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A Blessing in Disguise

BY VOLKER NOLTE
PHOTO BY PETER SPURRIER

We continue to live in interesting times, although we should realize how small our rowing-related challenges are in the big picture. The safety measures put in place by government agencies and sport organizations are aimed at keeping us healthy and alive. 

Being able to row a single well is undoubtedly a major advantage, and the circumstances now are forcing this upon us. The major benefit of rowing the single is that it’s a form of self-coaching, since the boat gives you immediate feedback about what you, and only you, are doing. 

Everything begins with balance. Whether you’re a beginner or expert, you balance a single in basic ways:

 Sit in the middle of the boat, control your hand levels, and practice good blade work. Beginners will have to put their feathered blades back on the water to stabilize the boat after the finish. As long as they keep their hands at the same level, the boat will stay balanced. In addition, they need to make sure the blades are properly squared before placing them in the water at the next entry, kept at the proper depth in the water, and then released together at the end of the drive. 

As rowers become more adept, they can take the blades off the water more and more on the recovery, apply more effort during the drive, put their blades in the water and release them out of the water with less and less interference–and gain more speed in the process. A single will reveal every little technical misstep to the rower, fostering further improvement. The process of learning to row a single well is neverending, since one can always achieve a higher level of proficiency. Even Olympic champions are constantly striving for the perfect stroke.

Think about all you learn by rowing a single. Your balance will be much more refined, and you’ll know exactly how to improve it. 

Training in a single is one of the best ways to enhance crew-boat performance. Many national-team programs recognize this fact by practicing in singles, knowing there is no negative impact on crew-boat rowing and racing.

We should view the need to row singles because of the pandemic as an opportunity and embrace it. Learning to row the single more skillfully will help you become a better rower.

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