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Planning to Win

BY RICH DAVIS
PHOTO BY PETER SPURRIER

What race plan have you had success with when it comes to junior and high-school athletes?

A simple plan works best. I always told my crews, “Get out in front and stay there.” In reality, our strategy was far more complex.

Typically, we would wind it up at the start for 25 strokes, find our race pace, and then quickly unleash a power 10 to ensure that we remained sharp as we hit our body cadence.

At the halfway mark, we’d take the stroke rate up two beats for 20 strokes, then settle back to race pace, careful not to let the power drop during the transition. We threw in additional power 10s and sprints as required.

The crew knew they should never give their opponent as much as a length. Finally, with 30 strokes to go, the crew popped the stroke rate up as high as their increased leg pressure could drive it. (Please keep this race plan between us.)

In theory, the ideal race plan would have the crew go out at an even, efficient pace and rate and maintain it for the length of the course. But rowers are not robots, and it is extremely hard to race from behind. For that reason, you will need a good racing start to keep your crew out in front or in contact.

Responding to your opponent’s move is crucial to ensuring your crew’s confidence is not diminished or broken. Having your crew commit to a power 10 in the middle of the other crew’s 10 will help them keep your opponents in check.

Win or lose, you always want your athletes to row as hard as they can so they return to the dock knowing they gave it their best.

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