have connection, you end up with a two-part drive where the legs go down first without any resistance and the body gets whiplashed back, picking up all the slack.

The builders we will do at an 18, so relaxed and controlled but with pressure as we add in pairs every 15-20 strokes, up to 8. We’ll do each pair one time to start. So the warm up itself will take a few minutes longer.

After that, I wanted to make sure we’re bringing that connection all the way through the body. What I’m going to have us do is a pause drill at the finish, by 4, light pressure and leave our blades squared and buried. We’ll do ten strokes normal, ten strokes pause, ten strokes normal and rotate fours.

Now with light pressure this will prevent anyone from getting pushed over, but keeping the blade buried at the back end creates a resistance that will help us emphasize keeping the body tall and supported, and the outside elbow up through the finish. Also, not tightening of the shoulders here.

If we drop our elbows into the body or pull into the hip, the momentum and connection we create on the drive, gets absorbed into the boat, which will cause it to rock around as we begin to bring the hands away. This is emphasized in my drawings in the attached “Finish.”

Keeping the body and elbow up, allows so you to reduce the need to throw the handle down into the lap as well, making for a smoother, more rolled out finish. This contrasts the slouched body posture, and the down, then away finish which a lot of people have. The difference can be seen in the attached drawing “Finish 2.”

Overall, when we catch with connection, we create a vortex of water and pressure behind the oar. That puddle allows the blade to start coming out of the finish. As a result, we don’t need aggressive tap downs, but rather assist the blade out of the water and go down and away with the hands together, giving the boat a better chance to balance and setup at the release. Anything too aggressive or if a finish is cut short, we will flop.

Following the drills, we’ll take it on a steady state at a 20 by 6, with the potential for the occasional 8.


A. Wide outside elbow and tall body, allowing the hands to go down and away for a smoother and cleaner finish.

B. Slouched support with no elbow. Hands go down, then away, causing a more bouncy finish which the boat will feel.


A. Wide outside elbow with plenty of room to bring the hands down and away at the same time between the finish position and the gunnells.

B. Elbow is into the body with very little room to tap away. This creates weaker finishes on the given side.

Sunday, Sept 11





Sunday, Sept 18 Bob



Warm-up: Under my recent coaching we focused on finishes and I'd like to move on to the catch. We'll do the standard pick drill warm up, but include a 3/4 slide stroke. At 3/4 slide, rowers should still have a couple of inches to roll up, and heels are about to lift up off the foot stretchers.

Drill: We'll do a pause at 3/4 slide.  By 6's, we'll do 10-15 normal strokes followed by 10-15 pauses, and back to normal.  On normal we rotate pairs. At the pause, the blades will be squared and sitting just an inch above the water. When the coxswain says row, the first action people make is dropping the blade into the water, then finish coming up the slide. Don't just catch and drive. Catch, finish the recovery, then drive.


The drill will focus on early catches to prevent missing water at full slide. To prevent missing water (which can be the result of a rushed slide or bouncing off the full slide position and driving before the blade is anchored in the water) we can try to get the blade anchored in the water at 9/10 slide. Trying to catch right at full slide is nearly impossible due to the aforementioned issues. So to prevent missing water, we catch early - yes we are still on the recovery when we catch for a couple rolls of the wheels.

What will happen is the blade will catch the water and push water back - backsplash - and that's a good thing when done properly. This resistance when the blade catches will feel odd, and could feel very difficult if we catch too early, but it's important to finish rolling up the slide that last inch.

With the pause at 3/4 slide, this is a very early catch, but is exaggerated to understand the point. As we get more strokes in practicing early catches, we can play with the catch timing on the recovery.  For example, if we catch too early the blade with ricochet off the water but on the next stroke we can wait a second longer before we catch so the blade wont bounce.  On the other hand, if we catch to late and our legs go down before we're anchored in, on the next stroke we go a little earlier.  It'll be a game of give and take.

Some might ask if catching early on the recovery is a detriment to the momentum of a boat. Yes, sort of. But the pros of catching early, outweigh the cons, and definitely outweigh the cons of missing water. Missing water shortens the time the blade spends in the water since you start the drive before you're anchored, and due to this, you're not building the boat's momentum at the initial kick with the legs. The drive has already started by the time we're anchored in.


Pieces: We'll do the drills for a few rotatons, experimenting with catch timing, then move onto 8-min pieces with rate changes. As the ratings get higher, more rush may enter the boat and may result in more missing water. The focus as the ratings change, is to get the early catch.

Piece 1: 3 min at 20, 3 min at 22, 2 min at 24

Piece 2: 3 min at 22, 3 min at 24, 2 min at 26

Piece 3: 2 min at 24, 3 min at 26, 3 min at 28

Sunday, Sept 25 Bob




Warm-up:  Regular pick drill, by 4, stern and bow.

No drills - just rowing today

Maybe, if the water level is cooperative and seems feasible,

take the boats through the railroad tracks.


October COACH


Sunday, Oct 2




Warm up by 6's on the pick drill, rotating through the pairs.

Continue to rotate though pairs, rowing by 6's, for 3 pause drills: first pause at the finish, then at hands away, and finally at body over.

Row 8 minute pieces at increasing rates (22,24,26; 24,26,28, etc). Aim to complete 4 pieces.

Sunday, Oct 9





Warm Up: Pick drill by 6’s on the square (arms, back, ¼, ½, ¾, and full slide) rotating through the pairs. Add in the feather and do one more shorter rotation through the pairs. (about 10 strokes per rotation) Then take it all 8 stopping just past the Barry.

