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The Origins of the Micro-pause

BY VOLKER NOLTE

Remember the Speed Boss? This was one of the first electronic gadgets to provide multiple and immediate feedback, including rate and speed. It also gave qualitative feedback on boat check, defined as the largest negative boat acceleration during the recovery—the thinking being that check was bad, and with feedback, you could reduce it. And that’s exactly what rowers learned to do, mainly by slowing their slide speed and executing a soft entry. But those same rowers also found themselves at the back of the pack. Today we know that a high negative acceleration, or a large check factor, is a sign of proper technique. Top crews actually produce large decelerations, but when graphed over time, the dip in acceleration tends to be very brief. These decelerations result from the change of one’s movements relative to the boat from recovery to entry. This motion is incredibly complex, requiring the coordination of a series of precise movements performed over a short time. Naturally, the ideal way to practice this is to row at race pace. But with most training done at lower stroke rates and corresponding lower boat velocity, the best way to engrain this movement is to row with a slow recovery followed by a quick motion into the catch. This is the source of the so-called micro-pause employed by so many crews today.

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