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The Unbeatable Lightness of Rowing

BY RICH DAVIS
PHOTO BY PETER SPURRIER

A feeling of lightness is one of the hallmarks of good suspension on the drive. When sculling, think about shifting your weight to your feet as you come forward for the catch. Then press your legs against the foot stretchers as your blades drop down to the water and simultaneously engage the lower back, shoulders, and arms. 

 In the early part of the drive, your legs should be driving down while your back remains in a forward body angle, arms extended. At this point in the stroke, it is as though you are standing on your feet and hanging off the oar handles with your arms. This creates a feeling of lightness on the seat and is one of the hallmarks of good suspension on the drive. Always avoid initiating the drive with your back. This reduces the effectiveness of your leg drive and can lead you to dig at the catch.

Here are some other tips:

* As you approach the catch, the weight of your body should shift to your feet as if you were standing up. Maintaining pressure on the foot stretcher sets you up for a solid leg drive.

* Keep your head up and eyes fixed on a point on the horizon as a way to keep your back in the proper position. Tighten the muscles in your lower back to support your legs as you transfer power to the end of the oar.

* When you are properly suspended at the catch, you should feel as though you could lift yourself off the seat. While that’s a sign that you are doing it right, stay in contact with the seat to keep your movements horizontal.

The feeling of hanging on your arms will give you the sense that you are driving the boat forward properly and efficiently.

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