Drill: The Slap Drill. This drill is used to work on catch timing and crew rhythm. Done by 4’s rotating every 20 strokes. As rowers move up the slide on the recovery they will slap the blade against the water at ¾ slide then square up and take the catch together. The slap acts as a timing point for everyone rowing. There should be one slap sound against the water. The catch should immediate follow without hesitation, thus getting rowers handle heights and timing together. If this drill seems to be going well by 4’s we will switch to doing the drill by 6’s.

Pieces: 2x10 minute pieces focusing on timing and rhythm together.

piece: 4min @ 20, 3min @ 22, 2min @ 24, 1min @ 26

piece: 4min @ 22, 3min @ 24, 2min@ 26, 1min @ 28

Sunday, Oct 16





We will carry on with the drills for the catch.  Bob collaborated with Megan about the drill set she did last Sunday, on slapping the water at ¾ slide to get the feel for the early catches, which we had focused on previously with the pause at ¾ slide. Today will be an extension of that.

Warm up – pick drill by 6 but with ¾ included. After we get through that, 10 strokes normal, 10 strokes ¾ pause, 10 strokes normal and rotate pairs on the normal strokes. We’ll do this just a few times through.

Drill set. The whole idea of the early catch at 9/10 slide is making sure we raise our hands up to the front end and take the catch at 9/10, on the recovery, pushing water back, to ensure we are anchored in and not missing the catch by trying raise the hands, square, catch the water and drive all at the same time. One has to be done before the other because there isn’t enough time allowed at full slide to do it all.

It all starts with raising the hands on that recovery as the legs start to move. Once we swing out to arms and body over, our hands are at the lowest point they will be on the recovery. From there, they need to gradually rise to the front end as we’re coming up with the legs. This can be seen in the attached image, while not quite to scale, demonstrates the motion of the hands from the finish all the way to the front end.

If we keep them low, which people do, the blades are too high off the water and it takes away the boats center of gravity, and causes it to flop around.

What we can do to emphasize the motion of the hands is take the hands even lower after the arms and body away, which forces us to raise the hands as we recover. If we don’t, we flop.  So to do this, at position number two, we will actually lower our hands so that the handle slides across the gunnels – below the red line. Its not a forced tap down with the handle slamming straight down against the boat, but rather we ride the handle across the gunnels for a second and from that spot, we raise the hands up, just a little faster than normal, and catch early at 9/10 slide. Again, if we don’t raise the hands, boat flops. This drill will make the boat, in general, flop so its important to maintain control of the hands and raise them up.

We’ll to 10 normal strokes, 10 ride the gunnels strokes, 10 normal and rotate pairs. We’ll try this by 4s to start and move onto 6s if we’re getting the hang of it.

The workout: 2 min on, 1 min off. The 2 min on will be at an elevated rating between a 22 and 28, by 8. The 1 min off will be at a controlled 18, by 6, to focus on the handle heights. During the last 10 seconds of the off strokes, we’ll take 5 strokes to 1. Add in by 8 and 2.  Build to the rating.

We’ll do the on/off strokes for a bit but will make sure to get a good cool down in.






Click for larger image

Sunday, Oct 23 Ginger




We are going to row down to the channel and back working on length and catching on the recovery and finishing, including hands away, body over on the drive. If we need to go to rolling 6's we can.


Warm-up will ALTERNATE bow 4 and stern 4, one minute each so no one gets cold,

arms and body, 1/4, 1/2, full and pause, at hands away body over.


Then do all 5 drills by all 8.  Start the piece where ever you get done with the drills.

Sunday, Oct 30 Bob


Warmup: Instead of pick-drill we'll do a series of pause drills by 6.  Going like this:

Arms Away; 10 normal strokes, 10 pause strokes, 10 normal (x2) During the normal 10, rotate pairs.

Arms and body over: 10 normal strokes, 10 pause strokes, 10 normal (x2) During the normal 10, rotate pairs.

Half slide: 10 normal strokes, 10 pause strokes, 10 normal (x2) During the normal 10, rotate pairs.

3/4 slide: 10 normal strokes, 10 pause strokes, 10 normal (x2) During the normal 10, rotate pairs.

Then into full slide.

During those pauses I want to focus on what we've been focusing on the past couple months - coming out smooth from the finish with the down and away motion, then coming up controlled, raising the hands into the front and catching before we hit full slide.

After the warm up, we'll move onto rowing by 8 if moving well, with a pause arms away to see if we can get the boat running clean as we come out of the finish. We'll do this a few times through, then move the pause to half slide, again seeing if we can come up the slide smooth.

If anyone is too aggressive at the release, or rushing up to half slide or dropping their hands, the boat is going to rock. Of course, we don't want that.

We can have power, and be quick on the release, but we also need to be fluid with control.

We'll then finish up with an elevated rating piece on the way back. starting at a lower rating and gradually bringing the rating up as we move along.  Somewhere between a 16 and a 28.


November COACH


Sunday, Nov 6



Nancy K

Last day of the season - Plan to head up towards Narnia.

Warm up with the standard pic drill warm by sixes and head right into a steady state at a twenty.  Occasionally taking it up by 8.

On the way back, same steady state but more rowing by 8 if we're moving well.

November 12

CRC Put Away Day

And CRC End of Year Party!  (Location TBA)




SAW End of Season Get Together


Learn to Row

Novice Sweep rowing lessons are available all season.


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