A large number of international, coaches gathered earlier this winter for the 2017 FISA coaches’ conference in Vancouver. There were several compelling presentations, but the most interesting came from Nikola Bralic, the Croatian coach who guided Martin and Valent Sinkovic to Olympic gold in the double. Bralic said he emphasized three points with his crew: Keep things simple, work hard, and start with balance. While the first two themes made sense to me, the fact that these highly-skilled scullers focused so diligently on balance—something that seems more appropriate for beginners—struck me as surprising. According to Bralic, good balance is required for high-quality long-distance training, helps prevent injury, and readies rowers for all conditions. Training balance, however, is a complex undertaking—one that can only be done regularly in the boat and that begins with proper strength training. To illustrate just how important balance work was to their routine, the Sinkovics would start every training session with balance exercises built into their warm-up. Bralic also pointed out that the degree of difficulty of the drills he chooses depends on water conditions. That way, impeccable execution is possible. The vast majority of the double’s training videos that Bralic played at the conference showed perfectly flat water. These balance exercises build confidence in the crew to produce the highest speeds and to attack aggressively in all water conditions.
Perfect, On Balance
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